The term “Psychologically profound”, is just scratching the surface of the depth and hypnotic beauty that Cleveland artist Jessica Newell masterfully creates in her most abstract pieces. After learning of Newell’s resume including her experience as a professor of psychology, I might begin to imagine why. But Jessica Newell’s artwork is more than stunning skylines and whimsical abstracts, she masterfully weaves palpable emotion into each and every brushstroke. In paintings like “Melancholia” we were transported to a desert oasis, almost feeling the scorching sun on our forehead, and the contrasting cool breeze off the water on our face. Other pieces made us well up with joy, and conversely some make you ponder a natural environment perhaps never disturbed by our hectic modern society. Jessica Newell’s striking use of color is rivaled only by her poetic blend of earthtones and neutrals. Jessica sat down with Articentric and discussed her passions, her influences, and her creative ingenuity. We would now like to introduce you to this extraordinary artist, so without further adieu…Ladies and Gentlemen,
Meet Jessica Newell…
ARTICENTRIC: Thank you for taking the time to meet with us Jessica. If you would, talk a little bit about how you came to realize your talent, and how you decided to make it your profession.
JESSICA NEWELL: I’ve always loved being artful and entrepreneurial. I think I inherited these qualities from my mother. She was always working on little craft projects and selling them to the neighbors. I would often help her and I would get so excited while working with her. Despite that experience, I never considered becoming an artist. I think I inherited to much pragmatism from my dad who encouraged me towards more lucrative professions. Even when working in those professions though, I would always have creative side businesses. For example, there was a brief time in the mid-90s when it was popular to paint on blue jeans. I started a business and made quite a bit of money selling painted jeans. Later on I got back to fine art. I would paint for fun but increasingly I would find people wanting to buy. I thought to myself, “Could I really make this into a career”. Thankfully the answer has been “yes” and I’ve never been happier in a job!
ARTICENTRIC: To you, what is the most exciting thing about painting? and… Why is art so important?
NEWELL: It sounds cliche but I love the beauty in the world. In addition to painting I am a serious amateur photographer. I love capturing the moments that mean something to me, in either medium. I love the discovery that happens when I work on a painting. After I’ve painted an urban scene or a landscape I never look at that place the same way again. There is a new kind of intimacy developed with it.
I think that capturing moments and feeling through art has never been more important than it is today. The digital age has allowed us to do so much but it also encourages us to move quickly. Art slows us down. It makes us reflect. It conjures up the emotions and the intimacy of a moment. We need more of that in our lives.
ARTICENTRIC: Tell us a bit about your process? How do you visualize a piece? Is it all about putting paint to canvas and letting it develop? Do you have an idea of the finished product in your mind before you start?
NEWELL: As I’ve said, I’m inspired by beautiful moments and places. I often find these places in my travels. Sometimes I’m inspired by photographs. This inspiration gives me a good idea of where a piece is headed before it begins but they always evolve along the way. I am often surprised by the end result.
ARTICENTRIC: You have quite a diverse portfolio. What is/was your all-time favorite piece and why?(if that’s even a fair question) Ours is one of your most recent, “The Drive Home”, it’s a very emotionally stirring piece.
NEWELL: Thank you. That piece was inspired by a very meaningful trip I took to the Colorado Rockies. I was in such a reflective mood on our drive out of the Rockies as we came upon this stunning mountain lake. I tried to reflect my mood in the scene. It is so much fun to work on a large scale. Another favorite is the ceiling mural I did at the United Building in Ohio City. It allowed me to really explore Cleveland’s history and render it in an impressionist style that in some ways is inconsistent with how we’ve always viewed it. It was fun working on the piece every day and getting to experience the viewers reaction as I went. The reactions were all so different, just as I’d hoped. People were bringing themselves to the work. It is such a unique experience as an artist to be able to watch the audiences reaction. I think that is why it is one of my favorites.
ARTICENTRIC: You’re from Cleveland, correct? What is the biggest impact your city/state/surroundings have had on your artwork, choice of subject, etc. You have a tremendous amount of natural and manmade landscapes, blending natural and architectural elements….talk a bit about your creative influences.
NEWELL: I grew up on a lake and have always been taken with nature. My dad would often take me to his downtown office and I would get so excited to be in the city. I think this is why Cleveland is so special, it is such a great city with a storied history. One can feel and touch that history. It is also set in a beautiful natural environment that we can easily access and use. All of these things are ripe for an artists interpretation. Cleveland also has a great artist community. There is very little competition between artists, on the contrary everyone I’ve met has been so supportive. I’ve learned so much from my peers. They make this a special place to be.
ARTICENTRIC: Is there one legendary artist living or dead, that you’d love to spend a day with and learn from? If so, who and why?
NEWELL: Wow, there are so many! I guess if I had to pick just one I would say Monet. He had such an incredible vision of his world. I would love to see the world through his eyes, even if for only one day.
ARTICENTRIC: You have been granted the opportunity to go back in time and give your “beginner artist self” just one piece of advice. What is it? (The good ol’ “If I knew then what I know now” scenario)
NEWELL: It is possible. You can make a career doing what you love. You will have to work incredibly hard but the good news is that it won’t feel like work because you will love very minute.
ARTICENTRIC: What is the best way to follow along with your career and find out where you will be exhibiting next (Website, Facebook, etc.)
NEWELL: I am very active on social media. Instagram and Facebook are probably the best but I do use Twitter too!
If you find yourself in the Greater Cleveland Ohio area, you must include Jessica’s gallery on your list of immediate things to do. For now, visit her website, and follow up with her on social media. Cheers to Creativity!!