Ruth Pawson

About the Artist

At age three-and-a-half, barely a week after moving to Regina, Saskatchewan from Stratford, Ontario, Pawson experienced first hand the Regina cyclone of 1912. She moved to Saskatchewan as a small child and Regina became her home for the rest of her life. The longest time she spent elsewhere was from 1960-62 when she went to Germany to travel and teach.

As a young child, Pawson thought she would like to be an artist. She was fascinated by the watercolours of ancient Greek myths her grandfather had painted, displayed in her aunt’s stairway. They inspired her to read all the stories and implanted within her the desire to learn how to paint.

Pawson taught elementary school for ten years before she was able to afford to enroll in art classes. She started taking  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  classes with Gus Kenderdine and art history classes from Gordon Snelgrove. Pawson received an Associate of Fine Arts degree from Regina College in 1940 and continued her studies at the Emma Lake and Banff School of Fine Arts workshops.

Pawson spent three summers in Banff studying with A.Y. Jackson, a member of the Group of Seven,  who had a great influence on her style. “From him I mainly learned simplification,” she later recalled. “But I admired the  rhythmPrinciple of design where elements are repeated to create the illusion of movement. There are five kinds of rhythm: random, regular, alternating, progressive and flowing.  and  patternRepeating lines, colours or shapes within a design.  of his work, and from this I learned to look for rhythm - and of course the prairie is a wonderful place for rhythm.” (Hryniuk, 1988)

In an interview with Gary Essar, Pawson reflects further on A.Y. Jackson‘s influences on her style, particularly in how she captured movement in her paintings., “I think maybe the brushstroke I use I learned when I was working with him. The brush strokes accentuate the rhythm and movement, especially in our country, where we have wind and these elements are part of your painting, too.” (Essar, 1980)

Pawson loved to paint, but she also loved to teach. She taught for four decades and in 1976 a Regina public school (Ruth Pawson Elementary School) was named in her honour for her many accomplishments in the fields of art and teaching. In 1993 she received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.  In 1994, at age eighty-six, Pawson died after living a remarkable life.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning