In bed with… David Coles (and Louise!)

David Coles and Louise Blyton, his partner, in front of HIS Langridge products… in HER St Luke Artist Colourmen shop

They are both artists. He also makes lovely paint and…  she sells it!

How is this for symmetry and perfection? Well, at least on paper, all is well in the best of worlds. In reality, things are very very busy… Louise has just finished the Christmas tree in the shop (decorated with dried coloured swatches of Golden’s light molding paste!!) and has an exhibition of her stunning works in raw pigments on linen opening a few days later but hasn’t sent the invitations yet! And, while I discuss with David in his Melbourne factory on that summer day in November 2011, all around us hammers are bashing and dust is settling on his lovely boxes waiting for the next batch of paint or rows of exquisitely designed medium bottles and pigment pots. Amidst the chaos, his little team is still making paint (the divine Dioxazine violet today… yum) and shipping off to all corners of Australia, David’s excellent Langridge products and the Golden acrylics he represents here too. Ducking and taking short cuts through yet empty frames that will soon partition a display room, a demo room, a perfect storage room and some much needed admin peace… they all seem quite content to “live in the now”… the company is growing, the atmosphere is professional and relaxed and I feel I’ve just pushed the doors of friends I didn’t even really know I had (but they all seem to know me!).

Purple anyone?

When I decided to add Golden acrylics to my range of paints some years ago, I was directed by them to their Australian distributor and feel in love at first sight with David’s range of products too. David’s English and his mum had an art store (he thinks there might be something Freudian about having a wife who also has an art store but I think we probably share an addiction to the smell of turps that surrounded our childhood memories… hum). Anyhow, very soon after Art school, David decided to leave behind the grays of his native island for the reds of this big continent and try his luck here. Maybe the idea of competing with paint making royalty such as the Winsors (and Newtons) was a bit daunting on his home turf or maybe he thought a certain niche market of tradition and savoir-faire could yet be added to the Australian paint making scene, whatever his reasons, he did well!

Paint in the making (on the small triple mill used for little batches)

His first factory’s location on Langridge Street gave the company its name and, despite rather bohemian beginnings in 1992, passion and excellence always flourished there. From manufacturing professional quality oil mediums, varnishes and grounds to supplying artists with artist grade dry ground pigments and other quality raw materials, for a while David was content being the invisible agent of the oil world but, of course, he could not resit colour! Seven years in the making, Langridge’s Professional Grade Oil Colour finally came on the market recently because artists told David they wanted an oil paint of the same quality as his mediums (I’m guessing that in every other company in the world it happened the other way round… but then we are down-under). His range of colours is still small but growing and David has more modern pigments in mind for the near future –which is great because contrary to acrylics there are not many professional oil brands who have a go at those new colours.

Preparing the dispatch orders

David Coles has every right to be quite proud of his beautiful black stands in which delightful rows of golden liquids and hand painted tubes of paint quietly await the connoisseur but pride is not was prevails in the man, a mad passion that had matured into true love is probably closer to the truth, a love made in equal parts of respect, knowledge, research and innovation. To discover the depth of that commitment, to see the care taken into the making (of his technical sheets alone) is a true delight in this fast food world and to know it is all “made in Australia” could just turn you into a roo and hop into his tubes and pots forever!

David in front of his beautiful oil paints

Enjoyed this? Then you might wish to read an interview of David I did in 2017

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