Tell us a bit about how you first started drawing.
One morning in 2001, my dad was working in the yard while simultaneously keeping an eye on my twin brother and I while we played in the backyard with each other. It doesn't take much to distract two-year-old twin boys. After a while, my dad realized he couldn't hear the nonsense chatter of his kids. He quickly paused his gardening duties and rushed inside to find us. He followed dozens of Sharpie scribbles through the kitchen and up the stairs, to find us happily drawing away on the walls with permanent marker. As they say, they rest is history. Drawing became an essential part of who I was. From kindergarten to my Senior year of high school, I was known as "the kid who draws".
Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?
I've always been pretty constant in my desires to create art. In 2014, my brother and I made an account on Instagram to share our art with friends and family. That really motivated me to continue drawing because I loved seeing others' reactions to my art. In late 2017, I took a two-year break from my normal life to serve as a full-time missionary in the jungles of Peru for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I did a few watercolor pieces during that time but I was mostly focused on service projects and showing others how they can improve their lives through love, patience, and faith in Christ. Once I returned from Peru, I picked up just where I left off. I created a new account on Instagram (@nathan.newell.art) specifically for my art. I upload progress videos of my artwork as well as final products.
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Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Nathan's interview.
What mediums and genres have you experimented with?
I have always been fascinated by the simplicity and detail of hyperrealistic still-lifes. Rather than the classic arrangement of vases, fruit, and flowers, I enjoy painting colorful objects such as soda cans, gummy bears, and gift bows. I almost look at it as a branch of pop art because of the intense color against a white background, and the modern subject matter. Something that really catches my eye is shiny objects. If the reference or photograph itself glows with light, then once I recreate it as a drawing, my artwork will also radiate light. I enjoy working with colored pencils and oil paint to accomplish that.
Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?
Something that really catches my attention are large pieces of artwork. In the future I want to experiment with larger canvas sizes. Maybe a mural. Obviously it would take longer, but it allows for more detail to be included in the piece. Because we are all experiencing a pause in life, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, I think it's the perfect time to dedicate more to my artwork and develop my potential as an artist.
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Who or what inspires you most?
One of my favorite artists and inspirations is Cj Hendry. She draws similar colorful objects such as paint samples and flower petals. She also uses her artwork to benefit others, like the time she drew a massive pair of Nike sneakers, sold it for thousands of dollars, and used it to buy shoes for children in NYC. I may not have the ability right now to help with world poverty, however, I hope that my artwork can make people smile. We can accomplish seemingly impossible ideas if we move one step at a time. It's in the little things.
What does procrastination look like for you?
Sometimes when I've been working on a drawing for a long time, my eyes get so tired of looking at the same thing. I start to criticize my artwork and look for flaws. When that happens I end up taking a break. Usually when I come back, I'm amazed at all the progress I've made, and that motivates me to keep going. It's often hard to see how far we've come until we look back and see the progress.
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What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?
When I find myself busy with school, or work, I try to find time for art. This usually means working on smaller projects that aren't so time consuming. What's important to me is that I always make time to practice, so that I can continue to magnify my potential and talent.
How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?
Because I mostly draw or paint still-life, I often take pictures with my phone whenever I come across something I know could turn into a glorious piece of art some day. Just this morning, I was painting the wall with my sister in her bedroom. As I dipped the paint brush in the can and watched as the paint seemed to melt off the bristles, I snapped a few shots for future artwork. I usually try to take my own reference photos so that I don't have to deal with copyright.
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How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?
I keep a list on my phone of new ideas that I come up with. I always get excited about what I'm going to draw next. This keeps me motivated to finish my current project so that I can get going on the next one. It's kind of a cycle that just repeats itself.
What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?
Currently I am learning how to reach more people with my art and start up an actual business to sell it. I just created my website where I can sell prints. I'm trying to work out all the kinks and find the best way to make prints and send orders. It's a process, but I'm hoping to talk to other artists in my city and get suggestions for what works best in my area.
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What makes you happiest about your art?
As I mentioned earlier, I find joy in the whole process of a project. I love seeing how photographing the subject, editing it on photoshop, sketching it out on the canvas, and shading all come together to create a work of art. There's a lot more to art than just drawing or painting. I think of it as a road trip sometimes. It's so important to enjoy the ride and not just the destination. Great things can be accomplished with hard work, dedication, and diligence.
© 2020 Sophie Marine