Thanksgiving Thanks!

thanksgiving-thanks

Morning Class!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank all the comments, questions and positivity that have come through the Art School blog this year.

The most rewarding thing is seeing students embrace the challenge of portraits with great enthusiasm and achieve some really fantastic results!

We’ve also broken through the 8,500,000 views on YouTube, Woohoo! so thanks for watching and more videos will be coming soon.

Have a great week,

Cheers,
Will

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How to Paint a Copper Pot in Acrylics – Step-by-Step Video Tutorial

acrylic-copper-pot-painting-tutorial

Morning class! This week we’re going to learn how to capture the brilliant qualities of reflections in copper, using acrylic paint.

I absolutely love how vibrant this copper pan is surrounded by the dark range. Notice how, even though the background is a dark subject, there is still a lighter tone on either side of the pan to bring it forward.

Copper makes a great subject, allowing us to work with a complementary colour palette of orange and inky blue, deep blacks and vibrant colour glazes.

So let’s get started…

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Are You Making Any of These 7 Compositional Mistakes with Your Still life Paintings?

still life painting composition

Cherries overflowing perfectly in a bowl, a sense of life captured in a single moment, creating the perfect still life composition appears to come naturally to some artists.

Reassuringly, there are a few simple adjustments you can make to your own set-ups, that prevent you making the most common beginner mistakes.

By making small changes to the placement of your objects, you can breathe life and energy into your compositions and by observing how your viewing position impacts the shapes and shadows, will help develop accuracy in your drawings…

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How to Paint Green Summer Trees with Acrylics – Video Tutorial

adding shadows to a landscape painting

Green.

Love it or hate it, almost all landscape artists want to be able to paint trees, woods and grass realistically.

But mixing greens can be one of the major issues that can start to throw your landscape painting off-course.

Greens can be an Achilles heel for beginners, and the urge to grab a vivid, bright green from the paint box can be hard to resist.

In the past I’ve demonstrated how you can achieve some surprisingly subtle greens by using some seemingly ‘non-green’ colours such and black and brown.

And I advise beginners to throw out their pre-mixed green (usually this is Emerald Green included in starter sets) when they’re first starting, in order to practice colour mixing with acrylics and develop their own mixing skills and gain colour confidence.

Why?..

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Is Your Next Painting Hidden on Your Camera Roll? New @willkempartschool Instagram Collection #1

Is Your Next Painting Hidden on Your Camera Roll? New @willkempartschool Instagram Collection #1

After following along with painting tutorials, learning new skills and getting excited to develop your own painting practice, it can feel like a step into the unknown when trying to choose what subjects to paint next.

Should you paint landscapes, still lifes or work towards portraits? With so many choices it can quickly lead to indecision and procrastination.

I’d like to share with you some of my photos I use as my own visual diary that inspire my sketches, paintings and palette choices. It could be from museums trips or travels to new cities, new paint experimentation’s in my studio or simply a fall of light on a through a window that has a great quality to it.

Just as a painters palette can give you a glimpse into the painter’s approach, your camera roll can reveal what really interests you. The compositions you naturally create, the repeated colours that keep on cropping up and patterns of the negative spaces you’ve observed, all contribute to your own personal style.

Below are a selection of photos with a brief description of what inspired me at the time and this first collection comes from my trips around National Trust properties, focusing on historical kitchens.

Also, I’ll be regularly posting the photo collections to my new Instagram account, really hope you enjoy them.

Cheers,

Will

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How to Glaze an Oil Portrait Course – New Course!

oil paint glaze recipe

How to Glaze an Oil Portrait for Beginners Course

When I was trying to find my way in portraiture, I’d spend hours studying Old Master paintings thinking “Wow, how did they do that?

I was flummoxed.

Not only did the skin look realistic, but they’d managed to capture those bluish grey tones that lie just beneath the skin’s surface. In my naivety, I just couldn’t work out how you could paint one colour next to another colour yet create such a smoky transition.

I’d repetitively ask Vanessa, “When will I be able to paint the melt of the cheek you see on the Mona Lisa?

Unhelpfully she used to say “Isn’t it just old?

Inwardly I’d sigh.

And then I discovered oil glazing…

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Discovering Velázquez, The Duke & Unexpected Treasures

Discovering Velázquez, The Duke & Unexpected Treasures

When Vanessa suggested a spot of Winter sun, if I’m honest, I dragged my feet.

Locations where being proposed and I politely nodded.

When she casually mentioned a possible trip to Seville, my interest was piqued.

Why?

Seville was the birthplace and hometown of Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, and one of my favourite paintings is the ‘Waterseller of Seville’ by Velázquez, but I had never seen it in the flesh, was it even in Seville?

Caught up in the fever of ‘my’ trip, I got researching and discovered the painting was actually hanging much closer to home, in Apsley House, London.

Apsley House? Where’s that?

Well as it turns out, it’s known as Number One London and sits at Hyde Park Corner.

How had I missed it on all my gallery trips and what else was there?

Holy Moly! There’s a study for Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, there’s a Goya, in fact, there’s another portrait by Velázquez and some cracking portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

I shouted through to Vanessa ‘Do you fancy a trip to Knightsbridge?

Who knew train tickets could be booked so quickly?…

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New Year, New View? How a Few Small Changes Influenced my Portrait Painting Style

portrait-painting-oil-glazing-techniques

There was a small sign that hung below an empty black space, it read ‘In Prestito‘.

On loan.

Last Summer I was back in Florence, Italy, to visit one of my favourite paintings that had enticed me to the city over 10 years ago.

The only problem was, when I got to the gallery, the painting wasn’t there.

It was at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and I had missed it.

The painting?

Caravaggio’s sleeping Cupid.

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Inside Rembrandt’s Studio

outsideannefrankamsterdam

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 umbers 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…

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Painting, Pasties & Padstow – A Cornish Painting Trip

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

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Singer Sargent & Friends

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.

Carnation lily lily rose

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…

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On Painting, Procrastination and What Might Have Been

acrylic abstract painting

 “For of all sad word of tongue or pen, the saddest are these. “It might have been.”
John Greenleaf Whittier

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 for learning how to paint and ask me where they should start?

Not knowing where to begin or muddling along on your own can be really slow progress and eventually the paints can spend more time in your box than on your canvas.

Your dreams of becoming a painter get lost.

But you were so close!

If you came to my studio with the question ‘I have a week to learn how to paint, what do I need to know?

I’d strip the learning process down to basics, the fewest brushes, a few key colours and an essential introduction to the wide properties of acrylics.

Materials and set up, colour mixing and pigment choice, brush handling and palette knife techniques and gels and mediums.

Then we’d get painting using methods that achieve great results even if you’ve got no artistic training.

Why Acrylics?

Acrylics can be used in thin transparent washes like water colours or in a thicker more opaque form like oil paint.

They dry quickly and can be diluted and cleaned with water making them simple to use, odourless and accessible for the beginner.

So when are you coming round, right?

If you’ve never even picked up a pencil I’d always usually recommend learning how to draw. Which I know sounds a little deflating … you want to learn how to paint!

However, learning to draw sets you so far ahead, so quickly, it really is the most ‘bang for your buck’ for a set of principles that don’t change.

But what if the allure of colour is too much to resist and you want to get straight into painting?

Well, I’ve been working on a new course just for you…

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On Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships

turner margate

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 was trying to teach this group of absolute beginners how to paint like Turner in a morning.

At the end of the morning workshop their finished paintings would be displayed in an exhibition, open to the public.

Oh, the other artist who was exhibiting in the exhibition?

The main man himself, a collection of original Turner watercolours.

Now where did I put that mop?…

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