Kenn Backhaus: Biography

Born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1951, Kenn spent much of his childhood on the family farm near Burnett, Wisconsin. His fondness for nature became the catalyst for his art. Kenn’s parents encouraged his artistic education and following High School, he attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After graduation from Layton in 1973, he embarked on his professional career in Design and Illustration. As a commercial designer and illustrator Kenn received many awards at both local and national levels, which included acceptance in the Annual Society of Illustrators Show in New York. Although Kenn took pride in his commercial successes, his heart always belonged to the fine art of outdoor painting.

With developing interest in the historic Plein Air style of painting, Kenn decided in 1984, to devote more time to his passion for painting and the love of the outdoors. He found that capturing true color, value and the mood of a subject was best done on location or through direct observation. His passion for painting has broadened his subject matter to include not only landscape, but also figurative, portrait, still life and wildlife.

Kenn’s works have been juried into many shows across the country, including the Oil Painters of America National Shows. His works have received many awards including an Award of Excellence in the 1998 Regional Oil Painters of America Show, Arlington Heights, IL, 1999 Finalist winner The Artist Magazine, a Best of Show in the 1999 Invitational American Plains Artist Show, Midland, Texas, the Tara Best Landscape award in the 2003 Oil Painters of America National Show, Taos, New Mexico and the Fredrix Artist Canvas, best landscape award in the 2004 Oil Painters Of America National Juried Exhibition, Howard/Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, Washington.

Kenn is a Signature Member of both the Oil Painters of America and the Plein-Air Painters of America. He also served as President of the Plein-Air Painters of America from the year 2000 through 2001.

In August of 2004 Kenn joined two other artists, Matt Smith of Arizona and Jean LeGassick of Nevada on a painting trip, riding horses and packing gear into the Montana Wilderness. Their trip was part of an educational TV series by PBS that documented various artists practicing the traditions of plein air painting in diverse locations and seasons across our most beautiful America.

Kenn was one of fifty artists selected from across the country to participate in a traveling museum show titled “FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA”. The exhibit opened at the Haggin Museum, Stockton, CA during the spring of 2004 and will travel across the country to various museums through 2006. The traveling exhibit is scheduled to conclude in 2006 at the Scottsdale Artists’ School in Scottsdale, AZ.