Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Artists Series Featuring San Diego Artist Harrison Howard

I would like to introduce you to the artist Harrison Howard.
His works of fine art are so exquisite;executed with such detail and precision. I know you will love his paintings every bit as much as I do! Please enjoy this interview with Mr Howard.

The Astronomer

In the Studio

 Harrison, when were you first drawn to the world of art and painting. What inspired you at that time?
My father made his living as an artist and my mother painted off and on for pleasure.  They encouraged that interest, and I can’t remember a point in time when I did not think in terms of spending my life painting.
The Flower Lady
  Did you take art classes in  school or are you a self taught artist?
I spent a total of seven years in art programs at the college level although I only hold an undergraduate BS in industrial design.
The Green Folly
I have seen some of your Father’s Works (murals) in La Jolla at The La Valencia Hotel. (my late husband actually proposed to me in the wonderful Whaling Bar there)
What kind of influence did he have on your decision to begin painting and drawing? 
I am a very different kind of artist than my father, but he taught me a large part of the methods I use in watercolor, and more significantly I think his and my mother’s interest in art and the decorative arts fueled many of my own life long interests.

I love all of your Chinoiserie paintings, your Flower Ladies, and the Sea Shells especially appeal to me from my own years in San Diego near the beach. What led you in these directions?  
There was a book in my father’s studio that contained Jean Pillement’s chinoiserie designs that caught my lasting attention when I was about twelve and I was hooked from that moment forward. The French 19th century illustrator, Grandville, was another artist that interested me very early on, especially for his work “Les Fleurs Animees”. The subjects I’ve focused on are partly an extension of my interest in certain artists that have focused on imagined imagery and my preoccupation with different aspects of decorative art and illustration. I started a shell collection as a child.

Shells with Sea Grass on Gouache on early 19th century. hand penned document

 Do you have a mentor or who are some artists that you admire
 or emulate? 
There are countless artists that I admire, and I’m indebted to many of them both living and dead for their continuing inspiration. When I was young I thought that if I could only learn to paint like so and so that my ambitions as an artist would be resolved. There were quite a few different artists along the way. Finally I realized that I was pursuing a formula for failure, and that I’d need to find a way to interpret the world around me through my own way of looking at it. Some artists emulate others but almost invariably disappear in their shadows, and I think artists serve their own best interests if they persevere until they are able to produce work that reflects their own take on the world. To me that is the essence of originality.

Rendezvous at Night
That is a very poignant statement and one that could inspire many beginning artists to search for  their own style early on in their careers.
Where do you find inspiration? Does an idea percolate in your mind, come from nature, places you have been, or photography?
Inspiration comes to me from all of the things you mention and many others. I have hundreds of sketches that I will probably not live long enough to paint, but as I grow older the chain of ideas that passes through my mind increases, and a benefit of being a visual artist as opposed to an athlete or singer is the potential to actually reach higher levels with the progression of age, unless you’re afflicted with a major health issue.
The Architects
Harrison, where are your works being shown or how can people contact you for information on your works of art. Your website  has many of your gorgeous works. Any special upcoming projects you can tell us about? 
On the Internet I depend mainly on my own website to generate business although I am represented through a number of businesses that in some cases post my work online. The prices are the same everywhere, so in the interest of not competing with myself I don’t list the places that represent me on my website, but I may change that approach. I have a lot of new work that has not yet been translated into prints or posted on my website, but both time and cost have delayed me from keeping my website up to date, and at this point it needs a good deal of revision. I’m doing paintings currently for an upcoming fall exhibit in La Jolla and to add to the inventory at a business in Palm Beach and other businesses that sell my work.
Yellow Tree Snails with Red Coral on early 19th c. hand penned document
 Finally what words of wisdom would you impart to the aspiring artist of any age?
I’d feel a bit ridiculous trying to tell younger artists a formula for success, because things will always play out differently for every individual, but two tenets that I cling to for my own use after learning them rather late in life  are:
1)      Business and marketing are completely separate from artistic integrity and talent, but those areas require a lot of attention for most artists that want a stable existence. Even the best art schools tend to do poorly in preparing art students to cope, and some basic business, computer, and accounting courses might be a good idea, even at a city college.
2)      The sooner you realize the need to avoid emulating anyone else’s work and to ask yourself over and over again how you really see the things around you in your own unique way, the more likely you will evolve into an original artist. The world may not come to your doorstep or thank you for it, but you will find gratification in realizing that you have a valid way of seeing the world that is as individual as your own DNA.
The Seahorse
Thank you so much Harrison.  It has been a pleasure to have this conversation for The 2012 Artists Series .
Dear readers I sincerely hope you have enjoyed seeing these amazing works of art! I feel like they can virtually fit in any style of decor in any room! Visit Harrison's Website  and be sure to leave a comment below! 
Art by Karena 

Images Courtesy of Harrison Howard
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