Dave Howell—impressions of a wide, wide world
For April, our featured artist is Dave Howell, someone who grew up in Southern California, but then went on to travel and paint the world. And, yes, there were many stops along the way.
Dave describes it this way, “I grew up in San Diego, California in the 1960s, where I was lucky to have a great high school art teacher who encouraged me. Then, when I studied fine art in Mesa Junior College with the idea of a career in art, I worked in three-dimensional art, oil, acrylic, and finally settled on watercolor.”
But like so many, Dave’s art career was derailed during the Viet Nam years, and then later, he also had a family to support. So, after moving to the Northwest, Dave became a firefighter in Kirkland Washington, where he worked for 28 years and also managed to study with master watercolorist Jerry Stitt, his greatest influence.
Then, after fulfiling his life as a firefighter and family provider, Dave built a boat and sailed away with his then-girlfriend, now-wife Judy. While in French Polynesia, during their 36,000-mile odyssey visiting 36 countries, “A beautiful light show reappeared,” reports Dave. “It was like biting into some sweet juicy fruit. I picked up the brushes and reentered my world of expression, creating small-format works as we traveled around the globe.”
After returning to the US, Dave joined the San Diego Watercolor Society, studied with current mentor Jim Millard, and participated in juried shows throughout Southern California.
“Watercolor is unlike any other medium,” reports Dave. “It is time and environmentally sensitive and responsive to impulsive actions. You have an idea of where it is going, but it never turns out that way exactly. It becomes an extension of your subconscious.”
On his process, Dave says, “Sometimes I just pick up a brush loaded with pigment, and without much thought, let it fly, which is something coming from my soul, something that can't be copied by anybody. It’s mine—part of me, my expression of the feeling I want to consciously—or unconsciously—convey. I actually get an adrenaline rush at times.”
Dave refers to his style as “an impressionist landscape painter,” offering that it’s not his intention to say everything about a subject, just to convey the feel of the subject and leave room for the viewer to participate. “I don't want to paint subjects. I want to paint feelings and emotions,” adds Dave.
On his move to Brookings, Dave says, “As much as I enjoyed the success and comaraderie of my home town, the North coast was calling. Returning from the solar eclipse in Newport, we came through Brookings and realized we had found our new home. There is nothing like the emotion of surf breaking on the rocky coast, sunlight filtering through the redwoods, old workhorse fish boats waiting for battle.” So now, Dave has many new emotions to express.