"Off the Palette: Rob Couteau."
Published in: HV Biz. 1 March 2010.
(White Plains, NY)
OFF THE PALETTE: Rob Couteau
How long have you been an artist?
When I was six years old, my uncle, Bruce Couteau, purchased a paint-by-number kit for me, and from that moment on I considered myself an “artist.” To this day, the fragrance of certain pigments triggers memories of first using these colors as a child.
How would you describe your art?
Today, I work almost exclusively with the female nude. I try to capture a vital element of the model’s look and psyche. The most realistically rendered elements are usually in the eyes and overall face, while the remainder of the figure gradually assumes a more expressionistic, slightly more abstracted form. I paint from the figure because nothing’s harder – and nothing’s more beautiful or more mysterious.
Does your art symbolically speak to larger issues?
Ultimately, I attempt to render something universal in the human condition, as reflected in the gaze of the specific woman standing before me. After working in a particular direction or style for a lengthy period, I often have dreams that point me to a completely new approach. These dreams – usually of specific paintings that are created in the dream itself – never steer me wrong, and I follow them unflinchingly.
Advice for beginners?
Work right after your morning coffee, and only after a good night’s sleep. Follow your intuition, and do it because you love it; otherwise, you’ll never get anywhere. I learned very little from art teachers, but I’ve learned a lot from people who work in art-supply stores and from talented biographers of great artists. Also, from what the models themselves tell me about my work. Remember, it’s not just about being born with a talent. It’s also about learning a craft; studying tradition; and working every day: month after month, year after year.
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