Peter is one of the most instantly recognisable – and collectable – painters working in Britain today. He is unsurpassed in post-war Britain as an artist who sees what is ‘dark and low’ in himself and in humanity but as an artist, he often portrays hope and the prospect of salvation – his vision is that of a story-teller.
Known as a Scottish artist, Peter was actually born in West London, and lived there as a small child, until his parents moved the family up to Scotland. He immersed himself in painting from a young age, escaping into a happy world, removed from the reality of being a target for schoolboy bullies - his solitary, artistic nature and occasional panic attacks meant he found it difficult to communicate as a child; painting and drawing was the solace and understanding he sought.
Peter went on to study at Glasgow School of Art, and was guided and influenced by his tutors Prof David Donaldson and Sandy Moffat. By the time of his Degree Show he was already garnering interest and reputation; a troubled spell followed whilst he established his feet a full-time artist, and success steadily grew, attracting dealers and interest from abroad.
He famously became the British war artist for Bosnia, taking two trips to the area and emerging from this turbulent period as a different artist and, to an extent, a different man, and translated what he saw with honesty and sincerity. Deeply affected, Howson had begun seeing a psychiatrist and drinking heavily; rehabilitation followed, as well as a rediscovery of religion. Of his favourite painting, entitled ‘The Third Step’, he says ‘It is about my conversion to Christianity and giving up booze’.
Despite a turbulent life, Peter’s work has been a constant; he quotes many influences, from Raphael to Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrant to Bellini, and of course, Peter himself is now influencing a generation of painters across the country.