Taking inspiration from many sources, artist RJ Brian Coulter predominantly uses oil paints to recreate fleeting moments he has captured, producing dramatic artworks that preserve those special scenes. Here he tells The Impartial Reporter about his varied artistic background, where he paints and what his art means to him.

JC: What is your artistic background? Are you self-taught or did you go to art school/do courses?

BC: Whilst I have always painted and drawn I took a diversion, against my better judgement, into Engineering and Surveying after leaving school but managed to escape relatively unscathed and went on to study Art and Design in Glasgow. I worked as a Graphic Designer and Art Director with a number of the City’s leading advertising agencies following my role as Graphics Group Leader with Gillespies, the renowned International Urban Design Practice, working in Glasgow and London.

It wasn’t however until I relocated to this part of the world some 25 years ago that I started to actively pursue my painting. Probably the high point to date is is having two competition pieces purchased by the House of Lords and subsequently having another larger piece commissioned.

JC: What inspires your art?

BC: Inspiration comes from many different things and places and it does so everyday, it just requires a degree of awareness. It can be on the macro level like an unexpected reflection or the way light plays through trees. As every artist knows, it is all about the light. Capturing that fleeting moment when the elements are aligned is as much down to luck as anything else but you still have to be looking for it and file it away when it happens.

JC: Who/what are your biggest influences?

BC: I am, like most people, naturally drawn to the impressionists even though the proliferation of Monet tea-towels rather undermines the movement’s revolution. I love the narrative and innate pathos in Edward Hopper’s work.

However, and it’s a bit of a step on, if I were to cite one individual, I possibly might go for Mark Rothko, always a good source when I find myself in need of inspiration.

JC: Is there a specific place that you do your work?

BC: Yes, the top floor of my house is my extremely messy studio. I don’t think I could work at all if I had to clear up the space after working. Indeed, as everything is constantly to hand, beckoning to be used, I will almost inadvertently start to fix something in passing only to find that an hour has subsequently past.

JC: What has been your most ambitious piece to date?

BC: Probably the most ambitious painting is the one you are about to start. As each new painting really ought to be better than the last or anything that one has done before.

However, one may well have a reasonably well formed idea of what one is aiming to achieve, this is very rarely how it works out. The real trick is trying to capture the potential of the unintended mark and not end up losing it, because you’ll never do it again, no matter how much you try.

If you are asking me which is the the piece I’m happy with then, fortunately, I’ve yet to do it. If I had, then I’d quit. Maybe.

JC: What has been your favourite project to date?

BC: In a way the first large painting I did, The Hidden Gate, shown here, remains my favourite as it was bit of leap in the dark but showed me the inane impact of larger paintings. That was over 30 years ago and I have it to this date and have determined never to part with it despite many inducements to the contrary.

JC: What different artistic mediums do you use and which is your favourite?

BC: Initially, I worked in oils, as acrylic wasn’t widely available when I started out, but when they did become popular I was attracted to the rapid drying and easy overpainting and for a long time I continued working in acrylic and still do in certain instances but in the main I have returned to and enjoy the flexibility and saturation of oil, despite the mess.

I’ve never gotten along with watercolour as it doesn't suit my erratic way of working.

I do however enjoy the spontaneity and again the saturation of colour of chalk pastel. It takes me back to drawing which is the underpinning of all painting. If you can’t draw you can’t paint, in my not so humble opinion.

JC: Do you exhibit your work anywhere?

BC: My work is viewable at Hambly and Hambly, on the Shore Road, and the Devenish Gallery, Forthill Street.

JC: What are you up to when you aren’t painting?

BC: Apart from my photography, which is of course allied to my painting, I have a new novel just published on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks, it’s call 'The Flawless Factor'. A paperback version should be available soon.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

BC: This is a slightly difficult one as I have been criticised in the past for having too many styles. The reason for this is the way I see the potential in one subject can vary quite drastically to another. I find, for good or ill, that the way I approach something is determined by the subject matter itself. Something, be it colour, surface, texture, will determine one approach while that of and other demands something different. This doesn’t mean however I won’t change half way through. Just to be helpful.

JC: What does your art mean to you?

BC: As I said earlier I have always painted and drawn from childhood and have probably sacrificed quite a bit down the years and configured my life decisions in order to allow me to do what I do. So, in answer to your question, probably more than a little.