Edition // 001: Notes from the Artist’s Studio

Edition // 001: Notes from the Artist's StudioMorning Class,

My name is Will and I am an obsessive notetaker.

I get sidetracked easily.

If I’m listening to something that has piqued my curiosity, it can send me down a rabbit hole of research….usually halfway through a painting.

And then the copious note-taking follows.

It got so bad at one stage, Vanessa had to prevent me from buying new notebooks because after furiously filling them with fascinating insights, I’d annoyingly lose where I’d put them or worse couldn’t decipher what my own scribbling all meant.

On a positive, my last birthday present was The Remarkable Tablet (an e-ink notebook that feels amazingly close to writing on paper) which has helped add order to the chaos and made the kitchen table decidedly neater.

Some of my research notes do come back to inspire my practice and if they bring me a new understanding or appreciation, I figured they are worth sharing.

So here are my top 5 art inspirations that I’ve read, experimented with or listened to this week, when I should have been at the easel, with the hope they might inspire your own work too…

Continue Reading Edition // 001: Notes from the Artist’s Studio

Acrylic Still Life Painting Tutorial – Terracotta Plant Pots (Free 1 hr video tutorial)

terracotta-pots-acrylic-tutorial

“No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.”
Claude Monet

Morning class! This week we’re taking inspiration from around your home.

You might have always wanted to capture the corner of your sunlit living room or an interesting collection of books stacked up on your coffee table or a section of your garden or patio with all the vibrant greens and spring colours.

But when faced with a new painting subject, where do you begin?

How do you decide on the pigments to use or what’s important to focus on?

The tendency can be just to get started and ‘work it out’ as you go along.

But without adopting a systematic approach to your painting, you can be faced with frustration with your colour mixing, wasted time on your drawing and an unsatisfying result; I want to show you an easier way.

In this acrylic still life tutorial, I go through the steps of how I think through my colour composition from choosing the coloured ground to introducing the pigments and then slowly building up the piece before putting brush to canvas.

So let’s grab a brew and any remaining biscuits you may have left and let’s get painting!

Continue Reading Acrylic Still Life Painting Tutorial – Terracotta Plant Pots (Free 1 hr video tutorial)

Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)

Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)

Will Kemp, Peonies (Detail) Acrylic & Water-mixable Oils on Canvas, 60.96 cm x 60.96 cm (24 inch x 24 inch)

Over the New Year, I’ve been in the studio working up a large scale floral still life painting, from a series of sketches I did over the summer. The original composition had been inspired by the dramatic oil paintings of the Dutch Golden Age (you can see the progress of my painting further down the article).

To achieve the soft blends between the petals, delicate smoked edges and the ability to work across subtle shifts in hues, oils would allow me a longer working time. Then I could build up the painting as a whole piece, adjusting tones, working wet-into-wet.

But being in the middle of a British winter and the studio doors firmly shut with little ventilation, the thought of having a pot of thinners or strong solvents in an enclosed space was discouraging me from getting started.

After a prolonged period of procrastination, it occurred to me, maybe it was time to break out the water-mixable oils.

Continue Reading Peonies in Water-Mixable Oils (How do they compare to Acrylics?)

How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Pigment Choices)

How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Pigment Choices)

Inspired by the dramatic, dark Flemish oil paintings I saw in Antwerp; I’ve just started working on a still life set up of some fab oversized pink peonies. I’m going to begin simply with acrylics then build up the piece using water-mixable oils.

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of a coloured ground and how this very simple step of preparing your canvas, can transform your working method. And I received lots of emails asking
‘How do you go about choosing a colour for your tonal ground?’

Well, the first thing I do is make a decision.

What is the most important thing or the most important problems that I can foresee within the painting I’m going to be working on?

For this still life, judging the values of the flowers and getting the drawing right are going to be the two trickiest areas –  but get them right….and they can pull the whole painting together. Choosing a sympathetic tone for the coloured ground will help me achieve this.

Continue Reading How to Choose a Colour for a Tonal Ground (My Top 5 Pigment Choices)

NEW Beginners Acrylic Colour Mixing Course is Live!


 

Learn more about the course here: New Simple Colour Mixing Course

I’ve designed this brand new, downloadable video course to help you understand the theory behind colour mixing, discover how to mix and match colours accurately and then put theory into practice, creating a series of 4 still life paintings.

You might have been struggling to understand colour mixing for years, sometimes getting it spot on but other times when it goes wrong, have no idea why or how to fix it?

