9 Common Mistakes when Photographing your Artwork with an iPhone (and how to fix them)

Photographing your Artwork with an iPhone

I see a lot of fantastic success stories from the tutorials on the blog and one of the most common footnotes is,“‘my painting looks better in real life than it does in the photo.”

90% of them are taken on a phone or iPad and over the last couple of years, I’ve found smartphone cameras are getting better and better, as long as you bear in mind their sensor size.

A traditional camera has got a much larger sensor, in comparison to a smartphone.

The larger the sensor, the bigger the surface area available to capture light on, so to get the best out of your phone and get great exposure on your shots, you need to follow a few easy steps.

I’ve put together a guide below which addresses some of the most common issues and the simplest way to fix them. There are two main approaches, natural light or artificial light, depending on what lighting conditions you have available to take your photos in.

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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)

st-ives-hepworth-garden-studio-piercing-holes

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)

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.

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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

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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.

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Capturing Sunlight with Sorolla (inside the Artist’s Studio)

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Joaquín Sorolla, Strolling along the Seashore, Detail, Valencia, 1909

In the heart of bustling Madrid, behind a protective brick wall, sits the elegant former home and studio of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863 -1923)

Huge decorative iron gates lead you through a lush Andalusian courtyard garden to one of the best-preserved artist houses in Europe, an absolutely priceless experience. 

musee-sorolla-casa

musee-sorolla-garden-entrance

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The Secret to Painting Realistic Shadows in Sunlight

The Secret to Painting Realistic Shadows in Sunlight

“A Painting is complete when it has a Shadow of a God”
Rembrandt van Rijn

I remember being taught at art college that shadows weren’t really present in paintings until the Renaissance period.

And you’d be forgiven for thinking when you look at some beginners work, that they were from Ancient Greece – they didn’t use shadows either!

In live painting classes in the past, when I’ve mentioned the words ‘cast shadow’, students concentration wains or worse, a look of rising panic crosses their faces as if they’ve been duped into a technical drawing class.

I’m not quite sure why cast shadows seem so mysterious, elusive or confusing. Shadows help to ‘ground’ an object and learning to accurately observe them, is the most effective way of making your paintings look convincing.

And just by switching the name around it seems easier to digest.

Shadows cast.

I want to keep it simple without the complications of multiple light sources or atmospheric perspective that occurs in vast landscapes, today I am going to focus on shadows cast outside, by sunlight.

Shadows cast by a tree, by a building, shadows cast by a chair or plant pot. The shadow that is falling onto the ground, or against a wall, or onto a table.

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Monet & Architecture at the National Gallery (London)

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

“Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat, I want to paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat – the beauty of the light in which they exist.” – Claude Monet

The French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) is best known for his brilliant paintings of landscapes, coastline and water-lilies, but this month saw the opening of a new exhibition ‘Monet & Architecture’ at the National Gallery, London.

This show highlights his interest in architecture, not only compositionally, but how he used it as a backdrop and tool to capture the changing effects of light and I was fortunate enough to catch it this week!

Bringing together over 75 of Monet’s paintings from all over the world, the rooms are unconventionally grouped following architectural subject matter, The Village & the Picturesque, The City & the Modern and The Monument & the Mysterious.

The idea of creating paintings based on ‘picturesque ideals’ influenced Monet’s early work and this concept was part of the larger ‘picturesque landscape’ debate originating in England.

Professor Richard Thomson, the curator of the show, explains,

“One of the points of this exhibition was to take a very famous artist, who people think they know, but to take a look at his work in a different way

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(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

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Sketching Art Materials with Pen & Wash

teapot-sketch-pen-ink

Morning class! This week I’ve been putting together a new ‘Beginners Guide’ for the Art School and wanted to add a few little material sketches. For all the sketches I used the following pens on 220 gsm smooth, heavyweight cartridge paper which can handle light watercolour washes.

Materials – Pen & Wash

urban-sketching-materials-pens

  • 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 at 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
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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!!…

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Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

We arrived in Paris to catch the last few days of a retrospective exhibition of the Swedish painter Anders Zorn (1860-1920)

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

After a snowy week in England, we woke to blue skies, warm croissants and this amazing rooftop view from our hotel room. I couldn’t resist a quick pen sketch of the row of chimney pots in the distance before we hit the show, check out those windows!

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

Sketch from Hotel, Rotring Art Pen (F), Pentel Brush Pen and Pentel Aquash Water Pen in A6 size (10 x 15cm) Seawhites of Brighton Sketchpad (140gsm All-Media Cartridge Paper)

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Thanksgiving Thanks!

Thanksgiving Thanks!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting on all the positivity and creativity that comes through the Art School blog.

So I’d like to thank you all for your support & encouragement this year. The most rewarding thing for me is seeing students progress in their drawing and painting where they’d previously been struggling.

Update on our first batch of Winter homebrew:

I think this will be the perfect accompaniment to the festive food tastings in our local town square, it’s a Pale Ale from St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk, UK, described as having a ‘caramel aroma, with a pleasing toffee apple flavour‘. Not sure I’m picking up all the flavour notes, but the more sips I’m having, the more experienced my palette is becoming!

Thanksgiving Thanks!

Have a great weekend!

Cheers,

Will

 

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