James Coleman began his career with Walt Disney Studios in the summer of 1969 when his mother, who had been working as a secretary with Disney, got him a job in the studio's mailroom. His big break came when he entered one of his paintings in the studio's art show. Several of the Disney artists saw his potential. They realized he had an untapped ability and encouraged him to go into animation background painting.
James' creative energies were welcomed by Walt Disney Productions. His first film, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, sparked his interest not only in painting backgrounds but also in background design and color styling. After completing The Rescuers, his first feature film, he was promoted to Background Department Supervisor, a position he held for nearly seventeen years.
While at Disney, James styled and worked on twelve films and more than thirty short subjects which included: Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Mouse Detective, The Black Cauldron, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. It is very gratifying to James that his background images for these prestigious Disney productions will be enjoyed by millions of viewers over many generations.
"Disney has helped shape both of my art forms by showing me that there's a way to stage a painting to draw people in. When I envision a landscape to paint, I go about it in a different way than other artists. I romanticize the place and put feeling into it. I'm not painting a replica. I'll always have that Disney experience to draw from, and to this day, it makes my work unique."
In 1991, after twenty-two years with Disney, James left animation to pursue a new career. He was ready to devote all of his time and talent to his true passion - fine art. Today, James continues to illuminate the art world with vibrant colors, gentle moods, powerful design and exquisite detail
James works in oil, watercolor, gouache and pastel. His work is impressionistic and luminous. His art intrigues the eyes and touches the heart. His paintings are warm, inviting and unique. He is a master of color, light and design.
James is a naturalist and an environmentalist, involving himself with the National Parks and other environmental organizations. He has been a finalist for five years in the Arts for the Parks competition.
The contribution made by James to the world of art over some forty years, both in film and fine art, makes him one of the most collected artists in contemporary art. His work is represented by some of the most prominent and respected galleries in North America, Asia and the Hawaiian Islands. Lahaina Galleries is proud to represent the work of this outstanding artist.
As a youth, his creative abilities seemed to dominate his world. Though he lacked the athletic skills of his young friends, he more than made up for it with imagination and ingenuity. As a young man, his interest in filmmaking and fine art would mark the beginning of a long, successful career in animated films!