Cavalier Chronicle’s Artist of the Month: Marlena Newman


Marlena Newman

A painting depicting an army boot.

Marlena Newman is a senior artist at Clover Hill who has been making art ever since she can remember. Newman has taken Honors Art 1-3 and is currently in Honors Art 4. Newman created two artworks to share with the Cavalier Chronicle.

The first piece, Newman created using watercolor on paper. The painting is an image of an old Army boot, which belonged to Newman’s father.

“[This] piece is of my dad’s old army boot, which was part of the portfolio I’d made for my application to the Governor’s School for the Arts in 2022,” Newman said. “My theme for those pieces, including the boot, was to draw different footwear and then show the person who wore them (their “essence”).

Newman prefers using watercolor for some paintings to create the desired effect of blending colors and bringing out certain highlights that give contrast and strength to her piece.

“Watercolor is one of my strongest mediums, and I think I chose wisely in using it anyways because with it I was able to mix together the black of the boot, bringing out the blue or browns in the boot and its highlights, to create the striking image that contrasts with the white background,” Newman said. “Watercolor is great for soft blending, and allows for the subtle addition or subtraction of colors to create the desired effect, which in this case was “old boot.”

People, emotion and surroundings all fuel inspiration for Newman when creating a new piece. 

“I just became inspired by the people around me and how they interacted with the world,” Newman said. “People are the most interesting subjects. The way everybody around me exists and interacts with everything else is so fascinating, even just the way I go about what I do. Unsurprisingly, emotion also drives me, like how it drives most artists. Sometimes I become hyper-aware of certain feelings and try to pick them apart to understand what made me feel that way and how I can portray that on paper.”

A painting depicting a couple watching television in their living room. (Marlena Newman)

Newman’s second piece stemmed from a Black History Month research project in which she used technique from British-Nigerian artist Joy Labinjo. Using geometric shapes and variation in color and value, Newman created a painting of both of her parents.

“The piece you see are my parents in our living room watching the TV the night before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, so I tried to use the influence of Labinjo’s style to portray the looks on my parents’ faces and the atmosphere in the room.” Newman said.

With no blending and the addition of bringing out the subjects’ expressions, the style and composition of the piece adequately resembles that of Labinjo’s. 

When creating, Newman mindfully takes into consideration the significance and message of the artwork, what emotions it evokes and what the viewer feels when they see it. 

“The idea I try and convey most of the time is a feeling of gravity, weight, a sort of feeling that this subject is real and it exists, and even though it isn’t a perfect copy of what it’s derived or inspired from, the piece understands what goes into it and can put those pieces together to create the state of being,” Newman said. “I want to show I understand what the subject means, its essence and importance, or at least just show, “this is how I see this object. This is how it makes me feel.” This message could probably be explained another way that might be less confusing, and it might not even be what anyone gets from my art. I would say that I keep this “message” in mind while I’m creating, like it’s always in the back of my brain, but then whatever comes from it onto the canvas or paper might be so subtle it’s like it’s not even there.” 

The world around her and the natural state of being inspires Newman to continue making art.

“Motivation comes to me from almost anywhere, mostly when I experience a certain feeling or catch a glance of something in a certain light and instinctively feel that I just have to recreate it and remember it in that way,” Newman said. “I’d say the world in general keeps me creating. Just the fact of existence and ability to create makes me want to make art.”