Introducing a new artist to our community of art lovers will never get old! It's out great pleasure to welcome Austin, Texas based artist CoCo Zentner to Well + Wonder! Having grown up in Monroe, Louisiana, CoCo's artwork has been heavily influenced by many days spent soaking in the culture, food, and nature of her southern surroundings. She claims to have always had a penchant for composition, color, and detail, and a deep passion for design and art history. After many years of practicing art in an informal setting, she attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received my BFA with a focus in Drawing and Painting and a minor in Business.
We love hearing the stories all about the paths our artists took to find their way into art and onto Well + Wonder. After CoCo graduated, scared of becoming a ‘starving artist,’ she worked at a tech company for nearly five years, where it became evident that painting wasn't just a hobby, but a desire and a passion that needed to be cultivated. She traded in the corporate high-heels for paintbrushes and made art her full-time career starting in 2018.
When CoCo isn't painting she is spending time with her husband Will, dog Maudie, and soon to be baby on the way! We are thrilled to showcase CoCo's latest series of soft, abstracted orchid paintings that will debut in our collection this Monday, 11/8 at 12 PM EST. But before we debut CoCo's work we stole a few minutes of her time and asked her our favorite rapid-fire questions. CoCo's answers did not disappoint! Keep reading to learn all about CoCo, her favorite art museum, and all about how to score a great bargain deal. Then, set your alarms for tomorrow at noon because you won't want to miss this release!
What is currently on your nightstand?
Pictures are really sentimental to me, so I have a framed photo of me and my husband from our early years of dating, a small vase with roses from our yard, a business book (I try to read/listen to one a month), and a giant glass of water.
Who is your biggest influence as an artist and why?
Claude Monet. His use of color and his search to master a colors individuality makes his work extraordinary to me. Because of this, I strive to achieve unique colors in each of my palettes and will never use a color directly out of the tube. I also love how he uses movement throughout all of his artwork, giving life to the subject and the atmosphere. Giverny is top of my bucket list destinations – I think I’ll cry the day I get to visit in-person.
Tell us about your childhood. What is the most memorable moment as a young person?
I grew up in Monroe, LA, & loved growing up in a small city where everyone knows everyone. I had a really large imagination as a kid, and I spent almost all of my time outside with the 'bicycle brigade' made up of a few kids that lived on our block. I’m so grateful that my parents fostered a creative upbringing - I think spending so much time outdoors really shaped why I'm largely attracted to painting nature with vivid color.
If you could only have one supply in your art studio, what would it be and why?
My record player - I have to have music or a podcast playing in the background at all times while I’m at work. My dad gave me tons of his records spanning from jazz to the classics & the player also allows me connect to my phone, if I ever need to change it up and listen to a true crime podcast or an Audible book. Creating an ambiance that is conducive for my painting is really important to my practice, so if I don’t have noise in the background, it’s hard for me to create!
What is your favorite room in your house? Describe it.
I wish I could say my art studio, but it is currently being built in our backyard. I love our living area - we have a lot of natural light and it overlooks our backyard that my husband and I have spent a lot of time gardening in together. We built custom built-ins that have a mix of antique finds, books around interior designers & artists, & contemporary art that I’ve collected over the years. One of the drawers pulls out into a keyboard, which transforms the space into a fun area for entertaining friends!
What is your biggest score online?
I am a bargain hunter & love finding a good deal. Just this week, I found a pair of brand-new Visual Comfort sconces for $150 on Facebook Marketplace. I was certain I was being scammed because it was just too good to be true! Now I guess I have to start scheming & saving up for a bathroom renovation!
What is the benefit of buying art through a collective? What do you recommend for those that are new to buying original art?
Collectives are not only credible, but they are extremely reliable & can help you navigate which work would be suitable for you & your space. In my opinion, artists being represented by a collective mean that they are a trusted artist & their artwork is seen as being a wise investment. For someone new to buying original artwork, I say listen to your gut – if a piece speaks to you, you’ll never regret purchasing it.
If you have the entire day to spend in an art museum, which one and why?
Oh that's a tough one! I could spend hours alone at the MET, but the atmosphere at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, AR, wins me over time and time again.
What is your favorite hotel and what makes it special?
My husband and I went backpacking throughout Southeast Asia a few years ago and stayed at the Shinta Mani in Siem Reap designed by Bill Bensley. Between the magnificence of seeing Angor Wat at sunrise and the kind Cambodian people, this beautifully designed hotel was the cherry on top and definitely a trek worth making.
If you were a lipstick color would you be red, pink, or clear and why?
I wish I could pull off a deep red but it doesn’t complement my hair very well! I love a nice, subtle pink – it’s effortless yet invigorating!
I can never get on a plane without….
My airpods, downloaded podcasts, & a cozy sweater.
How did you get into the world of art?
Art has always been a part of my world. I think my first real memory of being surrounded by art was through my mom (who is naturally very creative). She volunteered at our local art museum – where I would spend many hours with her after school watching her hang artwork. My parents thankfully enrolled me in any and every art class since grade school after realizing I was drawing very realistically for a young child, and I haven’t stopped since! I didn’t really think art could be a full-time career until high school where I had an incredible mentor that really pushed me to pursue my passion.
What do you do to relax?
A long, hot bath with Epson salts (& a glass of wine when not pregnant!) - it's how I end almost every day!
When do you get the biggest surge of inspiration?
It honestly can be brought on by any moment - a song on the radio, a magazine I'm flipping through, or a trip I just took. I have so many notes jotted in my phone of random ‘flashes of inspiration’ – if only I had enough time in the day to paint from them all!
Prediction for the Color of 2022?
Sage green. We need some calmness in our world!
What is your idea of a date night? Dinner and a movie or dancing all night?
A little mix of both! My husband & I love to cook a nice meal followed by a nightcap at our neighborhood jazz bar – it’s definitely more mellow than dancing all night!
Tell us about your favorite painting that you have created.
When I was a junior in college, I told my professor I was going to create a realistic 6' oil painting of Japanese Magnolias. He told me he had little confidence I could do such a task in such a little amount of time. I spent nights in the art school painting this piece (while somehow maintaining a social life and other coursework). It's the only piece I have vowed to never sell, & it currently hangs above our living room couch. I have many 'favorite' pieces, but this specific painting continues to serve as a reminder of the inner grit we all have deep inside of ourselves, and I'm still so proud of that 20-year old me almost a decade later.
One piece of advice for buying original art?
Art is a lifetime investment, so when collecting artwork, buy the piece you can’t stop thinking about. Don’t settle on just filling a space.