Artist Spotlight: Benjamin Hope

/ Royal Institute of Oil Painters

Hope-Benjamin-Old Paint Tubes.jpg
Hope-Benjamin-Old Paint Tubes.jpg

Benjamin Hope is a member of a number of the societies within the Federation of British Artists, including the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, whose Annual Exhibition 2022 is now available to view online, and will open at Mall Galleries on Thursday 24 November. 

The ROI exhibition highlights a number of contemporary oil painters including exciting young painters who are exhibiting alongside established names who are experts in their field. 

We spoke to Benjamin Hope about his background, work and inspirations.

Old Paint Tubes, Benjamin Hope NEAC PS RSMA ROI RP, 25 x 36 cm (35 x 46 cm framed), £1,400.

Q&A with Benjamin Hope:

  • You have a scientific background having studied maths, physics and a PhD in Theoretical Nanoscience - do you think this changes the way you observe the world around you and has it had any impact on the way you paint?

It certainly frames the way I view everything but it’s difficult to have a firm view on how it affects my painting as I can’t compare with what it would be like to have an alternative history. I would say, though, that I think artistic and scientific pursuits are much closer in practice than conventional wisdom would suggest. At a fundamental level both are about making conjectures and doing experiments—figuring stuff out, trying things, trial and error etc. The idea that one is creative and the other analytic is a myth and a false dichotomy. Both are very much both.

  • What are your main sources of inspiration and are there any particular painters or paintings that are you are especially drawn to?

I think I have been more influenced and inspired by contemporary painters than historical ones (although no doubt there is plenty of indirect influence from the latter). As a child I used to visit festivals like Art in Action and watch artists such as Tom Coates at work. That certainly had a big impact and helped me see past the kind of hyper-realism I was also drawn to when I was young. I was also inspired by movie visual effects artists and production designers.

In recent years, I've tended to become very interested in one or two painters at a time and absorb something of what they do before coming across someone new. Key names for me would be Ann Gale, Pete Brown, Andrew Gifford, Peter Clossick. They are very different painters but then I don’t ever intend to stick to a fixed style or process.

  • You are a member of a number of societies within the Federation of British Artists, including the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, what are the benefits of your memberships within the FBA and are you able to speak of the community this creates?

One obvious benefit is guaranteed showing of my work in multiple shows a year (no more nervous waiting for the results of selection!). But really the main thing is, as you say, the community it creates. Painting can be a lonely business and I think not interacting with other people every day can actually result in a kind of cognitive impairment so being part of FBA societies is a way out of that problem. And who better to become friends with than a diverse range of talented artists? Three of the painters named in my previous answer are members of FBA societies!

Self Portrait, Benjamin Hope NEAC PS RSMA ROI RP, 31 x 30 cm (41 x 40 cm framed), £1,400.
  • How often do you create self portraits and is there anything in particular you are trying to investigate or capture through depictions of yourself?

Self portraits are a subject I tend to return to between projects or if there’s a spare day when I can’t work on anything else. They are a really good way of practicing painting the head and you have the freedom of being able to boss yourself around in ways you might not have the confidence for with another sitter.

I don’t really try to capture anything specific in them—they’re more about experimenting with marks, lighting and so on. However I think I do end up getting to something like a truth—I mean I usually look cross or miserable!

  • Your work tends to have relatively neutral tones, how do you decide on your choices of colour and what is your process behind building up colour and creating tones?

I really don’t have a fixed process or palette. I just mess around and experiment until I get what I want, or like what I get. Were I ever to do any proper teaching, this would be the main thing I would encourage. That said, I do always start with a coloured ground—I’m pretty sure that’s a technique that will never change. I don’t work on white as it’s at the extreme end of a the tonal range whereas painting (for me) is more about playing against somewhere in the middle.

Mum Painting Me, Benjamin Hope NEAC PS RSMA ROI RP, 41 x 31 cm (51 x 41 cm framed), £1,700.
  • ‘Mum Painting Me’ is a beautiful piece capturing a wonderful sense of reflection. Are you able to discuss the story behind this painting and share anything about the relationship you have with your mother and what this was like to capture in a painting?

I would never have become a painter were it not for my Mum because she’s a painter too and got me started when I was very young. On this occasion we had a day working together in my studio which included the exercise of painting each other and this was my effort. It was at the end of the day when the light was fading and I couldn’t see much by the end of it!

I wanted to include this piece partly because my Mum has exhibited at Mall Galleries several times—it means a lot to her—but she’s been very ill over the last year and hasn’t been able to paint. Thankfully she’s been able to dust off her brushes again in the last few weeks.


We hope you enjoyed learning more about Benjamin’s creative processes! Including Benjamin’s work there are over 300 paintings for sale within the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition which are already available to browse and buy online. If you are able to visit us in person, the exhibition opens Thursday 24 November and runs until Saturday 10 December.

View the ROI 2022 Online

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