Paul Bennett was Art2Arts’ featured artist for February, and his richly coloured semi-abstract seascape and landscape paintings are favourites with Art2Arts customers. In this interview he reveals all on his inspirations and process.

Wake 9 by Paul Bennett

Penny – Did you go to art college? If so, where, and what was your experience like?
Paul- I went to the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, Farnham, Surrey. On a social level the experience was great. From an academic point of view it sometimes felt the tutors were a bit non committal when anyone was after any guidance or advice. It was the first year of tuition fees and we felt a bit crammed into the course. Studio space was tiny, but I think that’s standard everywhere.

How did your interest in landscapes and seascapes develop?
My in-laws moved to the West Coast of Scotland a while back and we’d spend any free time up there travelling the length of the West Coast. Very inspirational. It was an eye opener when we first went, as I had no idea that parts of the U.K. could be so wild. Bit of a culture shock from West London.

Could you describe the process you go through in imagining, planning, and creating a painting?
There’s very little planning. I like to spend time letting my mind drift and reflect on past places and experiences. I’ll then throw down some marks and thick paint onto a primed canvas. I’ll then leave the canvas for a week or so to let it dry and then start to build it up in layers. Sometimes I scrape the paint all back to reveal earlier layers. I never get a true idea of the finished painting until I put my brushes down. I’ll even return to a painting a year or so later and work into it some more.

What are your favourite types of paints to use?
Oil. I use nothing else. Very soft graphite if I’m drawing (which I’d like to do more of).

Who and what are your main inspirations?
I always try and see Turner at Tate Britain and also Rothko at Tate Modern. Frank Auerbach and Bacon are also very inspirational. I mainly find inspiration from just being out and about. Either mooching around art fairs, galleries or strolling along the U.K’s great coastline. I have just moved to the Lake District from London, so my new surrounding will probably begin to feature in my new work.

Wake 8 by Paul Bennett

What other jobs have you had?
Loads. My first job was as a milk boy when I was 12. I then went on to work for my father who works as a car mechanic. I did this until I was 18. I also worked as a panel beater and sprayer. I’ve worked in a lot of pubs and bars, including the Shed Bar at Stamford Bridge. I worked, on and off, putting up motorway signs and installing floodlighting for tennis courts. After I left Art School I fell into Graphic design, which I worked in for about 8 years. I also spent about a year working for a games company working as a 3D modeller/Artist, creating spaceships and stuff like that.

Do you every get creative blocks, and if so, how do you deal with them?
Never. If anything, I don’t have enough time to get everything out of my head. I probably work on 3 or 4 different projects at any one time.

What advice do you have for young artists just starting out?
Be good at what you do and be prepared to invest time and hard work to make it happen. Also, treat being an artist as any other trade and it will all come good in the end.

See more of Paul’s paintings at his Art2Arts profile page.