Today Benjamin Mitchley is in the spotlight – see more of his work at: www.benjaminmitchley.artweb.com
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I was born in South Africa, in 1967. I have been quite creative from a young age, and I have always been interested in visual and performing arts. I work from my home studio, painting and teaching, and doing commission work as well as scenic contract work.
In my latest works I depict scenes of everyday life. I continue to search for new ideas and experiment with new techniques and mediums.
I do commission work in painting on canvas, murals, faux techniques, sculpture, scenic painting and illustration. I am also a hobbyist in animation and photography. I teach painting and drawing from my home studio.
I furthered my scenic experience while working in Dubai, on the IBN Battuta shopping mall, and a sculpture project for the Dubai Municipality. In Johannesburg I worked on a scenic project for Monte Casino’s East-End Teatro.
International visits to the UAE, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, and Greece will always be memorable, and a great inspiration to my work.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
When I completed my secondary education, I decided to study Fine Arts, because of my love for the arts.
What training did you have?
I had art as a subject during my secondary education, and I also studied Fine Arts at the Vaal Triangle University of Technology and the Pretoria University of Technology, South Africa.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
The high point in my career started in 2005, with the recognition of my work. To make a living from what I love to do, is the ultimate, and that is to create.
Who is your favourite artist?
What are you aiming for?
To create as much beautiful art works, for art lovers and collectors, as I can.
How will you get there?
By loving and enjoying every moment of the creative process.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
Joy and the love for what they see. It makes me happy when someone likes something that I have created. I’ve learnt to deal with criticism, good or bad, so not always surprised by reactions.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
It depends on the detail and the technique I am using. It can take from one month to three months, or one day to a week, or one minute to an hour.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
This depends on my mood. If I feel the need to produce a work quickly, an up-tempo samba or club-mix from the 80s in the background. It makes my brush move quickly with the beat.
Calmer lounge and classical music helps me relax in front of my easel. Other than that, complete silence with nature sounds works the best.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I am currently working toward solo exhibition for 2013. Any offers for exhibition invitations are always welcome. In between the painting, I am working on an animation short film.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
I am always amazed by the work of past masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Klimt, the Impressionists and the ancient Greek and Roman artists and sculptors. New and young artists inspire me. I see what can be achieved and that nothing is impossible to create.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
As for my love of the Impressionists, I like to create scenes of every day life. People intrigue me. I want to capture the essence surrounding a person, or a group of people. I want to feel the atmosphere and energy of a landscape, or of the space around a portrait or scene.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
They are all my favourites. None are the same. They all have a different feeling about them.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Take risks. Never give up. Don’t let negative criticism get to you. Learn from positive and good criticism. Do your work every day, even if it’s five minutes. Look and see the beauty around you, you can find it anywhere even in a spot on the ground.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Not all galleries are willing to take on new artists, unless the artists have made a name for themselves. My motto is if you don’t try, you will never know. Don’t take rejection negatively. A gallery owner once told me that I will never stand a chance to exhibiting in his gallery. His reason was that he was in the business for more than 20 years. He did not even take a look at my work. Five years later I was invited by the new owner to exhibit with the gallery.
Get as much work as possible out there. Do what ever it takes.