The talented artist, Mr. Harrison Howard


A couple of months ago, I was reading one of my favorite design blogs, Peak of Chic, and came across a post on the work of artist Harrison Howard. His style, use of color and obvious talent left an indelible impression on me. I left a comment on the post and was surprised to find that Harrison himself emailed to thank me for it! Sometimes, I find that some talented people can be a bit prone to be impressed with themselves or exude an attitude of entitlement or lack of consideration for others. I sensed none of this from Mr. Howard and was so pleased that he would take the time to acknowledge my comment. He seems to be a very warm and genuine man, seemingly unaware of the talent he possesses and completely unaffected and down to earth. This is certainly one of those instances where you admire or respect the work of someone more established and developed and think, gosh, I'd love to attain to that level of professionalism! Mr. Howard was kind enough to let me "interview" him and feature the man and his work as one of my "Artist's Portraits" here on Annechovie.

Harrison's lovely wife, Lou Ann and son, Alec,
at Harrison's show opening at Thiele and Sons Gallery, La Jolla, CA

"The Greeting" from his Shell and Flower People Series

"The Letter Writer"

Harrison's resume boasts commissions from some of America's most prestigious decorating firms, such as McMillen, Irvine & Fleming and was hired by Pamela Banker (later of Parish-Hadley). His work has appeared in Architectural Digest and also graces many prestigious residences, such as those of the Vanderbilts, Firestones, DuPonts, Goodyears and stars like Kirstie Alley, as well as the Royal Saudi Embassy in Virginia.

"Beautiful IV" from his Shell Series

"Yellow Tree" from the Shell Series

Shells By The Sea

Scripps Park, La Jolla, California

Harrison says that much of his professional career has been devoted to mural work in private houses, and has included screens, panels, easel paintings, and watercolors. Primarily, his work has focused on decorative themes including architectural subjects, chinoiseries, and scenics, often with bird, animal or floral motifs. He has worked extensively with alkyd paints, oil paints, and to a lesser extent, acrylics.

His father, Wing Howard, was also an artist, and is known to many in San Diego, where Harrison now lives, through the murals he painted in the Whaling Bar of the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Harrison started his career at the age of 19 with a one-man exhibit at the upstairs gallery owned by Ross Thiele & Sons Interiors, then located on Prospect Street in La Jolla. All but one of the 24 available watercolors were sold. Since that time Harrison has worked primarily as a freelance artist. Today, Harrison has returned to a focus on smaller paintings, and is now producing limited edition giclee prints of many of these paintings as well.

Harrison resides in gorgeous San Diego, California with his lovely wife, Lou Ann, and teenage son, Alec.

"The Yellow Sail" from his Chinoiserie Series

"The Departure"

Where were you born?I was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to the west of Philadelphia a few miles.

What is your artistic background schooling?
I spent three years at the School of Fine Arts at Boston University in the early seventies studying painting, and later I received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design at Art Center College in Pasadena, CA. That program involved a lot of drawing and industrial model building.

What are your earliest memories of being involved making art or wanting to be an artist?My father was a professional artist, although largely self taught, and I never gave any serious consideration to doing anything else. Drawing and painting were a very big preoccupation from the age of five onward, but the results really were rarely anything to suggest that I would choose to be an artist. In hindsight I think I was very close minded about considering alternatives, because there are a lot of other interesting things to do. However, at my present stage of life, I have no more regret about my choice than a parent feels about having their children. I would say my father influenced me more than any formal art training, and the interests that both my parents had in art and traveling.

What inspired you most as your subject matter? Does living near/on the Coast influence your work a lot?
I’m interested in fashion illustration, stage set design, children’s book illustration, decorative and fine art in general, and all of those subjects are sources of inspiration, but in the final analysis I think there’s nothing more dependable than your own imagination, and the things around you in every day life. We have mostly antiques in our house, and they have repeatedly served as props in my paintings. Many of those things conjure ideas that would no doubt seem a big stretch to another person. I do live very close to the Pacific Ocean, and I enjoy that very much, but I don’t really think it has influenced my frame of mind a great deal.

What are some of your favorite things that are essential to your success/well-being as a person and artist?
I think the fact that you ask that question is particularly a reflection on your own personality Anne, which strikes me as exceptionally happy and upbeat, and that shows in your paintings. My wife and seventeen year old son are without question at the core of my well being, as well as my recollections of my parents, who are no longer alive, and my friends and other family members. The fact that I make my living as an artist gives me great satisfaction, because I enjoy immensely what I do. Contrary to the stereotype of artists as tormented souls, I am convinced that artists must enjoy what they do if they want to produce worthwhile results, even if in some cases they may not be particularly happy the rest of the time. The only things that really torments me are all my bills.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?I would move back and forth between Europe and this country.

