Howard Behrens is a renowned master colorist and skilled palette knife painter. Through a mastery of style and color, he captured his experiences while traveling. His coastal landscapes and architectural scenes embodied an expressionistic style and the spontaneity of Impressionism.
Behrens’ interest in art started at a young age as his father was a printer and his mother had a flair for design. While in third grade, he received a watercolor set that led him to discover his love for art and painting. His interest in art continued into high school, where he became known as “the class artist.” After a sledding accident at seventeen years old, he was bedridden for a while. It was during this recovery period spent mostly painting that Behrens decided to pursue a career as an artist.
He went on to study art at the University of Maryland. After graduating, though accepted into the medical illustration program at Johns Hopkins University, he pursued a master’s degree in painting and illustration instead. After receiving his graduate degree, he began to work for the United States Government Printing Office. He worked as a government graphic designer for seventeen years.
Due to his stable job, Behrens had the opportunity to travel frequently. He often vacationed in Europe and throughout the United States. He often visited tropical locations, and the building and natural scenery around him inspired his practice. More specifically, the country of Italy was a common destination and considered one of his muses for his artworks. Behrens’ other muse was his wife and publisher, Judi Behrens, who accompanied him in his travels. His traveling allowed him to develop his style and explore new painting techniques. After discovering that he could not travel with wet paintings, Behrens began sketching and photographing views that he would later paint at his studio.
Today, Behrens is known for using large quantities of paint and embracing the impasto technique. He preferred working with a palette knife which allowed him to create thick layers of paint on the canvas. The palette knife allowed him to create vibrant color schemes and play with the texture on the canvas. Additionally, he focused on the source of light within his compositions and exaggerated it to evoke more emotion.
Throughout his career, Behrens received many recognitions. Including being named the official artist of the Winter Olympics in 2002. Additionally, his paintings belong to the collections of various museums around the world. Behrens passed away in April 2014 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.