Become acquainted with perhaps a few unknown dimensions – thoughts, ambitions, wisdoms, life changing moments – of this inspiring artist.
When it comes to your art, explain what you do in 100 words.
I could tell you how far I have come and what I have come from. I could share with you my journey as a mental health physician and how art has healed many through its use. But what I would like to share with you is how I identify myself, not just with my art, but in it and through it, that my purpose is to reach individuals deeply and spiritually. To share not just a visual, but an emotional experience. I am not a young artist by age or training, but I am emerging with a message.
What project are you working on now?
I am currently working on a series entitled, “Voices of Humanity.” In addition to this project, I am compiling pieces for the Women Painting Women Exhibit in Clarksville, Tennessee, and a solo show the first of 2017 in my home state of Texas. It is entitled, “Texas Speaks.”
Why do you do what you do?
Art plays many roles in society and, at different times, can speak to issues in areas such as religion, science, politics, and history. No matter what venue, my art can provide thought-provoking commentary and innovative perspectives on a vast array of ideas. People often forget the significance of art in the discourse of social, cultural, and global concerns. Art clearly has the power to spark ideas and challenge prevailing opinions, and as an artist, I become the point of delivery.
How has your practice changed over time?
Although I began my training at a very early age, my practice as an artist has had two lives. Trained in oils with a rich background in drawing, I have evolved into someone who really must get their hands “in it.” I first began as a studio artist with the responsibility of recreating life and movement with inanimate objects. Through the observation of reality, I became a lover of Photorealism, which has given substance to my art career’s second life. As a pastelist, I can draw on my strong illustration background while really using my hands to apply the colour and create rich images that have a sense of storytelling.
What are your hobbies?
Cooking and hunting for antiquities.
What is your strongest childhood memory?
Traveling and seeing things creatively and always having a sketchbook.
What is your scariest experience?
Nearly dying… twice.
Describe a real-life experience that inspired you.
Each time I travel to a new destination, I am inspired by the people, food, entertainment, and environment. I think the beauty of Kona Hawaii last year moved me creatively more than anything. As a mental health physician, I am inspired by the many survivors I encounter on a regular basis who give me a purpose and a mission that drives my voice within my art.
What superpower would you like to have and why?
I would like to have the superpower of speaking every language in the world and communicating with anyone, no matter where they are from, to have fluent conversation and share stories.
What is your pet peeve about the art world?
Unfortunately, the art scene is quite fickle and trendy with judging in a realm of subjectiveness that is beyond comprehension. It has an air of snobbery that makes an emerging artist’s attempt at becoming known and favored very difficult. Art as a whole is rooted in cultural diversities, but seems disjointed at times. With my grounded sense of reality, I feel that, for the moment, there is no place for me, but I have a voice that will one day be heard.
What is your dream creative project?
To have a solo show that speaks to the world in a very profound way, shown in a prominent gallery, in a well-respected art community.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio or practice?
My purely organic soft pastels. Having an autoimmune disorder means that commercial grade soft pastels are life threatening. The other would be natural light.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Degas once said, “It’s not what you see, but what you make others see.” A very good friend recently told me that the most important thing I can do is be true to myself in my art. To make sure that above all else, my voice is heard over the judgment of others who feel that art should be traditional in how it is created. I also have to remember that just because someone or some gallery tells me “NO,” it does not mean that I cannot do it; it just means that I am not going to do it with them.
Creatively, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In two years I see myself retired and a full-time artist showing everywhere. In five years I hope to be able say I won the Hunting Art Prize and the Dave Bown Project. I also hope to be able to say I was a winner in the Art Comes Alive competition which is sort of an Academy Award for an artist. I plan to establish my own gallery where I can support emerging artists in a very loving and supportive manner. But most important, I plan to just experience real joy for the rest of my life.
J Howard is a US citizen, was born in Houston, Texas, and is currently based in Alvin, Texas.