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Painting portraits with award-winning artist and animator Matthew Waruszynski

Learn the art and science of portrait painting from expert Matthew Waruszynski on his 5-session courses at Westbury Arts Centre.

Matt works as a figurative artist and tutor and has been teaching at WAC for since September 2023. He also works as a freelance animator and his work includes BBC children’s animation series ‘Hey Duggee’, TV commercials and promotional illustrations for Milton Keynes Museum.

Talking about the portraiture courses at Westbury Arts Centre, Matt explains: “Portraiture is very satisfying if you get it right as it is one of the hardest things to do. Counter-intuitively, it is more difficult to paint someone you know, as you have preconceptions about what they look like.

“Most of the students have not done any art since school. I start off by teaching the fundamental principles of painting e.g. colour temperature, tonal values, positive and negatives shapes, before moving on to paint facial features. What holds people back is lack of self-belief, particularly if they haven’t painted for some time. Once you have confidence you can try and fail and it’s not a problem.”

Matt includes demonstrations as part of his classes and also provides individual feedback and pointers for next steps. He has noticed that everyone on his courses improves their ability to capture a likeness. His aim is that students have enough knowledge and confidence to develop their own style.

He has found that people come to classes not just to improve their painting skills but also for the social aspects. Some have specific goals such as aiming to submit a picture into a competition.

Matt’s own painting medium is oils but students bring their own paints and can choose any medium to use in his classes e.g. acrylics, watercolours as well as oils.

Matt’s own interest in portraiture is about telling the back story of the person by capturing in a person’s face their past journey through life, their traumas and joys.

For him it is an organic, intuitive process. He likes using bold, expressive paint marks, often capturing a moment of movement. Going forward, he is exploring a more expressive approach - using the process of creating to process the past and understand the present.

One of the painters he most admires is Frans Hals because of way his faces so animated and he applies paint applied both precisely and loosely. (On show at the National Gallery, London until 21 January)

In 2023 Matt was a finalist in the art school, Raw Umber Studio, Image Prize and he won the Art Academy London Sir Philip Trousdell Prize for Portraiture in 2016 He was commended for the way he captured the sitter’s particular personality in a very insightful and lively way.

The next session of Portraiture courses at Westbury Arts Centre, taught by Matt start 26 February click here See more of Matt’s art Matt Waruszynski (@mattw_art) • Instagram photos and videos Web Matt Waruszynski (

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