I thoroughly enjoy applying paint to canvas. When working with paint I am reminded that life is never predictable, that the paint has a life of its own over which an artist has only limited control.

I often begin a piece by taking lots of photographs of scenes and objects I find interesting. To get all the ingredients I want in a composition, I combine images from several photos. I frequently distort the image’s shape and colors for the effect I want to achieve. I then use a print of the image I have created as a reference when applying paint to canvas. When doing acrylic paintings, I rarely use a brush. The paint is squirted, poured or extruded onto the surface of the canvas and then often raked with various instruments.


When I was seven years old my mother won a drawing contest with a pencil drawing of another contestant. I was very impressed, and soon I was doing portraits for my school teachers. Since then I have never been far from doing artwork, even during my days as an Air Force Medic, during which time I won awards for my pastel drawings.

Van Gogh and Gauguin are probably the biggest influences on my work. I saw a Gustav Klimit exhibit at the Guggenheim when I was a teenager, and I am still very inspired by his works.

Webmaster - Keegan Markhardt

My abstract paintings evolved from an approach I had taken to landscape painting between 2001 and 2006, involving strongly contrasted, richly saturated colors, thickly-textured brushstrokes, and fluid lines. Moving away from a representational mode allowed me to develop the paint application, layering, and experimentation with color in completely new ways. Many of the paintings also involved flinging color from the brush or pallet knife. I discovered a rhythmic, even musical, dimension to this way of painting. Most of these paintings are composed of many layers, so working in quick-drying acrylics was a distinct advantage

I know a piece is done when the paint and I have found a way to work together and have come to some resolution in which we can co-exist in harmony. When my work is going well, I am filled with a sense of joy and well-being and the paint is resolving itself into attractive shapes and colors.

When people see my work, I’d like them to enjoy a new way of looking at paint and canvas. What appears as harmony from a distance often emerges as chaos up close.

From oil portraits of babies to cats cast in concrete, I have worked in a variety of mediums including oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, stone, wood, concrete, steel, and plaster. At present I am working primarily in acrylics, in which I find a freedom of expression I haven't experienced in other mediums.

I am a Vietnam era veteran and a University of Wisconsin Fine Arts graduate.  My public art experience includes working in Milwaukee as a commercial artist and teaching portraiture and figure drawing at the Art Center in Madison.

I invite you to explore my gallery.

        Willard D. Markhardt