Works by the artist. Courtesy photos


As a mechanical engineering graduate of Purdue University and president of local mechanical contracting and service firm Harrell-Fish Inc., Steve Dawson might seem an unlikely artist. But a mountain-biking accident 15 years ago left him with a broken arm and a dislocated elbow. After convalescing for four months, he went stir crazy, he says, and took an art class at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. 

Since then, Dawson, 50, has been juried into exhibitions at the Hoosier Art Salon and the Indiana Heritage Arts Exhibit and Sale, represented at the Brown County Art Gallery, and has sold canvases across the country. This spring, he’ll instruct an outdoor sketching and painting class at the Waldron. 

The artist, Steve Dawson. Photo by Martin Boling

Inspired by the impressionists and John Singer Sargent, Dawson is primarily a landscape painter, frequently working alla prima (spontaneously) and en plein air (outdoors). “I seem to be much happier with a little bit of dirt under my feet,” says the longtime Bloomington resident. Dawson uses oils, watercolors, and pastels. His palette is small: red, yellow, blue, and white. “I fit my entire outdoor studio into a medium-size backpack that allows me to hike anywhere,” he says.

Dawson tried photography, but says, “With paint, I come far closer to capturing what I felt and the way light falls on a subject or illuminates it and casts shadows.” 

“There is something deep within us that bonds inseparably with our natural world,” Dawson says. “Bringing that connection to life for others to experience is the essence of landscape painting.”

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See more of Steve Dawson’s art below.