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…

I’ve enjoyed listening to:

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

Podcast: Revisionist History – The Lady Vanishes

This is a great podcast that I’ve been re-listening to. This episode looks at the 19th century English artist Elizabeth Thompson, one of the first female painters to achieve a rapid rise in fame, and how, once the excitement died down, she all but disappeared from the art world…but why?

I’ve enjoyed watching:

 

TED TALK: Video: You can see this uplifting Ted Talk with Conductor Benjamin Zander on the transformative power of classical music. It gave a new perspective, made me laugh and brought back memories of childhood piano lessons.

Art finds:

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

Online Art Shows: BP Portrait prize can now be viewed virtually, look out for the fab painting by fellow QEST Scholar Jamie Coreth, it’s a masterclass in painting silk!

I’m reading:

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

Book: Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, Austin Kleon
This is an encouraging book about maintaining a daily creative process, how to keep going in your work, staying focused and being true to yourself. (This is the third book is a trilogy by Austin Kleon which include ‘Steal Like an Artist’ and ‘Show your Work‘)
“The creative life is not linear. It’s not a straight line from Point A to Point B. It’s more like a loop, or a spiral, in which you keep coming back to a new starting point after every project.” – Austin Kleon

Materials I’ve been testing:

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

Medium: I’ve been experimenting this week with Schmincke Medium-W an oil paint additive, which comes in a gel and liquid form. The gel is fascinating, you can mix in with traditional oils to make them water-mixable!

Mix 2 parts paint to one part gel and create an oil colour that can be mixed and thinned with water – and most impressively cleaned up with water, however, it does change the handling properties of the paint, transparency and drying time. I found the consistency was really nice to do a quick oil sketch with.

On my Easel this week:

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

On my easel, this week is a painting study observing form and comparing low-solvent to non-solvent thinners. It’s part of the upcoming Water-Mixable Oil Course that is shaping up nicely, I’ll keep you posted.

Have a creative weekend!

Cheers,

Will

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Mary

    Love those links and insights, many thanks

  2. Christine Allerstorfer

    Dear Will,
    thank you for your inputs. I just heard the video of Benjamin Zander and was moved to tears.
    I certainly will listen to you other notes as it is worth listening.
    All the Best to you
    Christine

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed it Christine, its fantastic isn’t it.
      Keep well
      Will

  3. CHERYL

    HI WILL!

    I AM SO GLAD U POSTED ABOUT YOUR NOTETAKING, I CONFESS WHEN I WATCH ART VIDEOS, I GET IDEAS OR WANT TO TRY A NEW TECHNIQUE AND GO BACK AND AM PUZZLED BY WHAT I WROTE DOWN. BUT I DO HAVE A TINY EXCUSE, I HAD TRIGGER FINGER SURGERY ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO. IT WAS ON MY THUMB. LET ME TELL U I, THAT THUMB IS A VERY IMPORTANT DIGIT. HA HA. CAN’T DO MUCH WITHOUT THAT THUMB. THEY SPLIT THE TENDON AND I COULD NOT BEND MY THUMB BEFORE THE SURGERY. VERY PAINFUL. WORKS BETTER NOW!

    BUT THE NOTES DO HELP, IT IS FUN TO GO BACK AND TRY SOMETHING THAT U FORGOT ABOUT. HOPEFULLY, U WON’T LOSE ANY MORE NOTEBOOKS. I LOST A STENCIL WITH PAINT ON IT. I SEARCHED MY ART ROOM AND STILL HAVE NOT FOUND IT, I WILL KEEP TRYING THO.

    ENJOYED READING YOUR STORY, HAVE U EVER THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING A BOOK? I APOLOGIZE IF U HAVE ALREADY DONE THAT. IF NOT, U WILL NEED A MUCH BIGGER NOTEBOOK! LOL!

    THANKS FOR SHARING!
    CHERYL

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed it Cheryl and can sympathise with the note-taking!
      Cheers,
      Will

  4. Linda

    Thank you for sharing ‘how not to side-track’ ideas. I thought I was the only quirk spinning too many ideas, jotting notes, and then finding them only to spend time deciphering. A tip I could share, if you don’t need the note anymore, rip it out of the book ~ decrease distractions ;).

    1. Will Kemp

      Very true Linda! streamlining the method.

  5. Sarah Andrews

    Hi Will
    Really useful notes …… good to see them, and I have signed up! Austen Kleon is a great motivator …. especially when I am sorting through all the post it notes I jotted ideas on …. and never quite got around to!
    Having tried various electronic systems I still like a tangible card index …. even if it has a sticky note attached! Looking forward to the next edition.
    Cheers. Sarah (Ashwood, Mill Lane ….?!)

