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Monday, August 4, 2014

Ken Howard

Dora at Oriel, Spring 2009, Ken Howard.

"For me painting is about three things. It is about revelation, communication and celebration."

                                        --Ken Howard

It's always exciting to come upon an artist who has painted scenes of places with which I'm familiar. I once stumbled upon a scene by an 18th-century artist of the Coliseum in Rome 
Ken Howard, Self-poratait
depicting a spot which I'd stood not long before. I was surprised how little it had changed in some three hundred years. The same thing has happened as I've come upon scenes of the Island of Capri, which I've painted several time, or scenes on the French Riviera such as Villefranche Sur Mer. Most recently I came upon the work of the British painting Icon, Ken Howard, and numerouos images he has created of Venice, Italy. We visited Venice last years (2013) thus what he saw, what he painted, was quite fresh in my mind. I've not painted Venice, though I had planned to. After seeing Ken Howard's work, I'm having second thoughts. He's rather intimidating.
San Marco, Venice, Ken Howard.
I was there. I saw precisely this view. I wasn't inspired. Ken Howard inspires me.
A Flooded San Marco, Ken Howard

First of all, as an artist, he's intimidating, bigger then life, if you will. With his tall stature and mane of flowing white hair, his eighty-two years of age, his overall physical presence, he appears, quite frankly, rather awesome. Moreover, he paints on location. That alone scares the bejesus out of me. I could never set up my easel in the middle of Venice's San Marco Piazza with hundreds of people watching and start painting the cathedral. First of all it would take me hours upon hours in the hot sun, and secondly, under those circumstances, I probably would do a very good job of it. Howard has apparently done just that, and in the middle of the winter with paths through the snow; and in fact, in the midst of the high water which periodically floods the place. I'd get cold feet (literally).
Tower Bridge, October, Ken Howard. There's a lot of Monet in his paintings of London.
Long Rock, Sennen, Summer,
Ken Howard

Ken Howard is British, so of course he paints London landmarks such as his Tower Bridge, October (above). I've never been there so I don't know as to his verisimilitude for that city. His London looks pretty much as I've always imagined it. I plan to visit there in a year or two. I'll get back to you on that later. Among his other favorite locales is the coast of Cornwall, an English art mecca near the southwestern-most tip of the island. I'm rather fond of beaches and I've painted one or two myself. As seen in his Long Rock Sennen, Summer (right) and Summer Evening, Sennen (below),  Mr. Howard has nothing to worry about in terms of competition from me in that area. And, of course, no two beaches are alike. Mine have mostly been Caribbean.
Summer Evening, Sennen, 2005, Ken Howard
Self-portrait with Nude,
Ken Howard
Finally, Ken Howard loves to paint naked ladies in the comfort and warmth of his London studio. My wife won't pose nude and refuses to allow me to ;paint nude models, so I guess I'll have to enjoy that experience vicariously through his works such as Self-portrait with Nude (left). I mentioned that Ken Howard was eighty-two years old. If you haven't already done the math, that means he was born in 1932. A London native from birth, Ken Howard studied art at London's Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Art in the 1950s during which time he was also a Royal Marine for two years. Later, from 1973 to 1980 he became an official war artist, first in Northern Ireland and later in trouble spots all over the world. In 1991 Howard was elected a Royal Academician, which entitles him to add the abbreviation (RA) after his signature. It also increases the price of his works significantly, his oils now in the upper five-figure range--not bad for an artist that hasn't even died yet.

Morning Light, watercolor, Ken Howard


1 comment:

  1. I have long admired Ken Howard. He is one of the few reasons left to visit the RA Summer show.