She Grabbed the Tiger by the Tail and Ended Up in a Cow Field

Patricia Cotterill is relaxing after a lifetime of artistic success. Portrait by Morgan Ford

Patricia Cotterill, born in the small town of Forfar near Scotland’s east coast, experienced a global childhood, thanks to a father who served in the British Royal Air Force. Growing up, she lived in India, Singapore, France, Iran, and several cities in the United States. 

Her paintings exude a cosmopolitan flavor and have received extensive national exposure: NBC purchased three of her paintings for the set of the TV series “Parenthood,” and HGTV’s “Urban Oasis” used four more of her works when they staged their West Asheville project home two years ago. 

But most recently, her canvases reflect a much closer kind of inspiration: a cow in a field, a fallen nest, people out and about, and the seemingly limitless colors found in the flora and fauna of Southern Appalachia. 

Moo Time

“I take my iPhone everywhere with me to capture any moment that inspires me,” says Cotterill. These shots then become the reference for the freehand sketches that evolve into the paintings. She explains her love affair with oils: “Nothing beats the creamy feel as you move the paint around on the canvas.” That, along with a slower drying time, offers her the opportunity to be spontaneous — changing strokes, mixing colors, and making corrections.

“I work quickly to block in the shapes and apply color to the canvas,” she explains. “I try to capture the feeling I want to express within a few brushstrokes, because I don’t want to get lost in the details until the end. Working in this way causes the viewer to have the same emotional response as I do, and I think they also get a sense of that journey when they see my paintings.”

Top: Sheep in Wool Coats, Bottom: Cheeky Donkeys

If Cotterill’s process now is measured and leisurely, her ascent in the art world was considerably more swift. After graduating with a degree in graphic design from the prestigious Lincoln College of Art in England, she worked for an advertising agency, where she designed the tiger’s tail for the British version of an international oil company’s “Tiger in the Tank” campaign. She then got a job as display manager for a chain of stores in southern England. Years later, married with two daughters, she and her husband Stuart became American citizens. 

Then, when Stuart began contemplating retirement, the couple visited Asheville. “I thought this would be the perfect place to feed my passion for art, and for his love of writing and woodworking.” She adds, “It was not a hard decision to make.”

Baby Blues

Patricia Cotterill, Riverside Studios, 174 West Haywood St. in the River Arts District. Cotterill also shows at Grovewood Gallery (111 Grovewood Road, Asheville), including in the “Animal Attraction” show at Grovewood running through October 28; at Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St., Asheville, 828-254-9234, woolworthwalk.com); and at Mountain Nest Gallery (133 Cherry St., Black Mountain, 828-669-0314, mtnnest.com). For more information, see patriciacotterill.com.

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