Carl Brenders’ love for all creatures, from the friendly to the ferocious, is evident in his masterful attention to their every detail; nothing is overlooked. With his imagination, Brenders is able to get close enough to wild animals so that he can almost feel their textures. Consequently, his work has a tactile reality, giving us the sense of having been where even the most intrepid of field guides have not ventured. Of this ability Brenders says, “A painter is a privileged being, because in his imagination he can come very close to the animals he paints. In reality, one can never come this close to wild animals, particularly if they are predators.”
Brenders’ insistence on anatomical perfection in his paintings stems from his philosophy that nature, itself, is perfection: “That is why I paint the way I do with so much detail and so much realism — I want to capture that perfection,” he says.
Born near Antwerp, Belgium, Brenders has drawn since childhood. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Antwerp and later at Berchem. He produced wildlife illustrations for a series of books entitled The Secret Life of Animals. Honored as the 24th Master Artist at the prestigious 2002 “Birds in Art” Exhibition at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, Brenders’ work is regularly exhibited at the museum. His art is the subject of the critically acclaimed book, Wildlife: The Nature Paintings of Carl Brenders, published by Harry N. Abrams in association with Mill Pond Press. A major retrospective exhibition of 30 of his works, entitled “Artistry in Nature: The Wildlife Paintings of Carl Brenders,” opened at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA, before traveling to Cleveland, OH, Louisville, KY and Shreveport, LA.
The wildlife images of Brenders’ art are first created from pencil sketches; from these sketches his mixed media paintings of watercolor and gouache are completed with a technique he has developed during the last 25 years. His paintings, encompassing every intricacy of nature, devote equal attention to the detail of the wildlife subject and its habitat as well as to the mood created by the light.
Although Brenders feels that there are not enough hours in a lifetime to do all the paintings he would like, he deems details as small and as common as lichens worthy of his time and attention. For, he says, if it takes lichen 200 years to grow as large as a coin, surely he can devote the extra hours necessary to perfectly capture its every characteristic.
An intense man who sees minutia that escapes the average viewer, Brenders’ art allows us to see what he sees, exactly as he sees it — in comparison, everything else seems out of focus.
A dedicated conservationist, Brenders has raised awareness for environmental and conservation causes with his art which enjoys international acclaim. He is widely collected in North America, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Holland, Argentina and in his native Belgium.