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The Call of the Wild: April Howland’s Animal Paintings Benefit Many Nonprofits
Posted By Lynette Carrington on March 13, 2018
By Lynette Carrington
April Howland creates her paintings with a passion that focuses on telling the stories of animals. Frequently, Howland’s lifelike animal paintings are seen at fundraisers and galas throughout the Valley and the proceeds from sales benefit a variety of animal and other nonprofits.
Howland, the CEO, founder and artist of Howland Studios, has been painting wildlife and items in nature since she was a child. One hair-raising event set her on a course to her painting destiny. During a family camping trip, a visceral roar came tearing through the tent where her family slept.
“I was 6 and I was sure the next thing that came through that tent would eat me,” said Howland.
The family was ushered to safety by her father, but the next morning, mountain lion tracks right next to the tent were a stark reminder of the potential danger.
“I remember being frightened at what could have happened, but also exhilarated that a wild animal was that close to me,” she said.
The event served to further her interest in animals which ultimately inspired her to become the renowned animal artist and passionate animal lover she is today.
Howland counts Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale as a local wild animal nonprofit that she loves.
“I do some pro bono graphic design for them and I just taught an art class out there a few months ago,” she said.
Howland recently painted one of the center’s wolves, Manitu, and donated the painting to the organization to auction in its upcoming annual fundraiser, Dinner with Wolves on April 15.
“I also donate a lot to the Phoenix Zoo,” Howland said. “I believe in their conservation efforts and I donate artwork for the events that they have throughout the year.”
Another nonprofit Howland supports is SniffAZ, an organization founded by some of Howland’s art collectors. In its fifth year, SniffAZ helps support existing organizations already providing spay and neuter services to Maricopa County companion animals.
“I’m an animal lover and helping control the pet population is important,” she said. “SniffAZ has wonderful people that do great work and I’m happy to give them artwork for their silent auctions.”
Additionally, she has donated artwork for auctions to Arizona Animal Welfare League, an organization from which she adopted one of her pets.
In an overseas philanthropic endeavor, Howland traveled to South Africa in 2011 with Africa Foundation.
While there, she visited medical facilities, orphanages and schools in a couple of villages. Howland toured Vuyelani primary school in Lillydale Village and learned of immediate needs for building materials to fix holes in the walls, and kitchen remodel that was desperately needed. The school feeds the students of the village that often get their one and only daily meal at the school.
“I decided to help them in the best way I knew how — with my art,” Howland said. “Upon returning to Arizona, I immediately began the planning of the painting titled, ‘I Have a Future’ of an orphaned boy on a caretaker’s back. I had met them in South Africa.”
The image and thoughts of the boy have always moved Howland as the young boy’s parents had both died from AIDS. The painting was raffled during Howland’s first fine art show a few years ago and fetched more than $2,000 which went towards the kitchen remodel for the school.
She returned to South Africa last month with the same nonprofit to view already funded and potential projects in three different areas, while also seeing some animals along the way. While there, Howland picked a project that will become the recipient of the funds from the sale of her next painting. She believes by helping people in South African villages, it will ultimately help the animals that live there.,
“The more we help young and struggling communities, the better ambassadors these precious African animals will have,” she said. “These will be people that are more educated and dedicated to their environment and conservation.”
“Inside me still lives that little 6-year old who hears that mountain lion roar, and who is forever curious about animals and how they live,” she said. ‘It is amazing how simple and yet so very complicated their lives are. By studying them and creating beautiful paintings, I am honored to help document and tell their stories so that others might enjoy them just as much as I do.”