Paul Kratter was born in San Francisco and raised on the city’s southern Peninsula. He holds a degree is graphic arts from College of San Mateo and a BA in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design.


I spent my youth either outdoors playing tennis or indoors drawing my favorite athletes and wild animals. My two great passions have always been sports and wildlife. I was fortunate to make a living mainly in advertising, which included a long relationship with the National Football League and various Major League Baseball Clubs.

As time went on, I concentrated solely on wildlife illustration and worked for a variety of zoos and the Nature Company. I illustrated a number of children's books, including "The Living Rainforest," which won awards in 2002 Communication Arts Annual.

Around that time, I became interested in the immediacy and spontaneity of the plein air approach and started painting in the East Bay hills near my home. My style changed almost overnight, although my approach remained intact, and I utilize my solid drawing skills and portray strong graphic shapes. Soon, I had a collection of work and began to show in galleries and join various plein air events.

Painting outdoors has become a passion. I continue to participate in a number of plein air events annually in California. Each has its own unique topography, light and challenges, which forces me to keep my work fresh and loose.

In 2005, I joined a group of fellow artists to paint in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. We packed in our supplies, hiked to nearly 10,000 feet, and painted the majestic peaks. This has become an annual event.

Painting outdoors is physical. We have to deal with various weather conditions from cold winter mornings to summer heat and glare. Windy days can challenge the best of scenery, but these variables are often exhilarating and force the artist to make decisive brushwork.

The first impression I try to capture is a strong composition. I look to simplify the scene by making bold, graphic shapes. The light and atmosphere are ever changing, and I want to quickly establish a color script. One of the first things I determine is what is going to change the quickest. This is the key area to capture and determine the feel of the painting.

To keep the fresh spontaneous, I usually finish my paintings on location. At times, these works are used as a study for a larger piece, but they can stand on their own as a finished painting.

The bold work of Edgar Payne, Carl Runguis, and William Wendt, along with the atmosphere of Sam Hyde Harris, are huge inspirations to me as I continue to grow in this ever-challenging medium.

My wife Tia, whom I met at Art Center, is an Art Director at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA. We have two grown boys, Joel and Marshall, both artistic and athletic.