Emerging Artists | Pamela C. Newell

Live in concert

Pamela C. Newell, April Rains, pastel, 10 x 20.

Pamela C. Newell, April Rains, pastel, 10 x 20.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

If you ask Pamela C. Newell what she loves to paint most, chances are the artist and master gardener will name flowers first, but she describes some of her favorite plein-air subjects with equal enthusiasm, from tiny farmhouses with peaked roofs to snow-laden landscapes, rivers, and prickly pears. As she puts it with a chuckle, “I’m either crawling around in the dirt outside, or I’m plein-air painting or working in the studio from cut flowers.”

Newell earned her bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and although she has been painting nearly all her life, she didn’t pursue fine art full time until 2007. Since then, her work has appeared in national juried exhibitions with such prominent groups as the American Impressionist Society, Oil Painters of America, and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society. The artist primarily works in oils these days, but occasionally she reaches for her pastels, a medium she used exclusively while raising her children. Versatility, for Newell, is an invaluable asset. “The oils make my pastels better, and the pastels make my oils better,” she notes. “Plein-air painting helps make you more intuitive about color choices, and my florals have helped my landscapes because I can see the same patterning outdoors, and I know how to push it.”

Ever mindful of striking a balance between loose and detailed brushwork, the self-described impressionist and “addict for color” rarely works from photographs. The challenge when painting flowers from life, of course, is that the petals gradually wilt and fade, but Newell strives to capture “the gesture” and vibrancy of each blossom in the moments they look their best. “There’s nothing like smelling peonies and oil paint together,” she says. “I always tell my students that the difference between painting from life and from photographs is like the difference between getting front-row seats at your favorite concert versus hearing a recording.”

At her home in Fishers, IN, Newell grows heirloom roses, zinnias, dahlias, and a dozen different varieties of peonies.  Not surprisingly, the artist’s toughest task isn’t painting the blooms so much as choosing which ones to portray next. “You could lose your mind trying to paint it all,” she says. “I’m looking out my window now at my zinnias and wondering when the first frost will be. There’s just not enough time.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Brown County Art Guild, Nashville, IN; Inspire Studio Gallery, Carmel, IN; Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, Park City, UT; Sea Star Studio, Fishers, IN;  The Hoosier Salon, Carmel, IN.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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