Background: Behrens was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. He is an American popular artist whose original works of art are sold in fine art galleries and at auction on cruise ships. Behrens’ limited and open editions are sold internationally. Behrens is also one of the top-selling artists on Princess Cruises.
Education: 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.
Achievements: 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.”
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.
His approach is 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.
At once an introspective and humble man and a skilled painter, Behrens has 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.”