American painter Howard Behrens (August 20, 1933 – April 14, 2014) – the world’s most renowned palette knife artist. As a landscape and seascape artist, Behrens has painted the idyllic lakes of Italy to the gardens of New England.
He has had over 150 one-man shows from coast-to-coast since becoming a professional artist in 1980. Behrens was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. He grew up near Washington, DC. He began drawing at age seventeen after being confined to bed following a sledding accident.
His formal education in art was at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a master’s degree in painting and sculpture. Behrens was hired by the United States Government Printing Office, where his father was employed as a printer, and worked there for the next seventeen years. Behrens resided in Potomac, Maryland and died on April 14, 2014 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
Behren’s 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, the artist created a “Tribute to Monets’ 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, he was featured at the games”. The Behren’s works are owned by numerous, well-known collectors and are in the permanent collections of many museums.
A Howard Behrens painting is a combination of artistic influences that culminates in a style he calls “controlled spontaneity.” In his work are reflections of such artists as Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pisarro, Alfred Sisely, and Italian palette knife painter Nicola Simbari. At his heart, Behrens considers himself an expressionist who has integrated the spontaneous nature of the Impressionist painters.
“I’m an expressionist. I like to use color and dramatic, long areas of light and dark. Sunlight makes things more intense than they are. I purposely exaggerate light because it brings out more emotion. With the palette knife, you can’t help but to be spontaneous,” he explained. “Oftentimes, I will splash a lot of areas with thick paint. Then I will go back and use the edge of the knife to put the edges on buildings and other things. You work back to the controlled part.”