What are the most challenging things for you about being an artist?
I think I could speak for the overwhelming majority of full time artists in saying that making a living that meets my family’s needs is the biggest challenge. There’s also always that sense that the next painting is going to be better than the one before it.

Which artists have influenced your work the most?What I find odd is that some of the artists I like the most are not necessarily the ones, who have always influenced me the most. My father, Wing Howard, who taught me to use watercolor, was the most influential, although my paintings are quite different from his. I’ve been influenced by Jean Pillement, Lisbeth Zwerger, (the Austrian illustrator), Kay Nielsen, Charles Doyle, (father of Arthur Conan Doyle), Helen Dryden, (the art deco fashion illustrator), Jean Hugo, and J. J. Grandville. There are many others, not necessarily widely known.

I want to offer my most sincere thanks to Harrison for sharing more about himself and his work with us and encourage you to visit his beautiful site where his museum-worthy works and prints are available for purchase. He also accepts commissions!


My "Aqua Interior" original painting is one of my pieces being featured for sale in the "New Views" exhibit at Nashville's Bennett Galleries from now until July.

Palm Beach Chair - Anne Harwell 2007
Many of my original paintings, as well as some prints, are for sale as part of this exhibit of new and emerging artist's work on paper at Bennettt Galleries. It is called "New Views:Photographs, Prints and Illustrations". The exhibit features the art of several different artists and runs from April through July. It is the first exhibit of this kind and will be a rotating exhibit that changes artists every 3 months. Bennett Galleries, a well established and upscale gallery in Nashville, TN specializes in contemporary fine art. It is family-owned and has been in business for over 30 years.

Boston Vase - gouache/ink on paper
This is another of the smaller original works being featured.

Ikat Cartoon - 2008 This original gouache/ink sketch is also in the show.

This original hand-cut paper collage is a new work I created for the show.

Bennett Galleries - hours are Monday-Friday 9:30-5:30 and Saturday 9:30-5:00

Bennett Galleries carries the work of many well-established as well as emerging artists. It's located at 2104 Crestmoor Road in Nashville, right in the heart of Green Hills.

I sent over 20 pieces for the show, so if you live in or near Nashville, please come by and check out "New Views" exhibit at Bennett Galleries.


The beautiful ceiling in the entrance of the Ringling Museum of Art

John Manners, Marquis of Granby by Joshua Reynolds - 1766 (photo courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art)

One of the museum's priceless treasures, La Sultana Rossa, by Titian - 1550's (photo courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art)

Here are I am on the loggia with a larger-than-life size urn. I could've taken this piece home with me. It would make for a very cool outdoor sculpture. The color is right up my alley as well!

One of the intricately carved, yet borderline gauche, architectural pieces that John Ringling imported or bought from auctions to furnish his museum and mansion, Ca D'Zan (or House of John).

This painting is not overly famous, yet you don't often seen Joseph pictured with the baby Jesus and I thought this had an especially nice quality to it. It was painted by Murillo in the 17th century. Unfortunately, I was very remiss and neglected my blogger's duty to take notes with some of my photos.I was too busy trying to obscure my camera from view of the museum police (btw, I DID NOT use a flash). For not labeling, I will certainly receive the "REMISS BLOGGER OF THE DAY" distinction.

A bust of me, before the chin implant and neck lipo. Actually, this is of Princess Anne.....

A very impressive portrait of Marie Antoinette in pastels by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun! A truly amazing feat, considering this is about 10 feet in length and done entirely in chalks!(Please excuse my inferior, out-of-focus photography - not my strong suit!)

There is a large collection of Florentine and Venetian paintings here at the Ringling Museum of Art

One of the expansive marble loggias that line the inner courtyard

This tree was almost as impressive as any of the contents of the museum. These Banyan trees are native to Florida and their root systems are amazing. They grow to be absolutely massive.