Or maybe you’ve read articles on colour theory but not had the confidence to put that new knowledge into an actual painting practice?

On this colour mixing video course, we take a really simple practical approach, over 5 hours + of tuition, you’ll gain an understanding of the properties of paint, learn the foundations of colour theory and put brush to canvas.

And we’re just going to take it one step at a time, starting with learning the language of colour, everything broken down simply so that the painting exercises and studies give you the confidence you need to develop your colour mixing skills.

I demonstrate using a traditional, 3 primary & 3 secondary colour wheel to teach you a step-by-step approach and working through these progressive tutorials; you’ll be guided by your new colour mixing intuitions, opening up the fantastic world of colour.

Continue Reading NEW Beginners Acrylic Colour Mixing Course is Live!

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

will-kemp-apricot-still-life

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.

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

Painting the Winter Light in Cornwall

cornish-fishing-boat-painting-will-kemp

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)

interior-scene-with-acrylics

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.

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

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

Beginners-acrylic-book

 

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

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

Pen & Ink Still Life Illustrations

cezanne-full-still-life-sketch

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.

Continue Reading Pen & Ink Still Life Illustrations

(Free PDF Download) Beginner’s Guide to Acrylics

(Free PDF Download) Beginner's Guide to Acrylics

Morning Class!

If you’re new to the website I’ve put together a Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ which includes a brief overview about acrylic paint, colour palettes, tools & materials as well as showing you how the different areas of the Will Kemp Art School fit together.

I introduce the principles behind my teaching, a catalogue of all the free video painting tutorials on the website and a section on how to find the perfect course for you.

If you click the link Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ you can download it and have a read through with a brew!

Hope you enjoy it,

Cheers,

Will

Continue Reading (Free PDF Download) Beginner’s Guide to Acrylics

Acrylic Still Life Study of a Fish using Acrylic Glazing Techniques (Free 25 min Video Tutorial)

Acrylic Still Life Study of a Fish using Acrylic Glazing Techniques (Free 25 min Video Tutorial)

Morning class!

This week we’re going to be painting a simple study of a fish, taking inspiration from objects you might see everyday and transforming them into paint.

The video tutorial looks at how you can combine a monochrome underpainting with colour glazes to create a luminosity in your acrylic paintings. We’ll keep the freshness of the piece by building up layers of clear transparent glazes and all we going to be using is 5 paints and a couple of brushes.

I’ll be using a stay-wet palette to hold my tonal colour string mixes in, and then any leftover colours from the painting, can go back in there ready for my next piece.

You can download the reference image below to work along from, so grab a brew (maybe a couple of biscuits) and let’s get painting!!…

Continue Reading Acrylic Still Life Study of a Fish using Acrylic Glazing Techniques (Free 25 min Video Tutorial)

The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

How often have you heard yourself say “I’d love to paint but I’ve got too much going on… I’ll have to wait till I’ve finished work….the kids have grown up….

“I wish I had more time to paint but… but, but, but”

Just finding space to set your paints out means upheaval of something else and squeezing a free window of time feels too difficult to plan in an already jam-packed calendar.

And then, having to learn how to paint on top of that ….uh, I can see why you’d think you’d have to wait until you retire!

But is it possible by not painting now, you’re missing out?

What if you don’t need more time to paint, but you need to paint, to give your mind a much-needed refresh?…

Continue Reading The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

New! Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now Available!

New! Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now Available!

Morning Class!

The new Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now available!

I’ve developed this course to show you how you can transfer the feeling of simplicity and light into a studio floral still life by the arrangement of colours, composition and tonal value range.

Taking classical painting techniques to build up an indirect painting in acrylics you’ll create a more contemporary still life painting that allows you to use a light modern palette and still see a good three-dimensional form.

Cheers,
Will

Continue Reading New! Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now Available!

How to Paint a Plein Air Sketch of a Lemon Tree with Acrylics (Video Tutorial)

Morning class, this week I’ve been in Mallorca soaking up the scenery and enjoying painting outside. I found this secluded tree within a lemon grove that I thought would work well as a little Plein air sketch with acrylics.

You can download a reference image below to follow along with the lesson.

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.

How to Paint a Plein Air Sketch of a Lemon Tree with Acrylics (Video Tutorial)

You can download a larger version of the image here.

lemon-grove-sketch

Whenever I’m sketching outside, I’m always looking for contrast and shapes that will translate well into a drawing as well as a painting…

Continue Reading How to Paint a Plein Air Sketch of a Lemon Tree with Acrylics (Video Tutorial)