I’m a poop artist — check out my crappy paintings

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This Poo-caso specializes in turning crap into gold.

Calling someone’s art crappy may seem like a value judgment. However, German artist Werner Härtl, 45, specializes in creating elaborate paintings out of cow dung — which he proudly showcases for fans like a veritable Da Vinci of doo doo.

“I just use cow manure to create my art,” the would-be Dung-atello told Caters News of his smelly medium, which actually isn’t as odorous as one would suspect.

“When it is wet, the ‘paint’ is a bit funky,” Härtl insisted to Ripleys Believe It Or Not in 2022. “But when it’s completely dry, it doesn’t smell anymore.”

The artist, who lives in Reichersbeuern, claims his foray into feces-based art came serendipitously ten years ago after he noticed how hard the cow manure was to clean off his barn.


Härtl poses with one of his poopy paintings.
Härtl poses with a landscape poo-rtrait.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

Härtl at work.
“I use cow dung like watercolor paints with brushes or knives,” the artist described. “I just add water to thin it down and use it pure to get a dark matter.”
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

A poop painting of a cow.
The artist has created over 1,000 dung paintings, many of which depict cows.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

While most may have balked at the discovery, Härtl was impressed with the adhesive and coloring properties and decided to start experimenting with the excrement.

“It has the perfect texture, because it’s just fermented grass,” exclaimed the manure maven, who has created over 1,000 crap-estries since he started. His odiferous opuses have entailed everything from hyperrealistic pastoral landscapes to, perhaps most fittingly, portraits of his cows.

How does one create a scatological masterpiece? Härtl starts harvesting the “paint” like a bizarro bovine milker.

“Well, I fetch the cows’ droppings with a canister as soon as they lift their tails,” the would-be Jackson Poolock explained. “Around two bowel movements deliver enough for half a year of creativity.”

In other words, cow pies’ use as a sustainable fuel source also extends to the art world.


Härtl poses with a poop portrait atop a veritable Matterhorn of manure
Härtl poses with a poop portrait atop a veritable Matterhorn of manure.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

A portrait of a tractor.
“I work in layers,” said the artist. “There are different drying times depending on the consistency of the dung.”
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

Next, Härtl uses water “to dilute the dung and achieve different shades” before painting it on canvas with brushes or knives like a watercolor work.

“I start scribbling using very dry, gentle brushstrokes,” he said. “Then, I use watered-down dung for light shades. Finally, I use dung with no water mixed in for the dark shades.”

The excremental expressionist says he works in “layers,” as there are “different drying times depending on the consistency of the dung.”

The only downside to working with manure is that the dung has a lot of detritus. “There are so many sticks, straws, clumps, even sand and insect particles in it, so it can be difficult to handle,” Härtl lamented.


A portrait of Härtl collecting his "paint."
A portrait of Härtl collecting his “paint.”
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

Härtl showcases one of his many manure opuses.
Härtl showcases one of his many manure opuses.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

Naturally, some might view working with cow poop as unsanitary; however, Härtl claims that he doesn’t “see any health or hygienic issues.”

“According to clinical studies in 2003, cow manure contains bacteria that’s healthy for humans,” he declared. “It strengthens the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin.”

However, experts advise against handling cow dung as it can contain E. Coli and other pathogens as well as various parasites, SFGate reported.

What’s not in dispute is the medium’s sustainability — which Härtl hopes to illustrate through his work.


Mountain painting.
A literal mountain of manure.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

A poop dog.
A poop dog.
Lisa Steinbacher/ CATERS NEWS

“Cow dung is one thing above all: sustainable! It can be reused,” he told Bavaria Insider. “By painting with it, I want to emphasize the idea of the cycle.”

The poop pioneer added, “I want to make people think and sensitize them to appreciate their environment more.”

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