Brent Cotton spent his early childhood days at the family ranch in Idaho. And, in there he found two great teachers who have since shaped and also refined his artistic visions. One of them is his grandmother, herself a talented watercolourist, and the other being nature, the infinite source of inspiration for every artist.
Most of your work revolves around the playfulness of soft light. What inspires you in recreating these scenes depicting sources of light and its reflections on the eyes and minds of the viewers?
I’ve always been drawn to mood and drama and the fleeting effects of light, and attempting to recreate those magical moments on canvas is something I’ve focused on in my work for about the last 10 years or so. My work shifted to a more tonalistic / luministic style when I was living on Maui at a very high elevation where the clouds would gather every afternoon on the slopes of Haleakala volcano and roll down the mountain immersing the area in mist. The mysterious and moody atmosphere had a dramatic effect on my work that continues to inspire me today. The other pivotal period of time in my transformation toward tonalism was when my wife and I moved back to Montana and we were enveloped in the smoke from the summer forest fires which also gave an eerie ghostlike mood to the landscape.
Backlighting is also something I’ve explored many times in my work and I continue to experiment with different techniques to create that feeling of intensity and brilliance. To pull off that illusion is both a challenge and a joy. Atmosphere and light can convey such emotion and I want to create works that pull the viewer from across the room and make them want to escape into the painting and the lighting does that. It’s amazing how light and mood can conjure up memories, in fact I had a collector tell me once ‘Your work makes me remember things I’ve never seen’. I love that!
Image Courtesy: Brent Cotton