For the first time in five years, Vernon artist Patricia Neil Lawton is bringing her work to the public eye.
The winner of Okanagan Life magazine’s Best Artist of the Okanagan in 2000, Lawton has lived in the valley for 35 years – and while landscape paintings aren’t her usual focus, the Okanagan valley is a constant backdrop for her watercolour portraits.
“You can’t paint a cow or a horse without putting something behind it, so there’s always Okanagan scenery!” she said.
Lawton will hold an art show at Nadine’s Fine Art and Frames in Vernon on Feb. 8. She’ll be the gallery’s artist of the month for February, and at the show she’ll be displaying 20 or so of her favourite watercolour works from the past 10 years.
“Probably a lot of them have never been shown,” said Lawton. Portraits of animals, bikes and fishing boats abound in her glossy depictions of Okanagan life. She has a penchant for capturing the laid-back lakeside life: children canoeing on Kal Lake, or fishing from the docks.
“I love doing boats. My family’s from the Shetland Islands and they were all fishermen so I guess it’s in my blood.”
Lawton previously lived in Vancouver, where she taught at Emily Carr University of Art for a decade. She’s taught in school and held private lessons since coming to Vernon, but gradually came to more seriously devote her time to watercolours.
Lawton took until age 30 to realize she was an artist and not simply a person who liked to draw and paint. Since then she’s made efforts to convince parents to encourage their children to pursue their artistic interests.
“I’ve really promoted parents to really stand behind their kids who want to be artists or writers or musicians,” she said.
“Do it, because it’s important – and if you do support them they’ll ave a much better chance of being a success.”
The art show takes place at 2-4 p.m. Nadine’s Fine Art and Frames is located at 3101 31st Avenue.