Growing up near Anaheim, California, Mehl Lawson developed an early interest in horses. As a child, he spent his time drawing and modeling them from magazines and picture books. Following high school, he enrolled in Orange Coast College at Costa Mesa, California. When the opportunity arose to work with a professional horse trainer, Lawson said goodbye to college and hello to horse training.
In time, Lawson became a successful horse trainer and breeder. Yet something was missing. He discovered it in 1969. On a visit to the then National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the first thing Lawson saw was a painting by Tom Ryan. Lawson’s late wife, Barbara, once said, “Sharing AnApple changed his life. Right then and there, Mehl told me, ‘This is what I want to be.’ ”
While it was a painting that fired his imagination and set him on his way to becoming a professional artist, Lawson, who is mostly self-taught, is noted for his sculptures. He also is a professional rawhide braider. In 1999, he created a life-size sculpture of Ben Johnson for the National Cowboy Museum’s American Rodeo Gallery. In 2006, he won the Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award at Prix de West.