EK Interview: Andrew Newton

Andrew Newton‘s hyperrealism focuses on faces, skin, it’s hyperreal not only in the accuracy of his painting but in the emotion that it captures.  Like candid photos his paintings capture unique and revealing moments that speak deeply of their subjects. Newton will be collaborating with other artists under the group name ‘Repre’ for an upcoming art showing at St Martin-in-the-fields, Trafalgar Square, London from May 1st – 13th.  It’s free, check the bottom of the post for more details.

Introduce yourself.

My name is Andrew Newton  I am a realist painter based in Fleet, Hampshire UK. I have been painting for about 8 years or so since I left school at 16.  I paint mostly hyper-realist portraits and have been working in that style since 2007.  Recently I have started combining abstract marks with my hyper-realist style.  I also love folk music, cinema, graphic animation and combat sports. I am often inspired by these other sources for my work, other than other artists work.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom

Where did you go for your degree in Fine Art?

I studied at Coventry University and graduated in 2008 with 1st class honours degree.

What did you learn in school that you did not think you would have otherwise?  How has schooling contributed or changed your perception of yourself, your art and the world of art itself?

It taught me to learn with free range in my chosen interest. I could look up artists and movements which I never would have without the degree. Constantly being tutored and having group seminars really helped me expose my ideas and voice to the other students. Showing my work really helped me learn about myself and what I was passionate about.

What is your greatest strength, both personally and artistically?  How have you harnessed/made the most use of your virtues?

I think my greatest strength is the ability to get passionate about different ideas quite frequently and inspire and ignite people around me. I do act upon my artistic ideas more now than I used to, as I have gotten a little older and wiser in my artistic career.  I feel that I can carry out an idea to its fullest, able to branch out into different areas of my art practice and to talk about it with quite extreme passion and enthusiasm but at the same time being very judicious about my new concepts.

What are your greatest weaknesses?  What are you doing to reconcile them?

I think my greatest weakness is quite linked to my greatest strength actually. It’s my ability to be practical about certain issues in my life I feel escape me. This can effect my art practice because if one wants to be successful in achieving a series of works or a presentation in a solo show one must be practical a swell as artistic to get the job done.. This is where I lack maybe courage and sensibility in finalizing things.

I am slowly trying to talk to the right people getting my prints on sale to the public, and to remain constant to get painting ideas to their completion.  Which currently I am working towards a Group show in May which I will be displaying 4 new works.

How did you decide those values?

I think because if I acted upon every idea that I ever had, and completed each one I’d have twice as many paintings as I do today. My contrast between gaining inspiration for something and losing it is quite strong and I am slowly getting grips to reality with things and I do finalise projects more now.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom

What prompted your change to a looser approach to painting?

My inspirations come from artists like Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach and researching some of the impressionist painters really did inspire me to change my style slightly. Watching a lot of documentaries and reading books on them, I found a new love of art which was beside my usual ‘photorealism’ interests.

Last year I did a lot of looser works as I felt confined by my hyper realist style, almost boxed into myself and what I should be.  I didn’t want that, I didn’t like the idea I was becoming a cliché of myself, and choreographing my own ideas and new projects.  I wanted to explore (and always have) abstract expression, as I felt it freed me up, and freed my mind when I was quite depressed as a painter in late 2010.

Tell us about “Cig”.  Where did the inspiration come from?

Cig was a shot I took as part of a series of a friend I knew back in Canterbury when I started my Masters degree.  I wanted something I have never done before, which is still relating to my aesthetic of banality, but at the same time challenges myself and the viewer with a slight abstract nature smoke effect covering part of the canvas, alongside the detailed realism of the face.

I wanted to also free up from just facial studies of people and wanted more life in my work with an extended background setting. The background is quite light in tone as opposed to the foreground and I felt it was a good composition to paint.  As of a deeper meaning there is none, as my work only really represents the voyeur’s perspective of life, and doesn’t read into the subject themselves.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom

How long did “Phil” take you to finish?  How did you know when you were done?

I don’t remember an exact time scale, I did it during the summer of 2007 from about June – July time. I’d say around 5 weeks or so working at it on and off.  And I knew it was finished simply as I work section by section from top left to bottom right, working in hyper-realism. One each section I work constantly until I feel I cannot add any more information on to the section then I move on.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom

What is your relationship to “Paul”?  Were you trying to convey some meaning by obscuring half of his face with the pint glass?

There wasn’t a hidden message in the work ‘Paul’.  I felt that the glass covering his face was complete spontaneity and chance. I liked the composition as it felt alive. His expression was alive in the pub environment and conveyed that life in the shot. His expression was in between humour and subtle drunkenness.  He was a friend at University, I used to see him a lot in Coventry but now he lives in Sheffield.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom

How do you approach someone that you want to paint?  How you are generally received?

Mostly I know the person quite well, either a friend or family, and they are quite happy to sit for a session of photography.  But if the people don’t know me as much it can be awkward. Having them talk to someone behind my back sometimes while taking the snap shots does help relax them to get a more realistic expression out of them.  A lot of people don’t mind the overall result of my works, apart from close female friends or family as my work doesn’t necessarily flatter the person and being utterly truthful in my pieces doesn’t go down to well with the ladies.

How many pieces do you work on at any particular time?

Usually one, however on occasion (like now) I do work on two or three at a time. Depends on how big the works are and how quickly I can get one finished. I wouldn’t tend to start two or three very large paintings at a time, as the overall completion would seem like a lifetime away in my head.

When you’re stuck on a project or idea what do you do to get unstuck?

I tend to never really get un-stuck. I carry on to the bitter end no matter how uninspired. But recently I have been trying to either completely abort projects or start another painting to draw some inspiration from that project. I guess I am getting more critical of my work, and cannot afford to waste time.

Can you name some of your inspirations?  How have they changed you personally or artistically or metaphysically?

Well my original artistic inspirations came from the original photo-realists like Chuck Close, Charles Bell and Ralph Goings, people like that. But recently Francis Bacon has had a huge impact on the way I see art and the art aesthetics I want to create on the canvas. His work emits a power which I strive one day to be able to create.  Other inspirations in other fields come from musicians like Morrissey, Paul Simon, Phil Ochs and Neil Young to name a few. They do not inspire my art work necessarily but some of their themes do unlock inhibited feelings in me to sometimes pursue in my work, especially some of Morrissey’s early work.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a series of portraits which will be displayed in May at the Crypt Gallery (opposite the National Portrait gallery, London) which are a first of a series of works where I am cross-pollinating my hyper-realism style and expressionistic art marks within one work.  I want to both display the realistic and intuitive sides of the mind within the fluctuation of the minds concentration in one image.

Also on the side I am working on a few pieces which will be portraits of respected people of certain areas of life, but never made it to be famous in their lifetime (and should have been). The idea is to produce a series of portraits which the everyday person will not know who they are, but they are extremely powerful figures in their field. Abstract forms will be combined with the pieces to show distortion and detachment from popularity in their time. The works will also will display very sombre and earthy tones which will be throughout the series of paintings.

When cooking cranberries they make a subtle popping noise as the skin splits.  I love that sound.  I would make cranberry jam for three days straight if I could just to hear that noise.  What is your favorite sound?  Or just a sound that you heard recently and really liked?

I love the sound of bagpipes, the sound of the Scottish highlands. Wouldn’t say it’s my favourite sound, but I quite like it.

art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom


art blog - Andrew Newton - Empty Kingdom