Paul Heaston

“No one is going to be disappointed in you if you don’t make anything except you.”

What does creativity mean to you?

The idea of “creativity” gets more and more inscrutable to me the more I try to pin it down. I think there’s a romantic connotation to the word that confuses it with originality or self-expression– it places a premium on the quality of the “idea” behind a work, not its execution. I suppose I fall more on the execution side. I make and make, and I really can’t and won’t stop making. Making and creating are the same to me. Where there was nothing before, here’s something. And I try to do it well.

How do you express yourself? What is your medium?

I draw, I paint, I write music, I do woodworking. I draw way more than anything else, but there aren’t many creative activities I don’t want to try.

What are your favorite tools of creativity?

Pen and ink on white paper. Something about the sharpness, the assertiveness, the permanence of ink is very attractive to me.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your creativity?

I don’t have a lot of rituals, but I do like packing a sketchbag, thinking of the things I might want to use to draw for the day. Little choices that set up the rest of the decisions I will make during the creative process.

Who or what is inspiring you lately?

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of woodworking videos on YouTube. I find an area of interest and fixate on it for some time. I think there are a lot of similarities to the kind of drawing I do. As far as artists, I love the work of my peers in the sketching community. Donald Owen Colley consistently amazes me, as well as France Belleville-Van Stone.

When it comes to creativity, what are you most afraid of?

I obsess over having enough time. I always want more of it, even if I have seemingly enough. And success. People wanting more from me because they like my work.

How do you get over that fear and continue to create?

I just start working. I can’t wait for the right mood, or moment, or anything else. My mantra is the often-quoted Chuck Close quote: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” He’s paraphrasing a million others, from Woody Allen to Thomas Jefferson, but it’s true. While I don’t necessarily think good things always happen because you worked hard, you’re definitely upping your odds.

What advice would you give to a creative person who was bogged down by fear?

Wanting to make art and not making it gives you the same net result as not wanting to make art. No one is going to be disappointed in you if you don’t make anything except you. You are the only person you should be serving as far as that all goes.

In 5 words or less, name your inner creative genius

Perspective-obsessed helpless sketcher.

Paul Heaston is an artist and educator originally from San Antonio, Texas. He he received his MFA in painting from Montana State University in 2008. Without access to a painting studio, Heaston began doing urban sketches during a semester abroad in Italy, and continued on his return home. He spent 6 months between 2008 and 2009 meticulously drawing every building in downtown Bozeman, Montana in a pocket-sized sketchbook. He has since completed several other long-term panoramic sketching projects in Texas and Colorado. Heaston has been a correspondent for since 2009 and in addition maintains his own sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and daughter.

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