Emerging Artists | Brian Cote

Making his mark

Brian Cote, Man Made, oil, 16 x 20.

Brian Cote, Man Made, oil, 16 x 20.

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Once upon a time, as a fine-art student in Arizona during the early 1990s, Brian Cote painted exclusively in the studio. Back then, he was chiefly inspired by the figure. But then he moved to Georgia, and the dramatic shift in scenery prompted Cote to take his paints outdoors. “I realized that’s where it’s at,” he says. “The plein-air work helped shape the way I approach painting in all genres, with the underlying energy of a person, place, or thing prompting a more responsive, looser interpretation.”

Cote continued to paint both in his studio and en plein air after returning to Arizona in 2001. Professionally, however, he spent more than a decade crafting pastries and other gastronomic delights in the culinary industry, where he climbed the ranks to an executive chef position. But the mainly managerial role suddenly left him feeling far removed from the thing he loved most—the act of creating. So, in 2015, he stepped down from the position to refocus his energy on painting earnestly.

Today Cote portrays everything from portraits and still lifes to the landmarks and desert landscapes around his home in Tempe, AZ. Largely influenced by the Russian Impressionists’ handling of color and light, the artist swiftly tackles most of his works in just one or two lively, “interactive” painting sessions. As he works, he taps into his experience as a jazz drummer. “In jazz, you don’t just play your part—you have to interact with the other pieces,” he explains. “So, when I’m painting, I’m doing that. I’ll set things up with a design in mind, but as I’m moving through the layers of a painting, I’m reacting to it and playing along.”

Such was the case when Cote composed CELADON BOWL WITH APPLES, an impasto-rich oil painting featuring a group of fresh apples and a mint-green 18th-century Chinese celadon bowl from his collection of antiques. The artist applied contrasting thick and thin brush strokes to the canvas, and he also used his fingers and palette knives to make palpable marks. The pièce de résistance garnered Best of Show in the BoldBrush Painting Competition in January. “In all of my works, surface quality means a lot,” says Cote. “It feels right to me to have a variety of marks and layered brush strokes. They provide a vibration of color—almost like pointillism or impressionism—to generate energy.” —Kim Agricola

representation
www.briancote.com

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook

COMMENT