For me painting is about three things. It is about revelation, communication and celebration. By revelation I mean giving people a way of seeing, revealing the world around them in a way they have never seen before, opening their eyes. The first time I became conscious of this was as a young man. I was painting a railway siding in North London. A railway worker stopped to watch me paint and after some time said 'Young man I have walked across this place for many years and this morning forthe first time I see that it is beautiful.' That was a revelation for me.
By communication I mean revealing the world with a personal language, speaking directly in an instantly recognisable style. The artist spends his life refining that language in order to express his personal world more clearly and directly For me drawing is the basis of all visual language, for the art of drawing is a way of seeing and celebrating the world.
My last criterion, celebration, is perhaps more difficult to explain. We all suffer in our lives, we loose loved ones, we suffer illnesses and the stresses and strains of normal life. But I want art to raise me above that, when I look at painting I want it to be elevating, I want it to celebrate life whether it be human dignity expressed by Velasquez or Cezanne, or the wonders of nature expressed by Corot or Monet. For me my main inspiration is light and it is through light that I want to celebrate my world.
See Exhibitions for details about
Light and Dark: Ken Howard's new autobiography and The Way I See It a documentary DVD about Ken Howard's life.
Photo © Tony Connor
Text and pictures © Ken Howard. Website design Derek Springham.