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Floyd E. Breinholt

Floyd Emil Breinholt was born in Ephraim, Utah in 1915. He was a gifted traditionalist painter and art educator. He died in Provo, Utah in 1997. 

Breinholt received a degree from Snow College in 1935. He later earned a BS in 1937, and a M.Ed. in 1953 from Brigham Young University where B. F. Larsen and Albert Eastmond were influences. He also attended the Art Students League in New and the Art Center School in Los Angeles. He taught art at two local middle schools and served as principal at another before joining the BYU faculty as an instructor in the studio in 1961. In addition to serving as a professor, he was also in charge of the secondary arts program at Brigham Young University. 

His paintings Box Canyon(1967) and Tree in Landscape (1950) are part of the permanent collection of the Springville Museum of Art's permanent collection.

Biographical information on this page was adapted from the Springville Museum of Art.

Floyd Breinholt's father, Wilford L. Breinholt, met his bride-to-be on board ship as he returned to America following his L.D.S. mission in Denmark. Jenny Marie Andreasen was a young Mormon convert immigrating to join the saints in Utah. Jenny's mother asked “Elder“ Breinholt to watch out for Jenny, and he did just that for the duration of their marriage.

Born in Ephraim, Utah, on Christmas day 1915, Floyd E. Breinholt was the first child of Wilford and Jenny Marie. Floyd's father was a stone cutter and later had his own monument business. In fact, Breinholt says, “I come from a long line of stone cutters.“ His father laid the first foundation stone for the L.D.S. Temple in Manti, Utah, and worked for eight years cutting and laying stone for the temple; he finally laid the capstone on the temple at its completion. Gradually, as there were fewer calls for stone cutters, the family became brick layers.

Floyd's interest in art was encouraged by his mother. He tells a story that illustrates how he first came to think of himself as the “artist“ in his family. Everyone in his town had a cow or a pig or chickens; everyone was self-sustaining. When his father slaughtered a pig, the children helped cut up the meat and grind the sausage. After dinner, Floyd's mother gave each child a paper and pencil and told them that “whoever draws the best pig, gets the biggest piece of cake.“ Guess who got the biggest piece of cake? Everyone agreed that Floyd's pig was best, and he explains that that incident likely was the beginning of his life-long interest in art. From then on, he considered himself the artist in the family and continued to draw. In fact, Floyd's ability to draw garnered a lot of attention for him. He became the school artist, drawing cartoons, scenery for school plays, and posters and illustrations for the school paper.

Although Breinholt's interest in art was put to good use, at that time there were no art classes or formal training available in the local public school or the junior college. So after high school, Breinholt attended Snow College for two years and then enrolled in Brigham Young University for his junior year. It was at B.Y.U. that he took his first art class. He remembers with detailed clarity an experience when he had occasion to go to the office of B. F. Larsen, Chairman of the Art Department at B.Y.U. He went to the top floor of the old academy building, and as he was waiting for Professor Larsen he looked at his desk, at his easel in the corner, and was aware the windows were open. He could hear the birds singing in the trees, and the sunlight was casting a pattern of shadows on the floor. “Boy,“ he thought, “he's got it made.“

Years later, when Breinholt joined the art faculty at the University, he was given that same office. One day he looked around him and saw his easel in the corner, heard the birds singing in the trees outside his window, and noted the pattern of light and shadows cast on the floor. Everything was the same as he remembered. His dream had been realized, and for the next 21 years, until 1981, he taught at B.Y.U., serving twice as the Department Chair.

Prior to his tenure at B.Y.U., Breinholt taught art at Farrer Junior High School for many years. He also taught at Provo High School, was Principal at Joaquin Elementary School, and then became Principal at the new Central Junior High School.

Breinholt grew up during the Great Depression and knew the value of education and the need to make a living. His experiences explain in part why he chose Educational Administration for his advanced degree. Although Breinholt has always pursued his art, he is also a master teacher and has had great impact on many students throughout his long career as an educator. Professor Breinholt believes each student is unique and needs the opportunity to learn and express his or her own talents. He says, “what you have is enough, you don't have to be like everyone else.“ He was greatly influenced by the art educator and author, Viktor Lowenfeld, who identifies different types of learners, including haptic (sense of touch) and visual learners.

In 1975, after a long illness, Floyd Breinholt's wife and sweetheart died of cancer. Breinholt says, “The scriptures say you are supposed to love your neighbor. After the loneliest period in my life, I called on my widowed neighbor.“ In 1976, Claudia Duerden and Floyd were wed. He proudly reports that they each have 4 children and together have 35 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. They have two homes with studios, the Oakhills Studio in Provo and the Sandscape Studio in Kayenta (a suburb of St. George) and enjoy a very happy and active life together, traveling, photographing beautiful places, and of course, painting.

In Breinholt's organized and neat studio, he has a wealth of slides and photographs from his travels that he uses to remind and inspire him as he paints his landscapes. Although he takes his ideas from nature, his style is impressionistic, leaning toward realism. Breinholt's work is imbued with a strong sense of form and light. He takes liberties with the original material, moving trees and altering actual sites, to produce a composition that is pleasing to himself and in turn, pleasing to his viewers. When asked what he derives his style from, he says, “I don't know, I just paint and however it is, is how it is. A work has to have something of the artist in it, that is what makes it unique and not just a copy of nature.“

At one time, Breinholt was considering writing a book about the glazing technique he employs to achieve the luminous light effects so characteristic of his work. In the end, he made a video, Landscape Painting in Oil - The Indirect Method. In the video, he “...skillfully demonstrates and lucidly explains basic principles, methods, and procedures of oil painting as applied in the “Old Master“ technique of glazing.“ In addition to painting, Floyd is a craftsman, designing and making hand-carved frames for his paintings.

Over the years, a few artists have influenced Floyd's painting. Among them are his first teacher, B. F. Larsen, Albert Eastmond, and also, Edgar M. Jensen, for whom he worked making visual aids during the depression years. Later, Breinholt attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles and the Art Students' League in New York. He has continued to study the work of other artists whom he admires; he believes there is never an end to what he can learn.

Art has been kind to Floyd Breinholt and his wife, Claudia. He loved teaching but looked forward to retirement. Now, he loves to paint full-time, and over the years he has developed a Breinholt clientele. Often he will spend up to eight hours a day in his studio. Some of that time is spent just looking at the painting he is working on, deciding where the next stroke will be placed and how he feels about different passages in the painting.

He comments, “To paint one needs to look closer and when one looks closer he sees more, and when he sees more something happens which fills him with gratitude for the beautiful world in which we live, and life becomes richer.“

Biography courtesy of Springville Museum of Art


Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1991.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie Rogers. 150 Years Survey: Utah Art and Utah Artists. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2001.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991.

 Last Modified 4/1/20