A Guide to the Will Kemp Art School

Morning class!

I’m Will Kemp, founder of Will Kemp Art School & I’d like to welcome you to my website!

If this is the first time you’re visiting, you may be wondering where to start.

I’ve often found when trying to navigate a new website for the first time its the equivalent of trying to read a book that’s had pages ripped out, and arranged randomly!

You can dip in anywhere and extract something of interest without regard to what goes before or after it; each article, each technique, stands on its own.

But what if you want to know how everything relates to each other?

What if you might have missed a crucial step in your learning?

This guide is designed to show you how the different areas of the Will Kemp Art School fit together and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

From the principles behind my teaching to how to find the perfect course for you.

So the first thing we need to look at is the method behind the Art School.

sarum studio

Q. What is the Art School, what does it teach and is it right for me?

A simple approach to classical painting.

The website guides you through the complex world of drawing & painting by showing the fundamentals you need.

One of the biggest myths in art is that only some people can draw & paint.

People say it is just too hard for anyone to paint and only ‘real’ artists born with talent, can produce good work.

I started the Will Kemp Art School to prove that this is just not true.

By focusing on the ‘7 Painting principles‘ I offer a distilled approach to classical painting.

I teach lessons for improving your artistic potential in the simplest way possible (and the quickest time) sharing the best tips, techniques and ideas from my years as an artist to make sure you can fulfill your artistic potential.

I want to take you on a journey from amateur to artist.

Q. What are the 7 Painting Principles (and why do they matter)?

Before we get started my philosophy is, less is more.

Fewer brushes for quicker painting.
Fewer paints for easy colour mixing.
Fewer techniques for optimal results.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Bruce lee

Classical fundamentals and painting principles that lay the foundation for all your future works.

If you want to paint portraits, abstracts, still life’s, the same principles apply.

And if you skip them, try to jump ahead, you’ll be making the same mistakes time and time again.

1 : Coloured ground
2 : Contrast & value
3 : Composition
4 : Colour mixing
5 : Perspective
6 : Negative space
7: Glazing

If you want to understand the principles behind how paintings ‘work’, demystify colour mixing and learn how to draw anything, then following these principles will give you a solid foundation for anything you chose to paint, regardless of subject or medium.

If you want to follow through specific articles that discuss the 7 painting principles, click here to see a quick start reference guide.

Artist Background

Prior to painting full time I’ve worked with Museums such the National Gallery, London & Tate

I’ve taught in schools, set up and run my own art gallery for 5 years and have taught hundreds of people to paint and draw.

I’ve studied traditional Atelier painting techniques at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence and with Nick Beer at the Sarum Studio, alongside conceptual art and most things in-between.

I’ve painted in watercolours, acrylics and oils and my styles have ranged from abstract, impressionistic to realistic portraiture in order to realise my own personal style.

This site has come about as a promise to my students who have been waiting to continue their studies!

I love paint, I love colour, and I love teaching people how to paint.

Q. Do you work in watercolours, acrylics or oils?

90% of the lessons I demonstrate use acrylic paints.


Because I’ve found this to be the most effective method to learn about colour mixing, the properties of paint, brushwork, blending without ending up in a sea of mud!

You can make mistakes with acrylics and easily paint over them.

Learning about glazes and impasto techniques quickly and easily without worrying about the chemical properties of Oil.

Once you have these skills you’ll be able to move onto Oils with ease (it’s like learning classical painting techniques by stealth – think Karate Kid, ‘wax on wax off‘!)

Q. How do I find the articles that interest me?

It depends what you are looking for, the ‘why’, or the ‘How to’.

There are over 70 articles posted on this site (and growing every week) on topics including getting started & the basics, acrylic painting, portrait painting and more.

Each medium I focus on (Acrylics, Oils, Drawing) has ‘How to’ articles listed under the tabs along the top bar.


When I compose articles, related techniques and methods, they have been grouped together so they can be easily found under each tab.

For example, you’d find ‘How to prime a canvas using Gesso for Acrylic painting’ under the ‘Acrylic‘ Tab and you’d find ‘Glossary for Oil painting terms‘ under the ‘Oil‘ tab.

Some of the articles are listed under a couple of tabs as the methods cross-over.

Or if you want to follow through specific articles that discuss the 7 painting principles and discover the ‘why’, click here to see a quick start reference guide or find it under the ‘About’ tab.

painting principles

This will not only help you navigate the website, but you will be able to select whichever technique or free step-by-step course is particularly suitable for you at the moment.

It will also give you a sense of what might be on the website that you would like to learn about at another time and for a different purpose.

If you want to keep updated on my latest articles, videos and techniques, then just enter you email into the ‘Get Updates’ box in the side bar and every time I post a new article you’ll get an email direct to your inbox.

Q. Do you recommend a starting point and why?

Each student comes to painting with a different set of experiences and skills, so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

When your first starting to learn a new skill it can often be overwhelming, with so much new information you can easily get information overload, which leads to ‘paralysis my analysis’ and a blank canvas.

This are some of the most common questions I receive at the art school.

  • Where do I start with drawing?
  • Should I concentrate on colour-mixing?
  • Where do I start with your courses?
  • Where do I start……. first ??

