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.
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
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), he 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. His 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 contemporary glass artist whose studio is located in Crete, Illinois and whose three sons are also glass artists. Ivan's oldest son Charles Gerald Lotton maintains a retail art gallery in the Bloomingdale building on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Divorced in the early 1940's, he 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).
Although an accomplished artist, Iwan Lotton never really learned how to promote his own work. Most of the oil paintings of dogs and racehorses that Mr. Lotton produced went directly to the private individuals who commissioned the works. Upon receipt, these paintings were prominently 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. 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 recognition he deserved for his oil paintings during his lifetime.
Iwan LeRoy Lotton died on New Years Eve 1973 at age 59.
Submitted by: Donald W. Lotton, his youngest son