Gary Coleman

When you paint, it’s not about the thing itself, it’s about the forms…

Gary Coleman, a local artist, born and bred in Northern California, works from his sun-dappled home studio in San Jose. Gary paints everything from the rolling hills of inland California, capturing the bright colors and motion in the curves of his landscapes, to more thought-provoking abstract pieces, balancing darkness and light to anchor more chaotic scenes.

As a young man, Gary minored in art and majored in English at San Jose State University. He taught briefly before taking on a role with the Department of State Diplomatic Courier Service, which allowed him not only to explore parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East but also time to paint as he traveled. He eventually ended up in Paris where he was accepted into the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts to study drawing, and, more importability, where he met his wife. Gary eventually moved back to the US to teach in San Jose, retiring from teaching in 1998 to focus on his own art.

Gary works on three to four canvases at a time, switching between landscapes and abstracts seamlessly “When you paint, it’s not about the thing itself, it’s about the forms,” says Gary. “I look for shadows, the lines, how things agree and disagree. It’s the same for all my work; it doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or abstract.” Working on multiple pieces at the same time allows Gary to shift his focus when he becomes tempted to do ‘too much’ to a canvas. Gary attributes his favoring warmer colors to his California heritage and strives to capture motion in each stroke. “I cannot paint something and not want it to have some kind of flowing motion,” says Gary. “A lot of my paintings have curves to them since they’re both peaceful and dynamic.”

Although his current focus is landscapes and abstracts, Gary is no stranger to other styles. In 2001, Gary had his first one-person show entitled “The Artist as Landscape” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto. The show comprised of paintings of Gary’s own body from his point of view, including works with titles such as Hard To See Your Butt Without A Mirror. Just like Gary himself, his work is often a mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and artistic skill.

Gary is currently represented by Gallery 24 in Los Gatos and occasionally hosts open-air studios in his backyard in San Jose.

Visit Gary during Silicon Vallery Open Studio 2019

May 18 – 19 , Site: 301
1577 Wawona Drive
San Jose, CA 95125-5059


Written by Michelle Runde

Photography by Daniel Garcia

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