Take a deep breath, grab a brew (and a couple of chocolate biscuits) and we’re going to walk through the layers of learning and the perfect lesson for you, even if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush before.

Q. Is there any order to how I approach the articles on the blog ?

If we were in an ideal world we’d start with a Cioccolato gelato! and then get drawing.

First in pencil, then in charcoal, then black & white paint. (In Classical Atelier’s, these studies can last two years so don’t feel too pressured to rush through to get to the colour!) but often when you first have the urge to put paint to canvas, colour is the thing that’s exciting.

So why spend the time on drawing?

80% of a painting’s success comes from the drawing.

Maybe even 90%.

Even abstract paintings have an underlying balance of structure and composition, so when trying to create a realistic painting effect, your drawing is even more important.

The drawing skills are key to understanding how to ‘see’ and learning the importance of tonal value & contrast, listed below are some of the key articles you should get to grips with first.

The Importance of Drawing Articles

Q. What if my drawing is pretty sweet, where do I start with painting?

I recommend you have a look at my getting started articles that cover materials and practical tips, I’ve listed a few below but you can find more under the ‘Acrylics tab’ at the the top of the page.

Getting Started & the basics

Then we need to learn about colour mixing and the different properties of paint, I’ve listed a few below but you can find more under the ‘Colour tab‘ at the the top of the page.

Choosing a Basic Palette

The Art of Colour mixing

Sticking within the painting principles the free step-by-step jug painting tutorial would be the best place to start actually putting paint to canvas, we just use 2 colours and see how much can be achieved with just a few basic tools,

Step-by-step Tutorial

Acrylic Still life painting of a Jug using 2 colours (video)

burnt sienna wash, warm tone

However, you might still be having that colour itch! So the cherry painting demo is a great painting to start with. From learning about coloured ground, contrast, colour mixing, negative space and glazing this tutorial has it all!

Step-by-step Tutorial

Acrylic Still life painting of a cherry for beginners (video)

adding the hilight to the cherry still life

Students have had some fantastic results with this lesson, here’s a gallery of some of the successes (many were their first every paintings)

These are a couple of my free video tutorials but you can find more under the ‘Free Videos‘ tab at the the top of the page or on my Youtube channel with over 1 million views!

Q. What is the best paid course for me?

As with most things it depends where you’re starting from, but if you’ve never drawn before, or studied drawing, I would recommend the drawing course.

It will set you so far ahead, so quickly, it really is the most ‘bang for your buck’ for a set of principle that don’t change, in drawing, painting or photography. Once you start to ‘learn how to see’ it influences everything you’re creating.

From how to arrange a composition, to understanding (and drawing!) objects in perspective.

The drawing course draws on both classical techniques and longstanding drawing fundamentals.

It has been designed with painters in mind, moving you from simple line drawings to more complicated perspective scenes.

Absolute beginners drawing course – Skill level – easy/intermediate

This courses offers an overview of ‘how drawing works’ looking in-depth into the reasons why you can’t draw and how to overcome self-inflicted limitations that have been unknowingly stopping your drawing progress.

Once you ‘get’ drawing the breakthrough happens in an instance. You’ll never look at objects the same again!


So after the drawing course, where do you go next?

Well, if you’re eager to paint I would go through a couple of the free still life tutorials and then it depends if you want to paint more impressionistic, more classical or need to improve your colour mixing.

Once you understand the basics of drawing the next step is understanding the theory of colour mixing because paired with your drawing you’ll know how to approach any subject you want.

Simple colour mixing course – Skill level – easy/intermediate

After drawing, colour mixing is the next most important skill to master as a painter.

It doesn’t matter if you’re painting portraits, still life’s or abstracts. Having a good foundation of how colours work together is key.


Impressionistic seascape course – Skill level – easy

A simple introduction to painting using a limited palette. A great choice if you’ve worked through the drawing course and are keen to get started in painting.

We look at using tones and warm and cool hues. It starts to introduce colours and simple painting techniques. You’ll start to notice similar ideas and phrases such as ‘tonal ground’, ‘negative space’ ‘aerial perspective’


Art of acrylics still life course – Skill level – intermediate

This course goes in depth, from start to finish using Classical techniques.

From preparing the canvas, drawing out, to adding glazes to the final stages of the painting. If you’ve never painted before you will be able to follow the course as it introduces new colours slowly so you learn about the importance of value & tone, before having the added complications of colour mixing.

It also shows you to build a painting up in layers for a realistic, subtle approach whilst still using acrylics.


Black & white Oil portrait course – Skill level – Intermediate/advanced

If you look at any Classical Portrait under the surface is a hidden structure, a Grisaille underpainting – a fully developed picture in tones of grey.

This black & white painting lays the foundation for future portraits if you want to move onto colour, but creates a stunning portrait in its own right.

Students learn how to craft form and realism, however, without any drawing background I wouldn’t advice this course, drawing is so important with portraits that you could easily get discouraged and think it’s your painting that’s ‘wrong’ when in fact it is the drawing.

This course is perfect for students who have experience in drawing, want to develop their portraiture but don’t know where to start.

Even if you’ve never painted in oils, this course guides you through the fundamentals needed to create a classical Grisaille portrait.


Hope you enjoy the articles, if you have any questions just leave a comment on one of the posts, happy painting!