Bruno Cote is one of the more successful painters living in Baie-Saint-Paul--in all of Canada for that matter. The first thing you notice on entering his studio is the cleanliness and lack of clutter. Further, he has only two small windows, and on those the blinds are drawn. Bruno, 67, told me he learned the hard way that he doesn't need distractions.
Working on thin panels of Masonite or hardboard, he archives large numbers of paintings vertically in a relatively small space. Panels for field sketches have wide edges for holding at arm's length. He has a separate drying room for oils. "I found out oil is at its most dangerous when it is giving off fumes while drying, not while painting," he tells me. Two months ago he started working in acrylic, "for the first time in my life--I like it, it works fine," he says. Bruno is a big, jolly fellow who laughs a lot and speaks with a strong Quebecois accent.
The studio is on two levels, one an afterthought of the other. The lower area contains the workstation and easel. A wide table sits in front of the easel, all but preventing close work that might interfere with his exuberant, wet-in-wet style.
The table contains a two-dozen-sized muffin pan loaded with pure out-of-the-tube acrylics. Around the edge of this pan Bruno has a homemade rubber gasket on which a heavy piece of transparent plastic can be placed. A few squirts from a spritzer and "it's good for a week," he says. So you can get an idea of Bruno's work and studio, we've included photos at the top of the current clickback. See URL below.
In the middle of the easel and rising up behind it is a
brightly painted board with the cryptic letters "EMTD" at the top. It stands for "Enthusiasm Makes the Difference," the title of a book by Norman Vincent Peale that Bruno read when he was young. "It changed my life," says Bruno. EMTD is more than Bruno's motto, it's his primal force and method of living.
I ask him how he gets enthusiastic when he isn't feeling it. "It builds up," he says. "If you don't work for a while, then you need to and you do it. I come in here and go for it. I work myself up. I work very, very fast and get a lot done for every blast. If you're not enthusiastic, it's no good."
"All I need is the idea I can get in the sketch; then I can
make it bigger."
Esoterica: Like a lot of fine artists, Bruno comes from a sign-painter background. He has the worker's edge, and his mind isn't cluttered with rationalizations or pretense. A direct problem-solver, he has systematically mastered the mysteries of colour. Monochromatic and analogous schemes vie with the complementary, while bravura brushwork dictates energetic skies and noisy, active watercourses. Bruno has never taken a formal lesson, nor has he taught. "I can't teach it," he says, "because I go by instinct."
If you would like to see selected, illustrated responses to the last letter, "Conservative tendencies," a look into the creative microcosm of Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, as well as work systems in the Bruno Cote studio, please click here
(c) Copyright 2007 Robert Genn @ The Painter's Keys