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Robert Larson
Robert Larson

Interview by Tim Thayer with Maine based painter Bruce Habowski. The interview took place via phone on Sunday, March 11, 2007.

TT: This is Tim Thayer interviewing Bruce Habowski. Why don’t we start: Where were you born, Bruce?

BH: I was born in Orlando Fl.

TT: And how long did you live there?

BH: Now lets see, my father was in the Air Force and we moved around a little bit…I came back to Florida- Orlando- when I was eight years old about ‘73-‘74 or so, and we moved out of there 1990; quite a while. I moved up, of course, here to Maine.

TT: I figure we are about the same age, I turned 40 this year.

BH: Yup, me too, the big 4 0 I don’t know what the big deal is, I still feel about 20 in my mind…curious and all that good stuff.

TT: I know that you’re married. Do you also have kids?

BH: Ah nope, just cats. So it keeps it more simple, you can just get in your car and drive, you don’t have to worry about “Oh I’ve got to pick up Johnny at five,” you don’t have to worry about that.

TT: I wanted to ask you in relation to your family, if different events in your life like moving from Florida, getting married, do they change your artwork over time?

BH: Well, definitely when I lived in Florida I always worked on my art and was pretty good at it, but you know with the art thing, I always felt as if my apple fell off the tree in China, and my family’s there in Florida, but no one in my family-my mom’s kind of crafty, does knitting or whatever but it wasn’t that fostering of living in an art environment where the parents might be artists…so where I picked this up I have no idea just one of those things I was good at. When I was younger, in school, I was drawing, and doing drawings for people for lunch money and stuff like that…

TT: So many kids get the chance to draw, but then by seven or eight they kind of drop off, but I assume you stuck with it?

BH: Right, I did always have this feeling from early when I was a kid, you do stuff when you’re younger as part of the creative process and as they become more adult they realize I can’t be doing this, I need a real job kind of thing …as far back as I can remember I felt that “this is important”, this is what I SHOULD be doing, didn’t feel like a hobby.

TT: Did you have any consciousness of famous artists as a kid? Did you know Michelangelo, or Picasso? Did these names mean anything to you?

BH: No, and I can actually say, you know I did the typical taking art in High School thing, but that’s the only art I had, in terms of so-called training and I wouldn’t really call it training, it was just “here are some artists” but nothing that made me say “Wow, I want to know more about that person”. I would say when I moved up to here-1990 or so-there was never a defined moment, I just started collecting books on artists and reading magazines and would say wow that person’s art really speaks to me and would collect books by an artist I’d never been exposed to before and I’d see a book and have a tingling feeling like I have to buy this book and read about this person. Initially you go through that how to book thing, how to art instruction-that lasted about two seconds. I wanted more of the psychological side of why an artist chose to paint. So the books I tend to be attracted to now are more of the struggle. Back in the 1800’s there were patrons and artists making a living, and so sometimes I’ll buy books on artists that I don’t really get fired up about the work but it’s the psychology of them that speaks to me. It’s all the same thing to me, we’re all in this struggle to create our art, to understand it and to enjoy it.

TT: So you didn’t go through a college training, either?

BH: No, my college is my art books.

TT: So right out of high school, did you just get a job right away?

BH: Yeah, just got the job thing, and I always kind of worked on my art, but, the big driving force that I always felt really awakened my visual sense was my wife’s family lived-still does-in New England and we would always come up for vacations. She was getting kind of homesick and wanted to be near her family. And… nothing really spoke to me artistically in Florida, so I wanted to get out and do something. One of the first places we went to on vacation in Maine, before we moved here was Schoodic Point, part of Acadia…a lot of people don’t know about it, and that’s why I went there (hee,hee)…you really see the true Maine coast how it was like in the 1700’s…the rocks, the surf. Right then I said “wow, this is where we’re going to move to.“ Her parents had camps up here, now her mom lives here.

TT: Your wife’s mother lives there now, but she didn’t then?

