Capturing the wild natural world
This story was featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
When Brenda Howell was 5 years old, her family traveled from their home in New Mexico to Rocky Mountain National Park for a vacation. Howell still remembers how her mother, an artist and art teacher, set up an easel near Bear Lake and painted. The magic of being in a beautiful natural environment and seeing her mother re-create the scenes in paintings made a deep impression on the young girl. “I have reinforced this positive experience from my childhood whenever I could. It’s like a drug,” Howell says.
Today Howell is an award-winning landscape painter: Her landscape titled SOUTH RIM MAJESTIC took a top prize at the Oil Painters of America’s National Juried Exhibition, held in May at InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX. She studied art at Southern California’s Fullerton College, but the major influence on her work was a four-year stay at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. “My emotional ties to the Grand Canyon and the western national parks will always spark my creative response. I will be painting them all my life,” she says.
When she began living at the South Rim, she worked for various lodges as a graphic designer and painted in her spare time. As she began to sell more and more paintings, however, she opted to turn her full attention to her fine-art career. She has always favored landscape painting, she says. “In my mind, the landscape signifies wildness and wilderness, the opposite of civilization,” she says. “The concept of landscape provides balance, the other side of life, the wild, natural world.”
Howell works both on location and in the studio. She considers both important—one works in rhythm with the other, she believes. “Doing small works outdoors makes one feel alive and connected,” she says. “Then, when the work is happening in the studio, the ‘connection memories’ influence and enhance the studio art process.”
After living in the Southwest for a number of years, Howell returned to Southern California in 2010. It’s no surprise that, after training her creative eye on the grandeur of places like the Grand Canyon, she has expanded her view to include the spectacular terrain of the Pacific Coast. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download
Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook