Corinna Howell


Its 2021, we have emerged from the COVID lockdown and we are back in our Youth Arc studio where we are connecting with young people and their stories through the wonderful world of podcasts.

Sit back and dive head first with into the colorful world of portraiture with Tasmanian artist extraordinaire,
Corinna Howell

Tell me a bit about Corinna. What is Corinna’s Creation Story? What is your Art all about?

My name is Corinna Howell and I am an emerging local Hobart Artist. I am 23 and I am a portrait artist.

I have always found that I gravitate towards painting people. I pull a lot of inspirations from those around me. In my paintings you will see a lot of my family, friends, colleagues and school mates. I find that it becomes more personal for me that way as I am more familiar with these faces.

Do you find that people keep pulling their best faces around you, hoping to be captured in one of your beautiful works?

No, I want their worse, their weirdest and their strangest. They are always so supportive. Where ever I go I like to be able to capture that moment, like my friend Adelphi who is a photographer. She takes beautiful pictures of people in such subtle ways and I have been finding lots of inspirations from her pictures.

Do you find yourself predominantly painting from still photographs or do you do a bit of live drawing and painting as well?

I find myself relying mainly on photographs as a source that is able to hold so much information that I can draw from. I like to make things look realistic.

Because I am predominantly a portrait painter, I began to realise that I at times neglect the environments that the people I capture inhabit. So I decided that it was important for me start paying more attention to the backdrops as well in order for me to grow in my art practice and to evolve my concepts. In my work, I like to merge the people in with their landscapes in order to create ‘people scapes’.

What kind of materials and mediums do you use in your art work?

Oli painting is my preferred medium especially when painting faces. I find that you can push and pull the oil paint is really amazing ways. In saying that, recently I have found a new love for working with house paint which is such a hard plasticy medium. I love the way that it leaves you with such little room to move so that you have to make really quick decisions. I also love to work with square brushes and the combination of the two makes the image and people appear jagged, where they are still recognisable but become abstracted forms.

Do you have a memory of the first painting that you ever made? Getting a bit Freudian here..

Maybe not the first one, but I started painting at age 10 and took my first oil painting class with my grandmother around this time. At that point I had an obsession with wanting to create photo realistic images. In the years to come I embarked on the journey of finding out why I enjoy painting and creating images as oppose to getting something perfect.

Have you been to art school? If so, How was your art school experience?

Yes! I went to UTas- The School of Creative Art and Media straight out of Dawn Collage in Devonport and I majored in painting and I then went on to do honors as well. The teachers at art school really forced me to think more conceptually which is something that I was definitely lacking before. This added so much more depth to my work.

Hobart is an amazing place to be in right now as it has a growing art and music community, especially coming from small little Devonport. You meet so many international people and artists here. When I first came down, I had the opportunity of being part of Panopticon for Dark Mofo where I got to see so many amazing artists doing great things that I had never even heard of before.

I hear that you also work in the retail space of the art world here in Hobart. Tell me a bit more about that?

Yes, I work full time at Artery in the Hobart CBD. It’s great being around art supplies all day and talking to other artist that come through the store each day. I have found that these conversations have really helped my art practice grow. Also the staff discounts definitely help!

Where are you making your art out of these days? I have heard some whispers of a new studio space.

I just got a new cosy studio space with my dear friend and college Yumemi Hiraki. It is in the middle of the city on top of McCann’s Music store. It feels like a little ateliers. I feel like I could be in Paris when I am up there. You can see the whole city. Its great!

Can you give me a bit of a down low on some of the recent projects that you have been part of?

Post COVID things have really fired up for me. One of the recent things that I have done this year has been the ‘signal box painting project‘ with Hobart creative. The signal box down is at the Salamanca Warf and you will see a picture of my friends Yumemi and Adelphi sharing an ice cream with my brother on the other side of the box looking over at them.

signal box painting project‘ with Hobart creative, Hobart City Council

Do you have some upcoming projects that we should keep our eyes open for?

Yumemi and I have a collaborative exhibition coming up for which we are setting up today as we speak! The exhibition is called ‘Her Favorite Colour was Green’ it is at the School House Gallery in Rosy and it will be open to the public from Thursday the 3rd of June!

Yumemi is an an amazing installation artist and a sculptor. This has been such an amazing opportunity for us to learn from each other. The exhibition will have works in glass, ceramics, fabric and video.

‘Her Favorite Colour was Green’, School House Gallery, Yumemi Hiraki and Corinna Howell, 2021

2020 did not turn out the way we were all expecting it to. How was your COVID experience?

We are so luck here to be able to be living a relatively normal life compared to the rest of the world but it definitely was a difficult time for most artists. During this quieter time, I was doing a lot of family portrait commissions. Surprisingly COVID made every one think of family and friends. Through the middle of last year, I applied for many things – I was part of the Kilbgour Art Award in New Castle art Gallery in 2020 where I submitted a portrait of my mother. Then came the signal box project.

I had my first ever solo art exhibition last month! It was at Top Gallery at Salamanca Art Centre and it was called ‘Food for thought’ where I had a collection of images of people to depict how socialising and connections to one another has changed in the age of social media.

As a young successful young artist, what are some reflections and advice that you would like to share with other young artists out there? Looking back, what would you tell 16 year old Corinna?

I am still very much an emerging artist and have so much to learn but I have come a long way. My few words of advice for other young artists out there would be – go for everything and apply for anything that come your way. It is really important as an artist to put yourself out there and not be too perturbed by failure. Tying new things is paramount! Don’t be shy or embarrassed of your art work and don’t throw anything out. Ask others for advice. You find so much inspiration from the people around you!

Islay’s glare“, Copic Marker drawing on paper, 2020
“Dad pushing his plastic motorbike”, copic marker drawing on paper, 2020

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