Jean Catherine Howard
Jean Catherine Howard
Autobiography --- Jean Catherine Howard
I was born the second of four children to high school sweethearts in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduation from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism I signed on with Vista, Volunteers in Service to America and lived in the inner city in South Providence, Rhode Island. Searching for my passion I worked in publishing in Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. but found my true calling in photography earning a masters in photojournalism from Ohio University. The Palm Beach Post hired me as a photo editor and photographer where I specialized in stories about people who needed a voice.
After marriage and adopting two special needs children my passion turned to art. I became a visual artist and worked at The Center of Creative Education and taught art at Sacred Heart School while raising our two adopted sons in south Florida. Two years ago I began to draw and watercolor stories on recycled paper. I questioned: How am I tending to the enduring stories in my life? What is my "Rule of Life"? What in life moves me and why do I create art from those narratives? I found my art represents metaphors for life and reflects our human story: Teaching and sharing in a creative way has been my true calling in life.
WATERCOLOR ART ON RECYCLED PAPER
"Tending to the stories in my life."
At this time I have learned to listen to the enduring stories that filter into my life and turn them into art.
I ask myself, what stories move me and why do I create my art from those narratives?"
The answer may be learning to listen to a story and connect with its charm, wisdom or curiousness. As a mentor in a college level class for several years I found myself doodling incessantly in my notebook while listening to stories. There is so much discord and stress in our culture I choose to celebrate the little moments that are positive, hopeful and joyful. In the last two years ago I have produced a crop of water colored work on recycled seed paper.
Carlos Castaneda states: “Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone… Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t it is of no use.”
The work may be viewed as a series of metaphors on life.
Our stories make us real; keep us whole and expand our worlds. They connect us to one another. The secret now is can we listen to the stories of the “others” in our lives and keep in relationship with them? Art helps us try to know ourselves better and understand others.
Swimming Pool Memories
Some fancy ones could swan drive but I couldn’t. I could belly flop and do “bombs over Tokyo” hitting the water arms and legs coiled up tight at full speed. There were rituals: my mom and her friends wore plastic swim caps; we poured iodine and baby oil on our arms and legs; there was always one hot shot splashing us trying to flirt. My first lesson at the local YMCA pool did not go well. I was in a swim class but had missed several introduction classes and had just returned from our family vacation. The instructor asked me if I could jelly fish float and I said I could and proceeded to sink to the bottom of the pool.
Swimming Pool Comforts
A trip to the pool meant flopping down on a striped beach towel, reading a very ripe book and lathering every inch of skin with baby oil. Meeting up with a trusted pal we looked around to find a tube to float on but first checked out the lifeguard before drifting along with the clouds under a hot sky in a dreamy zone. “Let’s order a burger and charge it to my dad since I know the number.” Laughing together under the umbrella we spied the lifeguard one more time and hey my two-piece outrigger swimsuit stayed up without trying the straps after all.
Jean Catherine Howard
I ordered a swimsuit and just the top arrived. As it turned out it was too small. My husband said keep it and wear it. I said I needed a bottom half to be civilized. I sent it back and reordered another swimsuit this time I added a larger size. The swimsuit arrived and the top fit but the bottom of the suit hung down like I had already been too long in the water—just a lip of the suit not fitting my derriere. Trying on swimsuits is the worst reality check there is so I guess I’ll have to wear last year’s (actually – it is older than last year but don’t tell anyone.)
Time At Home
What a joy to be at home with dogs, with cats with meandering young adult boys not willing to launch into the world and with a husband who loves his boating captain's job not to mention feasting regularly on fresh fish. When I face our world's catastrophic events daily our home reminds me life is good.