B R E N T C O T T O N
Raised on his family's cattle ranch in Idaho, Brent's first lessons in art were taught by his grandmother, a talented watercolorist. He grew up sketching the cowboys and horses he observed every day. His family moved to Lindsborg, Kansas when he was in the 5th grade. In this little town steeped in it's Swedish heritage and love of the arts, Brent's creativity flourished. In high school an influential instructor encouraged him to pursue a career in art. Upon graduation, he spent several seasons as a hunting and fishing guide in the vast wilderness of Idaho and Alaska, experiences that led to many painting ideas. He focused on wildlife art and taught himself woodcarving as a way to express himself. His specialty became gamefish and songbirds.
After several years of carving and sculpting, Brent decided to concentrate on painting. He began attending workshops, and over the years has studied with some of the best known names in wildlife and western art. He was part of a select group of artists to study with world-renowned western artist Howard Terpning at the Cowboy Artists of American workshop in 1997. He gives Oklahoma artist Christine Verner the most credit for putting him on the path he's on now. She expanded his vision and under her direction his work turned from highly detailed to a more painterly and looser approach.
He moved to Maui in 1999 and it was there that his work took on a more moody and atmospheric feel. The foggy days he experienced on the slopes of Haleakala volcano combined with the forest fires in Montana where he continued to spend his summers, had a dramatic impact on the direction he would take as an artist. Today he prefers to paint in the Tonalist/Luminist style made popular in the late 1800's, seeking to create works that are mood-evoking and have a timeless quality.
He also enjoys 'Plein Air' painting and strives to work outdoors as often as he can. "I became a better artist when I began painting from life, it forced me to really observe and train my eyes to filter out the unnecessary stuff and focus on the major elements." He loves to strap on his hiking boots, grab his portable easel, and wander off in search of a moody scene to capture on canvas.
As an avid outdoorsman Brent can often be found in standing in one of the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand or on the oars of his driftboat. The close proximity to some amazing blue ribbon trout streams is one of the many reasons he and his family make their home in the Bitterroot valley of Montana. This passion has led Brent to focus on sporting art, particularly fly-fishing as a common theme in his work. His paintings of solitary fishermen in his signature moody style has garnered him many fans in the art and sporting world.
Brent's work has garnered several national awards including the prestigious "Arts for the Parks top 100" in both 1997 and in 2003, where his painting "Evensong" won both the "People's Choice" and "Region 3" awards. Brent was also the very first recipient of the "CM Russell Museum CEO Award" at the annual CM Russell Art Auction in Montana. He was recently invited to participate in the prestigious "Prix de West" Invitational show in Oklahoma City, a lifelong goal for him.
He is represented by several galleries throughout the country, with work in many private and corporate collections abroad. Some of his notable collectors include; Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, and Brent Musberger. His work has been the subject of several feature articles in major art and western lifestyle magazines.
He and his wife Jennifer and their two small children live in the beautiful Bitterroot valley of Montana, where the rural lifestyle and wild rivers provide constant inspiration.
"I'm inspired by mood and drama, the fleeting effects of light. I hope my paintings bring a sense of peace to the viewer, perhaps conjure up a memory. My goal is to show God's glory in my work, he's blessed me so richly and I'm so fortunate to be making a living doing what I love."
Brent Painting 'En Plein Air' in his driftboat; October on the Bitterroot River, Montana
At work in the studio, March 2014. Finishing up my largest palette knife painting to date, a 48x60 titled 'All to Myself'.