For me, a big part of what makes Horsham such a wonderful place to live is that we have an incredible restaurant right on our doorstep. Restaurant Tristan is a gem and I was so happy to do this drawing of inspirational owner-manager Candice Potter. We've had some wonderful evenings there and each dish that comes out of Tristan's kitchen is a work of art.
This study is done in charcoal, heightened with white chalk on toned paper. These types of studies are an affordable gift idea and a great way to recognise someone special. If you are interested in commissioning a portrait please contact me.
Here is a small commission that I did for a Christmas present recently. It was an educated guess, but I thought this young man, and his two siblings, probably wouldn't sit particularly still for me - and their mum agreed. So I helped her with some advice on photographing them and the images she came back with were perfect to work from. She managed to get some beautiful shots in soft natural light, and all the while keeping it secret from dad, who didn't find out about it all until Christmas Day!
In other news, over the weekend of 12th and 13th January I am holding a January 'open house' event at our home in Horsham, West Sussex. It will be a wonderful opportunity to pick up some original artwork for your home. If you would like details please contact me - I'd love to see you there.
I'm very proud to be featured in 'A Celebration of British Craftsmanship' published by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. This beautiful book contains fascinating biographies and gorgeous photographs of 100 QEST Alumni from across the United Kingdom. With a forward by HRH The Prince of Wales, this book includes an incredible range of crafts from silversmiths and milliners to bell founders and charcoal burners. My entry is below. To purchase a copy click here.
After a lengthy period focusing on painting I decided to mark my last few months at LARA London with a return to drawing.
Mauricia's pose in this drawing was so strong and defiant that the challenge for me was to find the gesture wherever I could. There were beautiful subtle rhythms and flowing passages of light throughout the pose and I capitalised on these wherever I could. I loved the soft steadiness of her gaze, which intrigued me and I think draws the viewer in despite the forbidding character of her stance.
I have one more month of study left, which I've decided to undertake at LARA's school in Bristol under the tutelage of Nicholas Chaundy. My plan is to work on two projects in oil, a portrait and a still life. I'm excited to be finishing my training in a new environment and I hope the change of scene will be a catalyst for some exciting new work when I'm back in my own studio.
I'm very excited to share news of the unveiling of my portrait of Professor David Ritchie at the Royal London Hospital. The portrait was commissioned by Professor Ritchie's sons and hangs on the staircase of the medical school. Professor Ritchie was a noted surgeon and dean of the school until his retirement.
Painted from photographic slides, the portrait shows Professor Ritchie during his formative years as a surgeon, at the famous Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The portrait posed some unique challenges, being a compilation of several reference images, all suffering from deteriorated colour.
By chance, and to my great delight, the portrait hangs next to another painted in the 1900s by Sir John Collier, author of one of my favourite treatises on oil painting 'A Manual of Oil Painting'.
The unveiling was attended by hospital staff and several generations of Professor Ritchie's family. Photographer Andy Alfred was there to record the occasion.
To enquire about commissioning a portrait please message me here.
Art lovers in the South East are enjoying a wide variety of painting, sculpture and pottery at the Association of Sussex Artists show in Horsham.
As in previous years, I am showing a range of works and was delighted to be asked to sit on the judging panel for a second year.
It is particularly exciting to see a number of individuals who have been educated in classical oil painting exhibiting at the show including Jason Tremlett and Pam Gowing (winner of the 2D award). Their works, along with the beautiful landscape paintings of regular exhibitors Dennis Roxby-Bott and Hagop Kasparian were my stand-out artworks of this year's show.
The Association of Sussex Artists Annual Exhibition runs until Saturday 25th August at the Drill Hall, Horsham. It is open from 10.30 - 5pm daily. Entrance is free.
It seems hard to believe but I am approaching the end of my four years of training at LARA and it felt like an appropriate time to change things up a bit on my website. I think the new look is cleaner and more striking than the previous one. I'm hoping it'll provide a good basis for documenting my work over the coming months as I set up my studio at home and begin taking my work in new directions.
You'll also notice the change of name. Ever since I started showing my work in local and regional exhibitions, I have had a niggling suspicion that the name I was using was a little, shall we say, less than memorable. With that in mind, I've drafted into service one of my middle names. So, it's adios 'Benjamin Smith Fine Art'. For professional purposes, you will now be able to find me as Ben Laughton Smith!
With my head down completing my final year of studies, it's been some time since my last post. It's been a busy and exciting period for me, the highlight of which has been producing a portrait to hang in St Barts and The London School of Medicine. The portrait, left, is of Professor of Surgery David Ritchie, who was Dean of the Medical College.
The commission was a great honour to work on and posed several technical challlenges. As a posthumous portrait, I was working from an old photographic slide, the colours of which had deteriorated. The composition itself also required various adjustments in order to establish a suitable background, not to mention straightening the tie, which was flapping in the wind!
It was wonderful to deliver the painting, in its beautiful gilt frame, to the client, who was delighted with it, and I am really excited to see it unveiled and hanging on the stairs of the medical school soon.
In other news, I have just under three months of study left and so I recently took the opportunity to attend a summer drinks arranged by my sponsors, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. It was very inspiring to meet some of their latest crop of talented scholars. In particular I was interested to meet two conservators and I spent a fascinating time talking to them about their work at the Courtauld Institute and get their thoughts on my recent experiments painting on aluminium panels.
I am so thrilled to have a drawing of mine feature in the June edition of The English Home magazine. It's a figure drawing done in Salisbury some years ago, which I've always rather liked. Even though it's not my most developed or sophisticated drawing, there is something elegant and a little wistful about it.
Ben Laughton Smith
Contemporary works of art in the classical tradition.