As a child, April Howard remembers spending hours quietly flipping through her dad’s collection of Robert Bateman books, getting lost in, and inspired by, the intricate and realistic details of the iconic Canadian artist and naturalist’s works. “I’ve always loved drawing. If there was ever a pen and paper in front of me, I’d be sketching something,” Howard says.

As she got older, she began to experiment more with colours, hoping to see her ideas come together in the vibrant hues she imagined them.

“A dear friend of mine would create these incredible images with pencil crayons, and immediately I needed it. The satisfaction of creating something beautiful was intoxicating to me,” she says.

It wasn’t until three years ago that Howard decided to return to this form of artistic expression that seemed so natural to her.

She credits the expensive pencil crayons she purchased as a hard working teenager in helping her develop her knack for understanding colours.

“I was terrible at first, but I knew I had an aptitude for combining colours and that it would eventually come.”

This patience paid off and Howard’s paintings, which she sells through word of mouth and her social media pages, started garnering a fair amount of attention. So much so, that she was inspired to work towards her first art show, which took place at the Rah Rah Gallery in downtown Whitehorse in 2014.

Howard’s acrylic paintings (her preferred medium) are mostly nature based, featuring ravens to foxes to octopus to magpies, usually set against moody backgrounds, full of depth and emotion, and, of course, beautifully mixed colour palettes. “I’m intrigued by things that are old, dark and mysterious,” she says. “A lot of my paintings have a darkness to them. From storms to spectres, and surreal things in between, I’m all over it.”

Howard says she is inspired by seeing the things she imagines come to life upon the canvas.

“That quiet time when I’m lying in bed and my mind is drifting into unknown spaces – it’s when I want to paint the most,” she says.

Howard is quick to credit other talented artists for inspiration, noting her amazement at seeing their influence manifest in her work.

As a born and raised northerner, Howard says there is endless inspiration abound, from birds to wildflowers, but particularly when she glances upwards to the skies. “Where do I begin?” she says. “The huge skies. And the clouds!

“Those big billowing ones capture me. I have to be careful when I’m driving because my eyes wander upwards. Cell phones are dangerous, but cumulus clouds? Forget about it!”

Howard’s upcoming show at Baked Café and Bakery will showcase clouds, of course, as well as her affinity for northern birds and other critters.

“I’ve been loving seeing images lit up against the night sky, so that seems to be the theme for this display,” Howard says.

“It’s not for everyone, so some of these pieces won’t sell, until that one person comes along that may just share that affiliation.”

Howard’s paintings can be found online at her Facebook page April Howard Art. She is available to create commissioned pieces, and works best when she is able to follow her own artistic direction. The art show is called “Goodnights” and runs for the month of September at Baked Cafe (September 1-30).