Ahead of Affordable Art Fair Hampstead 2019, we sat down with Catherine Newman from ArtDog London, to meet the artist behind our latest campaign. From layers of colour, to art as a source of hope, read on to get an insight into Catherine’s working practice, and discover how our design team brought the artwork to life for this fair.
We can’t wait to have your work at the centre of our Hampstead campaign! Could you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind your drum series?
Before I painted the drums I had been working on a series of furniture portraits. In that series of paintings there were many straight lines. In an attempt to expand my “line vocabulary” I decided that I wanted to explore more rounded, curvy shapes. Hence, the drums. I thought these particular vintage drum kits were just beautiful and they gave me all the needed formal elements to make an interesting statement. The drums provided the opportunity to stretch the conceptual aspect of my work, not only painting a picture of a drum kit, but the idea of what a drum is and its implicit and universal association with a human making a sound.
Who or what would you say has had the biggest effect on your work?
My mother. She has definitely had the biggest effect on my life as an artist. She was a painter and a sculptor and I grew up immersed in an environment of visual creativity. My family would regularly travel to museums and galleries, which as a small child I loved. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor of her messy studio and looking at her art books. Picasso was my favourite and I would always ask for him. I think about her example of the way she made art look like fun, and as I got older I realized that’s what art is, freedom. That’s a great gift and I consider myself very lucky indeed to have had exposure to the life of an artist from the beginning.
We think your subtle palette is really powerful, could you tell us more about your use of colour?
If you look closely at the surface of my paintings, you can see that there are layers and layers of paint. After I initially prepare the surface of the canvas or wood panel, usually with a Venetian red, I begin the drawing process. When that is complete I begin to fill in the tones of colour. The layering is done with brushes, palette knives, rubbing with cloths, and almost always wet into dry paint. The subtlety of the palette is achieved as the different layers of under painting begin to read through the surface. It creates a depth all its own and defines the surface in unique ways. And to me, it’s just exciting to see a green read through into a red or a dark blue pushing through a pale yellow. It’s all about light.
Much of your work has a strong sense of interior space. How do you think art itself can affect this part of people’s homes?
Well, it’s wonderful to live with things you love. And by that I mean those items that make you think, make you happy, recall a memory, cause you to slow down and appreciate where you were and who you were with when you invited a specific object into your home to share your space. It’s also interesting how our relationship to collected art can change and evolve over the years. If you’re lucky you are discovering new things about it over time. As for my paintings, the sense of interior space is really important to me. The interior is not only the inside, but also the internal. I think my paintings reflect the balance of those notions in a relatable way.
The theme for our 2019 Hampstead fair is wellbeing. What impact do you believe art can have on personal wellbeing?
Art gives me hope. I consider myself a very lucky person to be able to express myself in a visual language. I realized a long time ago, I don’t paint my paintings – they paint me. The gift of losing myself in the work, fully attentive, working with elements of light and tone, getting a line just right, making hundreds of decisions about colour and form… all of this is pure joy. Even when it’s a struggle, and it often is, how wonderful it is to have the problem of mixing just the right blue. As I said, pure joy. With luck, the finished product reflects that joy and enhances the viewer’s sense of wellbeing too, and hopefully changes one’s view of the world. Art can give us all hope.
BEHIND THE HAMPSTEAD CAMPAIGN
Lead Global Designer, Emma Dakeyne, gives us behind the scenes insight into how she brought Catherine’s work to life for our Hampstead fair:
“In these crazy times we live in, it can feel like we’re bombarded with information – endless emails, rolling news reports and social media notifications all compete for our attention. It seems that we need to develop a wider skill set than ever before just to survive. We learn to spin plates, becoming a ‘one-man band’ in order to deal with the demands of modern life.
Thankfully, there’s joy to be found in becoming a one-man band. We create our own individual soundtrack by marching to the beat of our own drum. Inspired by Catherine Newman’s ‘Moments of Unlooked for Happiness No.2’, we brought this idea to life in our 2019 Hampstead campaign – the artwork’s single, deeply considered image providing a sense of calm in the everyday chaos.”
You can find Catherine's work with ArtDog London at our Hampstead fair, 9 – 12 May. Grab your tickets now »
Catherine Newman, Moments of Unlooked for Happiness No.2, oil on canvas, original, 56 x 71cm, £1,650, ArtDog London
Campaign mood board by Global Lead Designer, Emma Dakeyne
Catherine Newman, Chippendale Side Chair, oil on canvas, original, 61 x 45cm, £1,450, ArtDog London
Campaign photography by John Wright, Motel Studios