Sketching Art Materials with Pen & Wash

by Will Kemp

in drawing

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

Brush Jug

jug-brushes-pot-sketch

 

Even though there seems to be an awful lot of brushes here, most of them are defunct in my painting practice. They’re just too hard to let go of!

Lone Ranger

paint-tube-sketch

I’ve made sure to push the paint right to the bottom of the tube to get this nice curve.

Because of the new aluminium finish in the Winsor & Newton range, you get a lovely strong reflection within the centre of the tube, focusing the view and adding contrast to the sketch.

Empty Paint Tubes

multi-paint-tubes-sketch

Using the Lamy pen, I could ‘load up’ areas that are really dark, say the dark area underneath the thread of the paint tube on the right and then pull it into the cast shadow using the water pen.

Grab a Brew!

teapot-sketch-pen-ink

Always time for a tea when you’re hard work sketching, brewed fresh in my Burleigh Pottery teapot.

Acrylic Glazing Liquid Gloss

golden-medium-acrylics

Acrylic Glazing Liquid Gloss from Golden Paints (now called Glazing Liquid) I like the way there’s a little ‘smoke’ of wash to the left of the cap, reflecting the speed of the squeeze!

Jam Jarjam jar paint brush

 

I couldn’t leave out the classic jam-jar shot.

When drawing reflective surfaces, I move around the subject looking for large white areas of reflected light, these give contrast and define different flat planes. Establishing these distinct light and dark areas within a clear object makes it easier to create a 3-dimensional form.

Brush Collection

urban sketch brushes

Changing the marks within the solid black handles helps to add interest to a section of the drawing that could easily become too heavy. There is a mix of a hatch, wash, broken line and brush pen to jump the eye across the brushes at the bottom.

The angle of the small round brush on the right, indicates a subtle inverted triangle composition to the whole collection of brushes, giving the viewer the clue that off-screen the brushes are arranged in a pot.

Palette Knives

palette-knives-pot-sketch

I don’t usually store my palette knives in a jar but the swan neck cranked-handles created such great shapes when arranged together, I couldn’t resist. Here the brush pen really helps to add those dark accents around the rim of the pot.

You can also see the sketches @willkempartschool Instagram

The new intro guide should be out in a week or two.

Cheers,

Will

You Might Also Like:

  1. Urban Sketch of a bike – Free 10-minute video tutorial (including downloadable reference image) using the Pentel Brush pen and Muji Marker
  2. An Art Material Addicts Guide to becoming a Minimalist Urban Sketcher – Simple drawing kits for sketching on the go

{ 97 comments… read them below or add one }

elfriede alexander March 21, 2018

I love these sketches. Will try some myself. I enjoy reading all of your blogs and watching the instructional videos on youtube.

elfie

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Thanks very much Elfriede, so pleased you’ve been enjoying them
Will

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Suzie Weiss March 21, 2018

Hi Will, loved getting this post. I do a lot of pen and ink drawings on metro, coffee shops, mostly of people and I really was interested in reading about the Pentel Aquash which I have never used. Do you ever draw with a bamboo pen or just a stick? Quite interesting results….thanks so much for your suggestions and your lovely pen and ink sketches. Suzie

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

Hi Suzie, I really love the Pentel Aquash pen, it can be so handy. It can also work really nicely with watercolour markers (you can see a quick demo towards the bottom of this article) I have used bamboo pens in the past, you can create some lovely random marks.
Will

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stephen welham March 21, 2018

Will you little rascal you done it again ? Good lesson great information
Kind regards Steve

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Cheers Steve, hope you’re keeping well.
Will

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elfriede alexander March 21, 2018

I have one question concerning ink sketches with watercolour washes. I read once how to hold the pen so that the line will look less perfectly straight. It will have nice little squiggles. If you hold the pen in the same way you would naturally hold a pencil, it is not as interesting. I have lost my notes and can’t remember in which two fingers to hold the pen to create a more interesting line. Could you help?

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Hi Elfriede, the further you move your fingers up the pen the less control you will have, so you can use exactly the same hold, just practice getting further and further away from the pencil or pen point.
Cheers,
Will

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elfriede alexander March 21, 2018

Thank you for replying to my query. I will try that.

elfie

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Hope it helps.

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TATIANA KUPTSOVA March 21, 2018

Hi Will

Love your sketches ;) especially Jam Jar and Palette Knives.
All the best

Tatiana

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Thanks Tatiana.
Will

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Tina March 21, 2018

Love the sketches and info. Perhaps adding a warning in the text…don’t place a cup of brew beside classic jam-jar. Nothing good will come of that arrangement.

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Ha, ha, very good point Tina!

