Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Howe, Nancy
(1950)
Collection: American Collection
Specialty: Paintings
View Artwork
In 1991, renowned wildlife artist Nancy Howe became the first female
artist honored by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Federal Duck Stamp
Program for her painting of a pair of king eider ducks exploring the
sub-arctic tundra. She devoted a portion of the print proceeds from that
work to the preservation of the wetlands. Over the years, Howe has
continued both to win artistic awards and to donate her time, energy, and
art to charitable enterprises.

Born in New Jersey in 1950, Howe came of age during an artistic revolution
in education. After centuries of life studies and apprenticeship in
ateliers, art instructors had abandoned these concrete pursuits and
focused on psychoanalytic theories and self-expression under the influence
of the post-modernist art that dominated the market after World War II.
When she attended Middlebury College, abstract expressionism was the
dominant art form. Howe independently sought the instruction her
professors failed to give her, studying and practicing on her own,
eventually turning to "how to" books to master color, composition, and
perspective. She finally became a career artist as a neo-realist wildlife
painter twenty years after her graduation from Middlebury.

While Howe began by focusing on birds, her subject matter has grown to
include domestic and farm animals, landscapes, and figure painting, though
she remains best known as a wildlife artist. Though diligent in doing
field studies to reproduce her animals' natural appearance, she enhances
the artistic component of her work by focusing on a suffused quality of
light and an enhanced use of texture. She thinks of her paintings as a
sort of visual poem, creating a metaphorical expression of an idea or
thought about the subject. Working from the isolated retreat of her
Vermont studio, she creates compositions that emanate a sense of harmony,
gentleness, and peace.

Over the years, her artwork has received a number of honors. In addition
to recognition by the Department of the Interior, she won the grand prize,
the American National Award of Excellence, in the 12th annual exhibition
of the Oil Painters of America in 2003, and in 2005, the Leigh Yawkey
Woodson Art Museum named her as its Birds in Art Master Wildlife Artist,
making her only the second female so honored. She is a signature member of
the Oil Painters of America and the Society of American Artists, and her
work is included in a number of museum collections, including that of the
R.W. Norton Art Gallery.

Her charitable enterprises have also continued. In 2006, Howe visited
Kenya, a trip organized by a friend who is the Executive Director of the
BOMA Fund, a publicly supported charitable organization working to improve
employment opportunities in northern Kenya. Frequent droughts, brought on
by global warming, and the subsequent loss of livestock have threatened
the livelihood of Kenya's nomadic peoples. Howe is currently painting a
series of fifteen works depicting these people's daily lives entitled
"Painting a Brighter Future for Kenyan Women". A percentage of the
proceeds from these paintings will go to BOMA for grants to help women in
northern Kenya develop business plans, receive business training, and
acquire mentors for two years. These women will in turn become role models
for others in their community. Howe has already seen "the positive effects
of how money in the hands of people who need it can positively change
their lives without creating dependency." She has currently completed six
of the fifteen paintings and sold three. The series will likely be
completed by 2011, at which time Nancy Howe will undoubtedly look for
another way to use her artistic talent to effect a positive change in the
world around us.

Museum Staff