Artopia Preview: Paul Easterwood And Pablo

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The Houston Press Artopia party is Saturday, and Hair Balls is previewing a different participating artist each day this week. Artopia will feature 27 artists, as well as live art and music performances, fashion shows, and a presentation of the Press's MasterMind awards. For more details and ticket information, click here

Paul Easterwood believes he's a different person when he paints. He won't go as far to say he's schizophrenic, but he's definitely not himself. Easterwood even has a name for his painting alter-ego: Pablo. It's how he signs his work.

"It helps me distinguish between the right-brained Pablo, and the logical guy Paul," Easterwood tells Hair Balls. "We all have two people inside us in some ways."

Easterwood first got his Pablo nickname from workers at the farm where he grew up as a kid in tiny Dimmitt, Texas, a town of about 4,000 in the Panhandle.

"I knew [the farm] wasn't for me when I was about six," Easterwood says. "It was pretty solitary. You had to have an imagination. I did a lot of solitary things, because when my time was mine, I could pretty much go do whatever I wanted to. It was a good place to grow up, but I knew I wanted to get off the farm."

He eventually made it to Houston for law school, and he worked as a lawyer for 38 years before retiring. During that time, Easterwood got married to a woman who became an artist, and Easterwood picked up an affinity for the work with her.

"I never thought about doing it seriously or professionally until the last couple of years," Easterwood says.

Easterwood eventually lost his wife to divorce, but the knack for painting stayed with him.

"Lawyering is all about logic, using creativity, to some extent, to solve problems," Easterwood says. "Painting is right brained and creativity and using a little bit of logic to say, 'Well, this doesn't quite fit. Why shouldn't it fit?'"

He adds, "One is about feeling, one is about thinking."

Easterwood says he mainly likes colors, and he finds inspiration in just about anything except the thing that surrounded him the most as a boy: nature. He prefers what "occurs naturally in cities."

"It could be buildings, people, and I've even wanted to paint a bottle of foaming beer," Easterwood says. "I just haven't figured out the context in which to put it."

Easterwood has been successful in his short time as an artist, selling large pieces up until the spring of last year, about the time the economy tanked in Houston. But the slowdown hasn't stopped him from working.

"I paint when I want to, and I have the luxury of doing that right now," he says. "There can be several days that go by and I don't paint, then I decide I'm going to paint. Your mind needs to be clear when you're painting."

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