Meet Justine Nettleton – the painter creating Art You Wear

Justine Nettleton, interview, Art You Wear,

Meet the Maker: Justine Nettleton

Justine Nettleton is a fine artist who creates jewellery that celebrates unexpected marks and colours in her paintings and explores shapes from nature. The result is Art You Wear – a collection of wearable pieces of small art. We talk to Justine and discover that it was her work as an infant school teacher that inspired her to be more free in what she created and break from the strict distinctions between art and craft that she had been taught at art school.

 

art you wear, bird brooches, justine nettleton, artist

Bird Jewellery by Justine Nettleton from Art You Wear

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
My name is Justine Nettleton. I love to make things. I paint, take photos, sew and make lots of jewellery.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I did a Fine Art degree back in the 1980s. I was a painter producing large-scale figurative paintings and drawings. I then became an infant school teacher for eight years and saw how much children love to experiment, explore and create, and do so with a wonderful uninhibited sense of freedom that I had lost in the journey through my degree. I reconnected with that approach to my work and now make lots of art and jewellery in a variety of techniques and materials.

Justine Nettleton, painter

I noticed that some really beautiful combinations of marks and colours were being created almost by accident in my paintings that were ultimately being painted over and lost. I wanted to celebrate those small moments, so I started to create jewellery featuring them.

Where did the idea come from to create ‘art you can wear’?
I noticed that some really beautiful combinations of marks and colours were being created almost by accident in my paintings that were ultimately being painted over and lost in the painting process. I wanted to celebrate those small moments, so I started to create jewellery featuring them. I also wanted to explore shapes from nature and adding these painterly moments to them created something special that people loved.

Animal Brooches, Justine Nettleton, Art You Wear,

Animal Brooches by Justine Nettleton from Art You Wear

I pick out interesting marks and combinations of colours from my paintings and decorate my animal-shaped brooches with them.

How does your jewellery evolve from a moment in painting to a final piece? 
I photograph my painting process at every stage. I pick out interesting marks and combinations of colours and decorate my animal-shaped brooches with them. I also photograph flowers, plants and trees on my travels and use their outlines along with my painted marks to create something unique that can then be attached to my wooden jewellery.

Justine Nettleton, painter, paintings, jewellery, interview

As an infant school teacher I saw how much children love to experiment, explore and create with a wonderful uninhibited sense of freedom that I had lost in the journey through my degree.

Are there differences in how you approach your paintings and your wearable pieces of art?
My paintings are explorations in colour and mark making. I don’t ever plan for them to be finished pieces. They look abstract and involve drips of paint, stains of dye, scribbles in pastel and accidental footprints too usually as I work on the floor a lot. I photograph everything I produce and take it back to my computer to work on it further. I may add to the paintings with trees and figures, turning them into my own imaginary landscapes or use them to colour and texture my jewellery. My paintings are the source material for everything I make.

Justine Nettleton, painter, paintings, jewellery, interview, butterfly brooch, wooden brooch, wooden butterfly brooch,

Wooden Butterfly Brooch by Justine Nettleton from Art You Wear

Unexpected finds that take me by surprise and may only be transitory are a delight, like a dramatic sunrise or sunset.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m inspired by anything from a scratch or paint splash on a skip by the side of the road, to a beautiful flower growing in garden. I love random marks and free splashes of colour but also love the fine intricacies of nature. Unexpected finds that take me by surprise and may only be transitory are also a delight, like a dramatic sunrise or sunset.

Bird Brooch, Square bird brooch, Justine Nettleton, artist,

See more Bird Brooches by Justine Nettleton from Art You Wear

No discipline is a creative island and all ideas can come together to make something really special.

Who are your heroes of craft?
I find inspiration in people who are open minded about that they do – those people who go wherever their curiosity takes them and don’t get tied up in one pure discipline at the exclusion of all other art and craft ideas. When I was a Fine Art student there was a snobbery about pure art as opposed to craft and never the twain should meet, but this has gradually changed. No discipline is a creative island and all ideas can come together to make something really special. I would say my hero is someone like Picasso who made paintings and craft and went wherever his creativity took him.

Justine Nettleton, interview, artist

I can work big in my studio and not worry about walking my mess into my home, so it’s very liberating.

Tell us about your studio – where is it, what does it look like and what’s in it?
I have an ‘official’ studio in an old mill with 18 other artists in the town where I live, two minutes down the road from my house. It’s a place where I do all my messy work with paint, pastel, paper and canvas. I can work big in my studio and not worry about walking my mess into my home, so it’s very liberating. I also have a ‘posh shed’ in my garden where I do silver and enamel work. A lot of my wooden jewellery is produced in my utility room and my dining table is covered in many unfinished projects, as well as my machine embroidery work. It’s hard to find an empty surface in my house, much to the frustrations of my tidy husband!

Justine Nettleton, artist, jeweller,

When I was a Fine Art student there was a snobbery about pure art as opposed to craft and never the twain should meet, but this is has gradually changed.

What does craft mean to you?
Craft is creating something new and unique using my hands.

How would you spend your perfect day?
A bit of this and a bit of that. I love a day when you can spend a few hours on different projects. I usually have an idea that I’ve sketched out in a notebook by my bed and want to try out to see if it will work, so an ideal day would be getting on with that and it working brilliantly and generating even more ideas from it.

Justine Nettleton, jewellery, painted necklaces,

Botanical necklaces and pendants by Justine Nettleton from Art You Wear

 

Shop Art You Wear on Folksy

 

 

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