Martin Bentham began his career as a professional artist painting the subjects that were familiar to him – the landscape and people of the Mendip Hills. An ex-farm labourer, Martin’s initial paintings were accurate studies reliant on expert drawing skills and choice of colour. He soon found that nature changes fleetingly when painting outdoors, colours alter according to light and weather and it was difficult to capture these changes. Oil paint, by its very nature, is a tricky medium with which to portray the subtlety of colours and texture inherent within Martin’s chosen scenes.
Realising his paintings had become somewhat static led Martin to radically change his method of painting, especially the way in which he applies paint to the canvas surface. Using a palette knife to apply unmixed colours, Martin has discovered a new way to recreate natural textures such as rocks, leaves, and grass in a more expressive and exciting way. These natural characteristics are what inspires Martin to paint and his chosen medium allows him to retain the identity and characteristics of his subjects. Continuing to paint directly in front of his subject allows Martin to capture the true range of natural colours, textures and the unusual shapes that occur – so difficult to create from imagination in the studio.
Martin will be giving an exhibition tour on Saturday 6 October, 2am-3pm, providing a chance to ask questions about his artistic practice. Free with exhibition entry.
Image: Wall and Sky, Oil, 2012