Our latest Featured Artist is the fantastic Paul Benbow, 45, who’s based in Sandbach, Cheshire. Read on to find out what inspires Paul and how he creates his beautiful artwork.
How did you get started as an artist?
I started drawing and sketching from an early age and studied art at school and college. I watched my dad paint a lot and learned a lot from him. He works mainly in oils, whereas I like to work in acrylics.
What inspires you to be creative?
I’m generally inspired by photography and professional photographers on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve recently become very interested in graffiti art and love how creative street art can be. I travelled to Iceland last year and Reykjavik is full of amazing street art throughout the city. I’ve always been very interested in wildlife and most of my recent art is wildlife inspired.
How would you describe your creative process?
I tend to start with a sketch or drawings of photography. I then move onto canvases where I would generally freehand paint, rather than use a grid system. I have used grids to get proportions correct, especially if I’m painting a pet portrait.
What’s your favourite medium to work in and why?
I love to use both acrylic paint and graffiti spray cans. I’ve been experimenting with mixing these mediums recently. I like how quickly acrylics dry and how you can layer with them. Acrylics are great for fur on animals and painting water.
How to you tackle a blank canvas?
I always start with a variety of photos. I normally have an image ready on my phone to work from initially. I draw the start of the painting out if it’s very detailed, but mostly I just start with a watered down acrylic wash of a colour such as burnt umber or sienna. If I’m tackling an animal I focus a lot of the eyes as this brings an early painting to life. I would normally then work away from the eyes.
What do you find the most challenging about the creative process?
Sometimes if a client asks for a difficult subject matter or it is something I wouldn’t choose to paint, I do find the motivation quite difficult. I would generally then look to paint more abstract colours or put an interesting splash of colour somewhere. I do enjoy painting strange or unusual backgrounds too. This is something I’m still experimenting with.
In which ways do you differentiate your work from that of other creatives?
I’m becoming more abstract with my colours and using much more bright paint ranges as I continue to paint. I think I’m developing a more unique ‘look’ in my art in recent years.
What are your most essential tools?
I have a very large easel that will hold 1.5m canvases. I also love the System 3 brushes from Daler-Rowney.
What’s your studio/workspace like?
I work in a small room at home. I’d love a studio eventually.
Do you have a favourite art tip that you can share with our readers?
Find something (photos, places, animals) that inspires you. If you like what you’re painting in the first place, this will really help you produce your best work. I spent time in New York and love the street scenes and architecture. I also teach geography, so painting volcanoes is always fun.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
I have my own website, and I’m also on Instagram (@paulbenbowartist) and Facebook. I’ve produced more than 130 YouTube art tutorials during the first national lockdown and you can follow my work over on my YouTube channel.
If you’d like to be one of our Featured Artists please email us some examples of your artwork, along with a little bit about yourself.