William Berra could be the best travel agent ever. Florence, Venice, Sorrento, Marina Grande to view Vesuvius from a distance or Paris - all far away places we have dreamt about - painted on gold leafed canvases beckoning us to explore the very corners of the earth. He delivers adventures of warm afternoons spent on the beaches of France or a crisp morning walk in Santorini.
William Berra‘s spontaneous plein air paintings are influenced by 19th
Century, Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot. Corot painted his travels and brought the work back to the studio. Corot let his work evolve from those moments. Like Corot, William Berra has an unconventional approach - he paints what is striking. Berra says, “…It’s a wonderful feeling to glance at something and see a painting, then know it’s yours. I have a million ideas brewing taking me on adventures that I never anticipated.”
North of Santa Fe, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, William Berra gazes from his studio onto a vista of the Rio Grande Valley and the Jemez Mountains. Painting what lies below is always an option, but to Berra the world is full of potential paintings. His vibrant European and American landscapes, beach scenes, figurative works, and still lifes attest to a talent that appreciates the beauty existing all around us. A William Berra painting is full of light, color, and the joy of living.
William Berra grew up in York, Pennsylvania. In high school his habit of drawing and painting non-stop was leading to certain failure until he persuaded the authorities to allow him to attend college classes at the York Academy of Art instead. Next he enrolled in the Maryland Institute of Fine Art. He experimented with abstract expressionism until, deciding he preferred a more representative style, he struck out on his own. Berra traveled the country painting *en plein air* until he was stranded in Santa Fe in the snowy winter of 1976 and, finding both the landscape and light exquisite, realized that he had found his home.
Travel continues to be a primary source of inspiration. While on the road, especially during trips to Europe, Berra will make quick sketches in oils on location to capture the light, a composition, a color scheme. He will also photograph the subject at all hours and in every sort of weather. Back at the studio, these sketches and photographs provide the references for larger paintings.
About his figurative works, Berra says, “I leave my figures a bit unfinished, a bit abstract, and place them in somewhat abstract settings. This ambiguity allows the figures to represent us all, engaged in the pleasures of everyday life. I tend to visually simplify complex subjects, to reduce them to harmonious compositions of light and color.”
William Berra’s work appears in private and public collections throughout the world. Recent press includes an article in *Southwest Art* and a discussion of his work in the recent books *Art Journey: New Mexico* and *Sketchbook Confidential* Kipp, Kathryn (editor). Art Journey America Landscapes: 89 Painters' Perspectives. Cincinnati, Ohio; North Light Books, 2012.