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Meet Simon Hennessey, our first Diamond Artist

Artists Features


 To celebrate our 60th anniversary, Liquitex is naming a new artist every month as our Diamond Artist. As well as getting a Liquitex care package tailored specifically to their artistic style, we’re showcasing their work on our website and Facebook page.

 Say hello to our January Diamond Artist, UK realist painter, Simon Hennessey .

Creative beginnings

Focusing mainly on realist images of faces, Hennessey closes in on his subjects with meticulous detail. With a background in street art, his first influences came from American hip hop culture and films like Beat Street and Style Wars.

Like so many others, his practice meanders as he tests out new products, styles and techniques. “When I first started, I was an oil paint purist. People told me to experiment, but I didn’t want to listen, as I thought the tradition of oil painting was the ultimate goal for a painter. As I’ve grown as an artist, my own working methods have evolved, and now my art practice has changed considerably from using acrylic paints that dry instantly.”

Perfecting a style

Hennessey’s style evolved at art school after gaining inspiration from artists like Chuck Close and Richard Estes, which prompted him to begin his own realist journey in art.

Although he uses multiple photographic images in the initial stages of an artwork, he has a tendency to defer from the photograph; favouring instead his artistic initiative. “Originality is integral,” he says. “It takes you further than relying on just technical ability.”

And technical ability is something he has honed over many years. “I work with acrylic paints and inks, building up translucent layers as I go using either an airbrush or a paint brush,” he explains. “I tend to use paint brushes for the details and the airbrush and stencils to lay down quick color and tonal ranges. It also works when I’m aiming for a seamless blend in my paintwork. It’s a slow, sometimes tedious process, but it’s my favoured working method.”

Producing layered work requires planning, however. “Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish works really well as an isolating coat to protect the artwork. I apply it continuously throughout my day and also use it as a final coat of varnish if I’m going for a glossy finish. I tend to get through a lot of it, but it’s the best varnishing product I’ve used.”

Thematic realism

Despite displaying such strong technical skills, it is his themes that make Hennessey’s artworks stand out from the crowd. Exploring duality in his pieces, he provides the viewer with two or more perspectives to consider. This can go from something quite aesthetically literal, like the reflection in sunglasses, to a more abstract concept; something not frequently explored in the realist style.

“Many realist/hyperrealist painters have to field questions like ‘why bother painting them, when a photograph can take them instantly?’ My response is that photography and painting have completely different properties, and that’s why people tend to over-scrutinize a painting. With photography, people often take the piece at face-value. What may work on a photograph doesn’t necessarily work on a much larger painting, and for that reason, I don’t stick to an exact mimetic replication of any photograph.”

To learn more about Hennessey’s artwork and exhibitions, visit his website. We’re hosting a gallery of his selected Liquitex artworks on our Facebook page  – share his inspiring pieces with your creative circle!



January 01, 2015 < Back To News

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