artist spotlight – Jan Heaton

the whole movement behind why we love austin is to inspire creativity, and create conversation. i love that the universe is bringing all of that magic together to build a community, and introducing me to people that i might not otherwise get to meet. it is with great pleasure, i bring you a spotlight on local artist, Jan Heaton. (remember she sent in her beautiful red onion postcard? you can see it here if you need a reminder).

141774-Watermelon Radish 5 -22 x 22 - Unframed

How long does it take you to complete a painting? 
Every painting starts with a concept. The time it takes to translate the idea varies based on the size of the painting, and my vision for the completed piece. Ultimately it’s not about how long the painting takes, but if I am satisfied with the end result. Most often I have at least 10 – 15 paintings in different stages of development at the same time. Some paintings take a day or a week, others months, it just depends! I always feel like the last painting I did is the most successful.

Strawberry 4 - 4 x 4

I read that your dad was a huge influence in your art. Did he also introduce you to watercolor?
I grew up in Detroit. My grandfather was a design engineer for Henry Ford. My father was a display artist, calligrapher and sign painter. My mother was an illustrator for General Motors, and an accomplished artist in multiple mediums. As soon as I could hold a crayon they shared with me the tools of creating art. Mom set up still lifes on our dining room table to sketch from on snowy, housebound days. My brother and I learned from our parents how to observe, isolate, and find beauty in the smallest details. I learned that practice, persistence and repetition is key. I attended weekend studio classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts from the age of 10 to 14 where I studied the Diego Rivera murals and sketched with inspiration from the master works. I attended Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit, a music & art college preparatory magnet school. I discovered watercolor in high school. I loved working on paper, the fluidity and spontaneity of the medium, and the ease of transporting minimal materials. Our class would head out and paint the freighters on the Detroit River, the elderly people sitting on the park benches, the first flower of spring popping up through the gray, crusty ice. When we depleted our water supply we painted with melted snow. 

Maroon Carrots 4 x 4

Where did you grow up? How long have you been in Austin?
I grew up in Detroit. I have lived in Austin since 1975.

Armenian Cucumber 3 - 4 x 4

Your iceflow series is a bit darker than the rest of your work, was that mainly influenced by limited supply/emotion or both? 

My artwork is a visual journal. The Iceflow series was painted while I lived in Boston for three months during the 2015 Blizzard (112” of snow). My color palette was definitely motivated by the monochromatic blue-gray, frosted cityscape.  I was in Boston for my daughter’s cancer treatment, helping our family. I found time for isolated moments to paint, a meditative time for me. With the limited supplies I packed in my suitcase I painted small watercolors, on a narrow desk with little natural light, in the basement of our temporary Beacon Hill home. I recorded my impressions of melting ice pools, transparent icicles dotting the rooflines, and pristine frozen structures, punctuated by the glimpse of an occasional cerulean blue sky. All captured from a specific viewpoint, reaching out for quiet, silence, and calm.

Figs - 4 x 4"

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Observing details. My mother was a tireless observer of people and her surroundings, constantly collecting ideas and drawing. Like her I also record ideas in sketchbooks, and have notebooks stashed everywhere. I listen to music while I paint. Motown is my favorite. I have a growing stack of books to read by my bed. I always have a camera with me as I want to remember the details. I translate the images to paper when I am back in my studio. I teach four weekend workshops a year at the Contemporary Austin Art School at Laguna Gloria. The artists I teach there always inspire me. I believe in the power of color and imagery to alter the viewer’s sense of place. In the end my vision is to create a permanent visual space that influences a sense of well-being. Making art is my journey to understand the world, both materially, and conceptually, through the color, movement, and relationships inspired by forms in nature. My art is the sum of everything I know, observe, remember, and love.

Jan Heaton-Boggy Creek Farm- Photo Credit Scott David Gordon

Who are your favorite artists? And why?
My circle of family and friends is jam packed with creative people, they are my support and inspiration. My other favorites include: Helen Frankenthaler, Picasso, Matisse, John Singer Sargent, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Mary Cassatt, and the list goes on. I am constantly inspired by the diverse range of viewpoints and techniques.

141785- Traverse City Cherries-30 x 22 Unframed

Tell us about your upcoming show.
For the past two years, I have been painting a series based on my Saturday morning excursions to the farmers’ markets in Austin – initially recording my impressions in watercolor on small 4 x 4” heavy 300# cotton paper. While at the market I look for the fruits and vegetables that we grew as children, yet also seeking out the mysterious, and almost magical varieties of watermelon radishes, maroon carrots, fennel, oyster mushrooms, and golden beets that were not familiar to our family garden – ever mindful of the seeds, the patterns, forms and the process that bring these treasures eventually to our table. I will have a solo exhibition of this work at The Davis Gallery in Austin. The show will be on exhibit March 5 – April 16, 2016. The exhibit is being sponsored by Edible Austin magazine.

Clementines - 4 x 4

What do you do when you aren’t painting?
Read, travel, cook, spin, hula hoop, hike, garden, photograph, and appreciate the time I have with my family, grandchildren and friends.

141772-Artichoke 9-22 x 22 - Unframed

How can we contact you, for inquiries and/or purchase?
I can be reached at for appointments at my Austin studio. In other cities I have gallery representation in: San Antonio (The Hunt Gallery), Boston (Jules Place), Santa Barbara (Elizabeth Gordon Gallery), and Marble Falls (Marta Stafford Fine Art). My latest work can be seen at or my facebook page,

Jan / Photo Credit J.SparksPhotography

And, of course, why do you love Austin?
I have lived in Austin since 1975. My daughters grew up here. My very best memories have been formed here. I love living in a city that is dynamic, constantly evolving, and growing. A city with expansive rolling hills, clear water, and a respect for our natural resources. A city that attracts young talented professionals. A city that supports a growing community of visual artists, musicians, and live theatre. A city with year round farmers’ markets, innovative chefs and a growing restaurant scene. A philanthropic city that emphasizes, and values giving back. I love Austin.

for inquires or purchase, please contact Jan directly. now, go be awesome!
with love, as always,

*all photos provided by Jan Heaton.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: