Alison Oldham looks at the popular painter’s journey from Cricklewood through to Kilburn Grammar and the Hornsey School of Art.

Ham & High: Ken HowardKen Howard (Image: Archant)

“London is my wife and Venice is my mistress,” says Professor Ken Howard OBE RA, whose popular paintings combine keen observation with skilled draughtsmanship. His latest exhibition, From London to Venice, is at the Richard Green Gallery in Mayfair.

“Having been born in London and always having a home here, it is truly part of me. To truly express the truth of a subject one must know it intimately and it is only familiarity which produces this quality.” And that knowledge was gained growing up in northwest London.

His first childhood home was in Alder Grove in Cricklewood, close to railway sidings and factories which he believes influence his use of horizontal and vertical structures and lines. Though known for city scenes with emphasis on the reflection of light in water, he does not regard himself as a landscape painter but rather “a vertical, horizontal and linear painter”. And this applies equally to another recurrent theme – a nude model depicted in his studio.

Howard went to Kilburn Grammar School then Hornsey College of Art. As a student he participated regularly in the Hampstead open air art exhibitions and was commissioned to paint watercolours of local buildings and features including Keats House and Whitestone Pond.

In this selection of 50 recent works Howard depicts Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, bridges on the Thames from Waterloo to Richmond and several of London’s parks and squares, capturing elusive effects of light at different times of the day and year. The Venice paintings demonstrate his love for the city’s magical light and majestic architecture: “It is the only place I know where one can stand on the spot and see a composition at every turn.”

Until February 6 at 147 New Bond Street W1. Week 10am to 6pm, Sat 11am to 4pm.