In Nature, Emerson wrote, “love of beauty is Taste. Others have the same love in such excess, that, not content with admiring, they seek to embody it in new forms. The creation of beauty is Art.”
Jonathon Howe, our featured artist this month, finds beauty in many places – from the warmth behind a face to the captivating views of nature that he finds on mountain peaks and the forests, fields and streams beneath them. Howe is both a portrait and landscape artist, and while his style for each form may vary, his work always manages to communicate the essential and individual energy of his subject. For him, beauty, art, love, and creation appear to mingle freely.
In this exhibit, Howe concentrates on his recently completed oil landscapes. These paintings, he says, share an effort “to capture dramatic lighting situations, stunning skies, and those brief transitional moments of early morning or late evening.”
Jonathon defines his style for landscapes as Impressionistic Realism. It’s something he discovered and developed when he started thinking about expanding beyond portraiture: “I wanted to diversify the subject matter of what I was painting and began experimenting with landscapes. But I found that the tight detailed style I was using for my portraits really didn’t communicate what I wanted in my landscape paintings. I wanted to set a mood in my landscapes much like capturing a person’s expression in a portrait. And in order to do that, I had to loosen up my style to be more impressionistic, focusing more on how I build color tones with multiple layers of brush strokes to let the paintings glow.”
His appreciation of and his hope to do justice to the wonders of creation comes honestly; Howe is an avid hiker. “My two favorite places to hike are Mount LeConte and Andrew’s Bald. I love LeConte for the challenge and the continually changing habitats as you climb up the mountain. The high elevation habitats have a certain smell and feel that you just can’t get anywhere else. And Andrew’s Bald is a favorite relaxing hike at high elevation. It was there on Andrew’s Bald that I proposed to my wife, so it’s a very special place. “
His engagement with the outdoors informs his style. When asked what draws his eye to a subject, he says, “For landscapes, I am usually looking two for things. The First thing that I am looking for is Light! The right Light has the amazing quality of transforming a scene into a beautiful glowing spectacle. Secondly, I am always thinking in terms of foreground, mid ground, and background in a scene. So I’m looking for something interesting like a unique tree or stream that’s close to me, then I want to see if there is room for your eye to wonder into the far distance. I think a good landscape pulls you in so you could imagine yourself taking a long walk through it and into the distance – if that makes sense. “
Howe is a lifelong artist. He says, “My parents tell me when I was a toddler, after they brought home a brand new white rug, they found me with ballpoint pen having scribbled all over the rug. But seriously, as a kid I was constantly doodling in class, drawing pictures of the teachers or other students, and going on walks in the woods to just sit and draw some random tree.”
It’s hard to imagine his parents being happy about his rug work, but those random trees have grown into something worth seeing. You can check it out yourself at the Market Square Tomato Head in downtown Knoxville through February 7th, 2016 and at the Gallery Tomato Head in West Knoxville from February 8th through March 7th.