BH: They were based in Connecticut, and just like everyone else they would vacation in Maine. We got married and moved…we never really had a honeymoon because we got married and then my wife came up here to her new job here in Maine. I had to stick around for the house to sell, and here we are.

TT: That was my initial question about the family. Now you’re getting older, you’re married, you have responsibilities. Does that make you take things more seriously in terms of your art?

BH: Well, it was more that in the traditional sense, I had to be the wage earner…When I moved up to Maine, it was for me a now or never thing in terms of it being so inspiring. Of course, geologically, the topography, of the place being so different from Florida, and the people - it wasn’t so crowded, for me it just sparked a fire and I made a point of joining a local arts society and start getting into the thing, entering competitions and stuff. I started out in watercolor, actually…when I moved to Maine.

TT: What was a lot of your work when you were younger, in Florida?

BH: Subject matter?

TT: And materials, too.

BH: Pretty much I was experimenting in pen & ink, watercolor, mostly dry media based, pencil…

TT: As a kid, did you do a lot of work from nature, or did you work from your head a lot, too?

BH: Well, it was a combination of all of those things, I remember being at the bus stop, probably in tenth grade, and there were these pigeons in this tree, in a little nest, and I stood up on this railing while we were waiting for the bus, and I would draw that. At home there might be a stapler on the table and I would draw that. So almost like drawing anything and everything. My earliest kind of instruction was from my war comics I loved to read…Conan the Barbarian, Sgt. Rock…I’d copy the drawings out of there. Especially the Conan ones, were very well done. When I was younger, like all the young guys, I was lifting weights, not playing football or anything, but just active outside so I was drawing the superhero’s muscles, and I think that did give me an early sense of anatomy, and things of that nature…building my spatial skills, how things are built.

TT: I wanted to talk about current influences, or the last 20 years or so, what artists have influenced you?

BH: Well, don’t ask me how it started, it just did, but my most major, earliest influence since moving here would be Edward Hopper. He is my idol, and it’s funny because now I look back on it, and I don’t think he was a technical master, but the psychology of his art is just so powerful and that was really a driving force. And of course the Andrew Wyeth influence, not because I was here in Maine, but when I was able to read a few articles here & there about him, he was such a private kind of guy and the way he grew up, in such a fantasy-land, basically of being able to do whatever he wanted…and just thinking of how that has to mold somebody…you’re basically not living in society at all, in terms of what’s expected, your social skills, and things of that nature. There’s a book about him, his biography, I think it’s called A Secret Life [by Richard Meryman] that’s really intense, and then there’s a nice biography on Hopper called An Intimate Biography [by Gail Levin] and it talks about how everything influenced their work, not just other artists…what they read, that helped them…they had a very direct vision, and no matter what it took, like Edward Hopper, when he was in class in NY in the 20’s & 30’s all his classmates went off and did the socialite thing, painting portraits, and Hopper said that’s not his thing, and no one knew about him for a long time. But then once he got his vision together, now that’s who we remember, it’s kind of funny. It helped me, directly, because, you know, I could paint certain things that could sell more quickly, but that’s not my thing.

TT: Looking at your CD [of paintings sent to the gallery] all the “boat” paintings said SOLD, and obviously it’s a great subject matter, but how do you feel about that? Probably nothing more challenging or interesting than painting water, but you have that commercial side of it that you could paint boat paintings ‘till you die,” but you also want to explore other sides of things.

