Jan Szymczuk


Jan joined the Metropolitan police force hoping to one day become a dog handler and fell into drawing when he offered to sketch a suspect from a witness at the scene of an armed robbery – the likeness of the result leaving the investigating sergeant gobsmacked. Jan lives in Northumberland with his wife and has only been painting for a few years. He enjoys working in acrylics as well as other mediums and, now retired, spends most of the day painting in his art studio, a converted garage. Thanks to his police artist training, he works quickly – which could be helpful for the quick draw challenge element of the competition. Jan’s dream is to continue teaching drawing classes for local people who have shown an interest in art. Having reaffirmed his love for painting in recent years, Jan firmly believes you don’t need a degree to be an artist, only self-taught talent and a bit of determination.




What first inspired you to get into painting?

One of my sons bought me an acrylic painting set for Christmas present a few years ago, and I decided to try colour after 40 odd years working in black and white pencil.


What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?

One of the proudest pieces of artwork I have produced is a very large acrylic painting of a Snow Dog, which is 50" x 40 in size, which took me a few days and is now framed and have hanging on the main wall of my art studio, my daughter Jasmine doesn't want me to sell it, ever!


Have you had any artistic disasters? Were you able to learn anything from that?

I started painting a girl's portrait in black and white acrylic and it just wasn't working, and forgot about it for a few months in the corner of my studio, dug it out and repainted the canvas lightly with white gesso and repainted the 2nd attempt over the first, really satisfied with the second attempt and ended up selling it!


What was it like being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne – what did you learn most from their weekly feedback?

I have the greatest respect for both Daphne and Lachlan, and as an aspiring artist, I was more than happy to take on board their honest critique of my work. I found out that they would not mince words, as at the end of the day they have such a vast experience in art and were kind enough to be passing some of this on to me and my work in the hope that I can improve my art, which it has, since working on the series.


Which artist(s) has inspired you the most?

I really love the old masters like Turner, Rembrandt and Vermeer and am constantly inspired by many artist of today by their varied techniques they use in creating portraiture and landscapes, digital art, I find is a fantastic inspiration.


What is your favourite thing to paint or draw?

? I don't really have a favourite thing to paint or draw, I have more of a "I wonder if I can draw or paint that" approach to art, whenever I come across what I think is a beautiful inspired thing to paint or draw. I do though tend to paint and draw an awful lot of animals (dogs and horses) and a few famous people.


Quick questions…

Landscape or portraiture? Landscape.

Acrylic or watercolour for painting? Acrylic.

Pencil or ink for sketching? Pencil definitely.

Still life or life drawing? Life drawing, as you are trying to show real life and movement.

Lachlan or Daphne? Not much between them, but I do prefer the warmer Daphne to the icy Lachlan!