Heath Johnston is a visual artist who doesn’t put himself in a box. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based artist says it’s important not to get stuck creating in one specific style. With that being said, Johnston also hopes to work in the publishing field one day, and brings up the importance of famous artists’ lesser-known work. We talked to Johnston about his paintings, his other artistic aspirations, and more. Read our full interview below.
Would you be able to describe your style? Is there a piece you’ve made that you think best represents you as an artist?
My style takes a lot of twists and turns which I’ve been told time after time is not how you want to make art. I can’t help but roll my eyes at people who advocate for boundaries in something as broad as painting. I like heavy color saturation. Most of the subjects [of my paintings] are from photos of the town I live in, or the internet, but i also love plain-air painting as well. Sometimes I’ll put in little moments of abstraction, but human forms and spaces are definitely the dominant subject throughout my work. I like experimenting with color and trying to keep colors from getting too muted. For instance, at the moment I prefer to create my own blacks, greys, and browns so I can have full control of how warm/cool they are. I’m actually at a very fun point in painting and I’m more entertained at the idea of continuing to create a body of work that represents me rather than one piece. The paintings that I work the hardest on are often times my least favorite paintings. If I were to feel like a painting represented me, I’d probably be less motivated to paint. It’s all about the simple act of painting in my case. It’s both a therapy and a discipline.
I like that you don’t put yourself in a box – I think that’s important as an artist. I know you touched on this a little, but could you further explain who/what act as your artistic inspirations?
After learning about other well-known artists, I noticed similarities in how they worked through their careers. None of them were strictly painters, illustrators, musicians – they played around with many other mediums. Miles Davis is a brilliant jazz musician, but his paintings and drawings are also very next-level. His canvases come across as high art to me. Picasso made ceramics to accommodate those who couldn’t afford his paintings and his ceramic work has so much life and functionality and spirit. My favorite artists are those who enjoy thought and work out compositions that go beyond their popular styles and mediums.
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