Greg Howes continues the story of his art, inspirations, innovations, and fearless creation. Please see yesterday’s post for the beginning of this story…
I moved to Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales in 1990, where fortunately I was able to continue my horticultural career. Shortly after that move I began to combine my love of plants and my passion to create something a bit different. I started to make pictures and designs from pressed flowers, leaves and grasses that I found growing locally. This medium allowed me to be creative whilst expressing my love of the plant world in all of its different shapes, forms, colours and textures. Moreover, I didn’t feel that I had to apply the more traditional methods to make interesting art.
I spent many hours and days making pictures in this fashion. Looking back I used to spend hours and hours on a single card which was probably thrown away within a week of the recipient receiving it, but the main joy for me was in creating something new and out of something readily available, beautiful, and free. I still have one or two small pictures I made at that time, but how I wish I had photographed some of the designs that really worked well. One in particular I can remember had a background of pressed white poplar (Populus alba) topside up, this gave a mottled lake finish to it, a single passion-flower, (Passiflora caerulea) as a centre piece, surrounded by small blue flowers and a tiny amount of foliage from love in mist (Nigella damascena) plant.
I bought my first computer in 1997. It had a very basic photo morphing facility which I never used because I did not have a digital camera at the time (nor, I suspect, did many others). Things changed about a year afterwards when I bought myself a scanner and started fiddling with old, already developed photographs of friends and family. Being an avid countryside walker, I then started picking bits of fungi and lichen up and scanning to see what they looked like morphed with my computer software. This did make for some interesting results; though I must confess I did not enjoy wiping off the squidgy mess from my scanner afterwards. It’s interesting that we can see beauty in sweeping landscapes and flower gardens, and even in singular blooms, but the beautiful intricacies of some of nature’s most useful foot soldiers go largely unnoticed.
The real change for me artistically happened in around 2005 when I bought my first digital camera. Upon reflection, it seems much more like ten years ago rather that five as I have spent so much time with it ever since. I soon found that the ease to get a reasonable-quality picture, with a minimum amount of fiddling about, was very seductive. I then managed to get myself a copy of Microsoft “PhotoDraw V2” which was a rudimentary photographic design software which was produced some years earlier. However dated it was, it opened up new horizons for me and allowed me to create at will. This change fortunately coincided with my joining of the “Social Networking” site called Myspace. I found that this site gave me an ideal platform on which to display my work whilst also getting the opinion of friends and other artists alike.
Originally most of my photographic art work came from the natural world, which I would then morph and play around with colour and form. Trees were high on my list of subjects, but so were other more unlikely images like dew riddled sheep’s wool stuck on barbed wire fences and etc and etc. It soon began to be apparent that beauty and intrigue are often ringed, fenced by our own limited perception of where it can be found. If we all learned to alter our focus a little and live “outside of the box” from time to time, a whole new world can open up to us.
Greg Howes will share the third installment of his fascinating story tomorrow.