114 First Im­pres­sions

Ed­ward Howard talks colours.

ImagineFX - - Resources - Ed­ward Howard Ed­ward Howard lives and works in Los Angeles. He’s a grad­u­ate of the Amer­i­can Academy of Art and stud­ied at the Florence Academy of Art. www.efhoward.com

You’re a kid. You see a paint­ing that changes ev­ery­thing. What are you look­ing at?

Fred­eric Rem­ing­ton’s The Stam­pede. I was in­tox­i­cated by the art, and it – and many other works – fed my de­sire to pur­sue art. I also mar­velled at An­to­nio Mancini’s Rest­ing, John Singer Sar­gent’s An In­te­rior in Venice and Frank Brang­wyn’s Buc­ca­neers. All these works say so much with such beau­ti­ful and seem­ingly loose brush­work. They don’t paint things, they paint the mere sug­ges­tion of things. The view­ers un­con­sciously fill in the blanks. I re­mem­ber be­ing stunned by that lit­tle re­al­i­sa­tion, and I’m still in awe of it. Name one per­son who’s helped you on your way? Rachel, my wife, is my big­gest fan and my great­est critic. I’m here be­cause she had faith in my abil­ity. Ev­ery­one has that one per­son who’s their cheer­leader, who sup­ports them and keeps them push­ing on­ward.

Who’s tried to get in your way? Me. I’m my own worst en­emy and per­haps my harsh­est critic. This can be good and bad. The good is that I al­ways ask the high­est stan­dards of my­self. The bad is that my stan­dards might be too high, re­sult­ing in very few pieces ever mak­ing it out the door. How­ever, the more ex­pe­ri­enced I be­come, the more I learn to not get in my own way. Your art is al­ways evolv­ing – what’s the most re­cent ex­per­i­ment you’ve made? I’m com­ing to the re­al­i­sa­tion that I’ll prob­a­bly al­ways be ex­per­i­ment­ing. When you step back you re­alise all you’re do­ing is ap­ply­ing dif­fer­ent-coloured vis­cous pig­ments to a flat sur­face and hope­fully in the end you’ve ar­ranged those colours in such a man­ner as to

I’m my own worst en­emy and per­haps my harsh­est critic

evoke an emo­tional re­sponse. The quest for the artist is to con­vey this non-ver­bal, vis­ceral mes­sage more pre­cisely. Do you re­mem­ber the first im­age where you thought you’d nailed it? Se­cret Re­vealed seemed to strike a chord with people. I feel like my tech­nique and ex­e­cu­tion came into fo­cus, and I was fi­nally able to trans­late what was in my mind to can­vas. I still get great plea­sure from lis­ten­ing to people tell me what they be­lieve the story of the piece is, and I also love see­ing them make new dis­cov­er­ies when they view it in per­son.

What are your paint­ing rit­u­als? Or­gan­i­sa­tion and prepa­ra­tion are im­per­a­tive to me. When I be­gin a piece I al­ready know my pal­ette, I’ve al­ready done colour stud­ies, have de­ter­mined my colour gamut, and know my com­po­si­tion and light­ing down to the last cen­time­tre of can­vas. I use as many ref­er­ences as I can, to study the in­ter­play of light and shadow, tex­ture and depth. Paint­ing is hard enough with­out hav­ing to guess on the fly. I just want to fo­cus on paint­ing. I don’t want to have loose ends in my head while I’m work­ing.

What’s wrong with the in­dus­try? A lot, but re­cently there’s been a con­certed ef­fort by many to be­gin the process of re­form. I’d rec­om­mend all as­pir­ing il­lus­tra­tors to look at Art PACT ( www.art­pact.com), a com­mu­nity ded­i­cated to help­ing the il­lus­tra­tor nav­i­gate their way through the in­dus­try and help them achieve a liv­ing wage. What ad­vice would you give to fan­tasy artists just start­ing out? Paint what you love. Paint what drives you. Paint what in­spires you. When you do that it will come through on can­vas. People will see that pas­sion and will be drawn to your work. And don’t be afraid to ex­plore dif­fer­ent gen­res, dif­fer­ent styles. What’s on the can­vas is some­thing that no one but you has ever seen be­fore. We want to see what your unique ideas and dreams are. Don’t hold back – paint them!

What’s the first thing you teach a pupil? Don’t guess. Trust me, you’ll al­most al­ways get it wrong. Try to ob­serve it in na­ture and then repli­cate that on can­vas. The amaz­ing thing is that if you get it right, it prob­a­bly won’t be no­ticed by the viewer at all. It’s only when you get things wrong that the viewer notices.

dis­cov­ery This re­cent paint­ing es­chews the artist’s usual fan­tasy trap­pings in favour of more emo­tional beats.

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