|1) Personally, I see “…from the mother…” as an abstract representation of the beginning of life within the mother—the large black space symbolizes the womb, & the white area represents the rapidly dividing cells as they gradually develop into a fetus. Am I onto something or is my interpretation way the hell off? And who or what inspired this particular series of images?
Well, I think you nailed it (no pun intended)! Someone said, "An artist in crisis turns to drawing." These are crisis drawings. I hadn't really painted or even drawn for about six years; I'd been focusing on poetry at that time, writing literally hundreds of poems. I couldn't help myself. It just flowed, and I let it. I can't say that I hit a wall with the writing, but my brain seemed to switch gears, and I made the initial ink drawings "from the mother" pretty much in one setting, which I then touched up with acrylic paint. Womb? Dividing cells? Yeah, totally. But I didn't realize it until after they were made. For the past couple of years, I've made some serious life-changing decisions, and this is a result of that, I guess, "impregnation by reality" that I went through. Now I'm painting again! And still writing. I've got a good balance going on.
2) I understand you spend a lot of time in the mountains working on an organic farm. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Most days the "work" consists of writing all night and sleeping until 2 the next afternoon. Spirit Mountain is a great place. It's owned by an individual, and
there's a core of blood-family who live there, but also a revolving and changing list of workers & friends and people looking to escape from "the system." There's always something to do. Installing wood stoves, clearing garden space, remodeling
trailers, baby-sitting, pet-sitting. And also a lot of nothing to do, lots of time to get acquainted with yourself. I live in a small camper with my ladyfriend on the periphery of the property. There's occasional drum circles, lots of spiritual & energy work. I'm a Level II Reiki Practitioner. Hands-on energy work that
can be traced to ancient Tibet, and maybe even further back. Pretty straightforward work. Nothing too new-agey. Things are pretty real & grounded.
3) When starting a new art project, do you already have some preconceived idea of what it will be & how you want it to look? Or are you one of those artists who allow the spontaneity & mood of the moment dictate your approach?
"I don't embrace the accident" -Jackson Pollock
The poems and paintings tend to grow organically. As far as spontaneity and mood, I don't get "inspired" as much as I find (or am visited by) an invisible
framework which I have to then drape and mold and model until the form becoms literal. The poems are about accrual of line, one line connects to the other
after it's found or uncovered, and the whole emerges. Hopefully not a "hole". It may take awhile, or it may happen all at once. The paintings are densely layered
but with breathing room. Flow and mutation. Evolution within a closed system: the prepared surface that takes the paint, or in case of the poems: the blank
page of notebook or computer screen. Nothing is planned but a personal aesthetic must be sated. It's not spontaneous as in Action Painting or automatic drawing, but convinced, nurtured, nursed, electrified, brought to life. Set free. I'm a Dr. Frankenstein in the art world, I guess. I'm not interested in overt reference or representation in my own work. I'd rather create than capture.
4) Where has your journey as a self-taught poet & multi-media artist taken you? What other artistic medium do you work in besides poetry & painting?
I went to school at the public library. A helluva lot cheaper than tuition. And later on the internet, reading interviews and transcribing lectures by artists that I admire. That's important, I think, at least for me, to find what speaks to you, that informs
you by reinforcing and/or by clarifying your natural inclinations and impulses. By seeking anonymity in my teachers, I removed ego and aggression. I only have to
answer to myself. Certainly that can be intimidating and lead to self delusion. But only the artist knows if s/he has been cheated by what they've created. I've
been woodshedding for 20 years. I'm 33. I've had to abandon or outright destroy a lot of my work, just to grow. A personal choice. But the price I've paid is
worth the self-awareness, which is an important, if not the most important tool I possess. An artist in any medium is responsible for what they let live. I believe it has to please the Self, first. And hopefully, it will have a certain quality of the
universal in its specificity that might touch something in others. Conventional education is good for a great many people who can utilize its constraints and its freedoms in a positive way, but it was not for me. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll go back to school! As far as other media: I'll be doing some filmaking, minimalist stuff ~ moving textures, light. I also make atmospheric sound-sculpture and
occasionally indulge in "experimental noise rock." My main instrument is the multi-track tape recorder.
5) Creatively speaking, does your approach to art differ much from your approach to writing poetry? (Please explain how or how not)
I tend to work in series. The paintings and drawings are usually materials and technique based. I find a combination that works and make a series. The images
come from intuitive mis-use of the materials, but in a controlled and organic way. I feel like I meld with the paints or whatever I am using. I lose myself. The paint loses itself. Very powerful. I'm not creating an image as much as I'm developing, like a photograph, something from my unconscious or the superconscious. I
like things that look like they happen naturally but don't illustrate. It's finished when it becomes a place and no longer refers to a place. The poetry happens in series as well. Usually after an undefinable impulse, that "framework" I mentioned
shows itself, then I work line by line until it's alive. Weird creatures, sometimes. Sometimes beautiful creatures. Plain or exotic, doesn't matter. They're mine. Anyone can pet them, just call their names.
6) Has any particular poet, writer or artist had an influence on your own style?
I don't think the worth of influence can be underestimated. The trick, though, is how to tap into similar energies without being eclipsed by immitation. Maybe there's nothing new under the sun. It's all here, always has been, always will be. But how can I create without merely defining? Tap into the Source, the invisible that informs. As far as individuals? The poets are numerous. Mostly modern. Michael McClure really got me started. I love the way he combines intense spirituality, anarchistic theories of revolt, absurdist imagery, and biological concerns into one. A real constellation of a man, many points making a whole. Truly unique. The entire artist moving into one direction. Recently Jorie Graham has caught my eye. A real knockout. I think we work in a similar vein.
Ginsburg is a teacher of mine, although we never met. His prose and interviews always ground me, encourage me, make me feel like I'm on the right path. A
touchstone of life and theory. Robert Creeley is important. Luminous intelligent minimalism. Like private thoughts made concrete.
Visual artists? Again quite numerous. I'm pained to have to whittle it down. Paul Klee, for his insistence on "genesis," how the painting grows in layers, gives
itself life. Julian Schnabel's audacity and drive. I love his most recent abstractions. Uneven but fertile. Painterly but natural. Same with Cy Twombly. Mark Rothko's ambience. Pollock's too. He's less about texture than space, to me. I love the "overall" quality of his work. DeKooning and Susan Rothenberg I read for gesture and mark. Brice Marden has it all. He's got to be the big one for me. Colorfield to
calligraphy to ribbons and loops. I love his work.
7) So what should we expect next from Clint Newton? Any projects in the works we should know about?
Painting. Lots of it. I'm picking up a series that's been on hiatus for a few years, plus I've had some breakthroughs which are leading me in new directions.
Some books are coming out. Self-published. I've got about 15 or 20 chapbooks that I would like to see put together. And more are coming, I'm sure (I hope!)
I'll be scouting for galleries and publishers, maybe do some more on-line stuff. Especially for Zygote in my Coffee! Music. Filmaking. Like Billy the Kid said
in McClure's The Beard, "This is eternity, we can do whatever we want."
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