“The most unlucky generation is the one which couldn’t produce a hero to look up to.”… Amit Kalantri,
The great British watercolorist and teacher Ron Ranson passed away a few days ago at the age of 91. He had a prolific career spanning many decades and remained active as a painter, workshop instructor and author up until recently. I never studied officially with Ron, but greatly benefitted from his books. He had a clean direct style of landscape painting without a lot of “fussiness”, and this helped me to understand what you choose to leave out is sometimes much more important than what you try and cram in to a painting. When I was struggling with watercolor skies early on, I came across his book “Ron Ranson on Skies”. Perfect timing! Around the same time I was studying the design teachings of Edgar Whitney and found his book, “Watercolor the Edgar Whitney Way”. The artists chronicled in this book (who studied with Whitney, Ranson never did) I perceived as the disciples needed for learning to express myself with this wonderful medium. In this era, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and Workshop facility became a hotbed of post-Whitney generation instructors such as Frank Webb, Skip Lawrence, Tony Van Hasselt, Judi Betts and many others. I ended up studying repeatedly with two of them, Skip Lawrence and Cheng Khee Chee. This workshop facility in Boone, N.C., became a confluence of watercolor talent for many years and remains so at present. Many of this referred to generation are gone or slowing down however, as new instructors help turn over the pond.
My world of making art has been sewn together by a number of these painting legends like Ron Ranson. At the core of their success was of course, the paintings they were able to produce. However, I soon began to realize their well-crafted teaching personas were equally important. I learned much about workshop instructing and serving as a resource for other burgeoning painters through their example.
In the early 2000 era, I had the pleasure of meeting Ron at a Cheap Joe’s Trade Show here in Boone, NC. We were both doing product demos directly across the hallway from each other. I had not been teaching all that long, and here I was across the hall from the world renowned master! I really thought that was something. He was a very nice man and took the time to talk with me about my work and life. We should all be so lucky to paint up to 91, or maybe beyond. Thank you Ron Ranson and hope you are enjoying those beautiful skies you painted! (Bio Photo from his FB site and “Cliffs of Southern Oregon watercolor)