FAIRBORN — It’s late. Caroline Lawson is with her music and her paints. As she brush-strokes paint to canvas, she is in a world of her own. There is nothing else.
“I for sure lose myself when I’m painting. That’s the best part about it,” said Lawson, a senior at Wright State University majoring in fine art with concentrations in painting and photography. “I put my music on, I shut the door, I get my paints out and just get lost. I literally don’t even know where I am.”
When Lawson enrolled at Wright State, she declared business as her major. But painting was an irresistible force. She took one painting class and put business in her rear-view mirror.
Lawson’s art has since been displayed in Wright State’s Stein Galleries, at the university’s annual ArtsGala and at the Dayton Visual Arts Center, where she was invited to participate in The Cline Show featuring the best art of students at area universities. Lawson was even invited to speak at the opening of the event and saw it as a glimpse into what her future may be like.
“That was really an amazing experience,” she said.
Lawson grew up in rural Miami County just outside Tipp City.
“My interest in art started when I was really young,” she said. “When I was a kid, I loved to color. And I used to go on summer camps for watercolor painting. I didn’t realize it was something I could go to school for.”
After graduating from Bethel High School, Lawson enrolled at Wright State, attracted by its affordability and short commuting distance. It didn’t take her long to discover the university’s fine art program. She was immediately impressed with the quality of the faculty and the individual attention she received.
“Wright State has an absolutely amazing art program,” she said. “The resources are fantastic. The studio spaces are fantastic.”
Lawson learned to paint still-life from objects set up on tables. She painted landscapes and then advanced to painting human models.
“The most challenging thing for me in painting is figuring out what’s working and what’s not working. It’s really a complicated thing,” she said. “Really the only way to answer that is to look at other artists that have been successful. So I will go to the library and look at different artists and see how they overcame the challenges that I’m facing.”
Also challenging is determining when a painting is finished. She once spent nearly 60 hours on one painting.
“I can remember those hours feeling I was figuring things out,” she recalled. “It’s not so much how it looks as what I knew I went through to get to that point.”
Lawson said photography is a special art form because of the way light is used in different ways to evoke different moods.
“Every time I look at a photograph, I think about all of the other photographs that led me to that picture, all of the hours in the darkroom and digital lab, editing it to perfection,” she said.
Lawson sees a couple different career paths for herself — teaching art in high school or getting her master’s degree and teaching art at the college level. She is also toying with the idea of becoming certified in welding and using that skill to make sculptures.
Lawson said her four years at Wright State have enabled her to mature as an artist.
“I feel like I’m ready to be a professional artist on my own,” she said.