While at times someone’s passion develops over time, in other cases it’s something that simply lies within from the very beginning. For Arlene Newman art is something she defines as being something that is definitely in her; a God-given gift.
BEHIND THE WINNER
With over 35 years of experience as an artist, Newman recalls that as a child her mother saw a sense of creativity in her and acted accordingly.
“Well, we lived in Brielle growing up and my mother, I guess she observed that I was creative, very creative and so she hooked me up with an art teacher from Sea Girt, Marge Reid, and I went once a week to a painting class,” said Newman. “She had either two or three students at a time and I painted with her all throughout grammar school.”
Reflecting back to childhood art also pops up in the form of one of the only Christmas presents Newman has memories of. “When I was a little girl I got an easel and an art box; it’s the one Christmas present I can remember besides dolls, she expressed.
“I did love my dolls. But it’s the one Christmas present I could really remember and it was an art box filled with paints and brushes, an easel and art lessons from that woman Marge Reid in Sea Girt.
“So that was the beginning of it and I kept that art box for many, many years and it finally fell apart so I had to let it go. But it’s in the family because he’s [her uncle from Denmark] in the Danish museums. So it goes way back on my mom’s side of the family, the artists in the family. I’m just carrying it on. It’s in the genes somehow.”
According to Newman, when she was in high school and after high school she started finding other teachers and began creating her own art. She was also babysitting and people began coming around and admiring her art and asking her to teach them.
Newman’s response was, ‘Okay, why don’t we have a class?’ She explained that she had a hard time finding teachers and had to go to Keyport to find one. As a young wife and mother finding it difficult to go to Keyport, she decided to be the teacher herself.
“So I started teaching decorative painting and we would paint on wood pieces, boxes, stools, plagues, whatever, she shared. And then my early art I was learning fine art so it was a little different twist and so now I’ve stopped painting on all the wooden decorative pieces, furniture …
“I went more to canvas watercolors, acrylics and oils. I do some pastels. I kind of bounce around. I get bored with the same thing so I bounce around a lot.”
Newman shared that her early training was fine art and then she swung into the decorative art field and taught that for about 25 to 30 years. Now in order to keep those students interested she is swinging them into more of the fine art.
For Newman herself she enjoys different aspects when it comes to art, but mostly works in oils, acrylics and watercolors and she notes those to be her favorites.
“I do like painting buildings, she explained. I’ve done The Parker House. I’ve done The River House. I did Leggett’s. I did The Circus. My kids all worked at The Circus so that was kind of special.”
BEHIND HER WINNING ARTWORK
Prior to Wall Township’s iconic Circus Drive In being torn down, Newman went and took photos of the building in its entirety so she would be able to paint it.
An acrylic rendition on canvas, Newman describers her submission as being in remembrance of the fun days at the Circus, the days of eating at the only Drive In in the state that have come to an end.
“It was just so special,” she recalls of the establishment. Family history was one of the many things that made the establishment near and dear to Newman’s heart.
According to Newman, her husband’s cousins were on skates delivering food at The Circus when it first opened and her father had a business right across the street called the American Electric Company.
Fast forward years and years and Newman’s own children were working at The Circus. “So there’s history for the Newman family and my son cooked for them for several years and my daughter was waitressing, she shared. So it was just a place we’d always go and see the kids.”
With her father’s business being different and The Circus going down, Newman knew she had to paint it.
“So it was kind of a thing I’m saying ‘oh it’s going down, his building’s different and this one’s going so I wanted to preserve it a little,’”she said.
And she did just that when she put her brush to the canvas making a painting that was as vibrant and lively as the establishment itself.
“I enjoy and I love the festive colors that it was so I said that’s going to be a happy painting,” she added.
TEACHING ART AROUND THE COUNTRY
Newman notes that she’s been teaching forever and her husband built her a studio equipped with a radiant heat floor, bathroom, office and big workroom. According to Newman, in the workroom they hung a camera over and then on a big screen her students can watch her paint and watch her hand.
That watch and do method of teaching is kind of what the old masters taught explained Newman and that’s what she has done forever as she likes to do a demonstration. Newman’s favorite part about being an artist is a mix of the uncertainty, teaching and the reaction.
“Well I come up with all kinds of ideas and I never know what the outcome will be until it’s finished, she said. It’s kind of like the icing on the cake and I love seeing people’s reactions.”
Despite the fact that Newman has been teaching for ages, for her it is something that never gets old.
“Just being able to show someone who has no clue how to paint a tree for instance and being able to show them the step by step method and the construction and the anatomy of a tree and being able to share that with people, she explained. And them being able to accomplish it and them getting very excited about their painting.
“That’s a fun thing about the teaching. It never gets old. You always get somebody who’s [like I] can’t do it or I’m having trouble and you say what about a little this or that and away they go.”
Teaching from her own studio is just one of the many places Newman has taught and shared her passion.
“Well I actually teach nationally, she explained. So I’ve gone all around the country to teach for shops and chapters and I also have taught in Canada and there’s conventions that I go to around the country and you’ll spend a week painting and it’s just all artists and all teachers that have done that.”
Newman has even had her artwork featured inside a Japanese magazine and on the magazine’s cover.
“I’ve done a lot of teaching, but I do enjoy it and the travel teaching is fun because you get to meet so many nice people and artists are a nice group of people, she said. They’re not cranky. Everybody is relaxed and having a good time.”
Newman’s work has even taken her to the White House. One of the organizations I belonged to years ago, they contracted with the White House to do the Christmas Tree for the White House so I painted an ornament and I was in it for the free book, she explained.
“After, they published all the different pictures of the artwork of the people who entered I just wanted to have my name in a book and I had no idea they put it on the cover so that was a very exciting time.
“And I went to the White House, we got to meet Laura Bush and she did a little buffet for us. Ah it was amazing. It was absolutely gorgeous.”
According to Newman, she also entered the National Easter Egg Roll in which they do a painted, hand blown egg for each state. She decided to do a beach scene on the egg for New Jersey and it was accepted so she got the invitation to go to the White House once more.
When it comes down to what art means to her, for Newman it is simple. “Well to be able to see something that I like and to be able to improve on it or make it more artistic,she answered. You can take an old, drab tree and be able to make something enjoyable out of it.”
Joel Gahr uses pen and ink to create illustrations like this submission of The Saint James fishing boat in Point Pleasant with the coast guard station in the distance. A local artist and retired art teacher from Point Pleasant Gahr specializes in pen and ink illustrations of the Jersey Shore.
“Bird among Spring Flowers,” by Margo J. Fletcher was created with watercolor pen and ink. A retired floral designer Fletcher describes herself as an artist who has no set style, but with blank paper she must create.
“Pulling Into First,” by Robert J. Stetz is a watercolor of a young man in a sailing race. As an artist Stetz considers himself to be a fine art painter in watercolor and oils in a realistic style. By not dwelling on one specific subject he attempts to recreate a scene or composition that captures his attention by bringing his interpretive vision into the detail, color and technique to enhance the viewers experience.
“Ocean Ave., Sea Girt,” is an oil painting that John Troisi created from a photo he had taken while on the beach. Troisi is pretty much self taught as an artist and is always trying new techniques. According to Troisi, he moved to the area three years ago and is constantly painting something due to the enormous inspiration he finds from the ocean.