1941 - 2023


15 May 1941 – 20 July 2023

The Pastel Society and the art world are saddened by the recent death of Tom Coates, a superbly accomplished artist and visionary artistic teacher who has died at the age of 82.

Born on May 15, 1941, in Birmingham, Tom was a great artist and has been compared with some of the great draughtsmen of the 20th Century such as Augustus John.  As Past President of the Pastel Society, he had a steadfast and enthusiastic dedication to promoting the beauty of pastel art. His artistic journey throughout his career demonstrated his continuous passion for his profession and his constant pursuit of innovation, always pushing the boundaries.

He struggled early on in his career after deciding to take up art, as he had no support from his parents, who had emigrated to Australia.  He self-funded his education, firstly when in the Bourneville and Birmingham Schools of Art.  Then he did it by working down the mines and by using his wonderful tenor voice to sing mining shanties in pubs for money.  Later he took cleaning jobs at the Royal Academy School when he studied there.

It was all worthwhile as he made a great success of his career, not just in the UK, but around the World by creating great portraits, animal (particularly horse) paintings and landscapes.  He also developed skills in all media and could even do demonstrations working on pastel, oils and watercolour portraits all at the same time.

His work is in many significant collections.  This was all threatened at one point when, for a period of two years he had to undergo treatment for a condition that threatened to make him blind.  Typically, he overcame this and was given exceptional treatment by his doctors, which saved his sight.     

He built a loving family with wife Mary Jackson, herself an exceptional artist, and moved into the former chapel studio at the Bladon Studio in Hurstbourne Tarrant.  He bought the run-down building in 1988 and paid for its renovation using his Singer Friedlander Prize Money from that year. 

His vivid works caught the essence of nature and human emotions, leading art aficionados all across the world to appreciate the beauty of life’s most basic yet meaningful moments.  His outstanding artistic brilliance and loving demeanour affected many people’s lives, elevating him to the status of a true luminary in the art world.

He was talented in all media. Tom created breathtaking works of art with a paintbrush, capturing the spirit of nature and human emotions. His skill of pastels brought vivid hues and exquisite textures to life.  His paintings become a window into the world’s beauty, showing his deep admiration for life’s simplest yet most significant events.

We know that Tom’s artistic legacy and visionary leadership will continue to inspire future generations of artists and art enthusiasts. The Pastel Society and the art world have lost a genuine luminary, but his spirit will live on via the beauty he shared with us all in his work and the unselfish passing on of his knowledge to so many artists who knew him.  

A memory from Cheryl Culver PPPS RBA


I found this in a sketch book written during a time At Art in Action Waterperry. 

'Finally a genuine buyer. Could we hold a pic for her. She reckoned on three hours before she could return with her husband. 

It was hot and she had three small children under the age of five, one in a pushchair already pink and sweating. Time went by and it got hotter. Finally they appeared. They decided between two pics and then surprise, surprise child in pushchair starts to scream and scream and sweat even more - becoming vaguely convulsive. They decide to go walk about ice creams etc. Time ticks on - we're all feeling hot and tired. We give up on them and the around the corner they come - pink child is quiet for the moment. A decision is made, then the husband begins to negotiate and small child starts to scream even more and with greater ferocity. 

We are saved as Tom Coates comes to the rescue. Sitting himself down he begins to tell the children a story and thanks to Tom a sale is achieved' 

Thank you Tom 

(Further memories of Tom will be featured at the Pastel Society Exhibition 2024).

Tom Coates PPPS

"Studio Model"
Tom Coates PPPS