Saturday, January 31, 2009
Paul Heaston —flickr nickname: paul is just dandy— is an artist and teacher based in Bozeman, a city in the southwestern part of Montana, USA. Since October 2008 he's been drawing every building on the city's Main Street. He draws from benches, a portable chair, or while standing. His panoramic streetscapes are a visual feast reminiscent of R. Crumb's work. Gabi Campanario spotted them on the Flickr pool and asked him some questions:
How did you come up with this project? What's your goal?
At some point last year, I came up with the idea of documenting Bozeman's small historic district on Main Street. For a long time I've been familiar with the pop artist Ed Ruscha's series of photographs "Every Building on the Sunset Strip," and I had just seen Matteo Pericoli's wonderful drawings in his book "Manhattan Unfurled." I decided that I would draw every building on Main between Grand and Rouse Avenues from direct observation in my sketchbook —first the north side, then the south— as a kind of challenge just to see if I could finish a project of this scope. I've always loved the dramatic sweeping curve of panoramic photography so I began to incorporate this as the drawings progressed. As I've been drawing, I've noticed I'm also depicting the passage of time —in the earlier drawings, there were still flowers hanging from the lamp posts and leaves on the trees, but as time passed, the flowers were taken down and the leaves fell. Right now it's too cold to draw outside, but I plan to return to finish the south side of the street as soon as it warms up.
When did you start sketching on location? What other art do you do?
I had drawn on location occasionally, but I really began sketching seriously in 2007 when I bought my first Moleskine to take with me for a semester in Italy. I found that I was drawing what I saw every day, and when I came home I continued to carry my sketchbook with me everywhere, documenting anything and everything. In addition to sketching, I also paint and draw portraits.
Can you tell us a bit about life in Bozeman?
Bozeman is a small community in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, but it feels urban in many ways —everything is a walkable distance and the city has worked hard to preserve its downtown as a vital area filled with local businesses. I teach drawing at Montana State University, and I was surprised to find when I moved here how strongly people support the arts in this community. Bozeman is really quite beautiful —in addition to the wonderful historic architecture, tall pines and aspens line the streets and there are mountains in all directions. I live quite close to Yellowstone National Park, and I consider myself lucky as an artist to be able to go there to draw, take pictures or just think.
• Paul's art on Flickr.
• Paul's website.