Self Portrait Painting selected for Ruth Borchard Competition


Off – Screen, Oil on linen, 40 x 30 cm, Will Kemp self portrait 2011

I’ve just had my self-portrait selected for the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Competition.

It was painted with Ivory black, raw umber (both Micheal Harding oil paints) and titanium white (Winsor and Newton) on pre-primed linen.

About the painting

Offscreen represents a conscious shift away from the formality of traditional portraiture.

It was inspired by the snap-to-capture culture in which we live, where everything from the mundane to the most important moments in life are a mobile phone photo away, I like the juxtaposition of an instant snap, taken in a moment, with the meticulous hours needed when painting a traditional portrait.

The portrait took over 50 hours to complete.

It poses the viewer the simple question –  if the subject is not engaged in something worthy, does that make the painting less important?

The national exhibition runs from 14th October to 25th November at the King’s place gallery, London.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Well I think it looks great and your have really achieved your goal of just capturing any moment. I am now pondering the thought of is it worthy and I think that is a question that you have to ask every time.

  2. I can’t believe I missed this post! That painting is awesome!! Love it. Well done for being selected for the exhibition. I just wish I’d seen this in time to see it in the flesh. You are truly an inspiration….now, where’s my paint brush?

  3. I love the raw umbers with the black, great portrait!!

    1. Hi Luis, Thanks very much, they can be very effective colours to use,

  4. Hi Will,

    Interesting stuff you have here, have you ever considered giving live courses in Dubai? or will you consider it in the future?


    1. Hi George, I’m currently teaching very limited live classes due to painting commitments but I’ll add Dubai to my ‘world tour list’!



      p.s hope you’re enjoying the portrait course.

      1. Hi Will,

        I am enjoying the course, fantastic & amazing techniques, I will let you know as I progress on my painting.


        1. Good one George, pleased to hear it. Looking forward to seeing your results.


  5. This one is superb with Lively Expression :)

  6. Ummm… wow?
    I was looking for landscape ideas and found your site.

    Inspirational doesn’t seem a good enough word.


    1. Thanks for your kind words Carmelo, there are a few landscape lessons on the site here and here.


  7. Will. That is INCREDIBLE art. Do you work in larger sizes… like 60 inches by 60 inches?

    1. Thanks Paul, I do work in larger sizes but not really that big for just a headshot.


  8. Hi Will, new to the site and just wanted to say it’s great to find a website with such clear, coherent and structured advice!

    I really like this portrait, i was wondering, how many individual sessions did it take to complete? what mediums did you use in each layer?

    many thanks,


    1. Hi Jay, really pleased you’re enjoying the website and you like the portrait, here is a detailed intruction on the method I used to create the grisaille portrait, hope you find it helpful.

  9. Wow! Wow! What a strong image.Fantastic painting but also love the thought behind it. i love the mystery of half of you being in darkness and the other looks like you are wondering… I think it’s the past in the darkness and the future in a question, a snapshot moment…?
    Very interesting painting and unbelievable skill. I will keep practicing!!!

    1. Thanks Louise, so pleased you enjoyed the painting, I’ve just spotted your portraits in the inbox, they are looking great!

  10. Wow! Your painting skills are amazing!!

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