Stanford Watson was born in Lucea, Hanover in 1959 as one of eight children. He enjoyed his time growing up in the country, engaging in activities such as swimming in the rivers or the sea, catching crabs and fish, and going to Sunday school, although he outgrew the latter as he expanded his education through reading many books. He attended Ruseas High School and came to Kingston in 1979 to attend the Jamaica School of Art (now Edna Manley College) where he studied painting, which is still his primary medium of visual expression today. As a young man during the socio-political upheavals of the 1970s, Watson became fascinated with ideas of cultural and social revolution, wishing to see the appearance of, and to be involved in, radical movements to challenge the status quo. He soon associated with a group of contemporary artists, which included Omari Ra, Khalfani Ra and Eric Cadien, who shared similar Black Nationalist views and pursued varying modes of expressionism in their works.
His career as an exhibiting artist began with his final year exhibition at the Jamaica School of Art in 1983. From there, he continued to maintain his artistic presence through group exhibitions at venues including the Mutual Life Gallery and eventually the National Gallery of Jamaica. He has also exhibited internationally and is represented in art collections in the Caribbean region, in Africa, the United States, Europe and Latin America. Watson began teaching art at the Wolmer’s Girls School in 1984, and also taught a year at Jamaica College in 1985, returning to Wolmer’s thereafter, all the while staying true to his passion for painting, continuing to produce and exhibit.