Piece of Work: Brandon Newton

That is the great thing about painting. The constant discovery of it all.

Brandon Newton has spent most of his life in Virginia, but about eight years ago he felt the call of the Island and came for a month in the off-season with his wife. In his words, he “was hooked.”

A painter by trade, Newton wanted to see if he could make it as an artist somewhere other than his hometown of Fredericksburg. “Martha’s Vineyard was my first opportunity to prove to myself that I was anywhere near worth my weight when it comes to producing art,” he said.

Newton submitted a few pieces to an open show at the now-closed Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs and ended up selling a couple. “I was like, ‘You know what, we can do it,’” he recalled. He moved here with his wife and family for a few years and was represented by North Water
Gallery in Edgartown.

Fast forward to today: Newton no longer lives on the Vineyard full time but recently opened the Chilmark Gallery with friend and fellow artist Abe Pieciak, a convincing sign that he’s made his mark on the Island arts community. The gallery, located near Beetlebung Corner, features artists they both admire as well as their own work, such as Newton’s 30-x-40-inch oil on canvas, Moon Over Menemsha, shown above. A grand opening reception will take place Wednesday, July 17.

The painting was inspired by a summer evening paddle in Menemsha Creek across from The Galley and The Home Port in Newton’s one-man canoe. “To see it from such a different perspective was just what I had been searching for,” he said.

Newton took a photo for reference, but admits that he didn’t rely on it much while he created the painting. “It’s kind of hard to take a photo and say, ‘I’m going to paint it.’ But when you take the photo, it’s the first step into discovery.... Sometimes you’re surprised where it ends up.

“You start out thinking you know where it is going to go, and it kind of tells you where it needs to go along the way,” he said. “It’s always new every time. And that is the great thing about painting. The constant discovery of it all.”