Thursday, September 06, 2012

French Impressionism Meets North Carolina

Brenda Behr is no stranger to oil painting. Her dad gifted Brenda her first set of oils and private painting lessons when she was just ten years old. She remains forever grateful to both her late parents for always standing by her and generously giving their support to her pursuit of art.

Brenda will be the featured artist at Carolina Creations, 317 Pollock St, Downtown New Bern, September 1 through October 31. The opening reception will be during ArtWalk, September 14, 5-8 pm. She will be on hand demonstrating and answering questions about her art throughout the evening

Behr is also no stranger to plein air painting. In the spring of 1981, working as a full-time graphic designer in Minnesota, she decided she needed an outlet from her thriving freelance business. She signed up for a class in watercolor at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. There was no mention in the class of painting from photos. She explains, “We either painted a still life that was in front of us, or a live model, or we took our paint and easels outside and painted on location. Thus, Brenda was introduced to plein air painting.

Brenda holds an M.F.A. degree from Syracuse University and she has studied with the late Robert E. Wood, Cheng-Khee Chee, Frank Webb, Don Andrews, Albert Handell and John de la Vega, and Susan Sarback.

Brenda’s introduction to the work of California artist Susan Sarback, a colorist with whom Brenda had the privilege to study has greatly influenced the works Brenda has in North Carolina Meets French Impressionism. Sarback is a former student of Henry Hensche, an American painter linked to renown French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

The French Impressionists set out to paint light. Light is determined not only by the time of day and the season of the year, but whether it’s a sunny or an overcast day. All these things affect the temperature with which a painting will be executed. Cool and warm is as important now to Brenda’s paintings as are tonal value and composition. Another way Brenda identifies with nineteenth century Impressionism is in her choice of subject matter. She explains,

“Because my backyard and a sunflower field have more to do with my day-to-day experience, I’d rather paint the commonplace. I paint my share of landmarks, but I am more concerned with the here-today-gone-tomorrow kinds of rural landscapes and structures. Much of this, I’m sure, has to do with my having been away from home for thirty-seven years, seeing how things changed over time, and now wanting to capture various scenes and architecture for the sake of posterity.”

Brenda will be teaching two plein air workshops on the New Bern waterfront Sept 29-30 during the upcoming Craven Arts Festival. Her watercolor workshop will wet the feet of watercolorists ready to take a step outside. In the oil workshop, those ready to explore color temperature as it applies to plein air painting are encouraged to enroll. More information about the workshops is available through the Craven Arts Council.

For more details on these pieces follow this link.

For more information about Brenda’s show at Carolina Creations, contact the gallery at 252-633-4369, or visit the website at

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