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My interest in art started as a child when I produced back yard circuses’ complete with home made sets. I started producing income at a young age by charging a small fee to the neighborhood children to see my circus. While in high school, I was a “sixty’s” rock drummer and even before attending one of America’s first modern art schools in 1973, I was developing a following and selling my work. As a sensitive young man I was known as a fair weather fisherman. There were many days when the ocean was just too rough for me to go out to sea. Out of this frustration I got an old fashioned crow quill pen and watercolor paper and started to draw my boat tied to the mooring out of harms way from the violent seas that lurked just around the jetty in the deep blue Atlantic. This seemingly idle activity became a pleasant way to spend the time that I spent longing to be out to sea. The fear of the motion of the boat was more than I could stand. There just were not enough calm days for me to go fishing and make any money. All the while I was accumulating this pile of pen and ink drawings. At first I gave them away to family and friends and found that only partially satisfying. One stormy day while my boat was tied up in port I took a drive down the coast to Cape Ann. With no plan for the day I was open to anything and I noticed an old man selling photographs to the tourists next to the Gloucester Fisherman’s statue. It was then I got an idea. I could set up next to him and sell my drawings! And that’s how my art career began.
While attending Montserrat College of Art, one of my teachers was a student of Hans Hoffman, the Godfather of Abstract Expressionism. During the four years of art school, I learned classical figure drawing and how to incorporate my own life’s experiences and draw on them as ideas for painting. I continued to create my own style after graduation in 1977 and I did what most artists are dreaming about, I opened my own gallery where people could buy directly from me.
Attending art school was positive but nobody told me that what I was learning might not apply to what I was actually painting. I had to invent my own style and then I found the history behind it. My fears about showing my paintings to the world were that I had never seen anything like my work. I did not understand my work. How could I possibly explain it? It took me a long time to be able to disregard my fear of criticism and understand my style of art and be able to explain it. One of the reasons I continue to draw the figure academically is to alleviate my fear of criticism. Classical drawing adds underlying structure to my art. And what looks random is actually very much the opposite. The time I spend drawing equates to the time a dancer spends practicing the structural movements and working on their craft.
My fascination with the female form, improvisational jazz , my history as a New England Lobster Fisherman and my love for the sea have contributed the inspiration for my work. My painting style is borne from the highly emotional Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940′s. This painting style has strong emotional content that captures the essence of the moment by purely visual means. The term was first used to describe Kandinsky’s work. There is an emotional aesthetic to the work that has a physical energy. The spontaneity of nonobjective painting and random effects of unforeseen elements create passages in the painting that are unexpected. It is this quality that defines the style of painting. The paintings permanently record the emotion of the moment. I am flattered when people tell me I use original subject matter in my watercolors but I describe my work as a search for the best of abstraction and the figure. All of my art is full of color and emotion and my paintings are my personal mythology. A large part of what drives me to painting is a passion to create a place where I want to be, a place full of kindness and consideration.
In 1974 I started to paint abstractly and then abandoned the style for the figure and more representational images. About ten years ago I revisited the theme and discovered a renewed interest in working with just shape, color and form. Another happy accident is my discovery of a void in the art market that my abstract watercolors are filling.
After thirty years painting in New England, I wanted to be in a less conservative environment and reach a wider audience with my art. With a detailed search of the art colonies of the United States, I decided to move my studio and gallery to Cambria, one of California’s art colonies by the sea. I was delighted to find the perfect building to buy in the west village on the highly traveled Route One. I feel like I got lucky. I was prepared to see a great opportunity. This happened in the year 2000 and another decade of my art career was in the making. Now it is 2013 and I discovered Bisbee Arizona. Again I found the perfect building on the sunny side of Main Street. Bisbee is called the Copper Queen City as it housed one of the largest copper, gold and silver mines of the last century and the buildings (including mine) are still standing since 1905. This place has a rich history and is a great tourist attraction for the arts and architecture. Come see me soon.
Howard Kline Gallery – Bisbee, Az