John at work in his studio
I’ve never met John Howe in person, though I feel I know him, well as much as one can from emails and an internet forum. Since I’ve been a kid John’s art has given my imaginations of Tolkien’s mythical world color, texture and light. I remember the first Tolkien Calendar I bought back in 1988, which I still have, along with no less than a dozen others.
I would just sit and think about the worlds John depicted. It was easy to drift off inside his pictures as I imagined what it would have been like to have seen Smaug fly over Laketown: earth shaking roars as a conflagration of fire danced off the illuminated waters beneath him. His translucent wings casting an amber shadow in the fading light. Even more I imagined how anyone could make such a picture look so real, I was in awe.
I was eleven or twelve when I read the Hobbit and a junior in high school when I started reading the Lord of the Rings for the first time. Tolkien’s books were unlike anything I had read before. I have to thank my cousin Kevin for letting me borrow his green sleeved copy of the Hobbit, which is where all this started at. THANKS KEVIN! Since then, Tolkien’s writings and Howe’s art have become an integral part of my being.
A man who needs no introduction in the world of illustration; and now film, John Howe ranks as one most praiseworthy fantasy illustrators alive today. John was born and raised in Canada and presently lives in Switzerland where he works out of his home studio. John is a modest and most generous man who is giving of his knowledge. We have had some very pleasant emails back and forth over the years about art. He selflessly mentors aspiring artists through books he has published, guest speaker appearances, in email and his correspondences on the inter-webs from his website: john-howe.com. Go visit his page, it’s full of wonderful images and good people, many whom are regulars on the art forum John hosts.
Five Reasons I admire John Howe and his art:
- John’s fantasy is very grounded in realism and he is one best sketch/drawers I’ve seen.
- His work captures fictional moments in time like no other.
- He possesses a mastery of light, transparency, detail, color and composition.
- John’s ability to work in other mediums such as ink and pencil elevate his watercolor paintings to higher levels of elegance and craftsmanship.
- John is a constant teacher, a kind and generous artist whose contributions to the craft have helped move fantasy art into the mainstream and inspired many to follow in his footsteps.
Meeting John for a day of art and good company is on my bucket list.
Thanks John for doing what you do.
I’ve been thinking about New Year’s resolutions now for several days and wanted to try again to meet my own expectations for the coming year. Last year I made a resolution to paint one painting a month and read one new book a month. Both were met with marginal success. I managed only three books, but I did get nine paintings done, ranging from small illustrative paintings, a Christmas Card and five larger full scale works. Not bad actually, in light of the fact that one painting took me nearly six months to complete.
So, what is on my plate for 2011? Well again I want to paint no less than 12 paintings and read as many books. Also… I need to start drawing again, and I plan on keeping a daily journal, which means I need to draw every day. Ambitious? Perhaps. Manageable? Yes if I stay focused and keep my paintings down to a 16″ x 20″ size or smaller. On top of this, I received a new commission from a good friend who is a writer. I get to paint the cover of his unpublished novel which will hopefully see the bookstore shelves someday. The other commission is one that I’ve been sitting on for a long long time. This is a drawing project that will span about 12 individual pieces of work based solely on mythology subjects. It will help me get me back to my drawing roots. I am not 100% sure the customer is still waiting on me, but I’m going to complete the first drawing and present it to him and go from there. Hopefully it will re-spark his initial interests and get me back into a good drawing regimen.
My first painting of the year will be my third book painting, comprised of three from my own collection. I am looking forward to starting it and spent a lot of time planning the piece. The books were carefully chosen and I played with the composition quite a bit before I settled on the image I liked most. In addition this painting will be documented via time lapse photography, which will narrate the painting from its pale beginnings to the colorful end. I believe I will have something unique to draw people into my festival tent when the time comes. I plan on purchasing a digital picture frame so I can play the images in a fast loop during my art shows.
1st Painting of 2011 (Reference Photo)
This year should be pretty exciting and busy. I want to attend about 6 to 8 art festivals. I learned a lot in the first four I did last year and I hope my business keeps growing in 2011. I am going to give my studio until November 2011 to start paying for itself or I am going to pack up and move home and figure out a way to paint there. This will be difficult given we really don’t have a room for me to work in nor the storage space I need.
Lastly, I am waiting to hear back from the American Watercolor Society, Splash 13 and the Missiouri Watercolor Society on my exhibition entries. It would be pretty amazing to make the cut for the Splash Book and get into one of the nations premier watercolor exhibitions. More later…