Welcome Message

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

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Limber K Howell 2011 Pastel on Paper 14 cm x 21 cm
Mornings have been foggy. Very atmospheric. Quite conducive to contemplating the yogic exercises of trees.
I love the rich reduction of autumn. A new clarity in the bare trees. Crisp line and hanging mist. The sharp smell and cold air preparing the way for winter.
 Don Paterson, in his Book of Shadows, says:
     The trees in winter, those exact diagrams of all our dead yearnings.
It's a terrible thing to be distracted from work by an aphorism.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Rupture K Howell 2011 Pastel on Paper 14 cm x 21 cm
     Being as it's fireworks season, minor explosions seem to be everywhere. Burning sofas, glittery sparklers and those keep-your-cats-indoors whistling rockets... I thought I'd been ignoring them. But I see that a seasonal theme is inescapable.
     I've been painting this fallen tree quite regularly, it's constantly changing. But today, it was bursting apart in the sun. We've had some spectacular autumn days; and the studio space is getting messy with experiments and work underway. So... flee!
      Today, there were deer. A pair watched me watch the tree. Emboldened by the sunshine and the quiet, they stood about for ages.  I might've been beneath their notice, but their indifferent company was enjoyable.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Words with Bite

Oak King K Howell 2011 Acrylic on Board 61 cm x 92 cm
     This is the first of a pair of disparate paintings based on the same oak tree. It has complete dominion over a sloping beech grove, and although it's not exactly a typical 'Frame of Civilisation' oak, it has attitude. Its wild disarray and exposed heartwood are intriguing; its galls are quite incredible.
     I've painted it many times and in trying to research what has caused the galls (disease, bacteria or parasite), I did find some recipes for oak gall ink, used extensively in Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. The smaller galls produced by parasitic wasps are boiled to extract gallic and tannic acids to make an ink that bites into parchment. Over time, it slowly eats away at the substrate, and leaves a tracery of empty space instead of words.
      The word ink is directly related to encaustic, from the Greek 'to burn in'.  While I knew that many manuscripts were slowly 'eroding' due to chemical reactions, I didn't realise parasitic wasps were at the heart of it.
     It does make typing seem so ephemeral...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Just in Case...

Window Onto Winter II K Howell 2011 Acrylic on Paper (Very Small Indeed)

     Water Street Gallery in Todmorden is exhibiting work 'Just in Case', small works in any media presented in a CD case. The clever ruse here is to make art more affordable for the artist to present and for the public to purchase. The exhibition will be running until January and the Gallery details are here.  It's a brilliant idea and Todmorden is a wonderful place to visit. So, Just in Case you fancy a day out...
     My pieces are Windows Onto Winter, microcosmic paintings exploring the structure of a hawthorne tree, the weight of the snow, and the play of light on and through ice droplets.