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Sam Knecht is a painter dedicated to representational tradition.  Inspired by the finest American artists of the past he pursues both portraiture and landscape painting. Whether working in oil, egg tempera or watercolor his goal is to record the magic and mystery of natural light. 


Knecht first came to national attention with an article he wrote for American Artist magazine (November, 1980) comparing practice in egg tempera and watercolor.  He has a track record in national invitational exhibitions and juried competitions.  Knecht’s portraits have earned awards in competitions hosted by the Portrait Society of America, the American Society of Portrait Artists, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Michigan Water Color Society.

Commissioned portraits by Sam Knecht are found in prominent public collections including the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship (Washington, D.C.); Michigan Supreme Court (Lansing, Michigan); the United States Federal District Court for Northwestern Ohio (Toledo, Ohio); Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan); and Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Lansing, Michigan).


Knecht is a seasoned plein air landscape painter who has worked on location either with oil or watercolor. He has taken his equipment on many journeys in Italy and Canada as well as northern Michigan. Additional sojourns have included Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa.  He knows the pleasures and challenges of hauling equipment to diverse locations in quest of a good painting. 


Sam is one of those rare artists that has successfully balanced his professional career with the duties of fulltime college art teaching.  He has taught undergraduate art courses for forty years beginning with Kendall School of Design (1972-3).  Since 1978 he has taught fulltime at Hillsdale College in Michigan.  At various times he has taught in programs of the University of Michigan, including its program in Florence, Italy (1985).  Knecht chaired the Hillsdale College Department of Art from 1978 to 2013.  Throughout he not only taught a full load of painting, drawing, and art history courses but also ran the Department’s exhibit series.  He arranged for exhibits including works by pre-eminent American artists including Burton Silverman, Anthony Ryder, Frederick Hart, Daniel Greene, Harvey Dinnerstein, Richard Whitney, Carl J. Samson, to name a few.  


The artist serves on the Board of Artist Advisors for the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) Foundation in New York City.   He served as Chairman of the selection jury for that organization’s national invitational exhibit The Legacy Lives that premiering in 1996 at Lever House Galleries, Park Avenue. 


Knecht is a Patron member of the Portrait Society of America.  He serves as Artist Mentor for its Cecilia Beaux Forum.  In April, 2016 he was the official program speaker for the Forum during the Annual Conference of the Portrait Society held in Reston, Virginia. 


The artist and his wife Melissa (Professor of Music at Hillsdale College) and twin daughters live in a restored 19th century Victorian Gothic house in Hillsdale.  In 2007 an art studio was added whose design harmonizes with the historic house.  That studio became the focus of an article by Steve Doherty in American Artist Studios 20 (October, 2010). 


Knecht’s artwork is represented by Rob Rousseau, Toledo, Ohio.

Sam Knecht Self Portrait Painting - oil on linen, 20” x 16”

Samuel J. Knecht

Professor of Art

Department of Art

Hillsdale College

> View Resume

2010 - present
2010 - present
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