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Iwan Leroy Lotton

male 1913-1973
20th Century
Life city:
Rising Sun, IN
Spinner a96 eed
re: Iwan Leroy Lotton -

  • Ohio County

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Painter and illustrator. Worked out of Roselle, IL. Known for animal portraits — particularly dogs and horses.

The following was submitted by a site visitor (the artist’s son):

Artist Iwan (Ivan) Leroy Lotton (1913-1973) was born in Rising Sun, Indiana on Lincoln ‘s birthday (February 12, 1913). Named “Ivan” by his parents (Bertha and Roland Royal Lotton) Ivan grew up on his grandfather’s farm on rather high ground overlooking the picturesque Ohio River in Elizabethtown , Illinois . As a barefoot farm-boy, he helped with the crops, raised rabbits for food and harvested catfish from the Ohio using long trout-lines equipped with hooks baited with night crawlers.

Ivan Leroy Lotton married twice. Ivan’s first marriage to Robbie, his childhood sweetheart from “E-Town” produced two children, a girl and a boy (Betty Lou (Herr) Lotton, Deceased and Charles Gerald Lotton, a well-known contemporary glass artist whose studio is currently located in Crete, Illinois and whose three sons are also talented glass artists. Ivan’s oldest son Charles Gerald Lotton also maintains a successful retail art gallery in the Bloomingdale building on North Michigan Avenue adjacent to the rather exclusive “Four Seasons Hotel” in Chicago , Illinois ).

Ivan Leroy Lotton divorced in the early 1940’s, changed his first name to “Iwan” and moved to Chicago where he worked in the Chicago Stockyards on the south side of the city. For a short time, Iwan lived at the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Illinois commuting to downtown Chicago via the elevated trains where he attended art school at the American Academy of Art and later worked with such well known artists as Gillette (Gil) Elvgren and others who produced commercial “calendar girl” art. Iwan later met Anastasia Dorothy (Kella) married and had two more children: (sons Gerald Iwan Lotton and Donald Wayne Lotton).

Iwan Leroy Lotton was a prolific, partially self-taught artist producing realistically executed oil paintings (primarily consisting of hunting dogs and race horses) commissioned by private owners and collectors throughout the United States . Most of his oil paintings were generated from photographs of the dogs in action in the field with many images taken by Mr. Lotton himself who was also quite a skillful photographer who developed his own film in a small darkroom that he built in the basement of his home in Medinah , Illinois . Besides being an expert dog artist, other subjects included landscapes, still lives, and portraits. His paintings were very realistic in nature with nearly all artwork executed in oil. Sometimes when a private party commissioned an oil painting of their beloved dog, in order to achieve a true color representation, a lock of the dog’s fur accompanied photographs sent to him by his customer.

Such well known celebrities who also commissioned private oil paintings included television and Hollywood cowboy movie star Roy Rogers riding his famous horse “Trigger” and long time radio host and early television morning “Talk-Show” and “Talent Scouts” personality Arthur Godfrey riding his horse “Goldie” dressage style at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. Found in many national chain grocery stores, old time “Strongheart” dog food’s German Shepherd’s head logo was painted by Mr. Lotton in the 1950’s.

His body of commercial art work also included oil paintings depicting the “Field Trial Hall of Fame” series of hunting dog champions; numerous “Brown and Bigelow” calendars also featuring hunting dogs “at point”; and the “Pennsylvania Game News” and “The American Field” magazine covers.

Although a truly well-accomplished artist, Iwan Lotton never really learned how to self-promote his own work. Most of the oil paintings of dogs and racehorses that Mr. Lotton produced went directly to the private individuals who commisioned the works. Upon receipt, these paintings were prominantly displayed within private homes. (The subject of these paintings: hunting dogs and racehorses were often thought of and treated like family-members to their owners.)

Only as result of estate sales in recent years have some of these oil paintings of hunting dogs and race horses now come on the market for sale to the general public.

As a result, during Mr. Lotton’s lifetime, there were no art shows, gallery presentations, museum exhibitions, or other means of display or promotion we often attribute to well-known artists to enhance the collectability and value of their work. Like most Americans, Iwan Lotton struggled to pay his bills and raise a family working the third shift as a machinist, painting whenever he could. He wasn’t a starving artist, but he never achieved the well-deserved recognition for the exceptional high quality of his oil artwork during his lifetime.

Iwan LeRoy Lotton died on New Years Eve 1973 at age 59.

By: Donald W. Lotton, his yougest son (01-10-2008)

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