William Berra is an American painter of landscapes, figures, and still life. He has appeared in over 40 solo and group shows and has been featured numerous times in national publications such as Southwest Art and American Art Collector.
Born in Pennsylvania, he constantly sketched and painted as a child. By high school he was copying the Neo-Classic painters and old masters, and supplemented his high school classes with attendance at the York Academy of Art.After continuing to explore painting styles, he later he struck out on his own and traveled throughout North America, capturing the landscape in studies painted en plein air.
While traveling cross country in 1976, Berra arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was dazzled by the landscape and the clarity of the high desert light, and stayed to paint it. His work was chosen for the 1978 Biennial Exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Art and from there Berra's career as a professional artist was born; the owner of Seth's Canyon Road Art Gallery saw the exhibition and offered him a show and representation.
Berra spent the 1980s primarily painting Northern New Mexico. He was influenced by the Macchiaioli painters of 19th century Italy, precursors to the French practitioners of Impressionism, and he experimented with techniques to achieve their effects.
In the 1990s, Berra began to spend more time painting in the studio, developing material gathered in plein air sketches and photographs. He expanded his horizons and his subject matter, traveling and painting landscapes in Europe, Hawaii, and throughout North America.
Berra also turned his attention increasingly to figurative work. Starting with oil sketches of his wife painted on location in Europe,he developed a style that presents ambiguous figures in abstract, unresolved landscapes. He began an ongoing series of beach scenes that have become increasingly simplified and abstracted in recent years. Throughout his career, Berra has produced occasional still life paintings using the same approach that he uses in his figurative paintings: he simplifies the motif and presents it on an abstracted background.
William Berra lives in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Santa Fe with his wife, Alanna Burke, who is his business partner and frequent model in his paintings.