Landscape Sketching in the Highlands

dunvegan sketchpad

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 left as a welcome gift was quickly consumed!

It was only the next morning we truly appreciated the setting we were in.

Surrounded by lochs, mountains in the distance and a spectacular view of Dunvegan Castle out of the cottage window…

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How to Draw Light & Shadow Course is Live!

light and shade banner

I’ve just finished creating a new drawing course that follows on from the Absolute Beginners Drawing Course.

In ‘How to Draw Light & Shadow for Beginners’ we look at new materials, techniques and work on some figurative drawings. A lot of students come to me who already have basic understanding of drawing and confidence with pencils but feel there is a gap in their knowledge when using different drawing mediums.

This course has been designed to help bridge the gap between graphite pencil drawings to charcoal, chalk and pens and subtlety introduce colour.

Are you stuck in a ‘pencil loop’ ?

Wanting to experiment with new mediums such as charcoal & chalk but unsure of where to start?

Moving onto a new medium with drawing can be a challenge, especially if you’re using the wrong materials.

I was trying to draw with charcoal for years and kept on ‘missing’ the vital ingredient. I thought it was my technique, my paper choice.

My problem?

I was using the wrong charcoal…

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New Updated Drawing Course is live!

Sketch by Will Kemp, View from The Uffizi Gallery Window in Florence, Italy

New Updated step-by-step Online Drawing Course

I’ve been super busy updating and ‘polishing up’ my Absolute Beginners Drawing Class to help aspiring artists to fulfill their creative potential and I’m delighted with the results.

The Artists Eye

Having studied film and cinematography, I’ve tried to create a video course that will give you the best results, as if I’m in the studio with you.

For this new version of the Drawing Course, I’ve updated a few technical things to give you the highest quality possible.

High-Quality Full HD Video Recording

This new version includes all the best demos from the first course but now includes 4 new step by step demos to create a really well-rounded experience…

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A Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow – Part 1


Cezanne, Oil on Canvas, still life with seven apples, 1878

Ever felt frustrated having worked so hard on a drawing – only to find it still looks ‘flat’?

Is it the proportions? The perspective? Perhaps the composition?

Whilst these all play an integral part, the most effective method of making your drawings appear three dimensional, is understanding how light logic works.

If line drawing creates the proportions, handling of tone creates the form.

The theory seems simple and the changes in technique small, but applying the principles of how tone, light and shade work, will improve the illusion of form in every drawing you do – regardless of the subject.

And the exciting part about it is, once you ‘get’ lighting, the principles never change.

In Part 1 of this 3 Part series (Part 2 – Drawing shading demonstration) we look at the theory, the drawing and then paint a simple form focusing on shadow, light and edges.

You might find it isn’t your drawing technique that’s wrong, but your lighting…

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Are you 1cm away from the perfect composition? Part 2 of 3

helpwithlighting copy

Creating a great still life painting often occurs before you’ve even picked up the brush.

In this part of Setting up a Still Life series, we’re going to look at using natural light, whilst also considering the incremental changes in the actual composition of the piece.

In Part 1 we looked at how to master the basic features of your digital camera so you can emulate how your eyes see things in nature, to give you fantastic reference photographs for your still life painting.

Once you understand how to get the depth of field and exposure that you are after, the next thing to consider is the lighting.

I happened to be chatting with my sister about my new Still Life Painting Course on Reflections, when she asked: “Are you going to paint a really hard subject like a glass of water?”

Interestingly, I had overlooked how the ability to paint transparent liquid and glass can seem very impressive – when in fact, with the right image – it’s very simple.

And if you’ve got the right set up, it can be really easy to achieve.

So inspired by this, we’re going to arrange a simple glass of water and next week…paint it…

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The 3 Reasons Why You Can’t Draw


And What to Do About It

Sometimes you can’t figure it out.

It seems no matter how hard you try, how intensely you look at a subject, your drawings look wrong.

You’ve read how to draw books, maybe gone to a few art classes, but the art of drawing still seems to elude you.

