Alison Newth - Artist Interview

December 2020

 

 'I am quite the daydreamer and I am always longing

to be somewhere beautiful and peaceful. 

It is that wishing and dreaming that fuels my desire to paint.' ~ Alison Newth

 

Alison NewthQ. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born, your family.

I was born in Prince Rupert, BC, and lived there by the ocean until the age of 10.  My parents, two sisters, and one brother then moved to Fort St. John in the late 80s, as my Dad (a surveyor) was transferred for work.  In addition to my siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, I also have three wonderful children of my own--and the entire family lives in the FSJ area.

Q. Can you remember the first time you realized you liked creating art and wanted to become an artist? Was there a particular person who was instrumental in aiding your decision or helping you to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel they helped?

I have loved art for as long as I can remember and was often doodling or drawing in my sketchbook.  My mom was always very creative with her garden, sewing, and crafting, and I suspect it was seeing her in her craft room or hearing the sewing machine whirling late at night that planted seeds in my mind that girls/mothers could make time to create.  As an adult, my kids made me feel like I was the best artist in the world, and it was their positive feedback that encouraged me to keep at it.  The turning point though, when I realized that I could possibly become an artist was when I joined Flying Colours--and it was those amazing people I met there that led to everything else.  

 

 

Q. What motivates you to create art?

Well, I am quite the daydreamer and I am always longing to be somewhere beautiful and peaceful.  It is that wishing and dreaming that fuels my desire to paint.  If I cannot be in a certain location, then I want to bring that location to me.  Hence my interest in painting local landscapes and scenes--I tend to paint places that I have been that I wish to return to.

Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?

I have been painting with acrylics for many years now but recently, I was introduced to water soluble oils and now I cannot get enough of them.  I still start each painting with acrylics for the underpainting, but then I complete the rest of the painting with oils.  The acrylics are wonderful as they are easy to use and dry quickly.  The oils allow extra time for blending and add beautiful texture to a painting.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?

“The Mighty Peace”

A few summers ago, Diana Hofmann and I took a drive along the Hudson’s Hope highway to collect reference photos.  We are all too aware that the river valley will be a casualty of the Site C dam and we wanted to preserve memories of places that will not be with us for too much longer. This painting was based on one of those photos.  This painting was completed using acrylics and was one of the first I did using the glazing techniques I learned from master painter, David Langevin.  This is the largest painting I have completed to date and it sold on the opening night of a joint show between Diana and myself, in 2018. 

“Moberly Lake”

This was a commissioned painting that I did in 2018 for a friend who lives in Dawson Creek. In 2020, Bonnie Dunlop, an author who had just written a historical novel set in the Peace River, saw the image of this painting on my website and wanted to use it as her cover art.  Of course, this was absolutely delightful and I am proud to have a copy of this book on my shelf.

“Muncho Lake”

My family and I have made two trips up to Liard in the last few years.  This painting was based on a photograph from our most recent trip and was taken on our final night at our campsite on Muncho Lake.  After sketching the image with pencil, I did an acrylic underpainting and then finished it with oils.  Blending the colours in the sky and reflection in the lake was made much easier with oil paints.  This painting brought me joy from beginning to end.

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The Mighty Peace

Moberly Lake

Moberly Lake

raft baby

Moberly Lake on Cover of 'Raft Baby'

 

muncho lake


Muncho Lake

Q. When you create art are you thinking of anything in particular? What sorts of emotions if any, arise during the creation process? Do you listen to music and if so, what is your favorite?

Almost always, I listen to podcasts when I am painting.  My current favourite is Office Ladies.  Even though I love the podcast, I often have to replay it multiple times to get the full episode because I tend to zone out when I am painting and large chunks of time seem to disappear.  Painting requires so much focus and problem-solving that my brain forgets where I am.  I go through a whole range of emotions during the painting process, from excitement and joy, to panic and frustration.  There are those rare gems of paintings that bring me joy the entire way through (like Muncho Lake did).

Q. Just about everyone is guilty of procrastination at times. Do you have any tips to find time for your art? 

For me, I am more likely to find time for my art if it is out and ready to go.  Now that I have a dedicated studio space upstairs, all of my stuff is easily accessible.  Even if I am busy, I can still squeeze in a few minutes here and there because it is right in front of me.  If I sense I am procrastinating, I will spend some time in my studio tidying up, and that often leads to actually painting.

Q. Is creating art your main profession? 

No, I have been a teacher for about 13 years and am currently working part-time as a Teacher-Librarian at an elementary school in Fort St. John.  I am also a part-time student, and am currently working on completing my Teacher-Librarian certification through Queens University.

Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?Alison Muncho

Some impactful events include: 

  • the joint exhibit in 2018 with Diana Hoffman
  • my solo exhibit in Grande Prairie at the Queen Elizabeth II hospital in 2019
  • having my painting on the cover of Raft Baby in 2020
  • winning one of four spots in FSJ’s Centennial Park Festival Plaza public art competition in 2020

Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career? 

I am relatively ‘new’ to the art world and only starting showing my work and participating in exhibits a few years ago, so I feel like I am at the beginning still and have a long way to go.  A goal that I just recently started working towards is to spend more time alone in nature to paint.  I did my first solo camping trip last summer for this purpose and it was very memorable.  Another goal that I have for myself is to participate in an artist residency program--there is one near Prince Rupert that I have my eye on.  Last, but certainly not least, I am looking forward to life getting back to normal after covid so I can take some more painting workshops in the Peace region and beyond.  Every time I attend a workshop, I learn something new that I can apply to my future paintings.

Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be? 

Most definitely, my kids and my partner encourage me to continue pursuing my dream of being an artist.  However, watching and learning from the other Flying Colours artists has been an absolute gift--they are the most welcoming and energizing group of people an emerging artist could ever hope to meet.  Every time I am around them, I feel inspired to learn and create.  I am also inspired by a few other amazing artists: Randy Hayashi, Mike Svob, Julie Burke, Kevin Lowery, Iris Scott, and Erin Hanson.

Website- www.artbyalisonnewth.com      Email- Artbyalisonnewth@shaw.ca    Facebook - @ArtByAlisonNewth - Instagram - alisonnewthartist

 

Thank you Alison for sharing your art journey with us!