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I have been surrounded by the art business for as long as I can remember, my father being Gerald Coulson, one of the country’s foremost landscape and aviation artists. I grew up with oil paintings propped up to dry in various places around the house and kind of took it all for granted. My father worked in a spare bedroom and for a while as a young child I thought all Dad’s did the same.
I was always encouraged to draw, my main subject being cars. As I grew up, all I ever wanted to be was a car designer, an occupation I would have loved to have pursued.
I never really excelled in art at school and having left at the age of 16 I started one of three positions in the retail business. By the age of 21, my father encouraged me to have a go at some oil painting. He gave me some pointers at technique, which colours to use, and the importance of tone values. The first attempts were pleasing enough and sold for £30 each in a local pub. Selling a few in this manner gave me the confidence to approach a local gallery and up until the mid nineties this was the mainstay of my part time career. At this point I was convinced that I wanted, and needed, to paint professionally.
I then started hanging work in a local restaurant at the suggestion of the owner, where I sold paintings on a regular basis. I had met both Paul Green and Glyn Washington through my father years before and on discovering Paul was visiting my fathers studio, I arranged for a piece of my work to be on view there. I also arranged a one-night exhibition at the restaurant with the support of its owner and invited Paul Green from the Halcyon Gallery to attend. To my surprise and delight he did, buying most of the work in the progress. Over the next few months I worked as hard as I could to keep up with the demand. This meant that I was retail manager by day and landscape painter by night/weekend. It eventually took its toll on me and I realised that something had to give. It took weeks for me to actually do it, as we had a young child and were not in the best of financial health, but on 4th July 1997 I handed in my notice at the office and became a professional artist.
Almost immediately the quality of my work improved and after several successful showings at the Halcyon Gallery, Washington Green embarked on a publishing programme. Since joining them my career has gone from strength to strength and I now attend promotional exhibitions all around the country, which I have to say I rather quite enjoy.
My paintings have always been based on the English landscape. I have dabbled in other things but for me its landscapes that have held the most interest. I feel a huge amount of satisfaction in trying to create the tension that fills the air just before a thunderstorm, or the atmosphere of being the first one on the beach on a cold autumn morning. As my work has progressed over the years it has been the mood, the light within the painting that has become the central theme. More of the image is taken up by sky, for this gives the light, therefore the mood of the painting. The landscape is almost incidental. This may be because of my locality on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens, a notoriously flat area that is dominated by the sky. Also, I can drive for an hour and be on the Norfolk coast, well known for its huge empty beaches where the tide goes out for miles. It has been this portrayal of space that seems to have been behind the success of my work, people writing themselves into the painting, identifying with the solitary figure on the beach.