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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…

Continue ReadingSinger Sargent & Friends

A Beginners Guide to Acrylic Painting – The Myth of Talent

acrylic abstract painting

On Painting, Procrastination and What Might Have Been

 “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…

Continue ReadingA Beginners Guide to Acrylic Painting – The Myth of Talent

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?…

Continue ReadingOn Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships

How to Paint Acrylic Portraits

acrylic portrait painting tutorial Painting portraits with acrylics can be frustrating.

It can seem that you’re facing an uphill struggle.

After the pleasure of not getting headaches from toxic turpentine and being able to paint with thick impasto marks there seems to be double payback for daring to tackle a portrait with acrylics.

Not only do the colours appear unsophisticated and garish but the paint dries too quickly to blend together successfully, especially when you’re trying to mix subtle skin tones.

You can be left feeling disappointed with your results, admit defeat and crack out the thinners for another go with the Oils.

I’ve been working on a new portrait course, that can help develop your portrait skills and dramatically shorten your learning curve to achieving classical looking portraits with acrylics…

Continue ReadingHow to Paint Acrylic Portraits

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…

Continue ReadingLandscape Sketching in the Highlands

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…

Continue ReadingHow to Draw Light & Shadow Course is Live!

How to choose the Perfect White for your Acrylic Painting

whiteacrylicpaint

It seems a little far-fetched doesn’t it?

That your white paint could be ruining your paintings.

It’s often the first tube of paint you buy and definitely the most used on your palette … yet it can be the most overlooked paint in your collection.

You can become transfixed by the Quinacridones, save up for the expensive Cadmium, but little old Titanium white stays the same.

Choosing the ‘right’ white for the type of painting you’re creating is a critical step in mastering painting with acrylics.

So what is the right white to use?

Continue ReadingHow to choose the Perfect White for your Acrylic Painting

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…

Continue ReadingNew Updated Drawing Course is live!

How to Paint Light & Shade in Acrylics – 3/3

painting an apple in acrylics

“Painting is drawing with the added complication of colour and tone”
Harold Speed – The Practice & Science of Drawing

In this light and shadow series, we look at the theory, drawing and painting of a simple form focusing on shadow, light and edges.

Part 1 we looked at the theory of light and shadow.

Part 2 we put pencil to paper and looked at practical drawing techniques with a simple pencil drawing of an apple.

This week, we’re returning to the studio to create the illusion of form with acrylic paint. I wanted to develop our sketch into a finished painting, using the same principles of light logic but having a more contemporary feel through the choice of colours, composition and context.

For Part 3, I’ve created a free video tutorial so you can watch every step and follow along at home…

Continue ReadingHow to Paint Light & Shade in Acrylics – 3/3

A Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow – Part 1

still-life-with-seven-apples-1878

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…

Continue ReadingA Beginners Guide to Light & Shadow – Part 1

How to Varnish an Oil Painting? 7 Questions for every Artist

how-to-varnish-oil-painting

An Introduction to Varnishing an Oil Painting

As we’ve discussed in 3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t) varnishing is primarily an aesthetic choice on the final finish of your painting.

Not only can it bring up the vibrancy and richness in your realist paintings, but it offers protection for the painted surface from atmospheric effects to make the surface easier to clean in the future.

No one technique for varnishing suits every situation — the texture of the paint surface, whether you want a matte or gloss finish, speed of completion etc.. all affect which varnish you choose.

There are different considerations to think about when you’re working with Oils in comparison to Acrylics, so here are some common questions to check before getting out the varnish brush…

Continue ReadingHow to Varnish an Oil Painting? 7 Questions for every Artist

Small Glass Acrylic Study Course is Live!

willkempvideocourse

New Small Glass Study Acrylic Video Course

Merry Christmas class!

The new mini-course where I paint a coloured glass and festive oranges is now available! Whoo ho! ho! ho!

It’s the perfect addition to the Masterclass Acrylics Course or a great little introduction to the more complex subject of reflections and glass.

If you have ever tried to paint glass and it looked flat and unconvincing or ended up with super bright white highlights that look stuck on, then you may be interested in discovering how to achieve a lifelike glass effect with acrylics – yet still keeping a painterly feel.

3 Downloadable Video Lessons  –  1 Small Glass Study

Over 1 1/2 hours of video instruction, alongside a Quick Start PDF guide and Downloadable images of each stage of the process, which includes your materials lists and tools of the trade.

The lessons are available online to download so you have access to the course forever.

The course is now available, you can learn more and join the course by just clicking this link

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a Creative Year

Cheers,

Will

Continue ReadingSmall Glass Acrylic Study Course is Live!

How to Varnish a Painting like a Pro

acrylicpaintingvarnish

3 Reasons why artists varnish their work

We’ve all done it.

Spent hours, days, even weeks slaving away on a painting, but when we finally apply a varnish…it all goes horribly wrong.

The anxiousness builds.

You’re now sure there are mismatched sheens on the surface, and it was perfect before you started varnishing!

Or maybe you thought it was a good idea to wrap your newly varnished painting with bubble wrap just before the deadline of an exhibition, only to find out at the private view the bubble wrap had left hundreds of tiny circle imprints on the surface of the painting….mmm..surely no one would ever do that!

The anxiety and disappointment that comes with varnishing can sometimes seem too much.

With all the confusion, conflicting advice and frustration in creating the perfect varnish finish, you can’t help wondering, what’s the point of varnishing at all?…

Continue ReadingHow to Varnish a Painting like a Pro

A 2013 Thanksgiving Thanks!

willkempthanks

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank all the comments, questions, students and well wishers that have helped the blog to grow over the last year.

We now have over 100,000 visitors a month and we’ve gone from 500,000 views to just short of hitting nearly hit the 2,000,000 views on YouTube, Woohoo!

It’s so inspiring for me to hear stories of students that have found their way back to painting – after life got in the way of their creativity…

Continue ReadingA 2013 Thanksgiving Thanks!