Howard Behrens

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Howard Behrens
Born August 20, 1933
Chicago, Illinois
Died April 14, 2014(2014-04-14) (aged 80)
Nationality U.S.
Occupation Artist
Spouse(s) 2
Children 4

Howard Chesner Behrens (August 20, 1933 – April 14, 2014) was American popular artist whose original works of art are sold in fine art galleries, at auction on cruise ships, and at Costco.[1] Behrens' limited and open editions are sold internationally. Behrens was also one of the top-selling artists on Princess Cruises.


Behrens was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. He grew up near Washington, DC.[2] He began drawing at age seventeen after being confined to bed following a sledding accident.[citation needed] 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.[3] Behrens resided in Potomac, Maryland and died on April 14, 2014 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Artistic Approach[edit]

"Many years ago, I learned that the only way I can really achieve what I feel in my paintings is to create them using a palette knife instead of a brush. I love the boldness of the knife, and the control I have of color. Using the knife, I find that I can capture not only the softness of clouds, but also the boldness of mountains, the vibrancy of flowers, and the strength of water. I move the knife furiously as I apply deep, rich color in many layers to achieve dimension and mood." [4]

Even a casual observer who seeks to venture beyond the natural greatness of the scene and the power of that dull blade (the palette knife) as it shapes unwitting pigments of color into visual dreams, will recognize that Mr. Behrens' work speaks to the segment in each of us that wants a better, more beautiful world, as if by reproducing the outside in its perfect state, the artist can induce us to greater internal satisfaction. 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 the sun.[5]

His approach was experiential in terms of his involvement with the formal aspects of painting; brushwork, composition, and color. The artist's process creates a lush "skin" of paint using a combination of brush and most often a "spatula," a palette knife, in the spirit of the vigorous palette knife technique adopted by the master realist, Gustave Courbet.[2]

At once an introspective and humble man and a skilled painter, Behrens created a world of beauty in his work that combines a love of paint, a passion for travel, and a mastery of style and color. The evolution to today's rich, distinctive, texturized style came through experimentation. "I slowly started using the palette knife to paint on canvas," said Behrens. "It started out very fine and thin using very little paint. Then, it got thicker and thicker and heavier and heavier. Finally, the most amazing thing happened - the act of painting became the subject matter." Behrens also developed a method for creation that combined travel, sketching, fine art photography and painting. Creation of paintings that integrate what he calls "big, juicy chunks of paint." [6]


According to Suzaan Boettger, Howard Behrens has been "overlooked by art professionals" with justification. Behrens caters to "shopping-mall customers." His work is what some have called "Impressionistism" or "paintings that are chronologically 'contemporary' but stylistically faux historical." [7]

His proponents have claimed that "Behrens is considered by critics and connoisseurs alike as 'the one, the only, the master' of the palette knife and, as a matter of fact, Howard Behrens, through his work, lives up to the appellation." [5]

If ever there was a composer of color, it is Howard Behrens, a brilliant painter who has emerged among a sea of artists to become the preeminent modern master of the palette knife and an incomparable translator of color.[6]

"Howard is the best colorist among a large group of post-Impressionist painters in the U.S. today," shared Harriet Rinehart, founder of Rinehart Fine Arts, a gallery selling Behrens' work. "Although many people try to imitate him, they always come up second best," "There are many who have tried to imitate his style, but no one has come close," added Josh Miller of Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor and Avalon, New Jersey. "There are different people trying to do what he does, but they just don't pull it off," agreed Rick Moore of Rick Moore Fine Art in Naples, Florida." [6]

Following in the tradition of painters throughout the centuries, Behrens was lured by European cities, villages and hills in search of subject matter. In Behrens' art, which explores the romantic vistas of the Western world, he presents us with a jolt of recognition orchestrated with a subtlety and drama that highlights the triumph of the human spirit as manifested in merging art and nature. The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and integrating its inner qualifications, and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. Howard Behrens acknowledges that art is, after all, a mirror of life. It remains to be constantly explored, awaiting changes of mood and self in a never-ending growth of perception.[2]

Awards and associations[edit]

He was selected along with fellow artists Simon Bull and Thomas Kinkade to commemorate the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Schwartz, Constance (Director and Chief Curator - Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn, New York) (1999). Romance with the Sun. Media Arts Group/Lightpost Publishing. pp. iii. ISBN 1-883269-23-7. 
  3. ^ "HOWARD C. BEHRENS Death Notice". The Washington Post. April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ Behrens, Howard (1999). Romance with the Sun. Media Arts Group/Lightpost Publishing. pp. i. ISBN 1-883269-23-7. 
  5. ^ a b Forbes, Victor (Editor-in-Chief - "Fine Arts Magazine") (1999). Romance with the Sun. Media Arts Group/Lightpost Publishing. pp. ii. ISBN 1-883269-23-7. 
  6. ^ a b c Keller, Julie (Former Editor-in-Chief, "Art Business News") (2006). The Best of Behrens. B.I.G., LLC. p. 7. ISBN 0-9770695-0-8. 
  7. ^ ART, TALK AND POWERPOINT August 1996