“Many of my paintings begin with active black line. I’m stimulated by the extreme contrast between the black line and the white surface, letting it suggest shape and motion to me. Adding colors and defining shapes helps bring structure to the piece. I want references to the multitude of changes, decisions and traces of the process to show through the work, enhancing its underlying mysterious quality.” ~ Gloria Newton

The Glorious Face of Self Expression

By Susie Coleman

Nashville – a town that can easily claim as many artists as songwriters – is host to a significant field of creative genius. Sure to be counted among the best and brightest is Gloria Newton, painter and mixed media artist. While Gloria defines her style as abstract expressionism, her taste is mature and purposefully delivered. Her vision is contemporary and open, pulling a viewer deep into wonder.

Gloria’s college years focused on studies other than art. She married her college sweetheart and moved to Nashville a few years later where she established a solid reputation working with professional photographers and custom color labs.

Twenty years ago, she met a neighbor, artist Barbara Wallace, who would become Gloria’s friend and mentor encouraging her to give painting a try. Other teachers followed: Carol Mode, art professor at Belmont University, and Anton Weiss, with whom Gloria studied for four years. Anton showed her how to begin with chaos and organize what you see by shape, contrast, interest and strength.

“Anton has the uncanny ability to help his students take their work to a higher level. He shows you how to see expression in light, color and texture, and turn out a complete painting,” said Gloria, obviously grateful for his years of support and instruction. “He taught me to not drift into specifics too soon, but to allow the subject to remain elusive, adding only an implication of clarity. This seems to engage and hold the viewer’s imagination, inviting each individual to look deeper into the painting to learn more.”

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Photos by Wood Newton

“Each day brings a different mood and set of circumstances, but I let the painting dictate what it wants to become while I’m searching for and incorporating my own convictions and their sources. I love the surprises that come with this process of painting. There is a satisfaction that comes when a viewer is engaged by it, reacts to it positively or negatively, and relates to it within their field of experience.”

“Even now, though,” she said, “The main thing is making a start. From the first mark – which will always dictate a reaction or response –  you begin to form an idea and it just carries you away.”  Not all projects go smoothly, of course, but ideas never seem to stop pouring out of Gloria’s hands. Some paintings wind up getting torn into smaller shapes which she uses to build patches of texture on other pieces. “The hardest part is knowing when a painting is finished, knowing when enough is enough,” Gloria says with a laugh.

Gloria lives in Pegram with her husband, successful songwriter Wood Newton (an accomplished wood and stone sculptor himself). Their home and yard feature a humble but unforgettable collection of interesting homecrafted art. Gentle, kind and friendly, over the years both Newtons have learned how to let the creativity flow.

Acrylic and watercolor are the two media Gloria works with most often, and she makes them both come alive. Personally, I think her artwork is… well… absolutely Glori-ous!

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