BH: Right, well I have a knack for reasoning, and being logical about it. For instance, the Fore Street Gallery, where you bought the painting, I don’t just send her a bunch of boat paintings, but I just reason that in a certain geographical area, that’s probably what’s going to happen…And I don’t just do the boat scene, boats floating out on the water with sails. I like to do what happens to them, with more structure, when they’re in port, with the wharfs. So my paintings in the end, if I could say one word, anything structural is what interests me. I don’t like more organic subject matter, I like things with angles, diagonals, anything like that really kind of excites me, because then you get the nice organic curve of the bow of the boat against that, it’s kind of a nice effect. I’ve sold some, not weird subject matter, but things that she [the gallery owner] didn’t expect to sell, some very urban pieces. One of them was the side of a delivery truck, the shadows were really great, it was a beautiful painting. When I first started showing with her I took a group of work for her to pick from and I said “well how about this one” but she said she didn’t sell anything like that. The first thing in my mind, for reasoning, was I looked around, and said to her that, well, you don’t offer anything like that, so how can you say you don’t sell it? So I said ok, and right away I started selling everything, so I tried a couple urban pieces like that and sure enough they sold. So working as a team, you have to take chances. As an artist who wants to stay home and paint, rather than work a regular job, you also have to be aware - artists of all ages have done it, the trick in the past as been illustrations for Harpers Weekly or whatever, in order to do their “real” art – so my “real” art is still “real” art but just paying attention to certain galleries are going to sell at a certain price point and playing into that in terms of size and so forth – those are things you can do without sacrificing your vision.

TT: Well I’ve really felt like the nice thing about the art world today is that it is open to anything, it’s not just one style at all, and you are finding within your own work that you can do pretty much anything you want to do and find a market for it.

BH: I don’t want to be like some of the artists I see in these magazines where at the time I got all excited about their work and then ten years later I look again and they are doing the same thing – there’s an analogy between actors starting off doing commercials, working as a waiter, but when you start making the bucks why do actors, like Tom Cruise, do these sequels and boring movies – where as people like Ed Harris, who I consider one of the greatest actors, he’s not worried about being a leading man – he’s worried about doing good movies. That’s the way I want to be with my art, I don’t want to pigeon hole myself…there has to be a balance. I’m not going to not listen to any specific gallery owner, because they know their audience but I’ll look for other venues to show my work but for this place I’m going to send most of my boat paintings to them. I look around my studio and think how it can be best utilized, and not sit around on the shelf for ten months.

TT: Do you have a body of work that you don’t sell, that’s very personal?

BH: No, I pretty much show everything that I do. One thing that I don’t show a lot of, but would like to do more, is the urban work – street scenes, side streets…

TT: One thing I can say is we (Tara and I) were very attracted to the painting of the oil tanker – the black train oil tanker.

BH: I have a plan for a whole series and for a show, because I have a train yard near me…it’s always fascinated me when you look at these box cars, and the graffiti, and you wonder “where in the hell have these box cars been?” And the peeling paint. Sometimes in my travels, when I’ve taken pictures of them and I really crop in, like the that tanker you’re talking about, it’s just a little too close to the view that it takes it out of an immediate context of what it is – you have to, for a ½ of a second, go “oh, it’s a tanker car.” Rather then “aw, look it’s a train yard with tanker cars.” I like doing the angle of…that’s were I get the influence of Richard Diebenkorn and the Bay Area figurative painters – cutting up space. It’s more about painting ideas, the subject is just something that’s on the canvas – the painting is really about cutting up the space. The tanker painting is a really nice one for me – it took me three different painting attempts to get that just right.

TT: I like it too, because it’s kind of abstract – this great bold shape. In general, this is why I was attracted to your work – it’s not a highly realistic image of something but rather it is it’s own thing.

BH: Well, you get some artists who take a photo and then here’s the painting of the photo. When I work from a photo, maybe that’s only ten percent of what got me to the scene – other parts that need to be in there, to support the main actors, I don’t hesitate to change – remove a light post…In fact my work is going to be more like that in the future…using props that are around me and creating paintings of a place that are composites of many of these props to set a feeling of twenty years in one moment. It’s kind of hard to explain as I’m still in the thinking stage of this – but basically, it doesn’t have to be literal but more narrative. Almost like you are making it up, but still based on props from that environment – we’ll see how that pans out.

TT: Have you worked in the process before?