An ornate verdigris iron doorway - I love the color against the pink of the building

A view of the inner courtyard. Apparently, circus magnate John Ringling (one of Sarasota's most famous residents) had so much excess cash, that he traveled to Europe and major auction houses looking for paintings, antiques and treasures that he could bring home to furnish his home and museum. He was a colorful fellow, to say the least. After seeing his bust at the museum, I would definitely have to term him a "Beefcake". He comes across as a wee bit narcissistic, but pretty generous at the same time. My theory is that he was extremely insecure and, as often is the mode of the nouveau-riche, spent his life flaunting his money in an effort to prove that he wasn't just a "Circus Guy". He did amass quite an impressive collection of art, antiques and architectural pieces.
The museum is home to several major works, including those of Rembrandt, Reynolds, El Greco, Gainsborough, Velazquez, Rubens and van Dyck. Not too shabby for a town the size of Sarasota. Mr. Ringling had quite a flair for the showy and dramatic, but how could you expect anything less from a guy who started a circus? He and his wife ended up totally broke and he bequeathed his estate to the State of Florida. The locals are certainly enriched because of it and the Museum is now the official art museum for the State of Florida. It makes for a great outing whether you live nearby or are in town visiting.
I have to say, most of the people lurking on stools in the galleries, guarding the paintings, were extremely courteous and didn't give you the evil eye, as is sometimes the case in museums. However, upon our exit, we did encounter a somewhat overzealous granny, who was so intent on getting our umbrella claim check before we could touch our umbrella, that she practically tackled us. She reminded me of one of those ladies who used to glare at me in a gift shop when I was a kid. The look said it all, "if you so much as touch ANYTHING, I will cut your little fingers off immediately!" Well, at least she is taking her job seriously, right? If you have a moment, take a look at the website here - there are even virtual tours to view.

The marble pieces are exquisite. This is one of many that stands under the covered portico surrounding the courtyard.

There are many beautiful fountains and sculptures on the grounds

Here is a more expansive view of the East Wing (on an uncharacteristically sunless Florida day)

More courtyard adornments

This is a (much smaller) replica of the famous Romulus and Remus statue that is the sacred symbol of Rome. The original is located in Italy. Is it just me, or do you find this a tad disturbing?? Two little guys nursing on a she-wolf?? Come on....Isn't ancient mythology weird? Inter species lactation? Very warped!!

The "Crown Jewel" of the Ringling Museum, the actual cast of Michelangelo's "David". This also happens to be the symbol for the City Of Sarasota, Florida.


Some of my work at Art Senoia, a show opening tomorrow evening. It's located in a historic, rustic gallery in the Atlanta area. (click for larger image)

The show includes the work of many fine artists from the Atlanta area.

Some of my talented photographer brother, Jeremy Harwell's work. He took all these photos in this post.

Found metal sculpture by Zack and David Moye

Tomorrow night marks the opening of Art Senoia in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. I encourage anyone who lives in the area to come out for the opening reception, complete with REFRESHMENTS! If you know someone who lives in the area, please spread the word or pass on this link.

A great way to kick off Spring and celebrate the arts. Set against the rustic brick walls of a century-old building, "Art Senoia" will debut April 25th with an opening reception from 6:30 to 9:30 at 20 Main Street in Historic Downtown Senoia. This is the first event of the newly formed Cultural Arts Committee of the Senoia Downtown Development Authority. "Art Senoia" will feature a range of beautiful paintings along with fine photography and art quilts. The art is for sale, and a portion of the proceeds goes to support the Cultural Arts Committee. Local shops and restaurants will also be open the evening of the reception.
Local painters taking part in the show are David Boyd Jr., Victor Dallas, Anne Harwell, Martin Pate, Jane Whitehurst, Joy Whitley and Yun Liu. Photographers showing their artwork are Paul Conlan and Jeremy Harwell. Found metal sculpture by Zack and David Moye and fiber art and quilts by Claudia Wood are also included in the exhibit.
After the April 25th reception, the exhibit will be open Saturdays 11:00 to 5:00 and Sundays 1:00 to 5:00 through Memorial Day, May 26th. It can also be viewed during the week by students and other groups by appointment. The reception and art show are free and open to the public.
Art Senoia is sponsored by the Senoia Downtown Development Authority and The City of Senoia.


The poster I created for Art Senoia, a fine arts show in historic downtown Senoia, Georgia. My brother, Jeremy Harwell, an award-winning photographer, runs his studio in downtown Senoia. Jeremy left NYC in 2003, after years working with Ralph Lauren as Creative Director for his New York stores. He built a charming farmhouse with his wife, Karrie, and 3 children and refurbished the historic bank building his photography studio is now housed in. More on Jeremy, his home and studio in the future. He is one of the artists participating in Art Senoia, as well as myself. The show opens with a reception on Friday, April 25th and is open every weekend for a month. The show will feature the work of fine artists and photographers from around the Atlanta area in a gallery setting. Senoia is a unique place named after a Native American princess located about 45 miles south of Downtown Atlanta, GA. It has been the setting for several films in recent years, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon and The Fighting Temptations.