"Untitled Abstract 61" by Wyman Lancaster.

Wyman Lancaster was working as a project manager at an Orange County construction company—and he decided he’d had enough.

“(It was) 100 percent stressful. Brutal,” he said.

He decided to move to the Coachella Valley and became the lead art placement coordinator for Colin Fisher Studios, an art and design gallery in Cathedral City.

“I looked at all these paintings around me hanging on the walls and felt this is something I could do,” Lancaster said. “I knew I could do it. Then it all came together like a perfect storm.”

At the age of 42, Lancaster took up painting—and after only a year and half, his paintings started selling enough for the self-taught artist to make a living.

Lancaster will join fellow abstract artists Janet Cass and Aaron Finkbiner for the show Composition—Light, Movement and Inspiration at the JJ Harrington Gallery in Cathedral City. An opening reception will take place on Friday, Dec. 3, and the exhibit will be on display through Christmas Day.

Lancaster primarily works with acrylics, charcoal and pastels to create his abstracts. Admiring Spanish painter Antoni Tapies, Spanish Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida and American abstract artist Gabriel Rivera, colors are important to Lancaster: They must flow and have balance.

“Wyman has a way with colors—colors most people would not put in proximity, but they just work with him,” said Vince Jelineo, an art collector and interior designer. “That’s the alchemy of art.”

Wyman Lancaster.

Lancaster talked about his process.

“I’ll start with the background, mixing paints, then create shadows and depth,” he said. “I won’t have any thoughts; I let things happen organically. I just go for it, what I’m feeling at the time. Then it’s trial and error. I don’t complete a painting until I feel it’s good. I have to be happy with it.”

Jileneo said Lancaster approaches the canvas intuitively, making intentional choices with his eyes and his rhythm in the moment. “He lets (his ideas) percolate under the surface, and that is a true artistic impulse. He’s very expressional. You can almost see the artist creating these energies that he puts on canvas.”

While Lancaster lets things happen organically … that doesn’t mean things happen all the time.

“If nothing comes up, I won’t paint,” he said, adding that he stopped painting once for four months.

Lancaster is currently going through a nerve-racking time. He was adopted when he was 6 months old, and recently heard from his birth mother for the first time through her attorney. Though he hasn’t called her yet, he has given the attorney permission to pass along his information.

For now, he’s enjoying his success. As a surfer, Lancaster said he misses the ocean, but he loves being in the desert because of its big art community. He also said he wanted to pass along a message to readers: It’s never too late to make a change in your life.

“I like where I am now,” Lancaster said. “My life is 100 percent less stressful, and I appreciate how simple and easy it is now.”

Mike Harrington, the owner of the JJ Harrington Gallery, says Lancaster remains humble.

“In fact, when I’m talking to clients about his work and his level of success, he’ll just walk away,” Harrington said.

Composition—Light, Movement and Inspiration will be on display from Friday, Dec. 3, through Saturday, Dec. 25, at the JJ Harrington Gallery, 68895 Perez Road, Suite I-4, in Cathedral City. There will be an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3. For more information, visit www.jjharringtononlinegallery.com.

Cat Makino

Catherine Makino is a multimedia journalist who was based in Tokyo for 22 years. She wrote for media sources including Thomson Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, Inter Press Service, the Los Angeles...

2 replies on “Alchemy of Art: After Taking Up Abstract Painting at the Age of 42, Wyman Lancaster Finds Success”

  1. We are delighted that Wyman Lancaster is now a member of an active art society. He is a gifted an introspective young man. One that we love very much

  2. As a personal friend of Wyman’s for about 6 years now, I must say his ability to be the best he can be as an artist and a friend is beyond measure! I’m so very proud of you Wyman and I knew this journey would take you great places. I love you very much my dear friend!

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