After a life of living across the country, painting, creating and working as a pastry chef, 63-year-old Amy Howell has settled in Gulfport to recreate her life again.
Her colorful canvases, textured with cemented ceramic and painted almost manically, differ depending on her state of mind.
“I feel like I’m putting together a puzzle. It’s best when I let it flow and don’t overthink it,” Howell said. “It chooses me.”
Howell’s work is inspired by African and Native American work, with geometric shapes and spiritual storytelling in the blurred lines.
Of course, there’s a bit of Jackson Pollock in there, with bold colors and spontaneous, overlapping splashes.
Titles like “Springy and Gay,” and “Going Against the Tide” do not define the work as much as her emotions when she’s holding the paintbrush.
“That’s the feeling I was feeling when I was just feeling gay,” Howell says about “Springy and Gay.”
Originally from New Jersey, Howell studied graphic design at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. It was there that she took her first oil painting class and never stopped putting her feelings on canvas.
“I knew I didn’t want to stay in the Midwest, so I did some exploring in my twenties,” Howell said. “I fell in love with several cities.”
She lived in Colorado and Oregon before falling in love and moving to Provincetown, Massachusetts, a small Cape Cod art town, with her wife.
Howell’s rolling stone settled in Gulfport in 2019, where her paint runs a little more colorfully.
“I moved to Provincetown when I couldn’t stop dreaming about it,” Howell said. “But there were a lot of gray days, and I knew I didn’t want to retire there. It wasn’t as diverse as Gulfport; there wasn’t as much going on.”
Originally, the New Jersey native painted representational art from nature, and worked with photography.
“With abstract there is more freedom,” Howell said. “All those shapes and colors and textures stir different sensations.”
Through last year’s shutdowns, her creations were gloomier, with dull colors and heavy drips down heavily textured surfaces.
“Lately I wanted the series to be more uplifting. For a while my paintings were heavy, between the racial upheaval and the election,” Howell said. “I’ve been trying to focus on humanity and the human spirit.”
See For Yourself
Howell will participate in Gulfport’s monthly First Friday Art Walk on June 4. You can also see her work at Brenda McMahon Ceramics & Gallery through June, where she will be displaying specific Pride pieces.
“We rarely see abstracts, and her take is bright and happy, dreamy and captivating,” said McMahon.