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Young Artist Captures Equine Grace

NZ Trotting Calendar

12 July 1983

This headstudy of a thoroughbred is a fine example of Patricia Howitt's work.

Sir Alfred
Annual holidays spent riding an old farm hack on the lambing beat on a Mangakino (Taupo County) sheep farm, gave a Wellington solicitor the inspiration to sketch horses.

Patricia Howitt, who is now working in Cambridge as a solicitor with the Accident Compensation Corporation, said that she had been "drawing for years" but only started working on horses about 18 months ago.

Up until recently, her pencil drawings of horses have been mainly confined to thoroughbreds, which have proved popular, but a portrait of this year's Rowe Memorial Cup winner, Sir Castleton, has also created a lot of interest in her work from the standardbred fraternity.

Patricia said that up until "about 2 years ago" she had never even ridden a horse, but her lambing beat experience had completely sold her on riding. She now has her own horse and when she changed jobs and moved to Cambridge, her horse was shipped north too.

The move to Cambridge was primarily "to be in a major horse-breeding area", and she had been "lucky to get a job" in the area also.

Patricia studied art at school, but was dissuaded against a fine arts course at University, studying law instead after being told "in no uncertain manner" that she would enjoy her artwork better if it was kept as a hobby and she was not reliant on it for an income.

However now that she has her degree and is a qualified solicitor, she has a quiet determination to eventually work full time as an artist, and she sees her popular pencil drawings as the possible means towards this end.

But she does not expect that the transformation from full time solicitor to her ideal - full time artist - will be an instant one.

Patricia said that at present she is "fitting her artwork in between other activities" and, with a busy professional life, this is not always easy. But she hopes that in the long term the effort will prove worthwhile.

Patricia photographs her subject and then does her sketch from the prints. Ideally, she would prefer to sketch her subject live, and although she hopes to be able to do that in the future, at present she does not have the time to do the work that way.

Working from a photographic print means she can fit artwork into her own time schedule and most of her sketches have been done during the evening.

Patricia Howitt's pencil drawings command instant attention, even in a world pampered by the detail of color video. Her sketches are simple, yet marvellously detailed. They have a character-giving quality that no photographic print or video clip could ever hope to achieve.

Comparing the two art forms, photography and drawing, Patricia said that she far prefers the latter. Drawing is more rewarding because it gives the artist more scope to enliven the subject.

Her enthusiasm for drawing animals was heightened after a successful exhibition of game animals in 1978. The National Deerstalkers' Association asked her to do a series of five drawings to be published as a portfolio of prints promoting hunting in New Zealand.

She agreed to do the five drawings - one each of a Moose, a Fallow Deer, a Red Deer, an Elk and a Sambar deer, and at the same time she completed drawings of all the major New Zealand big game species for the Association's Exhibition Magazine issue. The drawings were exhibited in Wellington and prints were later sold in sets of five, in an illustrated folder.

Patricia's drawing of Sir Castleton was done from a photo she took as the gelding was going out to race.  It is a formal study of him, and Patricia is currently working on a more relaxed study of the feisty standardbred.

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