Shar Coulson, ‘Fusion 18’, 2018, Artist's Proof

16" x 12" White, 8 Ply Acid-Free Crescent Mat

Influenced by the interconnection between humanity and nature, The organic qualities of Shar Coulson’s (American, b. 1955) work stem from her love and respect for nature and its mysterious repetition of line and form. Working from visual memory, the figuration appears and disappears within the shapes and gestural movements… it’s perception vs. reality that intrigues her. One viewer may see figures, animals or plant-like forms, but the next only abstract shapes and colors. She is most satisfied as an artist when the initial reaction is that of quiet calm and beauty followed by several aha moments.

Two words used to describe her work are organic and female; both are derived from her choice of earthy colors, natural shapes, and fluid line work. Her inspiration comes from found objects such as seedpods, driftwood, bones, and organic matter. Working from her visual memory, Coulson is acutely focused, making split-second decisions that are reactionary yet based on the knowledge and sense of materials which include acrylic and charcoal on linen, wood panel or paper. Coulson will hang the piece on her studio wall, look at it, turn it, then make more marks and add more paint. It’s an intense yet effortless journey.

She was formally trained in atelier-style realism, yet finds her passion runs deepest in the world of abstraction. The transition to painting abstractly allowed her to explore and express herself more freely.

Along the way, She found a connection in her paintings to an art style called Organic Abstraction. It was not a school or a movement but was characterized by “the use of rounded abstract forms based on what one finds in nature” and was prevalent in artists and sculptors such as Kandinsky, Miro, Henry Moore and Jean Arp. Finding alignment with Georgia O’Keeffe’s sense of color and sensuality, she is drawn to the Abstract Expressionists before her, who stepped into the unfamiliar and made it a credible artistic path.

Coulson is a founding member of the Chicago Art Salon and has exhibited internationally. She lives in the Near West Side Market District of Chicago.

“Each free-flowing exploration is only complete when the abstract touches the familiar…that point when something definite has been created, but its mystery is still intact. In the beginning, it’s clearly abstract in all aspects. The figures, animals and organic forms that sometimes appear emerge from the interlocking shapes that present themselves during the media application. Once they’re identified, it’s difficult to see past them, and the layering and defining process begins. Pushing and pulling, shifting and refining until I step back one final time.” – Shar Coulson

Series: Fusion

Signature: Yes

About Shar Coulson

American, b. 1955, based in Chicago, IL, United States

Solo Shows

Evanston, IL, United States,
Organic Expressionism
Union League Club, 
Chicago, IL, United States,