Gary minored in art but majored in English at San Jose State University, entering teaching upon graduation.
In 1964, he got a position with the Department of State Diplomatic Courier Service to be stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He accompanied top secret materials to virtually every capital city in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
After 2 ˝ years of living the Cold War and witnessing Africa’s bloody emergence from colonialism, Mr. Coleman headed off to Paris where he was accepted into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts to study drawing and painting.
In 1968, Gary returned to the US, married his Paris sweetheart, Karoline, returned to teaching and had, with the help of Karoline, two children. In 1998 he retired from teaching. He now had time to become a full-time artist. At first he was preoccupied with the idea of producing a body of work that could be recognized as his own, but as he painted more, he found, to his relief, that he was just becoming Gary Coleman naturally. Since 1998, Gary has won more than 20 show ribbons, including 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes, in local shows.
In 2004 he was the featured artist for the Palo Alto First Friday ArtWalks. Since then, he has had a number of one-person shows. In 2008 Pacific Grove Art Center hosted Gary Coleman/Landscapes. He has been represented at one time or another by the Sobi Gallery in Burlingame, The Arte Junction in Winters the Khalid Gallery in San Jose and Casa Gallaria in San Juan Bautista. He is currently an exhibiting artist at
the following: Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek, Los Gatos Museum’s Gallery , and The Stone Griffin in Campbell.
My recent paintings have been for the most part oil landscapes and large abstracts. I donâ€™t find anything unusual about doing a landscape one day and an abstract the next. Both depend upon color and composition, balance and energy.
My landscapes may start with a generally realistic sketch, but once work in the studio starts, painting takes precedent over scene, emotional response over strictly visual response. My paintings are more about something than they are of it.
Landscape is for me a peaceful concept. As a result much of the line I use is rolling, undulating line. The fact that I was born among (and lived most of my life among) the rolling hills of Northern California has a good deal to do with my landscapes. As to colors, I tend to lean toward warm ones, another part of my California heritage
My abstracts tend to come more from my urban California upbringing, starting off in Oakland, and are more likely to feature the angle than the curve, aggression vs. peace.
They can be hard edged and hectic, sometimes a bit threatening. While they seem to come from a different place in my psyche, the process for painting them is the same.
Of course, the real purpose of painting is to make the painter feel alive. I love it when someone responds positively to one of my paintings, but the real charge comes from putting the paint down onto the canvas. For me the inspiration for a painting comes from the act of painting.