Artistic Influences on Art Works by Anne Newman: Part 1 - The Early Years

This article was written by Anna McClelland in 2004 when we were both members of the local Waverley Art Society. I publish it here with minor editorial changes. Many of you have been asking about my background so I thought the article, being objective, was a good place to start.

Anne with "Lavender Fields the Storm"

Anne was born and grew up in Bendigo, Central Victoria in a family who were artistically inclined: one grandfather trained as a jeweller, the other worked for his father in the family paint and decorating business; her mother was a seamstress and painted later in life and her father did fine furniture restoration.

From an early age she liked to paint and draw, in which pursuit she was actively encouraged by her parents: My father would frequently bring home a bucket of clay from the Bendigo Pottery for us to mould and my mother didn't even object when my brother and I drew on the walls, Anne recounts.

She attended the local high school, where art was a compulsory subject. However, the art teacher was not enthusiastic about Anne's work and offered to burn everything she painted!

Not surprisingly, Anne didn't pursue further studies in art, but trained as an infant teacher and initially took up her teaching career in Victoria. She spent several years teaching in country Victoria, mainly in Malmsbury, followed by Melbourne and then the Northern Territory.

After ten years of school teaching, she accepted a lecturing position at what is now the Australian Catholic University. Here she specialised in training teachers in the field of literacy and special education for children with learning difficulties.

Our English by Anne Newman & Diane Walsh

During these years Anne wrote a couple of theses and co-authored eight children’s educational books for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, the eminent publishers of instructional school material. She also published a diagnostic procedure for children with language difficulties in mathematics which is used internationally.

After 20 years, Anne felt that academia was losing direction and was starting to become a matter of mass production with lecturers being forced to give less and less individual attention to the students.

Anne was there during the hard times, when women had to do battle against the inequality with men in pay and professional opportunity: they were paid less than men with equal qualifications, and were not eligible for senior positions like that of principal. All the years of political infighting had taken their toll. Though still a long way from retirement age, she was tired of it all and decided to resign.

It would have been nice if she no longer had to work and could spend all her time painting! However, bills have to be paid and Anne was mindful of Mr. Micawber's financial advice to David Copperfield.

"David Copperfield Postcard" by Arthur Moreland 1

My other piece of advice, Copperfield, said Mr Micawber, You know: Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

She decided to put her training and experience to good use, and advertised for private pupils who need coaching in English...

[I went on to run an English tutuoring business for the next 20 years and several of my former pupils remain a significant part of my life.] The article by Anna McClelland continues:

Anne Newman: Magpie Garden

Anne did not have formal art training, although she did receive tuition from John Lawry, an artist who is well-known for his trompe l'oeil works where realistic imagery is used to create an optimal illusion of depth. In Anne's painting (left) you feel as if you are looking through a window into a garden.

She sees herself as a genre painter, following the school of the 16th and 17th Century Dutch and Flemish artists who created paintings that dealt with unidealised scenes and subjects of everyday life. Rembrandt, Breughel and Vermeer spring to mind among the pioneers of genre painting.

 Rembrandt and Vermeer

Rembrandt's tender and intimate look at "A Woman (Hendrikje Stoffels) Bathing in a Stream" 2 and "The Concert" - Vermeer's 'tableau vivant' of a middle-class family enjoying a sing-song 3

Genre paintings have been created wherever artists seek to celebrate and record the everyday experiences of the middle class.4 Today, those paintings provide a window into the everyday life of a bygone era.

Mile Davidovic: Naive painting on glass 5

During her travels abroad, Anne discovered Croatian naïve art and found it very appealing.

These Croatian painters belong very much to the genre school specifically as naive artists. Anne counts them among those whose work she admires and she has several paintings and lithographs from this school in her collection.

Anne also considers Breughel an influence and says that she likes to think her work contains a tinge of his style.

 Breughel and Newman

Pieter Breughel:"The Peasant Wedding"; 6 Anne Newman:"Burbank Court Christmas Breakfast"

L.S. Lowry: The Accident7

L.S. Lowry remains Anne's artistic hero, and she has learnt a lot from him about "recreating" people so that they appear to the observer to be living comfortably in the environment that the painter as "storyteller" has created.

A modern type of genre painting is exemplified by artists like L.S.Lowry, who painted scenes from the industrial city of Manchester in the 1920s, the works of American illustrator Norman Rockwell, who gives us a slice of the Beaver Cleaver-like world of American life in the 1940s and '50s, and even Jack Vettriano, whose exotic world of classic romance, high society and vintage hipsters is so intriguing.

 Vettriano and Rockwell

Norman Rockwell:"Sunday Morning, May 16, 1959";8 Jack Vettriano: "Elegy for the Dead Admiral"9

I recently visited the Art Gallery of South Australia, and looking at Breughel's The Tax Collector's Office there, I realised Anne is right, her work does have a Breughel feel about it. In the same gallery I came across some works by Robert Bevan, whose work also reminded me very much of Anne's art.

Robert Bevan Horse Sale, Anne Newman Bendigo Secrets

Robert Bevan:"Horse Sale at the Barbican";10 Anne Newman: "Bendigo Secrets"

Anne believes that art is a living craft and therefore she seeks to make her paintings live: to tell a story and to involve the viewer: In my paintings I endeavour to create a scene that invites the viewer to engage in the composition: often to take part in a journey or be part of a story. The emotional response I aim to evoke is usually one of humour or peace and often I strive to 'entertain' my audience.

Gone Fishing, Barney Glade

Anne Newman:"Gone Fishing";"Barney Glade and his Contentments"

She has taken part in various group exhibitions, won a Highly Commended at the Ivanhoe Grammar School exhibition, and was voted the Waverley Arts Society's Artist of the Year (Public Choice) for 2004. The two pictures below were her winning entries.

Lavender Fields the storm, the Fence post

Anne Newman:"Lavender Fields the Storm";"The Fence Post"

Anne loves dogs and is a keen gardener. She also likes to attend country race meetings and have a flutter on the horses.

She is one of the newest members of the Waverley Art Society, but we look forward to many years of having her aboard.

It was a lovely article by Anna McClelland and I thank her for writing it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Waverley Art Society especially the "Artists at Work" show I ran with some of the other artists once a month at the local park. Sometime in the near future I will return to write another chapter for you about the development of my painting oeuvre and how the AnArt4Life blog was born. Anne

4. Whilst I agree the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer painted the middle and upper class, I would argue that the scenes painted by Pieter Breughel the Elder included many of the ordinary folk going about their daily lives.