Meredith Howse on Instinct and Inspiration
Since joining Bluethumb mid-2017, Meredith Howse has steadily yet firmly established herself as an award-winning landscape artist in Australia’s ever-changing art scene. A deep-seated instinct to paint as a child exploring the coastal towns of New South Wales has undoubtedly informed the inspiration and approach Meredith holds towards her practice today.
“My parents recognised this innate creative instinct from within and encouraged it with drawing materials and paint. I knew no other artists, I felt alone in my habit of observing nature and creating little pieces. I put my passion for art aside at times, to fit in with my friends in whatever town I happened to be living in at the time.”
Meredith Howse’s journey as an artist begins somewhere within her teenage years. “When I started out I was quite judgemental of types of art. ‘It would look better like this’, ‘How is this good?’ ‘Why?’. As I have grown as an artist I don’t have so many hang ups and have loosened up so to speak both on the canvas and in life. Of course, having teenagers around the house helps.” An appreciation for all forms of artistic expression has happened slowly over time for Meredith, who tips her hat to art created off canvas and in the outer world, as much as its more traditional parts. “Nowadays, if you asked me which artists completely amaze and astound me, it would be street/mural artists of the world who do oversized paintings in all conditions and from great heights.”
While landscape, water and shadows are constant themes, the style of Meredith’s artwork varies greatly. “It’s possible the inconsistency is because of the incredible amount of influences around these days.” Early on in her career, the medium of oil paint was settled upon as this was what readily available. “Oil paint lent itself to extreme darks and lights, with not much in between. When I use acrylic paint, the outcomes tend to be a lot lighter and freer flowing. Canvas is my preference as opposed to linen and board. I like the weight and texture of it beneath my brush; it also travels well.”
Many factors aide Meredith’s sense of discipline throughout her practice. “A big one for me is the old emotion guilt. I was taught from a very young age to be always ‘doing’. If you’re not, it’s time-wasting. If you do have a quiet moment, do you think about what you are going to do next? I do.
“What I learnt along the way from a wise old theatre nurse is this: it is best to put something where it goes the first time, as opposed to putting it anywhere and changing your mind later. This philosophy when used as an artist, forces me to think deeply before I make a decisive stroke of the brush. Not only is it time saving, it means my time spent is 90% intentional art with 10% cleaning up mistakes, as opposed to 50% painting art 50% of time tidying up mistakes. It is also important to have enough confidence to know when to stop and be happy with the result.”
“I consider myself very lucky indeed to visit the beautiful places I paint on the pretence of being ‘on the job’,” Meredith jokes. “Lately Noosa, Byron, Victoria, New Zealand, Mt Manganui and Kawarau River have all been my subject matter. Still, even without travel I find inspiration almost everywhere I look.”
As well as external motivation and stimuli, the need to paint is a constant throughout Meredith’s emotions. From an internal perspective, the tone of work may consequently differ. “In darker moments when positivity gives way to self-doubt, my work does tend to explore that feeling.”
The ability to be an artist is something Meredith holds sincere gratitude for. “It’s a wonderful gift. For as long as I am able and have the love and support of my family, I will continue to create. Bluethumb for me has been a perfect medium to sell my art, the software is state of the ‘art’,” she adds with a smile. “The site is incredibly user-friendly, making art purchases and delivery remarkably seamless and swift. It isn’t hard to see how Bluethumb has become Australia’s biggest art sale website for original Australian art.”
Meredith already has her sights set on future goals for her career as an artist. “My action plan is this – have a solo exhibition every two to three years; continue to curate the Tower Art show promoting Brisbane artists; continue with Bluethumb as their support and encouragement has been wonderful. In the next twelve months you’ll see more works influenced by the world around us as I move through styles and stages – as all artists do.”