Thursday, December 2, 2010

Art, Tatts and Faith: Introducing Colt Prehm

Here's a young artist who's work demonstrates a remarkable maturity. I discovered his paintings via a reference on Twitter. After visiting his website I asked if he would be willing to share a bit of himself here. It will be interesting to see where Coulter Prehm's art will be displayed five years from now.

EN:You’re obviously quite a skilled draftsman. When did you first become aware of your aptitude for art and how did you nurture this gift?
CP: Like most children I did draw and such when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was about 20 and started tattooing that I became aware of my calling to the visual arts. From that moment on I have focused more and more of my time to painting and drawing and am at this point a full time painter. I was blessed to be granted the opportunity to study with Tony Ryder at the Ryder Studio School when I finished my art degree. Tony is a fantastic painter and an even better person. I consider my time and start of my relationship with Tony the foundation that the rest of my career will be built upon.

EN: What is the “optical method” that you mention in your bio?
CP: The optical method that I mention is one that I received from Mr. Ryder. It is a system of drawing and painting from life and is driven by a desire to contemplate, learn from and gain understanding about the visual field and the world around us. Working from life allows the artist to build an intimate relationship with the subject, be it another person, a landscape or a still life. It’s this exchange of energy and life that motivates me to do the work that I do.

EN: How did you get involved in the tattoo business? Has this been your primary source of income since school?
CP: I began tattooing after an apprenticeship with Bob Parr in Ames, Iowa. Bob was and is very supportive and I feel is partially responsible for getting me on the path I am on today. He was one who encouraged me to change my major in college and pursue my art. Tattooing has been a huge blessing to my life not only financially, as it is an efficient way to make a living aside from painting, but I also love to work with my clients and create art on a living canvas. I tattoo about 8 hrs a week currently by appointment only. I experiment a lot with tattoo techniques and I hope to eventually be able to create tattoos such as the world has never experienced. That’s probably a few years down the road though.

EN: What prompted you to paint on white birch bark affixed to a panel? What other kinds of surfaces have you painted on? What is your favorite?
CP: The birch bark on panel was a really exciting surface to create and work on. While I was in NY this past summer painting with the Hudson River Fellowship I cut pieces of bark off of deceased birch trees. I have a strong connection to Nature and Life and to paint on a surface donated by a fellow living organism was an honor. I think the effect created by painting something organic on something so organic was beautiful. That painting is going to be in an upcoming show at Abend Gallery in Denver. Other than that work I primarily paint on panels or linen and I don’t think that I have a favorite as long as the surface is archival; each has its own benefits.

EN: How did you decide to move to Santa Fe after growing up in the Midwest? How has living in Santa Fe influenced your work?
CP: I moved to Santa Fe with my wife Liz in order to study with Tony Ryder. After meeting with Tony and taking a short class it was an easy decision to migrate here to work with him. Being in Santa Fe has had a tremendous impact on my life and my painting and I am grateful for being here. There is an openness to Santa Fe, not just physically with the grand sky, mountains and desert; but also an openness regarding ideas and culture. It is rich with history and a variation of peoples and I am just soaking it all up.

EN: How has your faith influenced your work?
CP: My faith is the cornerstone of my life and therefore completely encompasses all that I do, including my work. My paintings are about God, about a oneness that presides over every living being and about the complex network of Life and Love that binds us all together. I have been called to painting and therefore have never questioned, even for a moment, that I must continue on this path. I have been given a responsibility to use my chosen medium as a conduit of Spirit and Love and Grace. From day one I have been confident that if I live and paint in service to this calling I will be granted a successful career as a painter/ draftsman and instructor.

EN: If someone wants to purchase your work…. Best place to find you is...?
CP: Anyone interested in collecting one of my pieces can contact me directly through my website If someone buys a piece from me and mentions this article I will also donate 30% of the total purchase price to the charity of their choice. My work is also being featured in several different publications in the next couple of months including Tattoo Artist Magazine and the current issue of American Art Collector Magazine.

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