Rick Howell, Artist of the Taj

rick-howell-portrait

After receiving a degree from Colorado State University in Biology, Howell pursued a successful career managing stock brokerage firms in Denver. Primarily a self-taught landscape painter, he left the business world in 1993 to become a full-time artist.

Rick’s Home and Studio

He lived in a 150-year-old adobe home and studio that he renovated in Mogote, Colorado, a village more than a town just four miles north of the New Mexico State line at the mouth of Conejos Canyon in the southern San Juan Mountains. The property was the town’s original general store, with walls two feet thick, viga ceilings, and pine wood floors.

Rick converted the largest room into his studio, installing a wall easel, fixing up the fireplace, and complementing the window’s northern light and adding halogen lights (the same used in the galleries he shows in, to give him a better idea of how his paintings will look once they’re up for viewing).

He spent most of his work time outdoors, painting en plein air for weeks at a time, even in winter, then painting his large paintings from these studies in the studio. “Plein air paintings have a raw honesty that one is not able to get from working from a photograph in the studio.”

The larger paintings tend to have more layers and are more complex; however, Howell’s main goal is to have these paintings give the feeling or create the emotion he was able to capture in nature using the studies as a reference.

“In one hour I can be in Abiquiu or Taos or high up in the San Juans or Sangre de Cristos, or over on the Rio Grande.  The area is so rich in diversity of subject matter.”  The scenic Cumbres & Toltec scenic train runs from Antonito (about five miles east of Mogote), Colorado, to Chama, New Mexico.  Visitors from around the world come to ride the train and view the incredible landscape of the Conejos Canyon and beyond.

Howell’s favorite paintings were of everyday scenes. “Nature is fairly gray, so when you add color, the gray tones actually allow those colors to sing.  If you paint the entire landscape with singing color, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of the more subtle voices you want to hear.”

Rick avoided being labeled a representational, impressionistic, or tonal artist.  His work came from his own experience and interpretation, using a limited palette with unlimited vision of the landscapes before him.

His intent was to take an everyday scene and paint it so well that it stirs a memory or creates a mood.  It is these settings that get his attention and become paintings.

Howell’s Collectors

Howell’s collectors praise his ability to capture the mood of a place, often hearing that his work evokes an emotional response. They are immediately taken by the beauty of his landscapes.  Howell conveys a sense of confidence in his painting technique and a definite love of the Rocky Mountain West.  His large paintings (48 by 60 inches and larger) make a grand statement that continue to draw viewers back again and again.

“No matter how we progress as painters, we continue to strive to make each painting better than the last,” Howell reflects.  “Complete mastery of painting continually eludes us, that is what makes painting so wonderful:  that constant challenge to get one great painting.”

Plein Air Painting

His plein air paintings vary up to 30 by 40 inches.  Those sketches he likes best later become transformed into larger oil paintings back in the studio.  By the Summer of 2011, he will release a long-awaited book, Chasing Shadows, on his direct approach to plein air painting.

Howell has earned a reputation of being one of the best landscape painters in the West.  Aside from having over 50 shows in leading galleries, including a number of one-man shows, Howell has garnered top awards presented by the Oil Painters of America, the American Impressionist Society, and Salon International’s International Museum of Contemporary Masters.

Founder of Organization

2010 – Founder, Art for Endangered Landscapes, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Its mission is to preserve our vanishing landscapes through the work of America’s most talented artists, including painters, sculptors, photographers, videographers, and others.

Museum Shows
2012 _ Fechin Museum Invitational   August 25th
2012 –  A.R Mitchell Memorial Museum  May 5th
2011 – A.R. Mitchell Memorial Museum of Western Art, National Invitational Painting Exhibition, Trinidad CO
2011 – C.M. Russell Museum, The Russell Art Show & Sale, Great Falls MT

Shows and Invitationals
2012 – Waterhouse Gallery, one-man show, Santa Barbara CA
2011 – Total Arts, two-man show with Huihan Liu, Taos NM
2011 – Tierney Fine Art, Bozeman MT
2011 – Astoria Fine Art, Jackson Hole WY
2011 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver CO
2011 – Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CO
2010 – Fine Art Studio Online’s Informed Collector, featured as a Highly Collectible Fine Artist
2010 – Tierney Fine Art, Bozeman MT
2010 – Total Arts Gallery, Taos NM
2010 – Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA
2010 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver CO
2010 – Astoria Fine Art, Jackson Hole WY
2009 – Astoria Fine Art, Pieces of Wyoming, Jackson Hole WY
2009 – 18th Annual Colorado Governor’s Show Invitational, Loveland Museum, Loveland CO
2009 – Sunset Art Gallery, Life and Leisure Show, Amarillo TX
2009 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver CO
2009 – Tierney Fine Art, Bozeman MT
2009 – Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA
2009 – Total Arts Gallery, Taos NM
2008 – 17th Annual Colorado Governor’s Show Invitational, Loveland Museum, Loveland CO
2008 – Waterhouse Gallery, Invitational Landscape Show, Santa Barbara CA
2008 – Sunset Art Gallery, Amarillo TX
2008 – Tierney Fine Art, Bozeman MT
2008 – Total Arts Gallery, Quiet Dramas, Taos NM
2008 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver CO
2008 – Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA
2008 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2007 – 16th Annual Colorado Governor’s Show Invitational, Loveland Museum, Loveland CO
2007 – 27th Annual Governor’s Invitational, Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale, Old Western Museum, Cheyenne WY
2007 – Howard/Mandville Gallery, Love of the Land Invitational, Kirkland WA
2007 – Greenhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara CA
2007 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver CO
2007 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2007 – Wendt Gallery, Landscape Show Invitational, Laguna Beach CA
2007 – Scissortail Gallery of Fine Art, Owasso OK
2006 – 26th Annual Governor’s Invitational, Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale, Old Western Museum, Cheyenne WY
2006 – Howard/Mandville Gallery, Invitational, Kirkland WA
2006 – Greenhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
2006 – Gallery A, Taos, NM
2005 – Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver, CO
2005 – Willow Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
2005 – 25th Annual Governor’s Invitational, Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale, Old Western Museum, Cheyenne, WY
2005 – Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio TX
2005 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2005 – Mad Creek Gallery, Steamboat Springs CO
2004 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2004 – Mad Creek Gallery, Autumn in Portugal, Steamboat Springs CO
2003 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2002 – Scissortail Gallery of Fine Art, Owasso OK
2002 – Gallery A, Taos NM
2001 – Knox Gallery, Denver CO
2001 – Contemporary Southwest Gallery, Santa Fe NM
2001 – Gallery A, Taos NM