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William Joos March 21, 2018

Cool

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Cheers Will

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Patsy Hutchings March 21, 2018

Hi Will, Once again thank you so much. Always interesting and useful at the same time.
Have a great day.
Patsy

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Thanks Patsy, and to you.
Will

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John LeMunyon March 21, 2018

Hey Will, thanks for the great commentary on the sketches. Really helpful for my learning curve. Also, I’ve been truly enjoying and slowly but
Surely benefiting from the two courses purchased from you. You’ve got me very interested in pen and water soluble ink work for urban sketching and have really expanded my understanding and use of watercolor wash. Your instruction has been fun and a great leg up in my drawing, painting. Kindly, John

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

That’s fantastic to hear John, so pleased you’ve been enjoying the courses. It can really help just to soften a pen sketch and cover a large area of the surface relatively quickly.
Cheers,
Will

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Katerina March 21, 2018

Love drawing. Thanks once more for the information

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

My pleasure Katerina
Will

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Adele March 21, 2018

Thanks Will , very informative and inspirational as ever , will have a go at this Adele

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Hope you enjoy it Adele.
Will

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Jean March 21, 2018

Great sketches Will! I’m doing your drawing class and will do this one soon also. It’s a wonderful way to spend retirement — learning how to paint and draw!

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

That’s lovely to hear Jean, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the drawing class.
Will

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trisha March 21, 2018

love your work!! Getting ready to do your “how to paint a simple still life using oil paints” and have downloaded your b/w portrait exercise and did your apple exercise.. you are great in explaining things :)

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Really pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons Trisha, good luck with the coffee cup painting.
Will

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Joseph March 21, 2018

Thanks so much for this tutorial – would love to see a video on this
subject from you – again, thanks so much.

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Hi Joseph, you might enjoy this free 10-minute sketch video of a bike using the brush pen and Muji markers. There is a download reference image to work from aswell, hope you enjoy it.
Will

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Gwen March 21, 2018

Great inspiration. Thank you for your blog.

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

My pleasure Gwen.
Will

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Mariette March 21, 2018

Hi Will, I always enjoy reading your notes on drawing and reading your sketches with different pens, I will surely try it and like the others I like the palette knives in the jar. Superb,

Mariette

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Thanks very much Mariette, yes they’re edging it to my fav too.
Will

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PamelaTarr March 21, 2018

I read all your mail that I receive and really find useful, this one is particularly good as light and dark is something I strugglewith.

Thanks Will am going to practise this.

Best Wishes

Pam

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Really hope it helps Pam, yes looking for the shapes in the reflections can really help. You might find this tutorial on painting glass reflections of interest. The lesson is with paint but the same observation principles apply.
Cheers,
Will

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Elizabeth Tucker March 21, 2018

Loved this post! I love ink sketching, especially when traveling or at a museum and want to grab a quick impression. I use Private Reserve Ink cartridges in my fountain pen in various ink colors. Interestingly, the color Black Cherry dries on the nib really quickly while all the other colors I use seem to flow really well, even if I haven’t used them for a bit.
Thanks Will!

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Good to know about the Black Cherry ink Elizabeth, really pleased you enjoyed it.
Will

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Joseph Spiteri March 21, 2018

Very very interesting. Reminds me of the comic art. (I am a fanatic about comic book art – apart from art in general. Cheers Will.

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Cheers Joseph, yes there are some amazing comic book artists, pleased you enjoyed the sketches.
Will

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Jean Byatt March 21, 2018

Thank you Will, that’s my first blog received from you, looks wonderful and I can’t wait to work through it very soon. Happy memories of your drawing classes at the museum, I still rember them so well, learnt such a lot. Best wishes Jean x

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Thanks Jean, really pleased you enjoyed the article (and the museum classes!)
Cheers,
Will

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Maria March 21, 2018

Thank you Will, for new work and new ideas.

I find your work very inspirational, and your example somehow helps me to find the courage to try!

Kind regards,
Maria

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Go for it Maria! great to hear you’re feeling inspired.
Will

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Romy March 21, 2018

I’m a big fan of your work, Will. It’s fresh and inspirational. As you have lots of videos on YT, are there any chances to see this kind of drawing being performed there? Thanks!

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Will Kemp March 21, 2018

Sure is Romy, here’s a drawing of a bike tutorial using the same brush pen.
Cheers,
Will

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Julie Powell March 21, 2018

Hi Will,
I bought this set of drawing pens on your recommendation last year and I sketch with them all the time. I’m very grateful to you for giving me the confidence to put down my pencil and jump straight in with ink!
These sketches are lovely!
Julie Powell

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

That’s fantastic to hear Julie, so pleased it’s given you confidence with your ink drawings.
Will

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Sonia March 21, 2018

OMG I love these.

