A painter since 1989, this week’s Dan’s Papers cover artist, Howard Rose, began his career with more practical art applications, including lettering, serving as head product designer for a leatherwear company in Santa Monica, CA, and running his own graphics and product design company on Long Island.
His loose yet visually clear paintings of local dunes, such as this week’s cover, demonstrate Rose’s keen eye for color, light and composition. The artist has a talent for pulling a stunning image out of nearly any scene he encounters—scenes most would overlook as ordinary. “Seeing into a scene with a painters’ eye will isolate the shapes—you will notice if there is an exciting light source, enough value changes and exciting colors to create something special from the ordinary,” Rose points out, adding, “Like in music, arranging the simple 12 notes can create a beautiful piece of music.”
Based in Syosset, Rose teaches these skills to other artists in regular classes and workshops, and his articles and instruction techniques have been published in various magazines, including Artists, and American Artist magazine.
Did designing products inform your art, or did your art inform the product design more?
My dad was an artist and a letterer. He had a display company, so I was always doing lettering and I was always doing drawing, but even at School of Visual Arts, I never did a painting. It was all graphic design and lettering, but I started following Southwest Art magazine and following some of those artists, and went to some of their workshops. That’s what got me into painting.
Do you have a specific place you like to paint more than others?
I shouldn’t give you my secret, where all those dunes are, but most of the dunes are on the west end of Jones Beach and the bay side. The bay side and west end are the best dunes on all of Long Island. And then I’ve been to the Southampton beaches and always the Montauk beaches. Maybe 15 years ago…I was with my wife on Montauk Point. We were just walking along and I saw some dunes and I said, “Wouldn’t this be a nice painting?”
I really love to do paintings of something that’s not so important. When you make it into a painting it becomes important, it becomes exciting. So you walk around the dunes and, especially near Jones Beach and Montauk Point, every five degrees is a new painting. If you do it right, if you get the right perspective and the right values, it just becomes a beautiful painting.
It’s very quiet. I don’t paint a lot of people in my dune paintings…they’re very, very calming. People love the water. People love the dunes…people find it very quiet and very soothing. That’s why I keep on doing it.
These are painted en plein air?
Half are painted en plein air…I do some sketches out there. Sometimes I use photographs in my studio. It’s very funny, many, many artists say they don’t paint with photographs, don’t use photographs—and every single one of them paints with photographs. If you see a lot of my paintings, they’re kind of Impressionistic but they look real, they look realistic. The strokes are very bold. I try to get the most done with the least amount of effort.
Do you find that teaching helps you with your own work?
Yeah, it really does. I have six classes that I do and everybody’s different. To have somebody not know which direction they’re going, or how to do a tree or how to do a bunch of leaves or flowers, and if I show them and they finally get it, it’s very exciting. And then they do certain things I can learn from. I love teaching. It’s my passion.
Howard Rose is currently showing at the Douglaston Art League, where he teaches. He is also showing at the Syosset Library for the month of May. To see more work or take a class with Rose, visit howardrose.com or email him at email@example.com.