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Lawrence Coulson.

History & Background.

As a child I grew up surrounded by fine art, my father being the hugely successful painter Gerald Coulson. I always loved to draw, cars being a passion of mine and I dreamt of becoming a car designer. I came out of school at 16 with a grade D O level in art, this being the sum total of my formal art training to this day and fell into a succession of jobs in retail that I didn't really enjoy, or excel at.

At the age of 21 my father encouraged me to have a go at painting and set me the exercise of copying a Victorian landscape. He gave me a few tips and pointers but pretty much left me to get on with it. I enjoyed the processes of trying to match my stumbling technique to what this old master had created and the end result was proficient enough to encourage me to do more.

After a while a local pub landlord suggested hanging a couple in his lounge bar, sensibly priced at 30.00 each, and sure enough, upon returning the following week, both had sold. The seed was sown. Gradually I built up the confidence to approach a couple of local galleries, up the prices a little and slowly but surely start to build a reputation for myself, by now pursuing the dream of becoming a full time painter.

This continued right up until 1996 when I realised that things weren't happening fast enough for me. The work was improving but I was frustrated at the lack of good exposure. At this point a local restaurateur was hanging my paintings; it worked well, low lighting, a couple of glasses of wine and a lady to impress; the paintings trickled out at about once a month. I was then offered the entire restaurant as a one night exhibition venue, so I produced 25 paintings, hired in some good lighting and placed an advertisement in the local newspaper. The masterstroke was inviting Paul Green of the Halcyon Gallery (and Washington Green) to the show, he had been selling my fathers work for many years.

Now, Paul Green is a very busy man so when he arrived I was happily surprised to say the least. When after half an hour he agreed to buy virtually all of the paintings I was almost speechless. The icing on the cake was a phone call six weeks later to say all had been sold and 'could we have some more please.' I worked feverishly for 12 months while still maintaining my retail position, which seemed to becoming more irrelevant day by day. It was in July of 1997 that Paul Green and his right hand man Lee Benson gave me the necessary support and encouragement to make the jump into full time painting. I've never looked back.

The work continued to sell and in 1999 Glyn Washington chose three pieces to publish as limited edition prints and the rest as they say, is history. I have enjoyed sell out editions, countrywide promotional tours and the pride of winning two awards from the Fine Art Trade Guild.

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Ideas & Inspirations.

I am hugely influenced by my local landscape. Living on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens everything is dominated by the huge skies and endless horizons. There are large empty vistas punctuated by just the trains of telegraph poles or the odd church spire. Dramatic sunsets amplified by the flat skyline are reflected in the wetlands, doubling the effect. Heavy stormy skies become even more threatening due to their sheer size. All of this has provided me with a wealth of reference material to draw upon.

I am fascinated by the atmospheres of places rather than their mere geography. I've never been a picture postcard painter, I am more interested in how certain places make you feel, what kind of feelings they evoke. It's the same with my other source of reference, the huge empty beaches of Norfolk, especially in the winter when it feels as though one is the only person on mile after mile of sand. You feel almost overcome by the power and drama of the storm blowing in from the sea.

These are the ingredients I try to portray in my work, a feeling of the power of nature, be it the romantic drama and intense colours of sunset, or the charged anticipation of an impending storm. That is why the paintings of Turner have been such an influence, especially his later works that depict such power. His portrayal of light is something I can only ever try to emulate.

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From Palette to Picture.

I have always worked in oils; it's the first medium I tried and have no desire change that. I fluctuate between painting on panels and more recently linen canvases. I like a smooth surface to work upon, one uncorrupted by heavy grains. I spend a lot of time priming and sanding the panels to achieve the desired surface. It's time consuming but it's amazing the difference this can make to the finished painting. Preparation is everything.

I use paints of the very best quality, mainly Michael Harding oil paints. They aren't cheap but their intensity of colour means they go a lot further. By combining these with various mediums and glazes I am able to build up the painting in very fine layers. After initially applying the paint with a large brush I use my fingers to move the paint around, blending different colours and tones. I love the 'hands on' approach, feeling totally connected to the painting; It feels as though a little piece of me goes into each one. I then blott the paint and move it around further with soft cloths while removing any finger marks. This leaves a very refined surface. This process is repeated many times in the production of all of my paintings, it is the only way I can achieve the sense of depth and luminosity that I am looking for. The viewer should be able to look into the painting and see the work that has gone into it.

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A day in the Life of...

I have a very structured working day. For me, the image of stereotypical artist waiting for that magical moment of inspiration, stroking chin with one hand, glass of wine in the other, is a myth. You've just got to get in the studio and paint. After a five minute walk from my house I am in the studio by 9.00am, I work in the corner of an old warehouse, on the first floor looking down onto the busy street below. It's great watching the hustle and bustle from the relative quiet of the studio, unless I have loud music playing, which is most of the time. Sometimes I'll take a sandwich, or maybe pop home for lunch, then back to work until about 5.00pm, or into the evening if I feel the need.

Like anything else, you only get out of something what you put in and I've always worked to this timetable. My self discipline is something I've prided myself in. Working alone for these hours can be lonely, but it doesn't really get to me. I get lost in my work and time passes very quickly. But it does mean I value the days in galleries promoting work and getting feedback from the most important source, the buyers and collectors of my work.

 
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