In the Studio: Dorothy Benjamin

Join us this month as we get to know more about dot-art member Dorothy Benjamin.

Dorothy was born and raised in New Zealand, where she completed a Fine Art degree at Auckland University, followed by a teaching diploma, before travelling to Britain. Dorothy loves to explore the different landscapes around her by walking through them, taking home the memories as inspiration for her paintings.

‘When I started making art again I wasn’t sure if I still had a voice or something to say with my art. I chose to paint landscapes as this is what inspired me and continues to provide me with a voice for my expression.’

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

I am a painter and like to use oil on paper or panel.

Describe your style of art:

I use landscape as a starting point for my paintings. I like to paint wild and lonely places. They leave an impression on me in terms of light and colour and I try to capture that. I like to walk and find this is the best way to experience a landscape as it slowly reveals it’s riches.

Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?

I do take my sketchbook and camera out walking with me. I start with a drawing and then transfer this to a tonal underpainting. I build up a painting in layers. I work quite slowly as this is the nature of oil paints. I always think I know when a work is finished but often change my mind when I look at it again the next day.

When did you begin your career in art? 

I did a fine art degree in New Zealand and started my career in art as a printmaker specialising in etchings and lithography. I have always painted and painting for me was an easier option when I came to live in the UK as I had no equipment or space large enough to continue printmaking.

I stopped painting when I had children, I had a full-time job as a teacher, and couldn’t find a consistent time to give to making art. When I retired from full-time work I started painting again!

Who or what inspires your art? 

I have always been interested in looking at art in museums and galleries and I have many artists I love and admire. I suppose when I started making art again I wasn’t sure if I still had a voice or something to say with my art. I chose landscape as this is what inspired me and continues to provide me with a voice for my expression.

Barmouth - Seascape by Dorothy Benjamin

What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why? 

One of my favourite pieces is a seascape I did when I first started back painting. We were staying down near Barmouth and had walked up into the hills behind the town. The view out of the bay was so beautiful with the light shifting and changing. One of my friend’s daughters liked it and she now how it in her home.

Lyn -North Wales by Dorothy Benjamin

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a series of Bleak Low at the moment. Between lockdowns, I walked up onto the moor from Glossop. There are lots of interesting stone outcrops up there but my favourites are the kissing stones. I’ve painted them a lot and they come out differently every time.

What are your favourite things to listen to whilst painting? If anything!

I like listening to a drama while I’m painting.

What’s the best advice that was given to you as an artist? 

The best advice given to me was from an art school colleague, he told me to put in the hours. Painting like writing is a discipline. You have to do it every day and give it time.

Discover more of Dorothy’s artwork on our online shop!