BH: In the last three years, here and there. But now I’m really starting to feel the freedom to say “you know what, a painting can be a pretty powerful thing.” What’s validated this idea is reading about artists and where they have set up a model or painting a city scene but it’s almost invented. It could be a city scene but it could be anywhere – more universal. You want people to feel like “it’s this place we used to go to.” But it’s not really anyplace but a composite of many places. That will be fun to investigate.

TT: Maybe this is just in my own mind, but we were calling your show “Paintings from Maine” and I like the irony of “urbanscapes,” because many people think of Maine, they think lakes, and rocks…

BH: Thanks. For me personally, because I’m here in Maine all the time, I poke around and look at galleries and I’m so sick of looking – although I have to say I do boats better than most people… There’s too much “brushy” work out there – “Oh, it’s Maine and bright and colorful and sunshine and summer” – while those are components… For instance, for me, winter in Maine – normally you would see winter with cobalt blue shadows, very bright and pretty – me, I’d want to be on Monhegan, on those snow days when the sky is darker than the snow, where it’s very heavy and foreboding like a blizzard is coming. I’ve actually done a series of paintings of winter that use nothing but burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, white and black – not pretty colors, and they were beautiful. I like to push the envelope like that – to say here is another side that’s worth looking at also.

TT: Your process of painting – do you like to sketch for awhile; work from a photo; do you like to work in the studio ?

BH: I mix it up quite a bit. It’s a catch-22, to be different, to show a different angle, when I paint I always feel like I have to reinvent the wheel – I don’t have any set process – sometimes I work on a toned surface before I paint others right on a white panel. I do feel comfortable drawing – I have very good hand/eye coordination. But my favorite thing to do is just draw with the brush and just start painting. Some subject matter is very structured and so you need some more preliminary and, for lack of a better word, scientific approach to it…getting the perspective right before you fill in with the color. So there is a mix. I go out and paint on location in the summer. They feed off each other. I can’t imagine just doing studio work. I’d be paranoid that I was missing something in terms of knowledge and back and forth. Studio painting allows you to focus more on ideas and start exploring narratives, like I want to do. Start a painting outside but then let the intellectual artist take over – now I have to make it a painting. Just painting outside I wouldn’t really learn anything, just repeating the same process. So to answer the question, it’s mix – of course, in the winter it’s more interior work but it’s also a time of refection – where I want to go with my art.

TT: How does experimentation and accidents play a role in growth of your work?

BH: An artist friend and I paint together one day a week and talk shop. One of the things we hear at these workshops is “happy accidents.” We absolutely do not agree with “happy accidents.” When I’m applying paint, say I’m doing a multi-layer work, and I start with a base tone, and I know I’m going to go over that as the painting progresses. I know I’m not going to say “I’m putting the blue on the sky” and just start slapping it on there. I pay attention to my stroke direction, depending on what I’m trying to do for a certain subject matter – I want to follow a certain contour…I’m not just rambling. There are parts where I just put two strokes on and then there is an opportunity for the painting to talk to you. If you just have your little menu of things you want to do nothing fun can happen, so I could be laying a couple strokes of blue over this orange under painting – and parts of these blue brush strokes are translucent and a little bit of the orange is showing through, well if you are always aware of the painting process and how that can feed the final idea you might say “oh, I like that” and that’s the painting talking to you – but you are aware of it – it’s not an accident. I don’t rush through it, I let it have possibilities as I move along. I might have 80 -90 percent of the painting thought out in my head, but the rest is going to be “oh, what’s going to happen when I put the paint on.” That’s when it becomes a painters painting – where you can have the intellectual part, the drawing’s right, but then you can have abstract things going on within those shapes.

TT: Are you saying these are accidents but that you learn them over the years, and that you keep it open to learn more…I guess what I’m saying is the process isn’t an accident…you know how the process is going to work but never entirely sure what’s going to happen, if that makes sense.

