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Howard Behrens

 (1933 - 2014)
Howard Chesner Behrens was active/lived in District Of Columbia, Illinois.  Howard Behrens is known for light filled palette knife painting, figure, landscape, marine genre.

Howard Behrens

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in 1933 in Chicago and growing up in Washington DC acclimated Howard Behrens to historic painted works in the respective museums of each city. After earning his Masters Degree in Painting and Sculpture in 1964 from The University of Maryland, he began a career that has led him to every end of the globe and back, to find and paint scenes of intense beauty.

He has a style that likens itself to the Impressionists of the late nineteenth century, a mixture of Monet, Courbet, Corot and Pissarro- with flair all its own. His use of the palette knife has garnered him the recognition world-wide as the modern master of the technique. An avid world traveler, his magnificent on-location paintings of Mexico, Italy, France, Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and United State's coastlines show his marvelous grasp of the colors of his surroundings.

Using impasto (thick paint) he creates depth of field and intense contrast between light and shadow. He has virtually eliminated black and white from his palette, believing instead that the colors in nature are more interesting such as the way a shadow at noon creeps across a villa in Tuscany, or a dusky garden in Giverny emotes pinks, greens, blues.

Making an analogy to a lyrical musician with paint, Behrens said: "I want to be the composer. I don't want to be the piano. And I'll tell you: in art, in painting, you have to be both the piano player and the composer. Every time the music is played, I have to be the one playing it."

And play it he does. "Mr. Behren's work speaks to the segment in each of us that wants a better, more beautiful world," says Victor Forbes-publisher of Fine Arts Magazine. "Howard Behrens is a romantic poet sculpting paint on canvas, and while he has spawned an entire cottage industry of emulators, few, if any capture the emotional breadth of this man in love with love, life and sun". (Howard Behrens: Romance with the Sun)

Collection Privee Fine Art

Biography from
I feel a tremendous amount of excitement facing a new canvas. This energy comes from the thrill of transforming it into a recollection of my travels to the world's most beautiful and romantic places. As an Expressionist, I paint fast while the passion for the painting is very strong. For me, the paint is the subject matter just as much as the image. I love the juicy chunks of color that I can translate to canvas with my palette knife." --Howard Behrens

For the past 25 years, Howard Behrens, a palette knife artist, has had a romance with the sun. From the idyllic lakes of Italy to the intimate gardens of New England, the artist has danced with her, chased her, seen her in her many different moods. Behrens' motivation comes from his strong passion to capture the "essence" of the places he visits around the world. The artist has been influenced by Monet, Van Gogh and Nicola Simbari, the Italian palette knife artist.

Behrens attempts to express his love for the radiance of the sun's gifts - shadow, light, color, and the subtle nuances of these elements. Many years ago, Behrens learned that the only way he can really achieve what he feels in his paintings is to create them using a palette knife for its boldness and control of color instead of a brush.

Using the palette knife, Behrens works to capture not only the softness of clouds, but also the boldness of mountains, the vibrancy of flowers, and the strength of water. Behrens moves the palette knife furiously as he applies deep, rich color in many layers to achieve dimension and mood. Behrens is also a classicist in his approach to composition so that there is plenty of room for the eye to rest and the imagination to wander, touring distant horizons around the world taking in crystal coves, wispy palms, pink villas, and stunning overlooks in the artist's paintings of these exotic places.

Traveling is like an aphrodisiac for Behrens' romance with the sun. During his travels, he has seen the way the ever-changing kaleidoscope of light and shadow changes how a place looks and feels from hour to hour. Often, the artist sits and waits for these moods to present themselves to him. Behrens says the sun has taught him to be patient, to observe, and to play. The artist says his excitement continues to peak as he plans each new trip - whether it's a return to a place he has painted over and over or whether it's a new adventure in a land unknown.

Behrens has had over 150 one-man shows from coast-to-coast since becoming a professional artist in 1980. His works have been on the covers of many art publications, and he has been the featured subject of numerous magazines and newspapers. After visiting Giverny, France, last year, the artist created a "Tribute to Monet" series that was exhibited at the Embassy of France in Washington, D. C.  As an official artist for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Behrens' painting, In Motion, was featured at the games.

The artist's works are owned by numerous, well-known collectors and are in the permanent collections of many museums. The most recent Behrens' collectors are former President George Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush.

Behrens and his former wife, Judi, traveled the world - Italy, Bermuda, Mexico, across America - to many of their favorite places filled with gardens, inns, vistas, and villas. Though born in Chicago, he is a longtime resident of the Washington, D. C. area. He holds a Bachelors and a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the University of Maryland.

Website of the artist

Biography from Susanin's Auctions
Following is the obituary of the artist published in The Washington Post, April 18, 2014.

Washington metropolitan area acclaimed artist HOWARD C. BEHRENS died on April 14, 2014, from Parkinson's disease complications. He was 80 years old. Mr. Behrens is regarded as the premier American palette knife artist of his time, with numerous shows in the United States and around the world. His work is found in museums and private collections worldwide.

Howard Chesner Behrens was born on August 20, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. His family moved to Takoma Park in 1940. As a young man, Howard's artistic and creative talents emerged as he developed an interest in oil painting. He earned a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Maryland in 1964. Soon after graduate school, Behrens was hired by the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington, DC, where his father was employed as a printer.

For the next seventeen years he worked on a wide variety of publications that the Printing Office designed, illustrated, and printed for various agencies of the federal government. His passion for travel, for trying new techniques, and his endless hours of painting after work helped him to create his own style of painting with a palette knife.

Behrens was captivated by the bright swirls of color that he could create by applying thick globs of oil paint onto a canvas using a palette knife. In Howard's words, "Since the late 1970's I used only a palette knife to create my paintings. Looking back, I cannot believe it took me so long to discover its potential."

Mr. Behrens first solo exhibition occurred in 1981 with the Wally Findlay Galleries in Palm Beach Florida. This launched his career and was followed by hundreds of one-artist shows in the US and around the world. Through his art, he celebrated the beauty in living by painting some of the most picturesque spots on earth. Behrens considered himself to be more of an expressionist artist than an impressionist. Monet and Cezanne, who were impressionists, influenced his work. However, he wanted to communicate the act of painting to the viewer, which is why he regarded himself as an expressionist.

The use of the palette knife enabled Mr. Behrens to add layers of depth, texture, and bright colors, which became his trademark as a successful artist. As opposed to the traditional paint brush, the metal edges of the knife enabled the immediacy of conveying paint to the canvas, and therefore engaged the viewer in the act of painting.

Mr. Behrens is survived by his four children: Jesse, Jamie, and Scott Behrens, and Candice Behrens Grow, as well as his three grandchildren, Ella Lynn and Varley Steele Behrens, and Lia Marie Grow. Services are private. Instead of flowers, the family requests that those so inclined would consider making a small donation to the National Parkinson's Foundation, Gift Processing Center, PO Box 5018, Hagerstown, Maryland 21741.

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About  Howard Behrens

Born:  1933 - Chicago, Illinois
Died:   2014 - District of Columbia
Known for:  light filled palette knife painting, figure, landscape, marine genre