Spotlight Interview with Rachel Newton and how she manipulates materials to create texture and abstract expressionism.
Thank you for speaking to us about your art journey. Where did it all begin for you?
My creative journey was born out of a necessity to create, in order to stay sane. Having M.E meant that my mind and body were confined to a state of hibernation and so abstract painting seemed like a natural form of self expression. While it initially served as art therapy, friends began to show an interest in my work. This coincided with a gradual improvement in my health so I decided to take the plunge and apply to show at a local art fair. To my surprise and delight I was accepted as an exhibiting artist at The Landmark Arts Centre Spring Fair in Teddington in 2018. I’m quite a shy person and the thought of talking about my work to potential buyers terrified me. In reality, the paintings themselves do most of the talking, and I ended up loving the experience. I have exhibited at quite a few art fairs since.
From who or from where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Emotions are the initial driving force, with patterns and mesmerising details in nature being a huge inspiration. Despite coming from a family of artists (mum, and 2 sets of aunties and uncles), I far from excelled at it at school, didn’t enjoy it, and it felt like an alien world to me. It wasn’t until I was able to appreciate it as a form of communication that I understood the value of it. Other people’s work then gradually became more meaningful and inspiring to me. The passion of so many talented artists that I meet at art fairs is infectious. They always provide a fresh injection of motivation and I admire the work of Tom Flint, Clare Crouchman, Guy Chapman and Mark Charlton to name just a few. Among well known artists, I like Hans Hartung’s approach of experimentation and relinquishment of control to create spontaneous, accidental marks. I love some of Antoni Tàpies’s deceptively simple works with muted colours that on closer inspection reveal tantalising depth and detail. Rothko’s use of colour to make his blocks ‘glow’ are enviable.
Do you like to experiment with what you use to create art and how would you describe your artistic style?
Manipulation of materials to create texture excites me. Often also the lack of manipulation of those same materials to allow them to move across the surface in their own unique, never to be repeated way is equally exciting. It’s a partnership between myself and the materials and sometimes I’m taken on a wonderful exploratory journey with them. Not knowing the destination can be stressful but the discovery outweighs the uncertainty.
I probably shouldn’t say this but I don’t know enough about art to comment on my style – maybe abstract expressionism? I let the viewer be the judge if it matters enough to them.
Why are your designs so different to other artists within the industry?
Art is surely the most honest form of communicating the essence of who we are as unique individuals, so every artist can’t help but be essentially different from any other artist, no matter how much we may be influenced by them.
How do you stay relevant and current in a world full of creatives?
This is an interesting question because on the one hand, in many respects I believe creating and selling art is not much different to manufacturing and marketing any other product. Where it differs in my view is that the making of art is almost completely devoid of any strategic thinking in terms of product development and researching your market. I’m not sure I’m very aware of what is current in the art world. Striving to follow fashion would inevitably be at the expense of an artist’s integrity wouldn’t it? My painting ‘style’ is barely a conscious choice. I can’t help being influenced by other’s work, consciously or otherwise, but it’s based on what moves me, not what trend I think I should keep up with.
How has social media impacted on you as judging by your online presence you seem to embrace this?
As I allude to below, sales don’t happen out of thin air so social media, as a marketing tool is essential. Instagram especially I find easy and fun to use, and a great way to network with other artists and learn about opportunities.
How has your brand grown to where it is now? What has contributed to your success?
I think I’m where I am now (still a work in progress) because I work hard at trying to realise my visions. My work ethic is the same as it was with any other job I’ve had, and my attitude would be the same whether I’m making art or mundane but essential items. Creative talent is redundant if you think it’s enough to just create and wait for someone else to ‘discover you’. The aspects of the job other than the painting, (the marketing/accounting/administrative tasks) help to make me feel grounded in my work. Sometimes I can’t bare the feeling of self-indulgence in creating – It makes me feel guilty that it isn’t a job that contributes enough to society in any way.
Have you worked with any galleries or brands or completed any important commissions you can share with us?
I was thrilled to be offered representation by Caiger Art after meeting Carol Caiger at an art fair a few years ago. With them I’ve been able to show my work at The Affordable Art Fair, and sell to well known interior designers.
Which projects are you really excited about for 2021 and are there any future plans you can share with us?
I’m excited about finally being able to sell at actual real live events such as the Sussex Art Fair, The Newbury Art Fair, The New Artist Fair in October and hopefully some ArtCan exhibitions, (a collaborative, non-profit arts organisation I joined at the end of last year).
See a selection of work from Rachel Newton HERE