BH: Every process that I choose to experiment with I know with a high degree of certainty what the outcome is going to be…with maybe ten percent of where else can it go also. I always have a little bit of a plan. Now I’m getting more into what do I want the painting to say. I can start something outside, but this (painting) has the potential to get some mood into it to suggest something else…and then I play into that. Sometimes I get a title first. I could be working on something else, and then a title pops into my mind and from then on the title directs the choices. Other times I will start with a title – I’ll hear a song and an image will pop in my mind and that will get filed away and then I’ll be driving down the road and see something that will play into that and then I’ve got a match.

TT: Going back to influences – I was recently looking at a book of Edward Hopper’s work and saw a lot of his figurative work – or at least figures within many of his paintings. Do you want to do more figurative work? Have you done much in the past?

BH: I did a piece last year with figures in a bar and it sold. It turned out nice - pretty moody. I have put other figures in pieces, but sometimes just as a scale thing. I’m working on a couple of pieces now…scenes of an overpass with people on it…the little shopping carts with people pushing them – it gives a nice narrative edge. Sometimes my ideas with painting, like three years ago I wanted to work with more figures – still life painting is another example – but my mind asks how can I put a twist on it, to get away from the traditional still life painting but still give a nod to past artists…the same with figurative.

TT: Edward Hopper, without his figures, does set a mood. And you are interested in setting a mood. Do you like to look for, not really a more subtle mood, but is it a more abstract mood?

BH: Is that what I look for in terms of subjects…a more abstract subject?

TT: In terms of the mood….the feeling that the painting gets across.

BH: The funny thing about art in general – I’ve talked about this with the artist I’ve been painting with…it just kind of hit us one day: we can come up with this work, with this great story to tell, in our mind, how we build the painting and what it means and have a title to reflect that and in the end you’ve got too much of a population with too many choices and they are going to look at it however they are going to look at it, and interpret it however they are going to interpret it…it’s kind of interesting. You mentioned Hopper’s work, and one thing about his figures is they rarely have eyes…there just black voids and when you read a biography about him you get the sense “that I don’t like people, stay away.” Without reading that information, getting deeper into the psychology of it most people would look at it from a technical stand- point “what’s with the eyes, you didn’t do that very good.” Whereas there was probably a psychological edge to it – he doesn’t like to (paint the eyes) because they were a window to the soul kind of thing and they were just an object to put in a painting to maybe give a feel or something, to make a bigger psychological statement that required a figure to say it – to me anyway, that’s how I take that. I see his painting mostly as design things, working out how something can be on the picture plane. For me, personally, that’s the number one criteria for my paintings – the composition…how the space is divided up. I love to purposely put things on the edge or outside the norm. If I put a road in - oh, let’s do the “S” thing, you know, lead the view back into the distance. Because I think in the end people are going to look at a painting however they want. As artists we’re trying to control their thoughts by how we, people, learn stuff in art school and all things you hear about – you know, composition, the golden beam – I just don’t buy into that too much. I think that I want to make my mark by traditional painting, but if I did figurative paintings, to push the envelope. I want to do a self portrait of me, but have ½ my face hidden behind something, the edge of a door to suggest that I don’t let many people get close to me, which is true. I’m kind of picky about who I’m hanging out with because my time is limited. That’s the type of painting I’d like to do – psychologically based, with the figure, because a human presence is so powerful it’s a lot to think about.

TT: On the subject matter that you pick, you didn’t grow up Maine…I guess my question is – is it at all narrative or self-revealing in terms of some of the subjects you’re painting?

BH: So, my take on the question is since I didn’t grow up in Maine, how can that be my subject matter – if I’m not really connected to it? Is that kind of what you mean?

TT: I mean connected in a very deep way – for example if you grew up along the ocean that might always be inside of you.

BH: Yes, right. It is interesting…I think Maine is getting under my skin. When I go down to Florida now I look at it differently…I was down there and saw this warehouse type area and I took some photos and then had them laying around my studio for awhile, because I was thinking I was going to paint them…but I didn’t , because I feel like I’m cheating on Maine. While I could paint them, it’s more that I need to live with a subject for a while. I’d have to be done in that area for a while before I commit to painting them.

