Paul Rawson is well known in the community as a watercolorist and industrial designer. His works have been featured in the conference room at the Easton Library as well as in Easton Arts Council shows. Now as he approaches his 100th birthday, he has turned to pen and ink note cards. These will be shown in the display case of the Easton Public Library starting Oct. 15.

Born in Worcester, Mass. in 1921, Paul grew up in Thompson, Conn. and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. He majored in industrial design while also enjoying painting, sculpture, silversmithing and printing.

During World War II he worked in the Providence shipyard constructing destroyer escort vessels and at the Leland Gifford Co, machining parts for the British Spitfire Airplanes. After the war he was hired by General Electric’s electric housewares division in Bridgeport. He then worked at the Van Dyke consulting firm and ultimately at his own company, Rawson Design.

Among his notable patented achievements are the design for the first GE toaster oven, currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute; one of the GE coffee percolators; the first electric curling iron for Clairol Co.; the first computer-controlled milling machine for Bridgeport Machines; surgical instruments still in use today for US Surgical, including a surgical stapler and an end-to-end anastomosis device; the first digital mobile equipment for monitoring and recording vital signs at the hospital bedside; and the first mid-size computer for Digital Equipment Corp.

Rawson began painting in earnest around the time of his retirement in 1972. His first body of works was primarily watercolors although he also did sculpture. He had a show of his works at the library conference room in 2018. More recently Paul has turned to smaller projects as he has found that the watercolors are more difficult to do. He now enjoys doing pen and ink sketches.

Paul has lived in Easton since 1965 where he and his late wife, Lois, raised two children. At the same time he joined Jesse Lee United Methodist Church in Easton where he has been an involved and supportive congregant, painting watercolors of the church and making signs for the outdoors. Many of these he has donated to members.

When the pandemic made it impossible for Paul to come to in-person worship, he sent out pen and ink postcards to friends, family and church members. These cards contain cheerful notes along with the original artwork. The church members have saved these over the last 18 months and a small portion of the hundreds of notecards will be on show in the display case of the Easton Public Library. He calls these his “Ministry in Miniature.” Church members were amazed at the cards that arrived in the mail so frequently and began to discuss how much they looked forward to them.

“We could not see Paul in church but we could be with him through his ministry of postcards,” one church member said. The works are entertaining; alternatively whimsical, serious and spontaneous. The display is jointly sponsored by the library and the Easton Arts Council. It is available to be viewed during the regular library hours. The community is invited to an outdoor celebration of his artwork and upcoming birthday on Sunday, Oct. 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at his home, 50 Sherwood Drive.

Photo at top by Rick Falco.

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By Joanne Kant

President, Easton Arts Council