Awards
2006 – Society of Master Impressionists International Exhibition, Best of Show, Andy’s Ranch
2006 – American Impressionist Society, National Show, Award of Excellence, Wind
2006 – American Impressionist Society, National Show, Award of Excellence
2005 – American Impressionist Society, National Show, 1st Place, Fall Color
2005 – American Impressionist Society, National Show, Honorable Mention, Conejos River
2005 – Salon International Museum of Contemporary Masters, Award of Excellence, Tributaries
2005 – Salon International, International Museum of Contemporary Masters, Award of Excellence, December on the Rim
2005 – Oil Painters of America, National Show
2004 – Oil Painters of America, National Show, Award of Excellence, On Any Given Day
2003 – Oil Painters of America, National Show, Award of Excellence, Moon Whispers

Publications 
February 2011 – Southwest Art, Landscape Painting issue, My World
Southwest Art article
September 2009 – Western Art Collector, Visions of Wyoming
March-April 2008 – Fine Art Connoisseur, Selecting the Right Frame
July 2008 – American Art Collector, Quiet Dramas
October 2006 – American Artist, Award Winners
December 2005 – Southwest Art, Long Time Coming
July 2003 – International Artist, Award Winners
July 2003 – Art of the West, What’s News
July 2003 – Southwest Art, On the Scene
December 2003 – Southwest Art, Colorado Calling
November 2001 – Southwest Art, Artists to Watch
June 2000 – Southwest Art, Art Event

DVD & Book on Plein Air Painting 
Rick’s DVD, En Plein Air: Painting on the Right Side of Your Brain, is now available, and Chasing Shadows, his instructional book on plein air painting, will be released later in 2011.  Both instructional tools are part of his comprehensive Chasing Shadows Plein Air Painting Program, based out of his studio in Mogote, CO.

Memberships
American Impressionist Society
Art for Endangered Landscapes, Founder
Creede Repertory Theatre (Solo Artist painting for annual event)
Music for Angel Fire (Solo Artist painting for annual event)
Oil Painters of America, Signature Member
Society of Master Impressionists International
The Nature Conservancy

Update on Rick Howell

We were not surprised to hear that Rick passed away from what they call an “enlarged heart”,
he was an immensely kind and generous man who took in lost dogs,
fed stray cats and cared for most everyone who crossed his path.

He read incessantly, seeking a deeper wisdom that he would share only with those close to him.
He opened up his knowledge and gave it to all who would seek it.
Many of his mentoring students would say he changed their lives,
but all of his friends would say their lives were changed too~ from knowing him.
He was a private man, who kept a distance from Art Openings and Shows,
frustrating many of his gallery owners.
But he was always true to himself.

At every moment, of everyday, nature can present herself to the right eye~
with inspiration and emotion.
This was Rick’s greatest gift, he could capture this better than anyone else.

As in his delightful humor,
when you look at a Rick Howell painting~
It can catch your breath, make you pause, and quite possibly…
bring you to tears.

Rick’s works will be on display at the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, CO, in the Rotunda, from September 19th to October 9th.

   Centennial Cone Park, “Centennial Cone Hike”, oil on canvas.

   White Ranch Park, “Ralston Buttes”, oil on canvas

About the author /


Michelle Poolet

PLAN Jeffco Board Member. Michelle Poolet is a relative new-comer to PLAN Jeffco, but not to the world of volunteer work. She has been on the Board of PLAN Jeffco since 2008, and in that time has worked hard to ensure the success of various PJ conferences and events. She is part of the PLAN Jeffco web content subcommittee, and liaisons between the PLAN Jeffco Board and the Open Space Advisory Committee. Her “day job” is as President and Chief Enterprise Architect of Mount Vernon Data Systems, a BBB A+ accredited database consulting company. Michelle lives on Lookout Mountain, in unincorporated JeffCo, with her best pal, TessaRose the collie, with whom she enjoys daily trekking in the forests.

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