TT: You’ve lived in Maine for a while now (since 1991) and there is such a difference from Florida – but are there more abstract ties to your past – for example, when you were a kid maybe you loved trains, and so now painting a train yard brings back a lot of ideas and emotions – or maybe not – maybe a train yard is just a great place for interesting compositions.

BH: There are times, and it’s more often then not now, where as in the past it was more like you say “wow there’s a great composition”…but now I am, for lack of a better word, I’m going to call it nostalgic, (I see lot of paintings like that and they are a little to cutesy), but it’s a feeling of a place where you want to be, or like the trains – it’s not like I have a childhood memory of my mom taking me to see trains – in fact I’ve never traveled on a train, I want to but… but they speak of something – but you should never know what a painting is about entirely – maybe 80% - but they speak of something, travel but also, like the box cars they are rugged and they are always going to be around…kind of like how I feel about my artwork….that I’ve got to keep on going, got to have focus and not sell out. There are many factors to your brain, many compartments – I’m like the next person, I like going to the coast – “wow, look at that lighthouse!” And I do paintings of the coast – the rocks and such and it looks nice – but the compartments of my brain are not focused on that, but rather the more psychological edge kind of thing. Sometimes you can get pigeonholed by galleries or collectors and they say “that’s the artist that does this kind of thing…” Some of the artists in these magazines are practically painting the same composition over and over – the boats just in a little different spot. That’s scary to me – you wonder how they are going to grow? They’re afraid of losing the collector base, where I have faith that there are collectors that want to grow with you. Or there are going to be times when that collector base falls off and you get a new one. You can’t worry about that. Your job then, if you want to branch out and try different things is to research and find a different place that will appreciate the work.

TT: When you first started showing your work did that change your work?

BH: You mean in terms of subject matter?

TT: No, just more generally. Did you think “wow, someone’s going to see this.” Did you push yourself to work longer hours. But, sure, subject matter too?

BH: I realized fairly quickly that a lot of the process is fairly intuitive. At first I thought I’d go to workshops and “get better.” But I’d go to these workshops and be around people who did this all the time and their work was never different – I bet today they are still doing the same work. You realize there are followers and leaders – and in some cases these workshop are more social clubs then honing your skills and really trying to learn.

TT: You probably didn’t miss a lot not going to art school, it can be very social too.

BH: In the end, the thing I missed about not going to an art school is there would have been a higher potential of running into other serious minded people. What I find now is that it is as important to talk and think about art as it is to produce it. Whereas, earlier I was just trying to get through (the painting process). I always think of this thing as a chess game, the game isn’t won in two moves. I’m always thinking ten moves ahead. This is where I want to be. It took me a little longer to hone in my focus of what I want to say with my art. I didn’t have the earlier influence of siblings or parents who were interested in art to move me along – I think through art school I would have gotten to this point faster. Although I’m not one to be influenced – a lot of art school types, they just emulate their teachers – and that’s the way you learn. I reflect on this a lot because some places you want to show at wants a pedigree – someone went to this school or that.

TT: This is a totally different subject, but do you ever get sentimental about a painting – to where you don’t want to sell it?

BH: An artist friend of mine says “there are some paintings you don’t need to sell, you should keep them.” But I still feel the fun is from the production of them. That’s the excitement of them. Some paintings, once you’re done…it’s a funny, fickle thing – you’re sick of looking at them in a way. It doesn’t make them bad or good, it’s just that you’ve lived with them for a very concentrated and intense way for so long. You can’t always arrive at your vision in a painting…you might get 95% but there’s no way to get to 100% so you have to say O.K. I’m going to learn from this painting and move on to the next painting. It’s a process. Artists say you are never at your best. But there have been a couple that you put out there and “poof!” they’ve sold right away….and it sounds funny, but you think “dang, I really wanted the work to be out there for a bit, so people can see the work.” It ends up at someone’s house and they may say “yeah, I got that painting in Maine…what was his name?”…but I just do my thing….it’s a nice thing to reflect on, “I wonder how the painting is doing.” I have run into people who have bought my work over time and have seen the paintings they bought eight years ago. As an artist a lot of times you don’t think you are making progress because you are so close to work. To see the gap though and “wow I am making progress.” And collectors sticking with you and buying the work and different price points it’s really nice.

