Meredith Howard is in a bit of conflict. For 10 years, her pastel landscapes brought her the satisfaction of an artist who had found her medium and a way to make a living. Then, three years ago, encaustic entered her life. Something about the sculptural qualities of the ancient method—mixing pigment with beeswax and fixing it with heat—moved her deeply. “I love encaustic’s abstract sensual quality, its three-dimensional aspect,” Howard says. “It’s very immediate.”
An artist advised Howard, a West Falmouth resident, to develop one medium. But, Howard says a little sheepishly, “I don’t want to settle on one thing. Maybe it’s immature of me.”
If working in pastels and encaustic means Howard is immature, she might reconsider the value of growing up. In Howard’s hands, both mediums are celebrations of color, shape, and form. She is the first to admit that her encaustic work, such as her three-piece “Joy Series,” can be almost childlike. But the pieces are more than the unaffected whimsy of youth. “In the series, I strived to express that we as humans are similar yet different,” she says. “As we come together in life we can stay close yet be separate, and shine individually or as a group.” In different combinations, the shapes in each piece morph from mood to mood, light and dark—the full range of human emotion.
Howard’s landscapes represent the other side of her nature. Lush renderings of Cape Cod settings, they are cloaked in an aura of the region’s misty air, nature’s mysteries interwoven with unspoiled beauty. Howard credits her mother, West Falmouth watercolorist Phyllis Kendrick Howard, for inspiring her love of painting landscapes en plein air. “She taught me a lot,” Howard says of her late mother. “It’s because of her that I do art.”
Howard eventually attended art school in Boston, but then she questioned her path and chose work in carpet restoration. She still has beautiful carpet patterns taped on the walls around her art studio. Howard went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America. At one time, she was the personal chef to the Kennedy family in Hyannisport.
As often happens, intentions of creating artwork called to her. “All those years, I wanted to get back to my art,” she says. She began attending classes at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham and thrived. Now, she has found her real passion. “I really dug into it,” Howard says. “It was full circle, a fulfillment.”