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Patricia Howitt
"New Lease of Life…"

Arts Scene With
Sheenagh Gleeson
Waikato Times
20 April 1986


Cambridge Artist Patricia Howitt has taken the plunge.

A lawyer for 13 years, she decided last year to limit her legal work to allow more time for her art. Now she says art is consuming more and more of her time and interest.

She began drawing "probably before I could write", and has been painting part-time for years.

"It (art) is what I wanted to do most of my life and I suddenly realized if I didn't do something about it, I would never really do it."

Patricia now combines lecturing in business law at Waikato Technical Institute with her artwork. Tomorrow she'll open her first solo exhibition at the Waikato Society of Arts Gallery in Hamilton.

She says the extra time she can give to art is bearing fruit. "When you start working hard, things come to you in a more natural way. If you are coming and going in dribs and drabs, you haven't got the same flow."

Patricia took advantage of the extra time she has to allow herself freedom to experiment and moved into a freer, abstract style. "It's done a lot for me in a developmental way - and people are liking them."

She returned to "a tighter style" for some of the work for the exhibition and found the foray into abstraction gave her something extra to bring to her main line of work.

Patricia is largely self-taught. She has taken some lessons in Wellington and at the Waikato Society of Arts School of Art.  Her passion for art stems from her father who she says would have been a good artist "if he'd had the time."

She paints because of the enjoyment she gets from the work and also from a drive to capture the essence of things.   "I get the feeling.  I see something and I want to capture it and make it part of me - or me part of it."

She paints mainly in acrylics, but prefers oils. Health problems prevent her from using oils all the time.

"You can get a more sculptural effect with oils. You have to pull a few tricks with acrylics to get similar effects. But I do like acrylics because they are quicker, I'm afraid."

Subjects range from hills - she's a "long-term tramper" - to machines. Having been brought up to sculpt also, shape and volume are important. "I often find a painting is starting to work when it gets sculptural."

Work for the exhibition includes acrylics, oils, drawings and etchings.

Patricia puts her ambition simply. "I want to paint a lot and if you want to do that, you've got to make a living at it.   People might call that commercialism - I think it's a great test to see if you can make a living."

She's quite convinced she's taken the right path in devoting more time to art. "It's working. It's giving me a tremendous new lease of life."

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