Harrison Howard paints what he calls "The Flower Ladies" in delicate, precise watercolors. The figures are inspired by chinoiserie, a kind of decorative art from the 16th and 17th century produced mainly in France and England. Chinoiserie is the result of Eastern influence on European art. It's basically what happened when Europeans attempted to copy Eastern art.
"People got the idea that the Far East was this sort of fantasy land," Howard said. "Europeans pictured the East as a place filled with oversized plants and flowers and undersized people."
This long-held misconception has become the inspiration for the subjects that populate Howard's work. He prefers using watercolors to paint his Flower Ladies, particularly with a wash, because of the chalky and luminescent look that sets his work apart from other media.
But originality is not Howard's main concern.
"It's part of what happens to artists as they get older," he explained. "Complete originality is almost impossible, because if you look hard enough, you'll find that someone's already done what you're doing."
Instead, Howard concerns himself with the dreaded commercial aspect of art. "I don't think any artist can survive without putting some thought and effort into being able to sell what you paint."
His background in interior design has taught him about people's likes and dislikes. He said an artist has to take his market into consideration, but, he warned, during the actual creation of a painting, an artist should try to forget about pleaseing potential buyers.
"When I sit down to paint something, I feel the need to sell what I produce," said Howard, "but I think every artist needs to put that out of their mind.... It's a very negative way to go about painting."
Amid the excitement of being featured on SanDiego Artist.com (see the main feature), making an appearance on Art Rocks! radio (see the other side story) and speaking at the AROUSE event, the commercial side of his artwork is top of mind for Howard. He said he hasn't been able to sit down in front of a painting for the last five months because he's been transitioning between murals and smaller pieces, working on his brochures, promoting his website and trying to get into local galleries. He has more than 100 sketches that he's waiting to paint, if only he can find the time.
"It's ironic," he said, "because I enjoy painting now more than I ever have in my life."Check out www.harrisonhoward.com.