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Sarah, great to hear from you! so pleased you enjoyed it. Heard the studio build is off to a good start, very exciting!
      Will

  6. Honey Lea Gaydos

    Oh, my gosh! I love this post! The gel for making traditional oils water mixable…brilliant! Now maybe I’ll use those oils. The Remarkable Tablet…really? Is it truly as good as the video says? Do you save your notes to a PC then? This could really clean up my stacks and stacks of notebooks. Thanks for the other links, too. So glad to hear the water mixable oil course is coming along. I am looking forward to it.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Honey, yes, the remarkable tablet, really is…remarkable. It’s the closest digital tablet I’ve found to writing on paper because of the e-ink screen (like a kindle screen without a backlight) in comparison to a glossy surface of a tablet. The notes store on the tablet my also sync across to my computer. They do a 30 day trial I think. Glad you’re looking forward to the course.
      Cheers,
      Will

      1. Honey Lea Gaydos

        Well, I pre-ordered the Remarkable 2 Tablet. It’s not available for me until September (the June batch is sold out). But, it is virtually risk-free because yes, I can try it for 30 days and if I don’t like it, I can return it for a full refund including shipping from the UK. The only thing I am out is Colorado taxes on the item. Plus they take PayPal. Also, I ordered the gel medium. That will be fun to experiment with. Thanks again for this great post even if it did cost me some $$. :)

        1. Will Kemp

          Good one Honey, really hope you enjoy using it and experimenting with the medium.
          Cheers,
          Will

  7. Beverly Anderson

    Dear Will,
    So glad to read this update, and look forward to your suggested “clicks”.
    Gorgeous weather here in Brooklyn, and am off for a trot round the park, with camera, and the dreaded masks. Enjoying my solitude, despite the uncertainties in this topsy turvy world. Bless you for your skills as a teacher and artist-
    All the best to you and Vanessa. Back to my rumpled studio!.Beverly A
    Beverly A

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Beverly, hope you enjoy them. Glad you’ve been able to enjoy the park.
      Will

  8. Debbie Mellor

    Hi Will I loved your recent update and had to chuckle at your comments about getting sidetracked – I do the same thing but luckily recently I have been trying out painting with oils instead of my usual acrylics so when I get sidetracked at least my painting hasn’t dried on me so at least I can carry on where I left off :)
    I have a question about the Venice course (I know I’m haunting you with it) if I have the courage to try would it be possible to use traditional oils instead of acrylics?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Debbie, so pleased you enjoyed it, yes, you could work with Oils on the Venice course, that would work fine.
      Will

  9. Wendy Mahfoud

    Hi Will,
    I am loving the Oil Portrait Colour Glazing Course, thank you. I’m at the end of Imogen lesson seven about to put the finishing touches as per lesson eight. I’ve learned SO much :) but my “likeness” is a bit lacking.
    I cringed at putting greys over my sort-of-okay so far, portrait but it helped in many ways – seeing the anatomy clearer, building up the three dimensional aspect of the face and the nearly finished product is better than anything I’ve done before. What’s more I know “why” even though the “how” is still a learning curve.
    Many thanks, Wendy.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s so great to hear Wendy, glad you’ve been enjoying the course and the portrait is coming along well.
      Will

  10. Laura

    Hi Will,

    I’m looking forward to your upcoming water mixable tutorial! You planted that little seed earlier this year, and I was just checking to see if it’s released yet. During these times of unrest, creativity artistically is especially rewarding.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good to hear it Laura, glad you’re looking forward to the course.

  11. Sonja Feldt

    Hi Will
    Still enjoying and happy to have “found” you
    All your good teaching, telling from visits from museums and the traveling you and wife have experienced.
    Thanks a lot
    Best wishes
    Sonja Feldt

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Sonja, thanks so much for reading.
      Will

  12. Sandra

    Hi Will
    I’m so enjoying this blog and thanks for introducing me to Austin Kleon – such a great series of books. And a huge THANK YOU to you as well. You have been instrumental in bringing back the joy of painting. I’ve done most of your videos and am now working through the classes that I’ve purchased and you’re an amazing teacher. I’m looking forward to learning more and more from you. Take care :)

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you’ve been enjoying the Austin Kleon books Sandra, and fantastic to hear you’ve been enjoying the lessons and courses, you’ve very kind to say so.
      Will

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