artist spotlight: michael howley
Can you tell us a little about the most recent works that you have on display here at the gallery? Was there any particular inspiration behind these pieces?
Inspired by regular visits to Watercolour Cottage in the stunning area of Ardgour in the west Highlands of Scotland, my latest series of paintings is titled ‘Mountains and Mist, Scotland’. Through this collection, I explore the majesty and mystery of the lost and found contours of landscape so often shrouded as they are in beautiful swirling mists. I love that immersive feeling of being surrounded by the changing elements, and my paintings are an invitation into the very heart of the landscape.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process?
Working on toned pastel paper, I begin by mapping in general areas with underpinning colours and tones. Having gently worked this layer into the grain of the paper I add successive layers, gradually building depth, contrast and detail and blending carefully throughout. Finally, I crisp up contrasts and textural detail until the painting reaches a stage of wholeness that I feel satisfied with.
Watch a short video of the process behind Ben Nevis Emerging I here.
Where do you prefer to work and why?
I prefer to work on pieces in the studio as the process takes several days and the working light is consistent. I also enjoy getting out in the landscape, feeling the atmosphere and using photography and sketching to capture a sense of those awe-inspiring moments as the light and conditions swiftly change.
Watch a short video of Michael's studio here.
What are you working on at the moment, or what will you be working on next?
I am currently working on the next of the ‘Mountains and Mist’ series, my third of Ben Nevis. Often much of the mountain is obscured and the lower regions are revealed. I enjoy trying to capture the contrasts between the distant textures of the rocky surface and the soft ephemeral qualities of the mist. This painting has a few refinement stages to go through yet and I may decide to create a little more contrast in it than shows up on the source photograph that I took. Sometimes it helps to add a little from memory or imagination.