Repost: An Interview with painter Jerome Coulas (RIP)


Niall McArdle, Roddie McFadzean, Jerome Coulas
Niall McArdle, Roddie McFadzean, Jerome Coulas

A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine, Rod McFadzean passed away after a long illness. I just found out today that his loving husband, artist Jerome Coulas passed away earlier this week after a stroke.

About a year ago I asked Jerry if I could interview him for the blog, and he very kindly agreed. I am reposting the interview here.

Jerome Coulas is a self-taught painter who resists the label of being a naive artist. In 1986 he quit his job and left Toronto to move to the Ottawa Valley. His work has been commissioned and exhibited across Canada, and he currently shows at Bittersweet Gallery in Burnstown, the Wilno Craft Gallery in Wilno and Skelton Galleries in Collingwood. he lives and paints on the Bonnechere River outside Eganville.
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“I generally paint in the morning and I try to paint a little every day. It’s the only rule I try to follow. Christopher Isherwood, when asked how he disciplined himself to write, said that he just made a point to write a little every day. Also, when you stop painting for more than a few days, the muscle tone in your hand relaxes and you lose a little finesse in your brush strokes.

Painting full-time was part and parcel of moving to the country. It was a long held dream to leave the city, so when I got the chance to move out, I seized the opportunity to paint. Real-estate prices in Eastern Ontario were a factor in moving here, and it didn’t hurt that my ancestors settled in this area 150 years ago.

I’ve never had a studio that wasn’t in my home. I wonder what it would be like. Having the studio at home has advantages and disadvantages. The great advantage is the work is always there. It’s nice to have the work right there. I can see it and think about it when I’m going about other things in the house, so you start thinking about ways to make it better without realising it. The disadvantage is the painting is always there. You see it all the time, even when you mightn’t want to.

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I paint acrylic on canvas. I used to paint with oils. I enjoy the visceral element of oils, the texture of it. I started painting in oils as a kid so it has  happy childhood memories for me. But acrylic in many ways is easier to work with. I use the higher quality acrylic paints, Golden and Liquitex. They both have a gel-like quality in their behaviour that I like very much.

I’ve painted on board, but I prefer canvas because board can be unforgiving. It doesn’t yield to the brush at all. I prefer using small, thin brushes because they give a sense of cleanness. I’m more partial to crisp lines than blurred edges. I do paintings in all sizes. My default size is sixteen by twenty, and when I begin a painting I decide if I’m going to go up or down from that. I do a rough sketch, a very rough sketch. Some of my Coast to Coast paintings, because of what they are, require more planning before I start.

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What’s my artistic vision? I don’t have one. When I began to paint full time in 1986 I painted in the naive style.  I’d say I now paint in an evolved naive style.  I have taught myself all of the techniques I use, like glazing, as I have felt the need for their effects in my painting.  In that sense my growth in technique has been organic. I don’t have the background that someone who has been to art school has, so I don’t have that same academic or theoretical approach to art. I paint images that I take pleasure in and I hope others will take pleasure in.

There are two contemporary artists that have been a big influence on me, and I knew them both personally. One is Alberto de Castro and the other is Dietrich Werner. They’re both deceased, and I like to think I’m continuing their legacy in terms of their subject matter, their treatment of it, their use of colour especially. They both used strong colours and they both used a lot of colour, which I do too. And they both have in their painting an underlying charm which I find very appealing.

Other influences, more in their approach to painting rather than their style, would be Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Henri Rousseau. I’m a huge fan of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, especially Van Gogh. And living where I live, it helps that I like the Group of Seven very much, and it’s very satisfying to paint in the same places that they painted. It’s always a joy.”

Jerome’s work can be found at here

Jerome Coulas Nov.25 1953 – Nov. 05 2014

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