Art inspires Landscape Architecture student to create ‘Observable Universe’

Headshot of Greg Howe
Greg Howe

Not many people can say the school that influenced their passion purchased one of their masterpieces. Greg Howe, a landscape architecture student at Colorado State University was one of those lucky few.

Having developed an interest with art when he was younger, Howe studied at CSU for a year before transferring to the Savannah College of Art and Design earning a bachelor’s degree in Furniture Design from the School of Building Arts.

After establishing his career, Howe wasn’t happy with where he was going and decided to join the military. Growing up in a military household influenced his decision, and he served for six years where he was involved in ordnance-related public safety, often working closely with the Secret Service.

After leaving the Army, Howe contemplated going to graduate school for art and design as that interest was still looming. He had worked with the Department of Art briefly during his time at CSU but because the program didn’t offer the specialty he wanted to pursue, he ultimately had to transfer. Upon his return to CSU, he decided to continue his education at CSU in Landscape Architecture, a suggestion his wife made.

“I don’t regret my other degree or my time in the Army at all, I think it’s made me a broader person, ” Howe said.

His decision to study Landscape Architecture also was something Howe had expressed interest in but always felt that it was unattainable. Luckily, LA students are expected to be proficient in drawing technically and artistically, leading Howe to reignite his passion for art.

“We don’t consider ourselves as artists first and foremost,” he said. “But art is one of the legs on the stool of Landscape Architecture.”

‘Experience of seeing’

Self portrait done by Greg Howe
A self portrait composed by Howe

He draws landscapes and likes to go outside, using natural light to compose an ink and pen drawing. It’s simple, black and white and requires different techniques than traditional drawing. His pieces are very detailed and complex, as Howe intentionally wants people to look closely at the world around them. The summer after Howe left the Army, he and his wife went to the mountains each week where he’d sketch and compose drawings, one would later be purchased by CSU.

“The school purchased something that was very meaningful to me in that it was my kind of artistic segway back into academic work,” Howe said.

Howe credits his wife, as she suggested that he submit a couple of his pieces to the Curfman Gallery art show in the Lory Student Center, since he had been to previous shows and was impressed by the quality of work students had submitted.

“I told my wife about the show, and she made me promise to submit my pieces for the next show, so I did,” he said. “They picked one and then they bought it.”

Getting validation from the school about his ability to produce artwork has allowed Howe to be confident in his pieces and he is now working to have a show dedicated to his pieces and connect with an art dealer who is willing to sell his work.

Observable Universe

Pen and Ink drawing called Observable Universe
‘Observable Universe,’ created by Howe

Observable Universe was the piece purchased by Doug Sink, program manager for the Lory Student Center Arts Program, and it will be displayed in Magnolia House as a part of the collection there.

“I think Greg’s piece is a remarkable display of technique and composition,” Sink said. “The use of pen and ink is less common, and it’s also well put together, visually, creating an interesting viewing experience when you engage with it.”

The piece took Howe only five days to complete, but the process is difficult, so much so that he considers it an extreme sport. Since he only works with natural light outside, he’s only has a five-hour window of time before the shadows shift completely. Not only is working with shadows difficult, but the Colorado weather is unpredictable in the summertime, so Howe must track the weather repeatedly and has a rain jacket taped to his canvas so at the first sign of rain he can cover his work and run back to the car.

One of Howe’s goals before his graduation in Spring 2019 is to continue to build relationships between the Departments of Landscape Architecture and the Art since they are so closely intertwined. Another is to work to promote other students in the LA department and showcase the work that they’ve produced for the rest of the CSU community to see.

“I want to show the rest of the university what’s going on in the department,” he said. “It’s a small department, so people aren’t really aware of the work we produce and what we do.”