Hyper-realist/Abstract Expressionist – Interview with Painter Andrew Newton

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Please Give Us A Few Words Of Introduction About Yourself

My name is Andrew Newton and I’m a hyper-realist/abstract expressionist painter from Fleet, Hampshire, UK.

I have been painting for the best part of 12 years on a professional level exhibiting around the country and abroad.

When Did You Decide To Pursue Art As A Career?

I wanted to be an artist since I was the age of around 14 and I started drawing and painting a lot outside of school. I then decided that studying art at college and university was the thing to do. I have always been creative, though, ever since I can remember—copying and drawing observational since I was a young boy.

What Training Did You Have?

I studied at A level and received a national certificate in art & design before I went straight onto a three-year degree where I received a first class (hons) in fine art. When I was on my degree, I studied mainly photo-realism, which in many ways shaped my practice to what it is today. I am a self-taught artist though; I never learned directly under any art tutor which I feel to a certain degree is very important for artists.

What Has Been The High Point Of Your Career So Far?

I think high points are very personal to the specific artist; I have had many high points in getting my first exhibition abroad to finding my first art collector. However, probably winning the 1st Prize Royal Institute of Oil Painters Award at the Mall Galleries in 2008—that award meant a lot to me and still does.

General Questions

Who Is Your Favourite Artist?

Francis Bacon.

What Are Your Artistic Goals?

To become a renowned artist globally, to be published and to have my own gallery. I have been told that some of my work is talked about and lectured in certain colleges/universities, which I am very proud of. I think always being inspired and having the ability to inspire younger generations is a huge goal in itself.

Ultimately to be able to create an instantly recognisable art mark which signifies my practice in every way.

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How Will You Get There?

I think it’s important to remain prolific, exhibit and expose your work to the public as much as possible. Talking artistically I think it’s crucial to explore all facets of your interest in your practice and to expand your art-making repertoire. If you keep too much in your comfort zone eventually the ideas and creative juices will run out. It’s good to be open-minded about different styles which contrast to your own.

You and Art

What Feelings Or Reactions Do You Hope To Arouse In People Who View Your
Work? Are You Ever Surprised By Reactions That You Get?

A lot of the time I evoke quite an intense reaction from my hyper-realistic portraits. As they are quite gritty and unflattering to the subject, the audience find it sometimes hard to comprehend that amount of detail. With my newer work I think there is a mixed reaction now as it compiles abstract with realism, which maybe is a little confusing as not many artists depict such a juxtaposition of contrasting styles in their paintings.

I like the intensity people feel in my work, and I like the unsettling awkward confusion I set in with my viewers as I want to evoke a thought process with my audience rather than a clean perfect painting. Overall I want people to have different perspectives on my works aesthetic—I don’t think art should be explained, it should be felt.

From Start To Finish, How Long Does It Take For You To Create Your Work?

Depends on the artwork, as with certain styles, it can be quite time consuming. My hyper-realistic works would take me from 3-5 weeks to complete give or take the scale. With my newer work it is much less, however, recently my practice has become a lot more prolific and I usually have at minimal 6 paintings on the go at one time, so it’s very hard to determine how long my newer stuff takes. I like to complete a few paintings a month at least.

What Music Do You Like To Listen To When You Work?

I listen to all sorts from film soundtracks to rock music. Mostly, though, I listen to folk music as it’s quite soothing on the ear and it’s my favourite type of music in general.

What Are You Working On Next? Any Future Plans Or Projects In The Pipeline
That We Should Look Out For?

At the moment I’m creating a series of works which relate to philosophical ideas of the Übermensch derived from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The work looks at the nature of morals in a godless world. I myself am not atheist but agnostic, however I think in this day and age, where people are more concerned about their own social status rather than the seeking of moral goodness and truth, my work tries to raise questions about moral boundaries, our connection with animals for basic needs and hierarchy, and what man’s ultimate gratification is in existence. For my inspirations I look at political figures, wild animals and procreation.

This is part of a long process eventually creating a strong body of work, this will result in me exhibiting my work together as a series.

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Being Inspired By Art

Who (Living Or Dead) Inspires You? And Why?

I get inspired mostly by a lot film directors, storytellers, philosophers, psychology and combat imagery. Just to name a few artisans/thinkers who have inspired me are: Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, George Orwell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Carl Rogers, Sigmund Freud.

I think it gives your life purpose when you are inspired. Whether it’s a philosophical perspective or well directed storytelling in a film, I find purpose to make art. I don’t believe art can be made without enough inspiration from external sources to internalize within you, then to be again released as authentic art from your intrinsic self.

What Feelings, Subjects Or Concepts Inspire You As An Artist?

Science fiction inspires me with its dynamic imagery, artificial intelligence and possibilities of a future for mankind. I like subjects which use imagination but also relate to the inner visceral feelings of one’s self in connection to that imaginable reality.

I like things which have a grit to them, earthy relatable feelings/stories, as well as things with an abstract nature such as philosophy.

Satire art inspires me as I think it can be one of the most intellectual ways to tackle certain themes you are concerned or passionate about, this can be in the form of music, film or visual art.

What Is Your Favourite Work That You’ve Produced So Far And Why?

I think I have a couple I am proud of specifically. The first being “Phil” which was one of my first hyper-realistic portraits and I think it’s my quintessential piece for the series because it summed up everything about what I was trying to say at the time about mundane life.

Secondly, “Girls in Taxi” being again an image I created which explains a lot about my practice in recent years: social media/fast-paced digitalised world/satire on narcissism and the selfie.

Lastly my recent depictions of combat imagery, my piece “Fight” is a work which captures that inner pain and fear of a fight itself and plays on individual personal issues as much as it does physical combat.

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An Artist’s Advice

For Those Thinking About Turning A Passion For Art Into A Career, Could
You Give Any Advice?

I think it’s good to always see art as a hobby, a passion which continues to develop and grow. It should never be about making money or becoming famous as this could take a lifetime. It’s more about your own individual lifestyle, whether you can take hours out of your life to create art each week, just keep in mind that sales and positive feedback will not always be frequent.

I think it’s important to see as much artwork as possible and interact with other artists/art lovers. Everyone is different of course, but it does help having more like-minded people around you to enable your passion more.

Lastly I think the term “artist” shouldn’t be seen as a career, it’s more of a way of life and a work in progress. There is no overall goal you are trying to achieve other than creating better work to find your inner artistic voice, and this takes a lifetime of experience. If you look at it like a career or job you might start to lose interest which got you into art in the first place.

Any Tips On How To Get Your Work Seen And Get The Commissions Coming In?

Look for open shows with like-minded artists and galleries which exhibit similar style works to your own. Create a contact/mailing list to inform interested collectors to when you will be showing next. It’s important to get your work on lots of social networking websites, this includes online galleries who can sell your work a lot more efficiently that you could alone.

Remain open-minded about sales and art buyers, there will be people who love your work and then people who don’t care for it. Try to stay positive and create artwork for yourself and never for anyone else.

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See more of Andrew’s work at http://www.andrewnewtonart.co.uk/

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