By Chris Illich
“I like to think of my paintings as a paint by number, or a puzzle, but instead of being given the piece, you’re making your own to put together. So while I still pick the images I want to do, I lay it out and make my own puzzle pieces to throw together.”
This is how St. Catharines’ artist Sean Benton explains his art – a style consisting of lines and blocks that he uses to create his works, and when you look at his pieces, you can understand his approach to his paintings.
“Everything I learned at Sheridan was based on colour, shape and value. So, using that, I started to look at things and break them down into those elements. I like painting faces, maybe because there is something about faces in which you can get a lot of shapes out of,” he explained.
Benton, who recently completed five year a two-year diploma/three-year transfer degree through Sheridan College and Brock University, will be having his work displayed at the Dennis Tourbin Member’s Gallery at the Niagara Artists Centre on Oct. 3. The title for his show, Countless Faces, Countless Places, demonstrates his love for portraiture.
“How do you name a show that has Vikings in it as well as portraits of 1940s actresses in it?”
“Basically I was interested in doing themes, and it all started with a series of black and white portraits of 1940s actresses,” he explained.
These actresses were born out of a depression Benton went through in 2013, when he couldn’t paint anymore. But he stuck through it, and it all started because they resonated within him because of their style, their fashion, and the photography. Some of the pieces were featured at the Niagara Artist’s Centre’s event Small Feats, as well as their Juried Show in 2014.
“I just started recreating glamour shots from those days. From there, I began painting all the time again. I then started painting friends and local people around the community. I don’t know if it was a homage of a credit to the people I was around, but I almost felt bad if I didn’t paint everyone I got to know,” he said.
The new theme that Benton is moving through is self-portraiture. Aided by his love for the TV show Vikings (he cut his hair like Ragnar from the show), he started putting himself within these types of characters.
“The way I can describe it is I guess, in the same way actors play roles that they like to audition for, well for me, it’s my way of separating my personality and my interests,” he explained.
“I’m not going to take a boat across Lake Ontario right now, even though that sounds great. I just think painting is the next best thing that I can do to show that.”