|Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen grew up in Emigration Canyon, Utah, an ideal place to walk and explore and indulge his youthful fascination for the wild and its varied inhabitants. As a boy, he took up falconry and herpetology and later studied biology. It wasn't until he was approaching his thirtieth birthday that he decided to pursue a career in art. It was then that he felt his skills had reached a point at which it was conceivable that he could be successful as an artist. Although Brest van Kempen had studied perspective in a high school drawing class and had gotten pointers from other artists, he is otherwise self-taught. Once he decided to devote himself exclusively to painting, he gave up his falcons, his beloved dog and reptiles and lived in his van for several years in order to paint, often for up to 100 hours each week.|
|Brest van Kempen's meticulously executed paintings explore the rich variety of nature. He believes that chief among nature's hallmarks is its diversity and he complains that as a whole, wildlife art is a poor reflection of that diversity. "I'm trying to do my little part to help fix that," he laughs. Art is a secondary passion only to Brest van Kempen's fascination with ecology, and he sees himself as a visual storyteller. "As I explore the planets ecology, it conjures a flow of scenarios and stories in my imagination. My paintings are a means for me to realize these narratives and to work out their details. I try to say as much as I can about how the particular subject lives and interacts with its environment and other organisms." His ability to do so with authenticity is the result of intense field research. Brest van Kempen spends as much time in the field as possible, studying the habitats of his subjects. Often, conditions are far from ideal, but his sense of adventure outweighs any difficulties.|
|Beginning with small compositional sketches, he goes on to complete a finished drawing. After referring to his slides to verify markings and anatomical details, he traces his drawing onto a board and then does an underpainting. Once he begins the actual painting, it takes him approximately one-and-a-half hours to complete an area the size of one square-inch, most often using acrylics.|
|Brest van Kempen is highly regarded by his peers. Among them is Carl Brenders, who owns a Brest van Kempen original and who remarked, "Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen will make history in wildlife art. He is pure, and all of his heart and sole are in his work."||
|| Brest van Kempen's
paintings have received widespread acclaim and have been exhibited
throughout the world, earning a number of prestigious awards
in the U.S. In 1994, he was elected to membership in the Society
of Animal Artists, which bestowed on him their highest honor,
"The Award of Excellence," eight times (1994, '96,
'97, '04, '06, '10, '12 and '14), one short of the record.
van Kempen's work can also be found in the permanent collections
of The Springville Art Museum in Utah, The Leigh Yawkey Woodson
Art Museum in Wausau, WI, The World Center for Birds of Prey
in Boise, Idaho, and the Bennington Center for the Arts in Vermont.
He has illustrated a number of books and written the text for
"Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding," a coffee table book
of his own paintings, as well as the foreword and introduction
for two published collections of wildlife art.