Welcome Message

Thanks for stopping in! Please leave comments or links to your work in the box below the post.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Skull on the Wayside

Skull K Howell 2013 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21 cm
Well, elder wood, actually. But the shape immediately suggested a cranium with horns and fenestrae.

I've watched this elder tree deteriorate over the last couple of years, but recently it was uprooted and broken apart. Unfortunate, but it did lead to some beautiful remnant shapes.

There's a curious feeling of enclosure in this bit of wood, even though it 's hollowed out and empty. A sense of inhabitation. 

Funny that we have a skull to protect our brains and to keep our ears and eyes an optimal distance apart - basically, to enable accurate perceptions. But we can still fill our heads with nonsense in an instant. That makes me ridiculously happy.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Vertebrae K Howell 2013 Acrylic on Paper (smallish)
Being fortunate enough to have access to moorland with ancient roads is something I'm Very Happy About. When traveling along these old ways, it does feel as though you are treading the spine of the land itself.

I've been quite obsessed with spines lately - even the word, and the fact that it refers to the physical skeletal structure that keeps us upright, the concept of strength of character and resolve and also defensive mechanisms. Something prickly to put predators off. All fascinating.

Of course, there's also the fact that a book has a spine. And the spine holds the absolute essentials of what the book contains. I love that. Maybe that's why I can't bring myself embrace e-books. They have no spine! They cannot be trusted.

This tune may change when I run out of shelves...

Saturday, 30 March 2013


Penrhos-Feilw K Howell Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
One of the greatest barriers to my obtaining a drivers' licence was a tendency to be distracted by landscape details. Trees. Standing stones. Birds. People. Just about anything outside the car, actually.

But in order to stop for standing stones, you need to be in control of the car, so in the end, it was necessary to keep distraction under restraint to better apply focus.

I love the way standing stones create frames within the landscape. Like ancient figures, marking a gateway. The stature and weight distribution appears anthropomorphic from a distance - their solidity a proper contrast to the whispering grasses.

Standing stones offer a new framework. And a stone circle? Don't get me started...

It was a wet day when I visited these stones; water clung to everything and after wading through the grasses and getting thoroughly wet, the next logical step was swimming in the ice cold Irish sea. With the man-eating jellyfish (They won, in the end. It was a short swim).

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Field K Howell 2013 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
Fields are enchanting. A crowd of grass is about the only crowd I can endure. I like the movement and texture of swathes of moor grasses and reeds, and these clumps emerge like the heads and shoulders of a rising subterranean army.

As a child, I read and reread a book featuring the story of Jason and the Argonauts. To obtain the Golden Fleece from Aeetes, the King of Colchis, Jason drives fire-breathing oxen to plough a field, sowing the teeth of a dragon in the freshly turned soil. An army rises out of the ground, and Jason vanquishes the mass of soldiers by throwing a rock amongst them. In their confusion, the soldiers destroy one another. Brilliant illustration of crowd mentality.

Of course, Jason wouldn't have completed these tasks without the help of Medea. If there's one thing scarier than a crowd, it's a woman whose resourcefulness is disregarded by a man in search of better connections.

There is more snow - I'm off!

Saturday, 2 February 2013


No Fishing K Howell 2013 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
I've been neglecting this blog something terrible, but in the hope of returning to some kind of pattern, I'll post something from early January that I left unfinished in order to address Other Things:

Winter without snow still confuses me. I love the stripped landscape, the cold aspect, the shape of the bare world. But a little snow would be nice.

Many rainy days result in liquid paths that stream through the valley, washed out and colourless, like the sky. In a word, Bleak.

The word Bleak is amazing, and I didn't know that it can also refer to a small silvery shoaling fish of the minnow family, found in Eurasian rivers. That distracted me completely, and in the time it took for me to return to the post, we'd had two generous snowfalls.

Complaining to the universe sometimes gets results.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On the Bright Side

Bright Side K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
Autumn. A Reduction.

  • Taught classes. Killed Clutch on the inside lane of a roundabout (fun). Had a level tow (very fun).
  • Traveled by train a bit. It doesn't seem to matter where you go by train in the North West, it takes two hours. On the bright side, it's beautiful.
  •  Read Martyn Bedford's Acts of Revision, easily one of the best books I've read lately. 
  • Considered Values. Avoided the internet. 
  •  Came creeping back, because I like seeing other people's work without traveling two hours by train.
There are so many ways of reducing visual information to essentials - I'm looking for ways of simplifying overall shape, giving weight to colour contrast, juxtaposing stillness with areas of energy and retaining the essential light of the moment.

Winter holds promise. It will snow...

Monday, 24 September 2012


Charcoal on Board - very small K Howell 2012
I was thinking of calling this project Fifty Shades of Grave, but I don't think it'll catch on.

I've concluded that monochromatic is the way to go for these - something about the weight of shadow works better. I've yet to find the silvery light I'm after, so I'll pursue that seriously now. And see what works. Definitely an inside job, as the rain pours down.

These forms are grounding, stable. Solid, and yet empty. Full of contradictions. Seriously wonderful to play with.