And you begin to question yourself – What if it’s me? What if I don’t have enough talent?

What if I’m never going to improve?

You are not alone.

Understanding drawing can be the key to your artistic success and a new, razor-sharp creative mind, but it can seem like an uphill struggle.

But what if there was a simple solution? Pieces to the puzzle that you didn’t know existed,

3 secrets that could instantly improve your drawing and painting?

Wouldn’t you give it a try?..

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New Absolute Beginners Drawing Class

Absolute Beginners Drawing Course

Sketch by Will Kemp, whilst eating gelato in Rome

Step-by-step Online drawing instruction course

I’m developing a New Absolute Beginners Drawing Class to help aspiring artists to fulfill their creative potential.

If you’re here from Lateral Action 7 ways learning to draw can improve your productivity then hello!

The reason I’m creating this easy to follow, on-line video course is to help frustrated artists find a way to express themselves by drawing with confidence.

With over 3 hours of tuition from Will, you can go on a creative journey to discover that you can pick up a pencil, wherever, whenever and actually start drawing…

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How to add Depth to Your Mountains in Acrylic Landscape Painting

aerial perspective Leonardo-da-Vinci- Leonardo da Vinci – The Virgin of the Rocks (detail), 1491-1508

Why do mountains look blue in the distance?

Have you ever wondered why a hill, that you know is covered in green trees, looks purple or blue when viewed from a long distance away?

Trying to create a sense of depth and distance in your landscape painting is key for creating realism in your paintings.

The simplest way to do this is with Aerial perspective…

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How to Draw Perspective for Beginners


Caneletto, Venice, The Grand Canal, about 1740

Perspective techniques for absolute beginners

How to solve a problem like perspective?

Perspective is one of the most common issues beginners have with drawing and painting.

Get it wrong and it can easily ruin a great start, get it right and it can instantly improve your work.

If you’re like most painters you are probably trying to create a sense of depth in your work.

Leading the viewer’s eye deep into the scene giving the illusion of reality.

But sometimes it just doesn’t look right.

The distant object doesn’t look so distant, your figures look out of proportion, a building looks like it is sliding off the page. And your still life just looks….odd.

You are not alone….

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The Rule of Thirds in Landscape Painting

Video Transcript – How to use the ‘rule of thirds’ in your landscape paintings

Morning class, today, we will have a quick look at the composition and the rule of thirds.

Even though it’s called a rule, it’s really just a guide to help you compose a picture that looks natural within a rectangle or square; I find it always works best, though, within a rectangle.

All you do is split your page into thirds, horizontally and vertically. And these bad boys on the intersections are what we’re looking for…these are what we can align key points of interest to pump up our paintings to guide the viewer into where we want them to look…

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The Secret of Good Composition

‘And after drawing comes composition. A well-composed painting is half done’
Pierre Bonnard

Imagine a lovely drawing of a house with a path meandering up to it, trees either side in careful balance, a classic landscape scene that just ‘works’.

Where is this masterpiece? The Tate? The National?

No, stuck to your fridge door, created by a 4-year-old.

As a young child, visual harmony and composition comes naturally.

Children seem to start out with a near perfect sense of composition if you have small children or are lucky enough to have any of your old drawings you created as a child I’m sure you’ll find the same to be true.

Younger children see the edges of the paper as a whole frame to fill, and they often fill them with a great sense of balance.

When you start to grow up, you know – really old like 9 or 10, that’s where the drawing problems start. The focus shifts and is aimed away from composition to the pursuit of something far more important, where the accolades are huge and respect even greater, the quest for the ultimate prize …… realism.

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The Importance of Contrast in Painting

contrast in painting

Contrast is really important when you’re starting to learn how to paint.

A good knowledge of contrast in drawing helps significantly because you will have learned the value of light and dark.

If you are coming from a non-drawing background, you will have to be more aware that to make a dramatic painting “contrast is king”, rather than trying to add a bright colour to lift the painting…

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