Chris Lawson pays meticulous attention to detail. Each year, he picks out colors for his birthday celebration in July. This year, his theme is “strawberry red” and “white like a cloud.” As I talked with Chris, he detailed each of the accents he’d planned for his party. White watch, white shirt, red tablecloth, white hat. And each of these accessories he’ll purchase himself because Chris is a successful artist.
This attention to detail translates well to Chris’ career as an artist. With his mother, he paints brightly colored canvases of puppy dogs, seahorses, trees and nature scenes. His trademark style is rich acrylic paint colors with an impressionist brush stroke.
“I like to paint oceans, like seas with the sea animals, like the horses and fishes that blow up . . . blow-fishes” Chris says. “Dog pictures are easy, but cats are hard. The cat ears and eyes are hard.”
Chris is an ADEC Supported Living client. When he was child, he attended ADEC services, coming all the way from his home in Edwardsburg with his mom and twin sisters to attend classes and receive therapy.
Chris started drawing and painting when he was in school. His mother, Loretta Kaser, soon noticed he had an eye for color and composition. After working with Chris for a while, he inspired her to go back to school after a 30 year break and get her bachelors degree in Studio Art at Bethel College.
For several years, Loretta used the skills she’d learned from working with Chris to run a small non-profit, Art Ability. She offered classes for people with disabilities to discover art and its therapeutic benefits. When her husband began to experience health problems, Loretta decided to focus on taking care of her family.
That didn’t stop Loretta and Chris from continuing to work on art together. On Thursdays and Saturdays, they head out to the South Bend Farmer’s Market to man their booth from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The only exception is when they take their annual vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC, which, incidentally, is Chris’ primary motivation to make sales.
“He enjoys making money, and he saves up for his yearly trips to Myrtle Beach,” Loretta explained. “He buys his ticket and meals. It’s a good goal for him, and he knows we’re going to do that each year.”
Over the years, Chris has tried out different jobs, but painting is what he enjoys most. To make the most out of his work, he and his mother get creative with magnets and notecards. All featuring the bright, happy images Chris puts together.
“This is a good fit for him,” Loretta said. “He’s happy and it makes me happy to see him happy.”
Making art is doubly therapeutic for Chris because he not only gets the personal fulfillment of creating something others will purchase from him, but he also gets to interact with his community in a positive way.
“We see different people and interact,” Loretta said. “He needs something he enjoys, and people interacting with him. And it’s not just customers, but other vendors too. The lady next to us [at the farmer’s market] just thinks the world of Chris.”
Through discovering his true vocation, Chris truly does experience A life of his own, Dignity, Employment and Community – ADEC.
Chris’ art can also be found at Dr. Avis Barker’s dental practice, Eurostyle hair salon, Pat’s Pets at University Park Mall and on his Facebook page, Christopher’s Art Studio .