CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Dorset artist Teresa Lawton and her inspirational walks through Dorset

PUBLISHED: 15:46 23 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:46 23 October 2014

Teresa with her dog Luca in her studio at Upwey

Teresa with her dog Luca in her studio at Upwey


From the rapture of a lonely shore to the pleasures of a pathless wood, artist Teresa Lawton’s abstract paintings are her instinctive response to Dorset’s natural beauty

Every morning and evening Teresa Lawton takes her dog, Luca, for a walk. In winter they follow the coast path towards Purbeck, in summer they visit Puddletown Forest. They might explore the habourside at Weymouth, or the watery inlets and crumbling jetties around the outer reaches of Poole Harbour. In between the walks, Teresa paints.

“The walks are a vital source material for me,” she says. “I can spend that precious time being quiet, looking and thinking. A simple horizon line at sea, the tangled nets and ropes of fishing boats, or the light falling in dark woodland – these are my inspiration.”

Teresa started painting relatively late in life, taking a foundation course at Bournemouth College of Art and Design in her thirties. During the course, she visited St Ives and was inspired by the wealth of artists that worked in West Cornwall in the 1920s through to the 1960s, especially Ben Nicolson, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon and the self-taught ‘primivitist’ Alfred Wallis.

“I’ve always been such an outdoorsy person and going to St Ives and seeing their work in its natural setting meant I really got it, it was a revelation and became an absolute passion.”

Her interest in the St Ives painters, she tells me, fuelled her commitment to abstraction. “When I started my work was very ‘St Ives’ and blue with lots of boats. Galleries liked that, but I was curious to go on and explore further and work with a new set of ideas. I’m always challenging myself to make something new.

“That said, my paintings still have a lot of structure in them and the structure is an important scaffold; it creates an order in which I am able to work.”

This structure is highly evident in works such as ‘Walkways’ and ‘Night-time Promenade’, which take harbour elements such as ropes, boats and jetties and re-order them into a new pattern. It’s also there in a simpler and more mysterious form in ‘The Lookout’ and ‘Running Deep’.

“When you are an abstract painter you play with what’s around you. You’re creating colours, mixing paints, making all the edges work together in some kind of relation; it doesn’t have to be a harmonious relation, they can be in discord, but they have to react to each other - that’s what it’s all about.”

Over the years Teresa’s paintings have earned a deservedly fine reputation and she sells her work in several prestigious galleries in London and the UK. In Dorset, she’s represented by The Art Stable in Child Okeford, which is holding a solo exhibition of her work this autumn. The exhibition is call ‘Still Waters’ and features Teresa’s latest paintings - a mix of coastal-inspired pieces and inland works prompted by walking through woods and observing the contrast of light and dark, sunlight and shade. All of them are painted in her usual medium of oil on canvas at home in her small studio in Upwey.

“I love working in oils because they’re so tactile and slow drying. I add layers and layers of thin paint on top of each other to build up the surface. The more you work it the more interesting it becomes and you’ve got a good week before it dries. Acrylics are too quick for me but oils allow me time.”

At the moment Teresa is painting on much larger canvases. “I love having a simple structure and lots of space to work up the surface,” she confesses.

“I think it’s the work you put into a painting that makes people want to buy it. You can’t work just to sell; you have to be honest as a painter. Painting has a mystery to it and your work will resonate with some people and not others, in the same way that some music will hit the
right note and some won’t. I paint because it’s really important to me to communicate that mystery to those people who can hear it.”


Four art-inspiring walks

Teresa uses her time out walking to study the landscape and formulate ideas for her work. Here are four of her top recommendations for inspiring creativity:

• Puddletown Forest: conifers give dramatic contrasts between light and shade. Lots of well-marked footpaths and easy access from the A35. Good chance of seeing deer.

• Studland Beach: A wonderful winter walk with beautiful sand dunes. The bird watching hides provide interesting structures in the natural landscape.

• Weymouth Harbour and Nothe Fort: Lots of colour, lines and edges urging you to make order from the chaos.

• South Dorset Ridgeway: Superb views all the way from Weymouth to Abbotsbury. The Ridgeway takes you through many of Dorset’s most significant archaeological sites where traces of habitation date back thousands of years. The landscape has been reworked many times rather as a painter might rework the surface of an oil painting.


Read on

TV series partly filmed in Wimborne and Weymouth features 2 Dorset artists

Bridport’s unique characters photographed by Kevin Wilson


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 13:11

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Mon, 11:34

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Mon, 11:27

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This challenging coastal walk rewards your efforts with spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Marine photographer Steve Belasco shares some very special wildlife moments

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

TravelSupermarket has uncovered the top 25 most popular UK beaches on Instagram after analysing hashtags used for over 1,100 beaches and Bournemouth comes out on top

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ride + Stride, Dorset Historic Churches Trust’s annual fundraising event, is a great way to explore and support some of the county’s more unusual places of worship

Read more
Monday, August 6, 2018

This easy level walks takes in an ancient village described as The Mother of Bournemouth and Throop Mill of the River Stour

Read more
Friday, July 27, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more

From paddling on the Frome to admiring one of the best vistas in Dorset, Adam Lee-Potter’s beloved home town just keeps getting better and better

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Butterflies, buzzards and beautiful views sum up this lovely summer walk around Piddletrenthide and Plush Hill

Read more
Sunday, July 8, 2018

Visit Dorset reveal their favourite lesser-known local beaches to explore if you want to get off the beaten track this summer

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search