English artist and illustrator Natasha Newton creates beautiful pieces that evoke awe and wonder. I am especially enamored of her painted stones, which are also available for purchase in her Etsy shop. I recently hand the opportunity to ask her a few questions about about herself, who and what inspires her work, and what she enjoys about nature. Natasha’s passion for nature and art really shines through her work and I’m delighted by the tiny details and patterns present in her work. Read on to discover more about the lovely and wonderfully talented Natasha.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Suffolk (a beautiful county on the east coast of England) and I still live here, but since July 2010 I’ve been spending several months of the year in Paris, with my boyfriend Leon, who — just to confuse matters! — isn’t French but American (he grew up in the Hollywood Hills) and is a composer of concert and film music, among other things. I enjoy some of the experiences Paris has to offer, but my heart is here in England, and I’m so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country surrounded by nature, which of course inspires my work.
I’ve always had an interest in art, and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating things. As I grew, it became obvious that a career in art was for me and nothing else would do! For a while I worked on my art on a part-time basis while I earned money elsewhere, gradually entering more exhibitions and approaching galleries. Over the years I became busier, my work was selling well, and more opportunities came my way. In 2007 I was able to give up my other job and become a full-time artist and illustrator. I’ve somehow made it sound easy, but it really wasn’t! It took a lot of hard work, long hours, and self-belief. I encountered plenty of setbacks and rejection, but the good outweighed the bad and something inside told me to just keep going, even when it seemed like an impossible dream. So I did, and here I am!
How would you describe your artistic style?
I always find this a hard question to answer! I would say that my work has elements of folk art, and I’ve also been told that certain pieces have a very Japanese or Scandinavian feel. In some ways it’s very clean and minimal, but I like to include areas of pattern and intense detail too. My art is always evolving — I like to experiment with new colours, compositions, and subjects — but it has been said that it always retains a style that is recognisably mine, which I guess is a good thing!
Who are some people that have inspired you to become an artist?
There are honestly too many to name — I love the work of so many different artists — but I was lucky to grow up in a creative house, where we were encouraged to draw, paint, make things with our hands … to generally just be creative. My parents aren’t artists, but there was certainly no shortage of pens, pencils and paints around when I was young! I also find anyone with a good work ethic and a ‘make it happen’ kind of attitude very inspiring. The way you approach life has a huge bearing on how well you live it and what you’ll be able to achieve.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
I love acrylic paints because they’re perfect for the way I work on canvas and wood – they dry very quickly so they’re great for layering – and I’ve recently been rediscovering my love of gouache and watercolour for my work on paper, combining them with acrylic inks which are brilliant for fine details and patterns.
From what you’ve created so far, what are you most proud of?
This is probably not the answer you were expecting, but it’s not a particular piece of work — it’s actually my shop! I started The Blackbird Sings shop on Etsy back in the autumn of 2008, and I’ve watched it grow from nothing to the point where it has more than 5,000 ‘admirers’ (people who have added the shop to their favourites) and more than 360 sales. Over the past year my work has been featured on the front page of Etsy many times, and occasionally on their blog and in their daily newsletter too. It gives me such an enormous sense of satisfaction to see how far the shop has come since the early days, because it took quite a while and a lot of effort! I still get excited every time I sell a piece of my work on Etsy, and I’ve met some amazing people and had some great opportunities from selling on there. One of the most rewarding things is having direct contact with my buyers and collectors, many of whom have become friends. I love it!
Share one of your most-prized nature possessions.
Some of my painted stones were featured in the March 2012 issue of Homes and Gardens magazine, and I felt so proud when I saw the article for the first time! The stylist and photographer presented them beautifully. I will always treasure my copy of the magazine.
What are some things you enjoy about nature?
I love taking a few minutes in the middle of the day to just go out and walk along the county lanes and fields near my home in Suffolk, to hear the birds singing, and enjoy the various scents in the air. I always find it inspiring and often come back with new ideas for my work — sometimes it can be something as simple as a particular colour combination, or maybe a pattern, or the texture of the fields. I know for a fact that being around nature always makes me feel better — even when I’m living in the city, I seek out the green parts!