I’ve discovered that the sketches I do which I like the most are done on my iPad using their fountain pen option… and I’ve been wondering about whether I could get the same effect (ie above) with ‘real life’ tools.

Now I’m going to try that pen! In the past when I tried a fountain pen nip that you dip into a jar, the results were basically pants… big blobs of ink everywhere… so I’m inspired.

Really appreciate all the material and posts you make Will, very generous and so spot on : )

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

That’s fab to hear Sonia, when you use a water-soluble ink you can have the fine line control to start with and then wash in any areas you want to add a bit of flow too. Hope you enjoy going old school!
Cheers,
Will

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Sonia April 11, 2018

I’ve made new discoveries… turns out what I really like drawing with are foundation dip pens (but they need to have a reservoir), using fluid acrylic paint. And I can ‘draw’ directly into my paintings. Goodness me! Thank you Will, your blog encouraged me to dig a bit deeper into my own preferences and now I’ve found a tool and way of mark making that I love!

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Will Kemp April 11, 2018

That’s brilliant news Sonia, dip pens can be fantastic! So pleased you find it helped your new material discovery!
Cheers,
Will

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Robyn G March 21, 2018

So wonderful! Love the depth and contrast Will.
Thank you for all your inspiration

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

My pleasure Robyn.
Will

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Jack Hassard March 21, 2018

Will,

Thanks for this new blog post. I’m on the road in Texas doing a big antiques show with my wife, and I am planning to drawings of the wonderful buildings and tents that are part of the Marburger Farm Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas. You new post arrived at the perfect time. I’ve already done two of the drawings.

Kind regards,
Jack

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

Hey Jack, that’s fantastic to hear, I imagine there must be some fabulous items to sketch. Hope the show goes well!
Will

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diana March 22, 2018

Beautiful sketches. I will soon buy some of these pens, to get going!

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

Thanks Diana, much appreciated.
Will

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Katerina Oleksow March 22, 2018

Hello Will, I love the sketches and I am super excited about the new course. I have most of your courses, have done quite a few and I refer to them often as I work on my own artwork. I do have a question about the nib on the Lamy Safari pen that you used in these examples. They have different ones, Extra Fine, Fine, Medium etc. which one do you prefer for this type of sketching? Thank you so much for all the wonderful instruction, photography and video production that you continue to create, always looking forward to it all. Katerina.

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Will Kemp March 22, 2018

Hi Katerina, lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for your kind words. I tend to go for the Fine nib if i’m going to use a water-pen or an Extra Fine nib if I’m using a permanent ink for more detailed studies. You can read a few more details on different sketching kits I use here.
Cheers,
Will

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Lorraine Orchard March 22, 2018

Your tutorials are the best and clearly articulated I have come across. I have used the sketching, acrylics, glazing, etc. I particularly learnt a lot from the portrait glazing tutorial. However I am painting a portrait of a friend who has Polynesian ancestry but I am having trouble mixing a suitably lovely skin tone. I have was hoping you may be able to offer some advice on colours to use for the skin tone.

Cheers Lorraine

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Hi Lorraine, glad you’ve been enjoying them and found the portrait glazing course helpful. Using a Raw Sienna with a touch of Burnt Sienna will help with a base for the skin tones for your portrait.
Cheers,
Will

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Lorraine Orchard March 23, 2018

Thank you, I really appreciate your advice.

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Barbra Joan March 22, 2018

Will, thanks for this. I do a bit of this sort also, and love my Lamy Safari Pen. I love this change of pace when doing art. fun and fast.
Always look forward to your emails.

Barbra Joan

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Cheers Barbra, yes I find the Lamy has a nice feel for sketching, pleased you enjoyed the sketches.
Will

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Lela McKee Friel March 22, 2018

Hello Will,
Thank You for another inspirational piece on sketching. I always look froward to saving a quiet moment, with a cup of tea, to open your emails and find another gem to read. I really enjoy your tutorials and seeing your wonderful artwork.

Those water brush pens are really fun to work with. I will have to try some of the others that you suggested.

Thank You for sharing your talents,

All my best,
Lela

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

That’s lovely to hear Lela, so pleased you enjoy them.
Will

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Anne Slater March 22, 2018

Hey Will, just when I promise myself I am NOT going to buy any more art materials … for a while … your bring these lovely pens to my attention! Always inspiring as usual! Cheers & thanks
Anne

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Ha, ha, pleased you enjoyed it Anne, hope you enjoy experimenting with them
Will

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Aya March 22, 2018

Hi Will,
Thank you for your sketches. Never thought that painting tools could be such great subject matter for sketches, but they look great!! I love how the smoking touches to the object shows movement. Always something to learn!

