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The Artist behind the Heaton Collection – William Heaton

Running Bear are delighted to have collaborated with accomplished runner and acclaimed local artist, William Heaton, to produce The Heaton Collection, a unique and artistically beautiful range of clothing, “Artwork on a Sporting Canvas”.  To see more of Bill’s artwork please visit his website https://www.heatonart.co.uk

Also a link to a small Video that shows how Bill creates his masterpieces.

Here’s a little bit more about Bill…

Bill has a natural talent for running and discovered, as he approached early retirement, that he also has a natural talent for Art. In his life, Running and Art are complimentary, each giving him a unique sense of freedom and fulfilment “In my mind, Running and Art are about energy, balance and movement.  Art is also about colour and my inspiration for colour comes from Running”.

You might be fooled by Bill’s calm demeanour; he appears laidback but inside he’s a fizz of energy.  His controlled manner was perfected during his career as a police officer, whilst his energy was channelled through his running.  Nowadays, his energy explodes not just when he runs but onto the canvas too.  “In my paintings you’ll see me on the canvas.  My paintings tell you everything about me.

Bill started running as a teenager living in Shropshire.  It started with a 3.2 mile challenge amongst his mates, which ignited his competitive streak.  He kept a running diary for a year or so after that, training a modest number of miles each week on his own to keep his weight down.  His first race was The Stafford Half Marathon and he clocked a very fast time for a young novice:  1 hour and 28 minutes. He was soon 6-minute smiling in 5 mile races and then 10 mile races.

He joined the Cheshire Constabulary at the age of 21 and started to run for the Police, soon achieving a personal best in a 10 mile race of 56 minutes and 42 seconds and a 1.5 mile time trial of 7 minutes and 47 seconds.  He worked hard to train and race whilst working shifts, sometimes finishing a nightshift and heading for a race before getting some sleep and clocking onto his next nightshift.  He competed for both the Police within their prestigious Cheshire Team and the Wilmslow Running Club.  His highlight was being selected to represent UK Police in the Inter-Service International Cross Country races.  He vividly remembers the pride of representing his country.  Whilst he has an enviable record of personal bests ranging from 5k at 16 minutes to a Half Marathon at 1 hour 13 minutes, he feels that he never fulfilled his potential due to the demands of shift working.

In 2003 at the age of 39, he read an article in the Guardian claiming that anyone can paint.  The message was simple…”Just put paint to canvas and have your own original artwork on the wall”.  Inspired by the thought, he bought a canvas and some tubes of acrylic paint and intuitively covered the canvas with a finger flicking technique.  He was taken aback by the outcome and how it mirrored his mood.  He hung it on the wall and then, project over, got on with his life.  Some time later he was with his uncle at an art gallery in Holywood, Northern Ireland when he noticed a piece of art on the wall that was similar to his own. His uncle remarked that it was no-where near as good as his, yet held a handsome price tag.  At that moment, he remembers feeling that he had not just a talent but also a calling to paint.

He had no formal training, which allowed him the freedom to be intuitive and to experiment.  From the beginning he has felt a strong confidence and sense of destiny in his Art.  He’s had the validation and feedback of great critics and knows he’s heading in the right direction, as he builds his repertoire and reputation for balance, movement and beautiful colours.  “It’s quite simply energy on a canvas”.

All the time, he likens Art to running.  “The most important thing is balance.  Great runners have great balance and can run light on their feet, almost leaving no trace of their footsteps.  When I start a painting, I can be working exclusively on an edge, yet knowing that I will naturally achieve balance as I complete the painting.  My technique allows me to be light and intricate on the canvas, building in layers rather than heavy brush strokes”.

He describes the joy shared in running and painting.  “When I was working as a front-line police officer and seeing everything that life has to serve up, running to and from work each day was my therapy, my means of working through problems and finding clarity in my thoughts.  I’d flush out any negative energy and be ready to start again, fresh and positive”.

“I’ve found that ability to problem solve in my Art.  Often I’ll paint a canvas and hang it on my wall, going back to it, time and time again until I’ve solved the ‘problems’ and got the perfect balance.  I need to be able to gain positive energy from it. I want my art to get the blood pumping, just like running”.

“Some days painting just flows and feels effortless, just like running can, and other days the mind is willing but the body just won’t respond.  I can plod on and get to the finishing line in the end but it’s a grind.  That’s fine because it’s a true reflection of me at that moment of time”.

Bill is now immersed in his Art, complimenting it with running to find his inspiration.  He loves the simplicity of both and the personal journey that each has taken him on.  With a final philosophical reflection on his career as a police officer he says “I know how easy it is to die, accidents can happen to anyone and I want to get the most out of life”.



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