Sonja Benskin-Mesher Fine Artist and Illustrator

Our last talk of the day today was by Sonja Benskin-Mesher, a fine artist and illustrator.Sonja had always had a desire to work in the world of art but had been deterred by her mother in early years and told that her work was no good, this led Sonja to leave behind her dreams of being an artist until she was quite mature in years.She then decided to take her degree in fine art and has never looked back as she has gone from strength to strength.Her works can be seen at

It was really interesting to see the contrast between the previous speaker Jonathan Edwards and herself as Sonja’s approach to her art seemed so much different.She explained that she wasn’t in it for the money, and in fact would still do what she did if she didn’t earn any money at all.I wondered if this is what happens when you make this change late in life (as i have also done) and when your reason for making the change is to fill a void that has existed for a long time? I could relate to her words greatly.

Sonja uses music when she paints, particularly drumming music.She finds that there is a connection between the music and the canvas, and that the canvas itself is like a drum.I have decided to also use this technique to see the difference it can make to the work i produce, i do find certain types of music (particularly drumming and inspirational music) to be very calming and soothing, and painting without stress can help alleviate our anxieties about what we are trying to create, and allow the flow of creativity to flow through.

It intially suprised Sonja when someone classed her work as ‘abstract’ in its expression, but she now seems to embrace this and describes herslef as so.She uses a layering technique to create her paintings, using acrylics as a base and then layering up lots of natural materials and more acrylics until she gets the effect she wants.She says that when she decides on a concept sh will obsessively do it again and again , doing it slightly differently each time to see the result before she decides on which one to go with.When i asked her who inspired her she hesitated and said that she was her inspiration, but then gave me some names of recent artists whose work she admires.

She commented that as an artist there isn’t a second of the day that you aren’t working, whether it be creating something in a sketch book or on canvas, thinking about a project or just simply observing life (for example people getting on and off buses).Your creativity, she said, can even creep into your sleep  time and manifest itself in your dreams.I have to say that i have noticed that since i have started the course i am aware of so much more, i have my camera and sketch book with me all the time as i will bump into interesting characters several times a day and need to record what i see, everything around me seems to give me some sort of inspiration – sometimes it can be like sensory overload, but i am sure it all settle down in time!

I really took note when Sonja talked about ‘getting your work out there, and telling people about it’ and the fact that there were some fantastic artists out there but because they don’t tell anyone about  what they do they run the risk of their art becoming ‘impotent’.It was nice to hear that she has now decided that her voice is as good as anyone elses and that she really has something to say! Networking, as she said, is something that people dread but it essential for letting the world know what you do!

She finished the talk by telling us lots of things we could do to get our work out there,and gave us links to her site and projects she was helping to run that we could get involved in.Once again i felt totally inspired, but instead of feeling overwhelmed i felt empowered to join this wonderful journey she was on!

Sonjas Art - in Acrylics