Colleen R. Cotey Studios

Biography, Colleen R. Cotey, SAA

Cotey is an Award Winning, International Artist and Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists. Cotey’s works are held in private collections throughout England, Ireland, Mexico and the United States. Public works include a life-size wolf pack of six wolves and one raven at Wolf Haven International in Tenino, WA

Colleen R. Cotey began her practice at an early age. Raised in rural Western Washington, Cotey was surrounded by a wealth of wildlife, domestic animals and livestock. The Artist contributes her keen skills in observation to time spent out of doors, visually investigating a multitude of animals and studying all of their beautiful and unique subtleties including body language, social structure, vocabulary, habitat and diet. As a child, Cotey’s love of creating animal art influenced her family to enroll her in the Olympia Waldorf School. During her ten years as a pupil, she was instructed by skilled artisans and master craftsmen who provided the young artist with a solid foundation of basic skills in a multiplicity of two and three dimensional artistic mediums. Formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Evergreen State College, 2011.

Today, Colleen R. Cotey resides in Olympia, Washington with her husband, horses, dog and cat.

In 2013, Cotey’s sculpture “Finish Line” was the recipient of the Equine Art Purse Trophy Purchase Award at the Washington Thoroughbred Foundation’s Equine Art Show at Emerald Downs, Auburn, WA. In 2014 the artist was commissioned to create the Poster Art for the City of Olympia’s Spring Arts Walk. The sculpture of two young fawns “Twins” was purchased by the City and is on public display in the Olympia Center.

Venues in which Cotey's work has been selected for exhibition include: the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, Amarillo, TX; The Wildlife Experience, Parker, CO; The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, WA; The National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, VA; The Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art, Bolivar, MO; and the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, Oradell, NJ. Full resume available upon request or viewable on LinkedIn.

Artist Statement
I will never tire of the complexity found in portraying the animal subject. I am enthralled by the polarity of nature, the predator and the prey, wild creatures and their domestic decedents. Like many others who have devoted an extended period of time to understanding a species or particular animal subject, I recruit animals as an analytic tool - to symbolize, dramatize, and illuminate aspects of the human experience.

Arguably, every artwork is an abstraction of what we see. The most realistic and lifelike animal artworks are an abstraction of the animal subject. As someone who is passionate about wildlife and creating artworks on the topic, I must take into consideration the fragility associated with generating works centered on a living being, which possesses no means of vocalizing an opinion on their depiction. My responsibility to the animals lies in research. I believe the themes I explore, in regards to wildlife, are centered in respect - not making the animal into more or less of what it is. The creature in itself is enough.

My art is created in an attempt to remind others of the animals with whom we share this planet. I am not interested in representing a true, photographic resemblance; I am interested in capturing the essence of a given subject. In order for me to feel a piece is successful, it must have expressive eyes. I strive for my work to have eyes that speak to the viewer, portray an emotion, and tell a story. On commissioned portraits, I work diligently to render the animal’s character – as known by its guardian. I make every effort to represent an individual's personality in each piece.

As a girl, the majority of my time was spent on or around my horse. The skills I developed as an equestrian have greatly inspired how I work with my materials today. Whether painting or sculpting, just as with riding, everything revolves around pressure. My work involves reading my animal, my canvas, my wire, and knowing when to put the pressure on - or take it off. As I develop as an artist, equestrian and human being, I am finding more and more that my work and life – has primarily become centered on appreciating my materials and my animals for what they are. Working with them to the best of my ability and trusting them enough to let go of the reins every now and then.


View Colleen Cotey's profile on LinkedIn