This week I’ve been really fortunate to have spent two days on a New School of Art portrait painting workshop, taught by the amazing Tim Benson. Tim has a distinctive style, painting with thick marks, with brushes fully charged with luscious oil paint, faces often filling the entire canvas. The course very much honed in on Tim’s style and way of working. For this, we were told to bring specific paint colours and wide flat brushes and various sizes of canvases.

The first day we produced three portraits – two in the morning, taking around an hour each, and one larger piece in the afternoon – with each portrait filling the canvas. It was a challenge using a very wide brush, and only one brush (Tim was very strict about that), so we were constantly wiping paint off the brush between colours. The following day we were to paint the same pose all day.

Here are the finished pieces, all painted with only Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White oils.

portrait painting, profile of woman's face

My first piece of the day, an hour long study, Bethany in profile. 10 x 12 inch


Portrait painting, three quarter profile of woman's face, lying down

The second hour-long portrait, Bethany lying down. 10 x 12inch



Portrait painting, woman sleeping

The two-hour afternoon study, Bethany sleeping. A very challenging pose


Close-up of painted portrait, woman sleeping

Close-up of Bethany Sleeping


The finished portrait from day two. 24 x 30 inch canvas. Bethany resting


close-up of portrait painting

Close-up of Bethany resting

Sheri Gee standing beside oil painting of Bethany Resting

And just so you understand how large this is, this is me beside the finished painting


Progress of Bethany resting.

I think the most amazing thing, for me, was the ability to spend two solid days painting. As a working (albeit part-time) mum, it isn’t always easy to allow myself this luxury. I think there is immense value in taking a workshop for that alone, aside from any skills learnt.

As to skills, it was great to learn from a successful artist and to be pushed, and pushed we were, to be better, to see more accurately and to work with limited means to produce an array of flesh tones. I had a great time and look forward to taking another workshop one day soon.

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