Aya

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Glad you enjoyed them Aya, hope you find it helpful in your sketches.
Will

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Christa March 22, 2018

Hi Will, I love all you do. Not painted for a while due to health problems. Now better and raring to go! Starting off with copying one of your quick sketches. Should choose my own subjects but like to try yours!!
Regards
Christa

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Thanks very much Christa, pleased to hear you’re on the mend and so pleased the sketches have been a kickstart to your studies.

Will

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Sue Warrillow March 22, 2018

Once again a very interesting article, love all your work and look forward to the next instalment!
Love Sue

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Cheers Sue.
Will

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Dave March 22, 2018

Hi Will, very nice pen and ink work, by chance ( or perhaps your recommendations before ) I have all the materials materials listed. Look forward to the new course, thanks.

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

You’re perfectly set up Dave, yes I do often use this combination it can be a really efficient way of working.
Will

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Jennifer March 22, 2018

Wow great stuff. Loved the tonal values. Gave me an idea for my zen tangle pens
Thanks love the news letters

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

So pleased it sparked a new idea Jennifer, good luck with your zentangles!
Will

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L. Morgan March 23, 2018

Hi Will,
Thanks to your online courses, of which I have downloaded a selection of
6 thus far, as well as your numerous and generously posted ‘freebies’, I have, over the past two years, developed from someone who could barely draw a stick figure to being a participant in the upcoming Dorset Art Weeks. With your guidance, I have produced work which I’m really proud to exhibit, and during the creation of every one my pieces, I have had your voice popping into my head talking me through a particular technique. The convesational style of your presentation seems to imprint the important information most effectively and because I watch the courses over and over, I discover a new little gem of insight every time. I would urge anyone who is serious about flourishing as an artist to trust and invest in your light-hearted but highly effective tutorship.

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Will Kemp March 23, 2018

Thanks so much for your lovely feedback on the courses and fantastic to hear about your progress with your paintings. So glad you’ve found the teaching style suits and hope the Dorset Art Weeks goes well!

Cheers,
Will

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Lorrie Nesbitt March 23, 2018

Thank you Will—love, love, love your work, your posts, and your lessons. Thank you!

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Will Kemp March 26, 2018

Thanks very much Lorrie, so pleased you enjoy them.
Will

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CHERYL March 23, 2018

SOMETHING SO COOL ABOUT THE BLACK AND WHITE DRAWINGS, I LOVE THEM. I DO MIXED MEDIA AND STENCILING WITH MOSTLY ACRYLIC PAINT. AND THE POPULAR COLORING BOOKS WITH PENCILS AND MARKERS. I DO HAVE THE LAMY SAFARI PEN, I WANT TO TRY THE WATER SOLUBLE INK TO PLAY AROUND WITH. BUT, AND THIS IS A BIGGIE, I CANNOT DRAW LIKE THE AMAZING ARTIST U ARE. ANY TIPS FOR A BEGINNER LIKE ME?

THANKS WILL!

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Will Kemp March 26, 2018

Hi Cheryl, really pleased you enjoyed the sketches if you start with something simple you might surprise yourself! even just the Lamy pen and a water pen can give some lovely results.
Cheers,
Will

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Michele March 24, 2018

Hi Will
Enjoyed browsing your sketches with a brew in hand of course. I am a new person to your school and am about to embark on the Floral still life painting course. I am about to head off to the art shop to grab my materials and cannot wait to start. Looking forward to exciting times with your guidance.

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Will Kemp March 26, 2018

Nice to have you along Michele, really hope you enjoy the Floral still life course!
Cheers,
Will

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SusanP March 24, 2018

Hi Will
I really like pen & wash, and the sketches are fab. Can’t wait to watch the tutorials.
Thanks.
SusanP

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Will Kemp March 26, 2018

Cheers Susan, glad you like them.
Will

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C-Marie March 28, 2018

Hi Will, Each one so very nice!! I hope out comes my pen tomorrow… Very glad for all that you give to us. Your generosity is wholly appreciated.
Cheers and God bless, C-Marie

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Will Kemp April 3, 2018

Thanks very much C-Marie, glad you enjoyed the sketches.
Will

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Heather Attzs March 30, 2018

Thanks as always Will,x

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John April 2, 2018
Will Kemp April 3, 2018

Thanks John, really pleased you enjoyed the glazing article.
Cheers,
Will

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Nyi Nyi Aung April 7, 2018

Simply and effective.Thanks

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Salma Shirin May 6, 2018

Hi Will

You are amazing as always. I loved your sketches. they are beautiful. They are free flow drawing. The jam jar with palate knife and the jar with brushes… amazing.

best regards
Salma

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Will Kemp May 7, 2018

Thanks very much Salma, you’re very kind, pleased you liked them.
Will

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