Studio Notes // 003: Art, Fear & Paint Stories


Every few weeks, I share my top art inspirations that I’ve read, experimented with or listened to. Here’s this weeks edition of things I’ve enjoyed, with the hope they might inspire your own work too…

I’ve enjoyed watching:


TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity – Sir Ken Robinson

In August 2020 Sir Ken Robinson sadly died. His TED talk was one of the first I enjoyed when I stumbled across TED nearly 10 year ago. It was a funny, heartfelt and poignant message on the way that schools can kill creativity in children who don’t quite fit the standard academic mould.

‘For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.’ – Sir Ken Robinson

I’ve enjoyed listening to:

podcast paint stories

Podcast: Paint stories with Mark Golden

This is a new podcast narrated by CEO of Golden Paints Mark Golden. It tells the story of how Golden paints came to be. There are just a couple of episodes at the moment with the first one looking at the early history of the company as they began Bocour Artist Colors in New York City, with Mark Golden’s Great Uncle Leonard Bocour and his father Sam Golden.

I’ve been reading:


Book: Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Baylis and Ted Orland

How does art get done?

This short book explores the the many difficulties that aspiring artist can face when trying to start and continue with their artistic studies.

The authors are two artists and it is a guide for overcoming the fear of creating artworks.

It can be helpful realising you’re not alone when feeling overwhelmed about starting a new painting or drawing and take comfort that many artists are in the exact same space!

“Often the work we have not done feels more real in our minds than the pieces we have completed.” – David Bayles.

(Pro tip: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield also looks at the ‘resistance’ to starting the art works you want to create, but somehow keep on putting them off.

Have a great week being fearless in the studio!



This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Terry

    Thanks for this. I loved the Ted Talk. The fear of failure, even just the the fear of making a mark on a blank canvas is something many of us experience. I must read that book.

  2. Greg Wasmuth

    Thank you Will! You are so encouraging and always generous with your wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re most welcome Greg.

  3. Syl Hayes

    Hi Will
    That TED talk was great. I can’t imagine my life without being creative and having a pencil or a brush in my hand.
    Love your posts and wishing you all the best.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Syl, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  4. Esther

    Hi Will, I’ve just discovered your website and videos. They are just excellent and I’ve been looking for something just like this to help me learn more about the technical aspects of acrylics. You are such an inspiration and I have learnt so much already. Thank you! Esther in Winchester UK

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons Esther, glad the site has been helpful.

  5. Adrienn

    Thank you for sharing these! The TED talk was really inspirational. I felt myself nodding all the way through.
    Love your posts!

  6. Cheryl

    Hello Will, I am a novice artist and have significantly better quite rapidly. Largely due to the insights I have gained watching your tutorials and writings. Thank you for that.
    My question is this, when I have painted over a mistake, I have huge problems painting over them. The surface is certifiably dry but the new paint goes on like the substrate was greasy. Paint doesn’t want to adhere unless applied so thinly, I can see the substrate clearly, just tinted with thick ridges where paint rolled off the edges of the paint brush. I am not using thick paint. It is paint out of the tube with flow enhancer added. So not watery; more the consistency of yoghurt. I was thinking of using GAC 200 as an additive instead of the flow improver.
    Your thoughts please.
    I don’t like to give up on a painting and prefer to face my mistakes and learn from. This means that until I can paint with confidence and substantially more knowledge, I will have to continue overpainting my mistakes and try, try again.
    Thank you again that beginning artist as myself can learn from you. I admire and respect you

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Cheryl, so pleased you’ve been finding the website helpful. In terms of adhesion, its a mix between the absorbency of the substrate and the thickness of the applied paint. But if you can see the substrate clearly I’m not sure what would be causing the lack of adhesion apart from the inclusion if the flow improver. With flow improver Golden recommend “Mix 1 part Wetting Agent to 10-20 parts water. Use this mixture whenever adding the Wetting Agent into a paint system.’ so it is only a small amount of product going onto the paint mix.

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