Samm Newton, an artist and self-proclaimed science nerd, is fairly new to our local art scene. She landed in Corvallis a few years back and now works for the Corvallis Environmental Center, taking on their marketing and graphic design. She describes her work as a blend of science and art, but it’s the landscape and terrain of Oregon that are the main inspiration for what she creates. She finds the process to be incredibly healing, both emotionally and physically.
In 2010, at the age of 25, Newton was diagnosed with cancer. She explained that her illness is something that she has to share because it’s such a huge part of her journey to finding the artist within. At the time she was sick, she was living with her parents in Texas and was unable to work or even leave the house because of extreme temperatures. It was during that time that she rediscovered her love of art and a latent talent emerged—this led her down a path both artful and healing. Newton expressed that “It was always there… tucked away… I just needed to make an effort to open up and let it out.”
Newton’s style teeters on the edge of being border-line psychedelic, like a mash up of Bob Ross and Peter Max’s work yet strongly infused with something uniquely her own. The bark of her ponderosa pines and the wrinkling curve of a chanterelle seem to come alive with intensity, giving the viewer the feeling of falling down the rabbit hole. Newton paints the majority of her work on donated skateboards.
“I’m not a skater… I’m not that cool, but I love the way the paint soaks in and the process of sanding and filling in the broken spaces. It’s therapeutic,” she said. Aside from her new home, another inspiration for Newton’s work is her grandmother, who is also a wildlife painter.
Currently, Newton is working on what she calls a “Periodic Table of Birdaments,” a series of small bird paintings that are linked together in a similar way to the elemental chart. Meanwhile, she continues to accept used boards, recycling them into new works of art to be donated for auction to a charity that she holds close to her heart. One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of Newton’s artwork is donated to Athletes for Cancer (AFC), a foundation that took her skiing for the first time ever. “There might be young people out there, going through what I did, that know nothing about AFC,” she said. “I’m doing what I can to change that through my art.”
Newton exhibits during the Arts Walk on Thursday, June 18 at the Corvallis Advocate Loft, 425 SW Madison Avenue; enter just west of Einstein’s Bagels and head upstairs. You can see more of Newton’s artwork and contact her at www.sammnewton.com.
By Hollie Murphy