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New Providence Artist/Educator/Storyteller/Writer, Linda Howe, takes Second Place for mixed media

"It's a great honor to participate and of course fun to win " says  Linda, " however, what draws me back is the awards ceremony and the recognition of those who don't let their aging stop them! If you can see and feel and move your hands, arms or eyes, you can make art!  If it's not paint, use words, or food!  You can paint with words and write poetry!I also enjoy humor and do animal cartoons. This painting is really part cartoon to me. It started as an intuitive water mixable oil drawing and I used acrylic to finish it. 
I really love how so many seniors dare greatly to express themselves. The reception is always well attended, and the Freeholders are there to shake your hand! I taught my mom to paint freely when she was 92 and she seemed to be happier than ever just moving colors around for the sheer fun, delight, and ease-fulness. I have taught for many years, all ages, and also have taught those who have lost their sight  or other faculties. You just  do  the best with what you have left! There is no doubt that making art of any kind makes new connections inside  the brain and outside. I became interested in Intuitive Touch Drawing 9 years ago and offer it to all ages, and groups. It's now become a specialty of mine. When we bypass that inner critic amazing things can and do likely happen. Some art approaches allow that to happen more than others.  I went to a Colorado guest ranch,  and taught Intuitive Drawing to a group of hardy senior Cowgirls. We had a good laugh what we drew looked like a bunch of cattle brands, and it was awesome, and unique, and FUN!! 
The awarded image is of a dog named Maxx, a red golden retriever owned by Norrie Zaret of Washington NJ. " Maxx intrigued me. Maxx is a rambunctious pet, with lots of energy. I painted Max sitting in a snowy woods, at night, with snowflakes falling down all around him and on his nose. I thought it's unusual to do an image of night scene with a dog.

I started making art as a child when I saw an equine artist draw a famous race horse before my eyes with a mere pencil. It was magic!  This happened at a library talk in Connecticut where I grew up. I knew in that moment I wanted to be an artist, maybe even own a horse one day. I started drawing cats and dogs and things I wanted to own but had no room for!  I loved drawing and painting animals especially. When I  got to college and majored in Art, I was not particularly supported when I drew animals at first. It wasn't until the Animal Rights Movement and the Environmental Movement that animals commanded more respect on or off the canvas. It's a good thing! Family, the Animal Human bond, Education, Environmentalism, and how we connect to our sacred sovereign selves or Spirit, building community  are  my deepest  interests and values. They all find their way into my art and always have been my inspirations.It is through these thatI  wish most  to connect, serve and inspire. 
I encourage people to draw what they love and what is familiar to them. I still do animals, and love it !  When I was in art school, in college,  they discouraged drawing animals. NYC Art trends influenced my instructors and I set my own likes aside to learn techniques and their ways. There comes a day when you get brave enough to please yourself, not your teachers, peers or judges. I had some teachers that said nasty, even discouraging things,  but also some who saved me from giving up. I love to teach,and I choose not to direct students as much as help them allow themselves to explore, experiment, play, express themselves and keep being curious and imaginative. Collaborative art making interests me too.appreciation
It's key to trust your intuition. Imagination, curiosity, intuition are some of the most flexible tools most are born with. Art making, art sharing and art appreciation help me live authentically from the heart. Nature plays a big role too. Intuitive Drawing is like windex for the mind. Creativity is a natural part of being alive and living, It's a way to put awareness into action. Lining up with our own values takes courage. Making art takes courage. The courage muscle needs exercise too. Don't think of yourself as " blocked", or "not talented,"  just gently realize you are feeling  blocked and feeling off because you   are holding those thoughts over and over, hypnotizing yourself ,and you may not be wholeheartedly doing just yet, what you love or want to try!
So try it, stay with it, do it and you activate courage, and each time you may feel safer to do more. Sometimes you might just need a lull, or to rest, to change things up, see new places and people.You surely don't need to be perfect or feel completely " good enough ",  Hang that  judge!  Creativity goes way beyond canvas and making Art. It's in how you think and move thru life, or meet it. Just show up and try something new!   I feel it's connected to spirit so my motto is  " Come alive to the art Spirit ;and Stories keep our hearts alive! and A poem is a painting waiting to happen with words. "Ultimately, art making, like life, is about coming alive and appreciating all of it.There's a lot that can dull us in this world, or numb us, so the choice is up to us! I choose life, it's our big gift! " 
Ms. Howe has  taken first or second place 5 years in a row at the Annual Union County Senior Juried Art Show in Elizabeth. This year the show hosted 170 artists, all media, for both professional and non-professionals and is held at the Liberty Hall Gas Company Exhibit space.
Ms. Howe currently has a exhibit of 19 paintings and illustrations at the NECA Gallery on 80 South Jefferson Rd In Whippany, NJ.This show and sale  is open to the public M-F. 8:30am to 5pm. until August 1, 2014. 
This year Nicole DeAugustine was the Special Projects Coordinator  at the Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, 633 Pearl Street, ELizabeth, NJ 07202 Tel. 908-558-2552 . Contact her if you would like to participate next year.

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