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Meet Shar Coulson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shar Coulson.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m originally from Western Michigan, where I grew up loving everything outdoors… the lakes, the changing seasons and cross-country skiing in the dunes. I moved to Minneapolis in search of a more urban life style and connection to the arts. I eventually landed in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, when meatpacking was still thriving and artists and galleries were just starting to pop up.

My first career was as a graphic designer and executive creative director. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it and was successful, I knew I had to pursue my real passion, painting. At that time I wanted to make figurative work, so I studied and trained, all while managing my full-time career. I engaged in both traditional and unconventional studies. At one point I was working in clay replicating human bones and wondering where this would lead me. Sounds crazy now, but wow did it give me a new understanding of the complexities of nature.

Today, you’ll find me painting nearly every day. After years of honing my skills, I’ve finally found my visual language, which I describe as organic abstraction.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not sure that I’d use the word easy, but I think some of the real challenges in finding success come easier to me because I had a creative career prior to becoming a painter. I absolutely love and appreciate being in my studio every day, never taking one minute for granted. I seem to have even more drive, ambition and focus than ever before.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
The two words that best describe my art are Organic and Female. Both are influenced by my choice of earthy colors, natural shapes and free-flowing gestural line work. Nature is by far my greatest inspiration because of its randomness and complex beauty.

I consider myself an intuitive painter, starting with the absence of a concept and letting the works evolve from a blank canvas. My heightened ability to see recognizable objects in otherwise unrelated patterns, called pareidolia, takes over… animals, plant-like forms or figures often appear.

As a recent article in the Washington Post said about my work. “The completed pictures feel delicate yet physical, combining muted hues and robust gestures. Coulson’s homages to flora and fauna are just as much celebrations of the act of painting.”

What were you like growing up?
Quiet in nature. Strong in opinion. I’ve always been a maker, creator and problem solver.

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