This story first appeared on Design Online in April.
AUSTRALIAN ARTIST Rebecca Coulter has great admiration for botanical and scientific illustrators who captured the flora and fauna of newly discovered lands long ago.
Their meticulously detailed artworks were created for others who were unable to marvel at such sights first hand. It is this attention to detail and her appreciation of marine biology in particular, which Coulter draws inspiration from for her own coastal style illustration. “When you see something of such beautiful quality you don’t think about the skill and time that goes into creating an artwork that is so detailed,” she says.
Coulter established ArtistaStyle less than two years ago after developing her hand over the last 10 years while raising a young family. Her patience and tenacity in working away at her art over the years has culminated in a confident style of illustration and colour work which is recognisable for the tonal range of colours or complementary colours that typifies her work. She describes her art as “fanciful and barely representational if you compare it to that beautiful tradition.” But being factual is not what her illustration is about. Her work is more about the process of making something that appeals to her, and the desire to connect or be part of something bigger than we are.
Coulter’s illustrations blend watercolour and several layers of other media to create the detail and fine line work evident in each piece. Her illustrations are sold as a series of 100 limited edition framed prints available in two sizes. She creates the original artwork on high quality watercolour paper and then scans the finished work to create a high quality digital image. She makes the limited edition prints using archival inks and Hahnemule Torchon photographic paper, which she says looks exactly like a quality watercolour paper. “The prints look so much like the original artwork my framer once asked me if she was handling a print or an original,” she says.
As a first-time exhibitor at Wall Street at Decor + Design, Coulter says she has been preparing to present ArtistaStyle to the retail and design industry for the last 18 months.
“I love my coastal illustration, I love painting abstracts and I love painting people. I also do watercolour portraiture and I’m keen to develop ideas that I would say have a modern mythology theme.”
When she is working in her purpose-built home studio, she says it often feels like no time has passed. “I get this feeling of happiness and elation when I am working,” she says. With four young children, the challenge is to make time to settle down to work and the early morning is typically that time. Coulter rises at 4am, prepares the school lunches and then heads to the studio to work until it’s time for the children to get ready for school.
Coulter’s other passion is what she calls her abstract painting style of ‘Contemporary Mythology’. She describes this as a very personal, intuitive way of painting where the forms are unplanned although the subject matter is always the ocean. Colours develop as shapes on the canvas and “all of a sudden it becomes a story,” she explains.
She cites the surrealist paintings of Australian artist James Gleeson and English artist William Blake who she admires for their “beautiful, sumptuous and amazing works.” But it’s always marine biology, driftwood and the detritus of the beach that are at the core of Coulter’s work.
The beaches of Walkerville, Waratah Bay and Inverloch along the Gippsland region of Victoria’s south east-coast are where “I am really aware that I am a tiny particle within a much larger mysterious organism. When I create, I think I try to capture a bit of that feeling,” she explains.
“I love to start working on something and then see how that idea morphs into something else, to be surprised by the end result. Making art for me is a way of tapping into something a little bit mysterious in me, and my coastal illustration and abstract paintings reflect how much I love how the ocean and how the beach makes me feel.”
ArtistaStyle has been invited to take part in the Decor + Design Trend Tour which will be guided Phil Pond, Consumer & Design Trend Translator with Scarlet Opus.
Visit ArtistaStyle at Wall Street at booth WS8.
Event: Décor + Design – Melbourne, Australia 16-19 July.