Most of us at one time or another have had art books on our bedside or coffee tables, at the ready to engage our imagination at the time of our choosing.
Susan Newbold – artist, author, printmaker, illuminated journey instructor, world traveler and adventurist – has a new book perfect for a place on your coffee table: ”Reveries: Journaling In Place.”
Newbold shares her thoughts and impressions of some of the places she’s lived, vacationed, or attended residencies, through prose, sketches and paintings, from Maine venturing west to Colorado and California; then she goes exotic traveling to Turkey, India, Egypt, and then to Europe to spend some time in France; and on to New Zealand, and Costa Rica.
Through Newbold’s “Reveries,” drawn from 25 journals in which she recorded her experiences, we travel there as well. The book becomes a passport not only to the locations, but to an understanding of the artist.
“My three residencies through the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts in Auvillar were life-changing. This 12th century village in the southwest was founded by the Romans. I would sit atop a stone wall in the center of town looking down at the French countryside, completely charmed by the river and rolling countryside. It’s one of the most wonderful spots I’ve ever experienced.” – Book excerpt
Newbold first became known for her pen, inks and watercolors journal keeping during her first solo art show held in Connecticut in 2000. She had just a few journals back then that a friend happened upon in Newbold’s studio.
“She said I had to include the journals in the show,” Newbold recalled. “I said, ‘How am I going to do that? They’re expecting paintings.’ My friend said ‘Find someone to blow them up.’
“So I did,” Newbold said. “I’ll never forget when I walked in to the show a little late. The blown up images from my journals were in one room and my paintings in another. Everyone was in the room with the journal images there reading the stuff on the wall … saying ‘What is going on here’ … I mean there’s a lot of personal stuff in there.”
And they started buying those journal reproductions.
Since then, when Newbold goes out into the landscape to work, it’s not just a fun time. “It’s something that could end up on somebody’s wall! It’s an example of one of those things that can happen in your life that you don’t expect!”
Newbold started working on “Reveries” in 2020 by focusing on the most meaningful places she’d traveled, as her editor advised. She was also looking through her best paintings among the journals. Images identified, Newbold began writing introductions to each chapter and pulling material she’d written during her travels.
“It was fun. I was working with Jeanne Criscola, editor at Octoberworks in West Haven, Connecticut,” Newbold said. “She’d done a few books that I admired. It took six months to pull the first proof together. She was a genius at mixing and matching … of using portions of different paintings for the introductions. We hired someone to take photographs of the journal pages. I was blown away after I received the first print; the color worked out beautifully.”
That first printing of 100 hard covers were available in December 2021 – just in time for one of Newbold’s art shows in New Haven. Recently another 50 copies were printed.
This book is absolutely gorgeous, making traveling with Newbold a true delight. Her paintings are often accompanied by prose that sometimes appears winding around the painted or sketched images like footprints creating an enchanting experience for the viewer! This technique is sure to keep travel lovers, art lovers, and readers engaged and longing to book a flight to one of the destinations in the book. Through her drawings and paintings, readers will truly get a feel for the exotic landscapes they may never travel to themselves.
In 2001, she attended the workshop, “Illustrated Journaling” at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts that inspired and embraced her creative soul. Newbold began teaching her workshops, The Illuminated Journal, ever since, combining drawing, painting, printmaking and writing. At the end of the three-day course, attendees will have created their own handmade journal. Newbold also leads workshops focusing on bookmaking, painting, and printmaking individually.
Her residencies have been in Vermont, Virginia, Brittany and Auvillar, France, New Zealand and, this year, Ireland.
Susan Newbold’s life has been, and continues to be, one of creative exploration: Before devoting herself completely to her art, Newbold spent 27 years as an interior designer and architect for residential and commercial clients.
In her introduction to “Reveries” she writes, “When I reflect on my 20 years of illuminated journaling four themes emerge: trees, plants, water and landscape. They ground me in place and inspire flights of imagination. They’re tactile, but also metaphysical … Oceans/lakes/rivers are my artistic muse. I find bodies of water to be an infinite source of line, patterns, organic movement, serrenity, exhilaration and joy …”
Living in Maine, we are fortunate to be able to have our own relationship with nature and completely get where Newbold is coming from: We are inspired by our land and sea scapes; drawn there for the beauty and sense of peace and well-being we derive from them.