Hand drawn here in Newcastle
Newcastle based artist Andrew Howells has been in the industry for over twenty years. His first job out of school was drawing for an animation studio that created TV ads using the Warner Bros characters. He quickly moved on to freelance work and dabbled in political cartooning and the occasional Bald Archy exhibition.
A conversation with his best mate, a Vet Scientist changed the direction of Andrew’s art as he took upon the challenge of drawing anatomically correct elephants of varying conditions to benefit both scientists and zoo keepers around the world. Since this adventure, which turned into a PHD, he has built a reputation for creating incredibly detailed and striking wildlife art, including life size illustrations of Asian Elephants.
His striking compositions have seen his work featured in a number of solo and group exhibitions and have made their way into The Art of Australian Geographic Illustration by Alasdair McGregor, along with many of our favourite home style magazines. Whilst he loves creating art, he also shares his knowledge and skills with his students as a Lecturer in Natural History Illustration at the University of Newcastle.
As Andrew continues to grow his animal series, a recent collaboration with wife Elisha and her business partner Michelle, has resulted in an online art store for you to view and purchase his beautiful prints, Stampede Style.
We fired some questions at Andrew:
You live in Newcastle, what creative inspiration does this city give you?
I’m inspired by the light and space of the Hunter, especially the coast. I love the different habitats around Newcastle. I’m also lucky enough to be inspired by creative people every day in my workplace at the university.
Your compositions are striking, what do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
Framing a composition. It’s almost like being a photographer, getting that right profile or balance. How you frame something tells a lot about the subject and their story. I spent a lot of time studying an elephant and illustrated just his eye to capture my memory of his knowing look. I liked extracting that special element and focusing on the detail. So I used really tight cropping.
I also like using white space as I like working with detail and context and taking away the other environmental factors and noise around a subject.
Your art is very precise and accurate, would you call yourself a perfectionist?
I like the challenge of trying to make something look like something, but not because it has to be right or perfect, just because I enjoy the process, the technical aspect. That’s why I enjoy drawing faces; it’s a challenge. I’m curious about how art is made, what techniques have been used. I find myself looking not at the overall artwork, but at details. I will spend ages looking at how another artist has created an eye, what brushstrokes were used. I deconstruct others’ art to see how it has been created.
What is the most challenging part about drawing animals?
The main challenge is recreating the texture of their surface, whether it be fur, hair, skin or scales. Each texture requires the pencil to be used in a different way. Then the other challenging element is getting the form, shapes and angles right. So combining the two and getting the form and texture right are challenging.