One Small Dab to Begin – Art By Howard Behrens

Seems funny to say, or type it — 2010. But it’s not that far off – about 75 days give or take.

Once the year changes, most of us will go through a period when we won’t be very used to it. You might have to tear up a few checks and re-write them because you made an error in writing out the year.  Spell it out and it looks like this: two thousand and ten.  But no one spells it out. It’s much easier to write it numerically. In that particular example, fewer characters simplify the task of identifying the year.

In art and photography, as we commonly perceive images via this medium of the computer, the opposite is true. We need more and more characters to unify the image and amplify the data to create the whole as an identifiable image.

Except that we aren’t using characters are we? We leave it to the computer to sort out the digital data for us. A simple task for the PC, and instantly we see the image.

But how are the images created before they are digitized? We aim a camera at a person, a place, or a thing, and whether we use a film camera, a digital camera, or a video camcorder, we simply aim and press a button on the camera. Yes, we can make adjustments to allow in more or less light, but the camera does the work. Walk into any adult video store and you will see literally thousands and thousands of examples of someone who pointed his video camera at someone else and pressed a button.

We can create a ‘painting’ by placing oil, or acrylic, or water based paints onto a canvas or a paper with a brush, or other implements, or we can splash the paint, brush the paint, drip the paint, or apply it to the surface anyway we like, even with our fingers. The finished product is called a painting, and, however the paints are applied, someone, but not necessarily everyone, will call the created painting ‘A Work of Art’.

A few months ago, someone wrote a critical letter to me specifying that because I travel and like Art, and because I discuss these matters in my column, I was somehow ‘at fault’. Maybe we should take a look at art, and why we like it. There’s no reason to need to defend traveling, so we simply won’t. Except through the art.

The artist we will look at in this issue is Howard Behrens. And what makes Howard’s works so distinctive is that he does not use a paintbrush. Instead, he applies the paints to the canvas with a palette knife.

The paint is applied to the canvas in different amounts, creating textural peaks of various sizes. The technique yields a brilliance of the colors, as the paints do not soften as they might with a brush.

In the series above, just look at how the work is created, one dab at a time, and imagine how his painting grew from a single dab of paint, applied with a palette knife, on an empty canvas to the completed work of art called Bellagio Shadows (below).

Howard travels to special places filled with light, and beauty. We are glad he travels and finds those moments and places to savor. Check out his Bellagio Deja Vu below.


Look at his painting called My Beloved (above). How can you not love this painting? Art is special and unique and will touch your senses in a variety of ways, and will enrich your mind if you give yourself a chance to appreciate it.

Speaking of moments to savor, in the coming year, we will have many more. Until then, don’t bother looking for the small dabs, or the smaller pixel groups. Just let the light and shadows meld into the beautiful entirety that excites you. You can compare this Behrens work, called Varenna Morning (above) to the photo of the real Bellagio (below).


Like the gorgeous Howard Behrens painting of his beloved wife, and the two paintings at the top of the page, Flowers By the Sea, and Bellagio Gardens, which captivate and delight, let your New Year begin amid beauty and hope. Okay, I’m a bit ahead of myself. Delete New Year and substitute next week.  Caio!