Distracted by Light (how a bowl of apricots sent my schedule out the window)

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Will Kemp, Still Life with Apricots (detail), acrylic on canvas

I’ve been distracted by an apricot.

It’s not the usual thing that grabs your eye but I’m deep in the midst of filming a new simple colour mixing course and the apricots have got me.

They were the perfect subject to teach colour theory for one of the studies and as I arranged them in the studio, a light, impressionistic, muted blue and orange composition began to form.

Pleased with the setup, I headed down the garden for a tea break.

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Discovering Hepworth, Abstract Sculpture & St Ives (inside the Artist’s Studio)

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On a brisk winter’s morning in the coastal town of St Ives, we negotiated our way down the steep lanes, past whitewashed slate-roofed cottages to Trewyn Studio.

Home to one of Britain’s most important twentieth-century artistsDame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975), who lived and worked here for more than 25 years.

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Trewyn Studio – now the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall

Her secluded garden studio lies behind the white arched doorway and protective stone walls to the right of the house. The property is now owned by Tate gallery but has been left as close as possible to when she worked in the gardens under the Cornish light and amongst the seagulls.

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Painting the Winter Light in Cornwall

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Will Kemp, Cornish Fishing Boat, Acrylic on Canvas (detail)

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in South Cornwall and caught the most fantastic weather. I’d visited this stretch of coastline before and enjoyed fabulous Summer sunrises & sunsets, fresh seafood and sparkling Mediterranean colours.

Seasons can often show you new sides of a landscape and experiencing it all again in Winter was totally invigorating.

Atmospheric mist enveloped harbours, it was wilder with more dramatic changes in light, and the sombre Winter palette reminded of James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s landscape paintings.

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How to Paint a Sunlit Room Interior with Acrylics (Balancing Warm and Cool Light)

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Morning class! This week we’re in a Victorian townhouse.

I’d been visiting for afternoon tea when the play of light in the hallway caught my eye. The warm sunlight coming in from garden doors to the right cast a real glow onto the yellow wooden wall. The floral arrangement reminded me of the peonies in the Floral Still Life Painting Course, and you can start to see how compositions can be built out from one point of reference.

There was a natural blue light coming from a window in the hallway out of shot to the left, and an orange incandescent wall lamp, higher up on the right, both contributing to the warm and cool tones in the flowerheads.

This step-by-step acrylic tutorial looks at balancing different areas of light and shadow (chiaroscuro) when working on a sunlit room interior scene.

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New Beginner’s Still Life Project E-Book is Live!

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This Still Life Acrylic Project Book is a brand new, downloadable PDF E-Book designed to help you understand light and shadow and create better acrylic still life paintings.

Who’s the E-book for?

An absolute beginner to acrylics who wants to complete a simple still life painting but would like help with colour mixing recipes and drawing guides.

If you have trouble creating a realistic form within your still life’s, then you would see instant improvements through the lessons. Why? Because when you will understand how changes in light influence change in value, it can transform your paintings.

What’s included?

Throughout the e-book, I’ll guide you through 3 full-colour acrylic paintings from start to finish. I’ve broken each lesson into bite-size pieces, so you can complete each stage of the painting within a 2-hour window, something you can easily follow, even if you’ve never painted before.

  • A 100-page pdf (with 3 x projects, and simple step-by-step instructions)
  • Line drawings (so you can follow along even if you’re new to drawing)
  • Colour swatches (that you can print out to match your paints against)
  • Colour mixing recipes (so even an absolute beginner can achieve balanced harmonious mixes)
  • Colour reference images (to work 1:1 with your paintings)

By the end of the book, you’ll learn how to filter your objects, look for relationships in stories, scale, size and the importance of planning a colour scheme, knowing all the same principles will apply to future more complicated arrangements.

You can read more about it here: Still Life Acrylic Project E-Book

Cheers,

Will

p.s You can also read a review of the e-book by the lovely Professor and Author Mary Tabor here: New Book by Will Kemp, Artist and Teacher Extraordinaire

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Pen & Ink Still Life Illustrations

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This week I’ve been working on the last stages of my new beginner’s acrylic project book and wanted to add some pen and ink illustrations of materials & still life setups.

For all the sketches I used the following pens on 220gsm cartridge paper.

  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – filled with Lamy water-soluble black ink
  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen – this bad boy just holds the perfect about of water in the brush filament tip to wash-in water-soluble ink
  • Muji 0.5mm Black Fine Liner – so smooth and works well at any angle under a rapid speed
  • Pentel Brush Pen – if you’re struggling to create broken line effects, treat yourself to this pen, you can block in deep blacks really quickly

A number of the illustrations below are based on famous still life paintings. I always think looking at the pieces in black and white is interesting as you see how much the composition reveals an artists style. If you compare the shapes in Cézanne’s work to Morandi’s, there is a different set of compositional interests.

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