Cole Carothers was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colorado College 1971 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from American University in 1978. From 1978-81 he was the instructor in Art, Art History, and Theater Design at St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware. He has also taught painting at the Art Academy of Cincinnati 1981-83 and was Adjunct Associate Professor of Design at the College of DAAP, University of Cincinnati from 1985-92. Between 1998-2004 he served as Program Director for the Baker Hunt Arts and Cultural Center in Covington, KY.
His paintings have been exhibited in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and throughout the Midwest, including in exhibitions at the Springfield Museum of Art, the Dayton Visual Arts Center, the Miami University Art Museum, and the Southern Ohio Museum. He is a recipient of numerous grants, fellowships and awards including an NEA Arts Midwest Fellowship, two Ohio Arts Council grants, three Summerfair Artists Grants and a Rome Prize Finalist. His paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, the Jacobs Gallery at Georgetown College, Lakeland College, the University of Cincinnati’s George Elliston Reading Room and numerous corporations. From 2007 – 2010, two paintings were placed with the US Department of State Art in Embassies Program at the US ambassador’s residence in Tunis, Tunisia.
My approach to painting is a kind of phenomenology. I will pause to examine when I see the elegance of a simple shape in some object, landscape or interplay of light and shadow as an arrangement of pattern and color. I often think about paintings when I’m driving, doing mundane chores, or thinking about other artists. It may lead to visual distraction and absorption. These moments are frequently seminal in my desire to make another painting as they affirm the sensation of presence and consciousness.
I am drawn to subjects that have dynamic visual properties such as a thrust of space defined by structure, motion, or light. I enjoy architecture, the elegance of designed objects, especially commonplace ones, and the mixture order with chaos implicit in Nature.
My paintings develop slowly. I build them through multiple layers and sessions. I prefer to paint from direct observation. With interior views, I am able to do this, but in outdoor locations using large formats, painting on site is typically impractical. I must rely upon sketches, photographs, and make frequent visits to the location in order to memorize the visual sensations that prompted me at first. It’s like the difference between a real egg and a powdered one.
Lastly, I paint on wood panels primed with hide glue gesso and sanded smooth. The paint layers are mostly thin and translucent which lets the colors mix and resonate with light. The layers also reveal stages of thought and changes that impart a vitality to the surface as if it were a living thing. There are innumerable ways to apply paint to a panel and I experiment with them to invigorate the surface. My best painting comes when I’m in a zone where consciousness is guided by instinct, intuition, and the essence of things sublime. It requires work and taking the time to embrace a visual experience.