TT: In terms of how you work, do you like to work on just one painting at a time or five or what?

BH: I actually had a lady come to the house once, a friend of ours, who wanted to buy a painting. I think maybe she was a little overwhelmed – it’s a little obsessive, I admit, but I can have upwards of 50 paintings in progress…

TT: (laughs)

BH: Sounds bizarre, I know. But that is for the main reason, and in the end I will not change for the world because this is how I got where I’m at now, I always jump off the deep end….I don’t wear “floaties.” I just start and hope I can keep my head above water. I dive into painting problems…paint myself into a corner, so to speak. And I firmly believe in that way of doing things. If I’m going to go for failure, let me go big. Some paintings, I really like them, but others I grow into them. Some paintings might sit around for a couple of years. It’s taught me…how to think about how I plan out a painting so it’s better over time. I never work on one painting at a time. I think it’s like your “regular life”, you have this energy – one day it’s 100%, another day it’s 50% or it might be 20% at night because you worked all day...but you always have energy for something. One day it might be I’ll block in the sky in that painting – that’s a nobrainer. Other days when you walk up to a painting and you might have five hours of work…wet on wet edging, paint control, little things like that. I think more then I used to about what I want to say with a painting….just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean you have to….it doesn’t make the painting better.

TT: So obviously most paintings are more than just one session – but do you ever paint a picture in just one session?

BH: Oh, sure….sometimes when I work outdoors. Quantity of time doesn’t necessarily mean quality of painting. I’ve done some of my best work … “poof!” a couple of hours and it’s done. It’s amusing to me, but not really – if you have a really strong idea and you’re so clear it’s going to go fast. You’re going to leave everything, in terms of your technique and you’re going to let it spill out, and it does.

TT: I know that you have a job outside of painting – does your painting schedule work around that? Would you prefer to paint in the morning, at night?

BH: That’s a good question, because when it’s really sunny and warm, like in the summer I’m “where’s my kayak?” (laughs). But in terms of painting it doesn’t really matter – I like to paint all times of day. That’s the difference, perseverance. There are age old stories that you need talent to make it, but I believe you just have to keep at it no matter what. Work toward the art everyday. There have been days were I’ve been tired and haven’t done anything. I guess my preference would be noon to four pm, I’d be at my height of mental faculties. But if I’m painting with my friend at 8am that fires you up….we’re two like souls here and that fires you up.

TT: What do you like to do besides art?

BH: I like to be outdoors – kayaking and camping. But art is such a part of me – it’s not work. So if I’m out on the kayak I’m getting reference information and photographs. If I’m going camping I go to explore regions…kill two birds with one stone. I never considered art a hobby, it was always a thing I had to do – something deep inside me, a calling. So I don’t really have anything else I do.

TT: That can conclude our interview. Do you want to say anything? Did we leave any points out? I’m sure we left all kinds of points out, but…

BH: Well, I think art should say something about that person, their personality, about what they think of life. And as I get more mature that’s kind of where I see my art heading. 30 to 40% of the paintings have more narrative aspects to them – like the one interior scene you saw on the CD called “The Story Continues” with the open book on the bed and looking out the open window. What could that say, it could be all kinds of stuff, and that’s what I meant for it to be…the story never ends there are just other chapters…let’s just hope that we get to explore. Well I guess that pretty much covers it


Bruce Habowski art, Habowski painting, Maine artist, Maine based oil painter, Habowski urbanscapes, landscapes, Habowski at Eyebuzz, artists in Maine, Northeast artist, New England painter Bruce Habowski, contemporary New England artists, solo show, cityscape painter, oil on panel, oil on board, oil on canvas, Habowski work