Ho, Ho, Ho Holidays with Howath!

It's that time of year again, when designers can embrace the actual season and share their seasonal art in the actual season! Sometimes I wonder what others must think of my seemingly obvious preference to make Christmas art. I think it can best be explained by my childhood. My parents both shared a deep love of the holiday, making it pure magic for their kids, a tradition I happily carried on with my own. My Gramma lived in an old victorian house, right next door to ours, so I spent many hours there. She had a stack of Christmas books, filled with poems and wonderful imagery that I would always ask her to read to me... all year round! So you see, the concept of embracing the holiday all year long was instilled in me at an early age. 

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Whether it's Santa (a personal fav), or a lettering piece, or a wintery scene, I always try to capture some nostalgia and warmth with the hope that it will come through in the piece. 

Whatever you celebrate, I hope this season brings peace and joy with a happy New Year! - Jill

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Jill Howarth ditches her mouse for a paint brush

As surface designers, we JNA artists delve into Christmas and winter-holiday imagery pretty much year-round. But when November comes, I always get a little excited. I actually feel like I'm on season!

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With this in mind, I recently ditched my mouse for a paint brush and rendered a little Christmas piece. On the rare occasion that I go analog, I always end up doing a hybrid of cut paper and gouache -- because I just can't wrap my head around a finished painting in one piece!

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Admittedly, I'm pretty attached to Santa themes, but this time I tried to imagine just what goes on up there, inside his North Pole abode. Who knew he was so good at plunking out the holiday tunes? I hope this puts you in the spirit of the season! Enjoy - Jill

Jill Howarth tells all!

Our own Jill Howarth answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.

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Q. If you hadn’t become a professional artist, what kind of career do you think you would have chosen?

A. That's a tough question but my best guess would be a teacher. I come from a family of them, with my mom, three brothers and all three wives in the same profession. My sister and I seem to be the only ones not in the family business!

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Q. Where do you find inspiration? Do you go for walks in town, look at nature shows on TV, or just start scribbling and see where your muse takes you?

A. I'm somewhat of a mid-century picture book collector, having amassed a pretty thick stack of Little Golden books, amongst others. I don't stop at vintage though. I always had a soft spot for buying beautifully illustrated books for my kids when they were small and now I just buy them for myself!

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Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Did you strive to get your art on the refrigerator as a child? Describe your earliest artwork. 

A. My earliest memory is drawing Peanuts characters on large, white paper that my mom brought home from her classroom. I had several Peanuts books that I could draw from with my trusty “El Marko” markers (penciled sketched first, of course). That evolved into redrawing cute Hallmark cards for my mom's bulletin boards in her classroom. Around age 10, I knew that I wanted to be a “commercial” artist. I saw this as hopefully a practical way to make money with art, vs. fine art. Eventually this evolved into getting a degree in graphic design.