Meet Craig Houghton
What's your background?
While art does provide a part-time income and occupies every spare moment of my life, I'm also a programmer/developer with an English degree. I live in Connecticut with my wife, who is also an artist.
I didn't consider drawing to be even a hobby until my early twenties and at that point I was still drawing stick men. But I wanted to learn very badly, so I made thousands of poor drawings/paintings, and had a great time doing so.
Improvement came slowly, through practice. For specific techniques, I relied mostly on books and art forums, as I'm not much of a fan of video, Sktchy didn't exist and YouTube wasn't the resource then that it is now.
What's your medium of choice when you're creating art?
Charcoal pencil and white on toned paper is what feels most comfortable to me, but I rarely use the same medium for two pieces in a row. As a result, there are very few fine-art mediums that I haven't been truly excited about at one point or another. I used to think this meant I was avoiding boredom, but now I'm not so sure. I suspect I dislike comfort as much as I enjoy learning.
How did you build your creative habit?
I developed a sustainable, creative habit by learning how to make art the most enjoyable escape-route in my life. For me, as soon as art becomes the thing one is "supposed to do," art-block follows. instead, I want art to be the thing I run towards when I procrastinate from something else. That means, mostly, drawing whatever I feel like at that moment, minimizing commitments, keeping my work space ready for new projects, and exploring new ideas and techniques to keep things exciting.
When you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get out of it?
I like to call it art block, because there's usually something in the way. I look for a barrier that stands between me and the project I actually want to be working on. This obstacle might be a paid commission, an art-related promise, an unfinished painting, pressure to do well or self-doubt. If I can fix it/make the concern go away, I do so. But whether I can or not, I push past the block by letting myself draw only for me, telling myself that I won't be sharing it with anyone. I pick the subject I feel like drawing and the medium I feel like using. That usually does the trick. If not, I do something similar but simply force myself to draw something, anything on paper, even if it's just a pattern. If that doesn't even work, I just go do something else. The worst thing I could possibly do is force myself to create. Art should not feel like a chore.
Which of your recent Sktchy artworks most expresses who you are now as an artist?
Definitely the drawing/painting where each shard was created using an entirely different medium or style. I've heard for twenty years or more that artists are more successful if they specialize and settle on a style. I have struggled to follow that advice and failed repeatedly. I'm built to run off chasing artistic squirrels, and I've rarely been of only one mind. That piece helped me pull together the disparate portions of my practice and self into one whole form.