Sir Philip Trousdell Prize for Portraiture

Had some good news!  Remember the portrait I painted at The Art Academy a few weeks ago now, you know this one of Peter:

It won the  Sir Philip Trousdell Prize for Portraiture which was judged by Head of Painting Tai-Shan Schierenberg (in my opinion one of the best portrait artists in the UK today). 

Tai-Shan said that my painting 'captured the sitters particular personality in a very insightful and lively way. It is inventive in composition and paint application.'


I was a joint winner alongside fellow student David McGrath.

'Sarah' - A Three Week Portrait Study

The last 3 Saturdays I have continued my portraiture course at The Art Academy, London with Anastasia Pollard as my tutor.

I was challenged with painting a portrait of Sarah in a completely different way to what I'm used to.  Usually my painting style is very quick and I complete my work in just a few hours.  Over these 3 sessions, instead I was encouraged to continue to develop the same portrait.  Here is my progress across the 3 weeks.

Week 1 - Initial sketch and laying down of tones.

Week 2 - Blocking out of the larger tonal plains.  Usually this is where I would stop. 

Week 3 - This week was spent blending the tones and adding the more subtle shades to create a more naturalistic result.  Rather than adding extra detail, I found it useful to think of the extra time working on the painting as a chance to refine, improve and correct what I had already completed.  

Let me know what you think of this work in the columns below.  I've really enjoyed the progress I've made on this course with Anastasia - take a look at more work that I completed under her tuition here and here

Portrait of Peter - 16.1.16

I've been back at The Art Academy, London for a couple of weeks now.  This term I actually decided to take 2 modules simultaneously.  On a Saturday I'm studying portraiture (tutor is currently Anastasia Pollard) and on a Monday I'm studying creative painting (with a whole host of different tutors).

It's been brilliant decision so far to up my art study, I feel like I'm getting lots out of it, particularly as the modules I'm taking differ so much from each other.  My knowledge of art and my skill development has already improved, whether that's just confidence or not is for other people to judge.

Back to portraiture then.

For the last 2 sessions we have been painting a portrait of Peter.  He has such an interesting face and struck such a dramatic pose.  After session one, this was my progress:


I had completed the basic drawing and mapped out the shadows ready to concentrate on the detail in the following session.  I took photos of my progress throughout session 2:


Finally here is the finished work: 

I'm actually very proud of this painting.  The skin tones are some of the best I have achieved to date and I think this is to do with the approach Anastasia demonstrated.  I have previously mixed tones prior to painting, whereas during this portrait we mixed with a brush as we went.  This I think, freed me up and allowed me to correct what I saw rather than just sticking with what was already on my palette.  I definitely think I will take a similar approach again or at the very least a combination of prior mixing and brush mixing. 

Let me know what you think and how you approach your colour mixing in the comments below.

Read more about my studies at The Art Academy or check out my Etsy store.


A Passage to India

It's been a long time since I last wrote.  I've had a busy old time since my last post.  Excluding Christmas and New Year and moving house, I've also been off on (a very belated) honeymoon for the majority of November to India and Nepal.

We flew from London to Kolkata via Mumbai and there we started our journey through North East India and into Nepal, where we ended in Kathmandu.  We visited: Kolkata, Darjeeling, Karmi Farm, Gangtok, Chitwan National Park, Royal Beach Camp and Kathmandu. 

Of course I spent much of the time spending quality time with my wife but I did still take my sketchbook with me and took many, many photos of the incredible sights along the way.  Here are just a few of some of the sights and places we visited:


Whilst in  Kolkata we spent an afternoon soaking up the relaxing atmosphere of the Victoria Memorial.  Such an amazing building with a real fusion of Indian and colonial architecture.  The strangest experience was the number of photographs we were asked for, it made us feel like celebrities, but is something that is really hard to get your head around.









Also in Kolkata (which was actually my favourite of the places we visited) we went on an incredible photographic tour of the so-called 'grey area' of the city.  Our knowledgeable guide Manjit showed us the local shops, street food vendors, places of worship and we got a real insight into everyday life in the vibrant city.  This is a painting I completed when I got back of a milkman decanting milk into the metal containers.  If you want milk in Kolkata the milkman brings the goats straight to your door!








After our stay in Darjeeling we then went on to the capital of the former Kingdom of Sikkim, Gangtok.  In this part of India you really notice the Chinese influence in architecture and in the buddhist religion and culture of the people.  Here are some of the buildings perched in the hillside.













