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Q&A: Meet the artist - Pam Newell

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In Pam Newell’s artwork, the slightest tweaking of the light creates entirely new worlds of color, shade and hue.

The late afternoon sunlight tinges trees with a golden gilt. Spotlights beam through breaks in the clouds on an Indiana spring day.

Rusty autumn leaves seem to flutter along a reflective blue stream.

Newell’s pastels and oil paintings take a bold approach to color, turning landscapes from around Indiana into vibrant visions. Layering, blending and placing color side-by-side creates the effect of luminosity, and allows her to distill her own experiences with nature down into a wide variety of scenes.

“There’s always something in the scene that visually excites you, the color, or the sky was so beautiful. You want to capture that element so it communicates with the viewer,” she said. “And when they look at it, they know what you’re talking about.”

The work of the Fishers-based artist will be on display throughout the month of July at the Southside Art League gallery.

Newell has been well-schooled in the American Impressionist style of painting. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and studied at the Indianapolis Art Center with such artists as Ron Mack, Dan Woodson and Todd Reifers.

She has exhibited with the Hoosier Salon for 15 years, and been included in shows such as the Chicago Pastel Painters national juried exhibition and the Cincinnati Art Club’s ViewPoint show.

Her painting “In the Heartland” was presented to then-Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman in 2011, which was hanging in the Indiana Statehouse during Skillman’s term.

Newell’s artwork can be seen at the Southside Art League, 299 E. Broadway St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. An open house is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery, where light refreshments will be available. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

How did you get started painting?

Painting is something I’ve been doing since grade school, and I’ve always been pretty good at it. It’s an individual language that’s always spoken to me. Not that it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it so much I’ve spent my entire life doing it. I realized I wanted to do it in high school. When I was working on my portfolio to get into art school, I knew then I had to kick it up a notch, that there was a lot I had to learn. But it was always a dream that I’d be able to do that.

How would you describe your style?

I like a lot of color, especially something that has a lot of warmth to it. I like to find a focal point and set it up to direct the viewer to it. It’s kind of like a crescendo in music — you try to direct people where you want them to go.

How did you develop the style that you use?

It’s kind of like your signature. Everybody starts out realistic when they’re learning; the first thing they teach you when you draw is how something should look.

But you can’t get away from yourself. You start looking at master artists and finding what really floats your boat that way. The more you study, the more you know what you like. There are people who like colors, shapes, that sort of things. Eventually, it comes out in your signature.

Are there certain landscapes you like to go to, or is it whatever strikes you?

It all has to do with the lighting. I love the magic hour, when the lighting in late-afternoon or early morning is perfect. In the mornings, there’s that yellowish-pinkish glow, and in the afternoon, it’s a little bit warmer.

Those times really set up the colors very well. But in midday, more than the landscapes, it’s the sky. Sometimes, there are some beautiful clouds. It can describe what you’d see driving down any rural road in Indiana.

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