Magnolia artist is unique – ‘one of one’

Claudia Meyer-Newman has led a full life as an artist. She been a successful photographer. She’s taught visual art and ceramics at Cornish College of Art in Seattle. She worked as a senior designer for Methodologie, a high-end graphic design firm.

But her current work  — a series of one-off prints in a medium called monotyping — draws inspiration from her a passion for nature’s most basic, most raw, most simple building block ­— rocks.

Meyer-Newman loves rocks.

“I’ve been stacking rocks since I was 14,” she told Queen Anne & Magnolia News last week. “You could say I have a really big rock fetish. I photographed them. I collected them. I stacked them. Down in my studio I have a collection of almost-round rocks and rocks with veins that I’ve collected over the years. To leave my bigger rocks in Bremerton was really, really a letting-go process.”

Meyer-Newman’s newest body of work is not about rocks per se. It continues a long focus on natural colors and the natural world. But it’s easy to look at her current work and see a young, teenaged artist picking up whatever is at hand and exploring composition — blending thoughtful planning and an artist’s intuitive sense of how things go together.

“I have a methodical mind. I like to think things out, content-wise,” Meyer-Newman said. “So this first body of work I did (in monotyping) is based on balance. I call this body of work A Matter of Balance.”

You’d hardly know it by walking by on the street, but Meyer-Newman has her own gallery a block from the Village in Magnolia. It’s a hidden gem. That will change on Saturday, June 25, when Meyer-Newman first opens the gallery to visitors.

“The gallery will be open every Saturday during the farmers market (season) -- 10:30 to 2:30,” she said. “I thought I’d give it a go. I might pull in other artists, not only myself. It doesn’t have to be all about me.”

Meyer-Newman’s life is filled with art. Her home, a newish rowhouse on West Lynn Street in Magnolia, tracks her artistic travels over time. In the living room, a hand-pulled etching of an Egyptian scene is Meyer-Newman’s. So is the large, expressive ceramic bowl mounted on the kitchen wall. Photos of hers are displayed throughout the five-story home she shares with husband Marty Miller.

“I live in a tower,” she said, still amazed, months after moving to Magnolia from Bremerton.

Miller showed the view from the top level, a lovely flowerpot-accented deck accessible by stairs or mini-elevator. “We can see the Village. We can see the Sound,” he said. “We can even see Mount Rainier when the weather clears.”

But for this creative couple, the action is indoors. Miller, a recording artist, has a studio with instruments and a computer on the second floor. Meyer-Newman has a street-level gallery and an art studio adjacent to her husband’s.

Her new body of work continues a thread she has pursued throughout her life.

“I really just wanted to play,” she said. “Graphic design usually has a client involved ­— some sort of agreement to solve a problem. Fine art has no client. Not solving a problem, per se. Just letting go and being expressive.”

Meyer-Newman said there are two kinds of artists — those that explore their “artist’s voice” within a single medium, such as painting, and those voice speaks across many media.

“I have a lot of friends who are artists,” she said. “Some of them stick devotedly to what they always do. But other artist friends of mine move from one material to another. I think that’s really the artist’s voice.”

Meyer-Newman said her voice has evolved over time, but she’s always been interested in exploring how an artist interacts with the surrounding land and geography.

“You learn, when you get your masters (degree), what your voice is,” she said. “My photography was always about a sense of place and how to capture that from a new perspective. But I just retired. It’s a big time in my life. So when you shift gears like this, you can create new ideas and new expressions.”

So, as Meyer-Newman explores her new neighborhood and new medium, her natural forms interact with an evolving artistic process. But her expressive, artistic spirit is still tempered by her step-by-step, designer’s brain.

“In design, you plan it, and rethink, and retweak it and show it to the client. It’s very methodical,” she said. “In my art-making, my goal is to let go.”

Print-making, especially in monotypes, is a new, exciting thing for Meyer-Newman. Part of that is the reduced toxicity of the materials she works with — nontoxic, soy-based inks that have little smell, compared to the sharp, astringent smell of photography’s fix and developer trays.

But even more important is the emotional component to this art.

“This new process has a lot to do with letting go,” she said. “I had a friend stay with us. She’s a painter, and she and I worked together on the press. She spent her life painting, so it was really intuitive for her to work with the colors and so on and move really quickly. She liked it because she had to let go of it. You can’t go back and tweak and paint over a complete color again, like in painting.”

That is one of the greatest joys of this new medium, Meyer-Newman said. She applies her best planning, she lays down color in certain patterns and shapes, and rolls the press over the ink and paper. But then she peels back the paper and see the image she produced. It’s often not what she expected.

“Oh, totally,” she said. “That’s another thing about sketching first. With this new medium, there’s no editing.. It’s all in the moment, all right now. And that’s very exciting. Sometimes, I just say to myself, ‘Oh, Claudia, just let it be a surprise.’ ”

To see Meyer-Newman’s current work, go to and click on Look. To see her earlier work, go to