Paul Brent is a Florida artist whose work is known worldwide. His paintings in watercolor and oil have deftly portrayed the many aspects of the area capturing the innate beauty on paper and canvas. He is best known for his idyllic watercolors of coastal life and is often referred to as America’s best known coastal artist. His work has shown constant progression and change throughout his career. The first pieces of art work that he sold in 1976 were pen and ink drawings of coastal wildlife that he tinted with light washes of watercolor on illustration board and later 300 lb watercolor paper. By 1978 he had eliminated using pen and ink and was doing more detailed and volumetric paintings of the same subjects in nature. His paintings still used the white paper for much of the background.
In 1982, after some experimentation, he launched a new style that featured a painted wash background with drips and splashes of watercolor that ran off the image area. He experimented with adding texture and depth to the watercolor. On top of this loose background, Paul Brent would paint detailed, almost scientific, renderings of tropical fish, birds, shells and flowers along with geometric shapes of French curves, triangles, circles and sometimes three dimensional shapes. This was a blend of his architectural training plus his watercolor techniques and he called this style “Watercolor Montage”. This term means that several unrelated images and techniques are composed together but created in one medium. The composition might look much like a collage that is a series of images that are glued together. As this period evolved, his work became more realistic with fewer splashes and geometric’s. The white edge of paper remained but instead of a drip edge he moved to an irregular edge that enclosed an inner image which was painted more deeply. The image continued past that edge and flowed past the border. He called this style a “Structured Vignette”.
At the turn of the century Paul Brent’s work took another turn when he began to paint in oil, first on tempered board that he hand gessoed and later on canvas as well as board. His first oils reflected the transparent tradition of watercolors but he soon moved on to richer layered paintings that explore the depth of color possible with oil paint. His latest work once more has the feeling of collage as he works with both watercolor and oil to create images that are graphically composed with antique prints, stamps, textures, calligraphy and found objects.
Paul Brent was born in Oklahoma City in 1946. His father, Paul Leslie Brent, and his mother, Aledo Render Brent, were both educators. From the age of five until he was thirteen, Paul Brent lived in southwest Oklahoma. After graduating from high school, he majored in art at California State University at Long Beach. There he studied for two years before he changed his major to architecture and transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1968 and following graduation he joined the Air Force where, after training, he was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City in 1969.
As a professional artist, Paul Brent was accepted as a signature member into the Florida Watercolor Society, the Southeastern Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society. His work has been included in museum shows and he has had one man shows in art galleries throughout the U. S.
In 1997 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators in New York. He later had a one-man show in their gallery. Articles on Paul Brent’s artwork have appeared in American Artist, Décor, Art World News, Art Business News and Florida Monthly magazines to name a few. In 2003 he wrote and created the artwork for a book entitled Wonderful Watercolors with Paul Brent for North Light Publishing. In the May 2006 issue of Coastal Living Magazine Paul Brent was profiled in an article entitled “Watercolor Memories”. He was also included in an article in the Wall Street Journal that described the phenomena of artists achieving success outside of the New York gallery scene. He has created artwork for fund raising posters and limited edition prints for organizations such as FSU Panama City Campus, the New Orleans Aquarium, and the Sanibel Jazz Festival. In 2005 his oil painting, Abstract Violin, was selected for inclusion in the publication Culture Builds Florida’s Future produced by the Florida Department of State, Office of Cultural and Historic Programs. He was asked to create a Christmas ornament for the White House Christmas tree for Christmas 2008.
Paul has been active in arts and planning organizations both locally and in the state of Florida. He served on the board and was president for four years of Bay Arts Alliance. He was on the board of the Friends of the Bay County Libraries and the Greater Downtown Association. He served as board member and Secretary on the Florida Arts Council and was a board member of the Florida Humanities Council. He has donated his art for many local charities. He painted two life-sized dolphins for the community’s “Dolphin Splash” fund raising event and has been participating in the Covenant Hospice Mask Parade since its inception in 2003. In 2009 he served as chairman of the Panama City CRA, Community Redevelopment Agency. For the past 20 years Paul Brent has sponsored and judged a Kids Art Contest for 4th graders in Bay County focusing on endangered wildlife.
Paul and his wife, Lana Jane, have two sons, Jensen and Anders.