Our Q&A with RWA Artist Network member Laura Howarth…
“… I follow the paint and let it dictate the way the painting develops … It takes on a life of its own and I try to keep up…”
A member of the RWA Artist Network, Laura’s paintings are inspired by landscapes and her early connections to the forests and coastlines of the Pacific Northwest.
Laura is currently exhibiting at ‘Re-Formation’ – Heritage Courtyard Studios and the Bishop’s Palace, Wells – until 6 October.
Here’s our Q&A…
When did you realise you were an artist?
I think I have always known I was an artist. Even when very young I was a bit of a day dreamer and spent time looking closely at things, noticing the colours of leaves, studying the patterns in puddles made by ice crystals and the markings on shells. I thought these things were extraordinary and carried the images around in my mind.
Why do you make art?
I make art to steady myself and to try to find some balance in the world with all its beauty, ugliness, transience and fragility.
You use oil and cold wax medium. Can you tell us something about this process and what is special about the effects they can create?
I tend to start with a rough idea or sensation, usually from an experience in the landscape, which is more of an intention than a plan. I sometimes use sketches and colour notes and begin by laying down layers of oil and cold wax medium on paper, board or panel.
Generally I follow the paint and let it dictate the way the painting develops, making changes along the way and responding what is happening on the surface. It takes on a life of its own and I try to keep up. I lay the paint mixture down using rollers, squeegees and palette knives and often work on more than one piece at a time, particularly in the early stages.
Over time the painting gradually resolves itself but often this can take days, weeks or longer.
How do you like others to look at and read your paintings?
I would like others to give my work time and space to breathe. The paintings contain their history; layers of paint have been built up and scraped away to reveal earlier layers in a gradual process. I like to think viewers will look beneath the surface and take time to explore, consider and find their own narrative.
How has your work changed or evolved through your career? Was there a particular turning point?
I have always been interested in surface when exploring ideas and have used various means of creating texture in my work both in printmaking and painting. My work began to develop in a new direction when I discovered the process of mixing oil paint with cold wax medium on a course in Ireland with Rebecca Crowell in 2015. My work became more experimental, the surfaces much more varied and complex and the overall sense of the paintings began to change.
What are you working on now?
I have begun a series of abstract works which refer to time, footprints and memory, inspired by weathered walls and fragments of text. I’m working over layers of collage in oil and cold wax medium on board and plan to develop this theme into larger scale works.
What does being a Network artist mean to you?
Being a member of the Artist Network for several years has been an enjoyable privilege and has allowed me to become involved in the work of the RWA, participating in a variety of events including quarterly AN/Academician lunchtime meetings, the Secret Postcard Auction, ‘After Hours’ drop-in workshops and volunteering. I have recently become a member of a ‘Discourses’ committee, exploring future developments at the RWA and am enjoying tackling the challenges we have set ourselves.
“… I make art to steady myself and to try to find some balance in the world with all its beauty, ugliness, transience and fragility…”
Where can we next see your work?
I am showing work at ‘Re-Formation’ Heritage Courtyard Studios and the Bishop’s Palace, Wells until 6 October. More info here.
On 9 – 24 November I will be showing in the Autumn Exhibition, Hadfield Fine Art, The Old Poolhouse, Sevenhampton, Cheltenham GL54 5 SW.
You can see more of Laura’s work on her website.
Interview by Laurel Smart