First published: Winter 2002
Paul Lancaster worked as a framer and artist-in-residence of sorts at the Lyzon Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee, for 29 years. His own colorful prints were displayed inside frames for sale or were available in the standing bins, to be flipped through by customers. The staff of the gallery used a cryptic but effective sales technique: they talked about ‘Lancaster’ as if it was a brand name, implying the prints had been produced by a trained established artist.
Since his retirement in 1995, with time on his hands, Lancaster has become a fully independent artist, painting with confidence and vigor, and the etchings he hand-colored while working at Lyzon are now being discovered by the art world.
Lancaster’s large-scale oil paintings demonstrate the meticulous attention of one who allows himself to become completely lost in the moment for hours on end.
Although many of his earlier themes and elements could be said to have remained the same, Lancaster’s works now incorporate florals, figures, and fantasy elements. While the leaves and flowers seem based in real observation, the overall color palette has shifted away from earth tones into a glowing fantasy of blue-green, aquamarine, sunset pink, and teal blue. Walking into the tiny studio where Lancaster now works feels like entering an aquarium that has been drained of its water. It is another world, a sort of sacred space, where he spends as many as ten hours daily, immersed in the intricate ritual of painting his own imaginary world.