In Tandem: Joyce Howell

The evening of the 21st of September, we will be featuring the wondrous works of Ellen Dodd + Joyce Howell, a dynamic duo whose abstract paintings inspire a spark of synergy. The first artist we are featuring for the upcoming show is Joyce Howell, an adventurous artist based in Texas whose water-inspired works exemplify the artists joyful and spontaneous spirit.

Joyce Howell is one of those artists whose laughter and happiness reflects off her paintings like light on the surface of water. Her paintings make you smile in the peace and tranquility they elect in the eye. We are so excited to be featuring her work alongside Ellen Dodd this September, their work together magnifies the bliss that comes from their colorful palettes and exuberant depiction of natural elements.

Read on to learn more about the intriguing Joyce Howell, and take a look at her studio!

Where is your hometown? Where are you currently living?

Hard to say…..  We moved several times, finishing high school in Los Alamos, New Mexico, so maybe that’s it!… Currently, I split my time between Austin, Texas, and Kingsland, Texas.  My studio is in Austin – we have a house on Lake LBJ in Kingsland.

When did you start your career in art? How long have you known you wanted to be an artist?

I started my “career” in 2007. I finished up graduate school in 2006, built a house and studio, then got to work. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy the making or the viewing of art. My parents emphasized a college degree that would help me earn a steady income, so my first degree was in business. When I married we were transferred often with my husband’s work. I also worked, but kept paints and would paint on the kitchen table when I had time, usually copying from photographs. I finished an an undergraduate program in art when my daughters were in Jr. High and High School. When the youngest graduated, I went to graduate school at Texas Tech University, concentrating on painting and drawing.

Describe your aesthetic in three words:

intuitive colorful expressionism

Describe your artistic process and preparation?

What I meant by intuitive in my previous answer, is that each mark or color I lay down determines the next mark or color. I don’t sketch or preplan. I just jump in with both feet, laying
down information with paint, pencil or crayon on a canvas. At some point, I begin editing and lessons from the basic elements and principles of design take over, usually taking a back seat to gut feeling and a sense of balance and harmony…. I work on several pieces at once so if I get stumped I just move on to another, keeping an eye on the problem child until I know what to do.

Favorite piece you’ve painted to date and why?

The next piece is my favorite….. LOL. Usually when I’m finished with a painting
and it goes out to a collector or gallery I forget about it. I’m always moving on to
another blank canvas.

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?

Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly have been artistic heroes of mine for a long time. Their use of color and mark making is poetic in my mind. Lately I’ve been intrigued by Cecily Brown. She’s such a wonderfully juicy painter. I’ve only seen her work in print, but I love how she uses a brush!!Helen Frankenthaler Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly have been artistic heroes of mine for a long time. Their use of color and mark making is poetic in my mind. Lately I’ve been intrigued by Cecily Brown. She’s such a wonderfully juicy painter. I’ve only seen her work in print, but I love how she uses a brush!!

Helen Frankenthaler

What challenges do you think exist in the world of fine art?

I don’t pay a lot of attention to the art world outside my studio. I just keep my head down and work. If the great art “boss” came to my studio one day and told me I have to change my ways, I’d be in serious trouble. I have no desire to be narrative or political. I’m not interested in the use of technology. I like the feel of brush against canvas. My camera is smarter than I am, conceptual work is often over my head (don’t tell anybody – LOL).

     -> How do you approach/overcome them?

When I talk to younger artists I get the sense that they are trying to decide how their creativity will manifest. There are so many ways to be an artist. In graduate school, a very good friend who was well respected and had established a wonderful history of making work gave me some advice I took to heart. He told me never to stick my finger in the wind to check the movement of the day. He made me understand that my artistic voice is the only one that matters when I show up for work every day. To thine own self be true.

Biggest accomplishment to date (personally or professionally)?

I have two daughters to love and they love me back.

Favorite location to paint/what is your studio like?

I paint in my studio. A little over a year ago I moved my studio from the lake into Austin. It is a work space with an apartment. If you are familiar with the book – Where’s Waldo, that’s my studio. Tubes of paint, brushes, rags, work in progress and a little blind terrier.

A random fact about you:

There’s something about a body of water that calls to me…..

Favorite place to vacation? And/or dream trip?

I will go anywhere. I’ve had a lot of freedom in the past 10 years and I buy a plane ticket as often as possible. I’d go back to India in a heartbeat. I’ve been traveling in Mexico and Central America lately – would go back to Cuba again….. Am going fly fishing in Alaska in a couple of weeks. I’ve wanted to go to the Galapagos for a long time and I’m going there in January, with a stop over in Peru to go to Machu Pichu. If you need a travel buddy, call me…….

What are you currently reading?

Biography of George Washington and I, Roberta Manchu – biography of a woman from Guatamala.

What are you currently listening to?

I play music in the studio all the time. Often times I play the same song over and over – maybe for several days at a time. It becomes a white noise ear worm. If I listen to the radio or put an entire CD on play, I get distracted when the music changes. Lately I’ve been listening to the Avett Brothers, Eva Cassidy, Tom Waits…..

Tom Waits

What would you be doing if you were not an artist?

I fantasize about landscape architecture – that’s realistic. I also fantasize being a singer – that’s not realistic. At least in this lifetime. I remember telling God that if he’d let me paint in this lifetime I’d sing for him in the next. We’ll see………

One thing you couldn’t live without?

Good mexican food.

If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?

A day isn’t very long……. I’ll think about that. My impulse is to pick someone from another time period – just out of curiosity.

Your all-time favorite artist and/or your favorite emerging artist?

This is hard!!! So many! Today I will say Bernini. When I first saw the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa and Apollo and Daphne, it blew my mind. He could make stone bend and breathe…..

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini

Dream commission?

None. I will do commissions, but they aren’t my favorite……..

What do you want your audience to know about your work?

I want them to know how much I love doing what I do. The best compliments I receive are from people who tell me they dont tire of living with my work and see something new in it every day. I like knowing that my paintings leave room for the viewer to have their own thoughts. I like it when I hear someone say they give them a sense of calm.

What makes your work unique?

I don’t like this question!!! LOL….. I don’t even think about that.

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years:

I hope I still wake up happy to step up to a blank canvas with the feeling of joy and possibility.

In Tandem will open September 21st, 6-8pm. We look forward to seeing y’all there! We will also be featuring Ellen Dodd in another upcoming feature as well!

—Written by, Sophie Lane at ANFA Gallery