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This week we’re going to be bringing our pen sketching skills into the urban environment.

Sketching your surroundings can be such a fantastic way to create a visual diary of your daily experiences and I’m always a sucker for a sketch of a bike.

This video tutorial looks at how you can use different thicknesses of pens to create variety in your sketches, and how thinking about the surrounding shapes outside your main subject can add context to your drawings.

A Step-by-Step Urban Sketching Lesson

How do you start a sketch?… Click to continue



Earlier in the Summer I took an impromptu trip to see ‘Late Rembrandt‘.

It was the first time that an exhibition had been solely dedicated to Rembrandt’s late works. Many of the most famous paintings that he produced in the last 15 years of his life had been brought together from museums and private collections across the globe.

This period is often the most celebrated due to Rembrandt’s development of a more gestural, impressionistic style and this was some 200 years before the popularity of the Impressionists.

He was out there!

I’d missed the exhibition when it was on show in London at the National Gallery but for the final leg of the tour it was going home to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Heavy dark shadows, hidden brooding eyes, thick scratchy textured marks, lots of Brown umber and a dirty yellow varnish glow are all the things that excite me about Rembrandt’s self-portrait style.

With the allure of Nutella Waffles, the opportunity to visit Rembrandt’s Studio and the once in a lifetime chance of seeing so many Rembrandt’s up close together, how could I resist… Click to continue


how to sketch outside
I’ve just finished creating a new sketching course taking some of my drawing techniques out of the studio into the countryside.

In ‘The Essential Guide to Sketching the Landscape’ we look at new materials, techniques but most importantly what ‘works’ in a landscape sketch, from composition and simple perspective to changing your viewpoint to achieve maximum results.

Developing the habit of thumbnail sketches can build your confidence when gathering reference information out on location and you’ll become used to using your sketchbook to its full advantage, without feeling pressured to make every piece a finished work of art.

If you want to learn more about discovering the simple pleasure of sketching outdoors, soaking up the sounds and atmosphere click here to watch an intro video to the course




Downloading the reference photograph

The photo below can be ‘right clicked’ and ‘Save image as’, so you can use it as a reference image, print it out and follow along with the video above.

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You can also download a High-Resolution Image here... Click to continue


Rames Head

Considering it was mid-April in England, we were treated to some truly amazing weather.

We’d travelled down the coast to an area of South East Cornwall called ‘The Forgotten Corner’. Often overlooked due to its remote location but we found some cracking little-secluded coves and practically empty sandy beaches.

Artist’s have always been drawn to Cornwall due to the quality of light and mild climate, but the trip for me was all about getting to the sea.

The ever changing tide, the allure of cliff edges, the great expanse of sky and the unpredictable power of the waves.

We wanted to get to the edge, be battered by the elements and this was the closest we could find.

view from our window

 View from our cottage window – Rame Peninsula, Cornwall Click to continue


An Artist in His Studio,1904

An Artist in His Studio, John Singer Sargent, 1904

Last month saw the opening of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The show highlights the work of one of my favourite portrait painters, John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925)

I’ve been a fan of Singer Sargent’s paintings ever since visiting the Tate in London as 15 year old student, blown away by Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, the most compelling scene with its magical sense of glowing light.

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Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, John Singer Sargent, Oil on canvas, 1885

I’d always thought it was quite a small painting having only seen it in books, but in reality it’s nearly 2 meters tall by 1.5 meters wide, the sheer scale of it being life-size really draws you into the piece. The golden hour light is fading and the glow from the lanterns illuminates the girls faces so beautifully.

And that’s often the most fantastic thing about visiting an exhibition, the experience of sitting in front of the painting and seeing it through the artist’s eyes… Click to continue


On painting, procrastination and what might have been

by Will Kemp acrylic painting

 “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” Kurt Vonnegut I always feel so sad when I read this quote, “It might have been…” What a waste. So many aspiring artists come to me with a real passion to learn how to paint and ask me where should […]

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On Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships

by Will Kemp painting

J.M.W Turner, Margate (?) from the sea, about 1835-40 11 years ago on a very cold winters morning I was poised with a dripping wet floor mop, recreating a painting by J.M.W Turner. My audience were a group of five cleaners from the Museum I worked at. The workshop wasn’t really going to plan. I […]

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How to Paint Acrylic Portraits

by Will Kemp acrylic painting

Painting portraits with acrylics can be frustrating. It can seem that you’re facing an uphill struggle. After the pleasure of not getting headaches from toxic turpentine and being able to paint with thick impasto marks there seems to be double payback for daring to tackle a portrait with acrylics. Not only do the colours appear […]

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Landscape Sketching in the Highlands

by Will Kemp drawing

After a long drive we arrived at Laundry cottage in the pitch black, the only sound was running water from the nearby waterfall. There had been a few minor worries en-route, slight overheating, suspicious drips from under the car and the Sat-Nav had given up the ghost but we were here…and the pack of shortbread […]

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