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Painting toward greatness

Painting landscapes and portraits of people and pets, Lodi artist Jim Coston strives to inspire master the paintbrush. He is showing his work at September’s First Friday Art Hop.

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 8:14 am

example, are two masters whose work spans many schools of art.

But so does the work of Lodi painter Jim Coston, who is showing his paintings at the September First Friday Art Hop at Hutchins Street Square.

“He can literally paint any style that he chooses to paint in,” said Coston’s wife, Jan Marlese, who, as the director of the L.H. Horton Gallery, has studied art and its multitude of styles. “Usually people are more singular or not quite as wide stretching.”

Even their Lodi home, decorated with framed paintings, shows his affinity for everything from portraits of his daughter, Emily, at various ages, to the rocky shores of Donner Lake. He also paints pictures of jazz musicians, sports figures in motion and abstract still life.

Not only is he showing a varied assortment of his oil paintings at the First Friday Art Hop, but Coston also won third place in the 2D works competition at the Horton Gallery. The show, which will run Oct. 10 through Nov. 7, is a national, blind-juried art competition in which Museum of California in Oakland art curator René de Guzman selected Coston’s painting of the shores of Bodega Bay. The juror did not know the names of the artists, nor Marlese’s association with him, according to Marlese.

The 55-year-old artist has been painting since he signed up for art school at the age of 19. In college, Coston trained under Richard Lack at the Atelier Lack School of Fine Art in the artistic city of Minneapolis.

There, he learned the foundations of drawing and painting. He learned to see nature — shapes, color, values — and combine it into one fluid painting.

After decades of being a working artist, he is still striving artistically.

“I’m always evolving,” Coston said. “I feel like I’m getting closer to what it is I want to express.”

For Coston, what he is striving for is what he says is one of the hardest things to create with a canvas and paintbrush: “I want people to feel inspired,” he said.

His desire is to capture light and atmosphere, and to make a strong statement that carries across a room.

Now he paints in his home studio in his dining room lined with bookshelves, painting supplies and a south-facing window that illuminates the room through a soft white curtain. While his daughter is at school and his wife is at the gallery, the house turns into his work studio. He keeps it quiet, but admits mowing the lawn or walking the dog are necessities that help him avoid that scary blank canvas some days.

“Sometimes approaching a canvas is a scary thing,” he said. “There’s a 90 percent chance you’re going to fail.”

Though it’s risky, it’s what is taking him to the next level.

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