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" 


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

e4cast - Esting Competition

It's that time of year again when the entries for the E4 Sting competition are submitted.   I directed an animation at RJDM Studios to enter.  We stuck to 2D this time and have gone for a quirky textured look.  Let me know what you think.  I'll keep you updated with its progress.

You might remember our entry from a couple of years ago, it's still shown on TV now.  If not check it out here: 'What The Cluck?'

Plein Air - Overstrand Beach

As promised here is my painting from last weekend's trip to Overstrand on the Norfolk coast.  I've only recently started doing any plein air painting so to try it on the beach was a great experience.  There were a lot of challenges to contend with before I was even able to start my painting.  The wind on the coast there was so strong so finding a sheltered spot that still had a good view was difficult let alone carrying all the equipment from the campsite.  What is it about sand that just makes everything harder, plus it gets everywhere!  I'm glad I did it, but this first experience painting on the beach was far from relaxing!!!

Let me know what you think of the results though!  Have you ever done any painting on the beach?  How did you find it?  Be sure to share your work :)

See more from my trip to Overstrand or some more adventures in plein air.


I was off galavanting again at the weekend.  This time the wife and I went camping in Overstrand, a village just next to Cromer on the Norfolk coast (UK).  We were lucky again with the weather...sunny all day Saturday, Sunday was fine until the evening (when we ate dinner in the car) and it rained Monday on our way home after we had fish and chips on Cromer pier.  All in all it was a typically British summer holiday.

As the sun did show itself, there was plenty of time to get some drawing done.  Here are a few of my sketches:

Our tent was pitched in a little campsite on the top of a cliff overlooking Overstrand beach.

You could follow the Norfolk coastal walk from the campsite and about 10-15mins along the path we spotted this lighthouse.

We spent some time sunning it on the beach.  It was a bit pebbly in places, although mainly sand.  The water was FREEZING!!!  In the distance you can see Cromer pier.

A tent set up on the beach with a seagull watching the tides.

Looking the opposite way on the beach, away from Cromer.  We were surprised at how rugged the cliff was.

A pen drawing of Cliff Road in Overstrand.

Cromer is famous for its lobster and crab.  In Overstrand there was this little fish shop that sold fresh dressed lobster and crab.  Outside were the cages and the little boat for fishing for them.  I loved the tractor it was attached to.

All in all, another fun weekend.  I did do a little plein air painting on the beach too...stay tuned for that post.

Let me know what you think of my sketches or take a look at some more like those from my visit to Canterbury or  check out some of my life drawing.


It's been a while again since I'll find out why soon enough (I hope).  Needless to say I've had a few other projects eating up my time.

I recently went to stay in Canterbury with the in-laws (my wife went to university there so we know it really well).  I love that city.  The architecture is just incredible.  The whole town is rammed full of tudor buildings, all with wobbly roofs, leaning walls, sloping floors and wonky doors.  Everywhere you walk there is something that makes you go wow!  There's narrow streets and cobbled floors, landscaped parks and Roman walls.  What else could you possibly want???

We stayed in a fantastic hotel - The Gatehouse Hotel, which is next to the Cathedral gates and has a patio area out the back which is within the Cathedral grounds.  There were some beautiful views of the Cathedral lit up at night.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to do a bit of sketching...

This is the Gatehouse Hotel.  It actually spreads across the top of 3 separate shop fronts.

A view of the Cathedral whilst drinking my tea.

The roofs and narrow passageways

Finally some shops just off The Kings Mile.

Have you been to Canterbury?  What did you think of it?  Any suggestions of where else we should visit?

If you liked this post - take a look at my Vienna sketches