From our hotel in Gangtok we had a breathtaking view of the 3rd highest peak in the world, Kanchenjunga.  Looking the other way from the balcony was this typical street scene.

After an eventful cross into Nepal we eventually managed to get to Chitwan National Park.  Here we went on some safaris.  Both of which left us with plenty of views of crocodiles (some from a lovely rickety canoe boat...eek!) but no sign of any rhino.  Thankfully one showed up in our hotel garden that night so we got an up-close view of it.

Here are a couple of drawings of the elephants which were having their bath in the river on our return from the first safari.  We watched them for ages.







 This cheeky elephant took money in its trunk to give to its owner in order for you to have a stroke...it was so cute we kept handing the notes over!















I'm sure I'll share more from our trip at some point as there are plenty of photos I have intentions of turning into paintings.  Until then, that's all from India and Nepal for now :)



Painting Portraits with Tim Benson

It's been a little while since I posted, life has been very busy but the art hasn't stopped.  I've continued attending the Art Academy.  I've been lucky enough to have a few sessions tutored by Tim Benson, an artist whose style I really admire.

We were set a difficult challenge - to use a limited palette of just 6 colours on a canvas size of 14"x18" with a brush size of a minimum of 1" to paint a portrait in 30mins.

The first is Richard painted in very extreme lighting:
Richard in Extreme Light


My second is Richard reclining:
Richard Reclining

It was a really interesting task and there are definitely elements of both paintings that I think are quite successful.   It was important to keep everything really simplified down when working at that speed.  We were encouraged to keep away from fine detail and to give the viewer just enough information that they are able to fill in the blanks themselves.

Next time we are going further and are using an even bigger brush to create our portraits.  I think what I'm hoping to achieve is fewer, but more considered (and more correct!) brush marks...we'll see how it goes.

Have you seen these portraits?
Take a look at more of my art on my website.

Completed - Portrait of a Woman

As promised here is the final version of the portrait that I started last week at The Art Academy:

Portrait of a Woman by Matt Waruszynski

It has been great learning from Anastasia Pollard over the last couple of weeks.  She has a very different approach to portrait painting than anything I have done before.  My painting style tends to be very fast and a painting will be complete in just a few hours, whereas in her approach she will work on the same piece over multiple sittings.

Because of this, I found it rather daunting knowing what to do next.  At the stage I would normally have stopped, I was forced to continue and develop the painting even further, something well out of my comfort zone!

One thing Anastasia said that I can really relate to is that she only ever paints for 4 hours as this is when she can get the best results.  I definitely agree with this, painting is exhausting both physically and emotionally.

Although at this time I don't think this slower approach to portrait painting is one that really suits me, I've found it an invaluable experiment and one that I will definitely explore again in the future.  I'm really interested in how other people approach their work as I think there are definitely lessons to be learnt from each other's methods.

Leave a comment to share how you approach your paintings.



Back to School

I started back at the Art Academy this week.  This is my second and final year of the Certificate in Painting that I've been studying part time.  The module I selected to get started with this September is 'Paint Applications in Portraiture' which I will be studying for the next 10 weeks with the help of some great tutors.  This week I was taught by Anastasia Pollard (and will continue with her next week too).

It was great to be back and I enjoyed that 'back to school' excitement I remember from years past.  The common room was full of awkward youngsters on their first day, deer in the headlights.  I remember it well.

This week we worked on lots of quick studies.  We initially started with silhouettes.  This was a really useful approach because it stressed the importance of getting the actual head shape correct before working on features.  It's incredible how a well-captured silhouette can show more than just the outline but implies features, expression and mood.

We then moved on to completing short portraits.   This really forces you to not overthink things and I really like the energy you get in this short amount of time.

Here's a 30min exercise:



Finally we began work on a more detailed portrait.  This is after 1 hour painting and will be completed next week so I will make sure I update you with the finished results.


See more of my portraits.



My Work Exhibited!

Arts Gateway MK have managed to gain some gallery space in Christ the Cornerstone Church in Milton Keynes town center.  It's a great area on the first floor wrapping around the main chamber.  I was able to submit some of my work for display there and I chose two portraits "Kilburn High Noon" and "Amy" to hang there.


Me and my work

My work in situ


"Kilburn High Noon" 

"Amy" 

Let me know what you think or take a look at some of my life drawing