Inside the Artist’s Studio

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from The Assumption of the Virgin, Oil on Panel, 1626

Ruben’s House & the Art of Antwerp

The rhythmic sound of African drums echoed through the vast interior of the Cathedral.

It was an unexpected acoustic experience, and the historical tour we’d seen advertised was looking increasingly unlikely.

There was just Vanessa and me waiting patiently at the back of the Cathedral when the tour guide arrived; she was getting extremely agitated. She hadn’t known the performance was on, the volume was too loud, a new musical set had just started, and her tension was building.

She was miffed.

But then our saviour came, a gentleman from Romania. Our tour of two had become three. We were off to the races.

I was in Antwerp (just last month) exploring Ruben’s home and studio, but nothing had prepared me for the pure brilliance of his works that lay only a few steps from our hotel lobby, hidden behind the doors of the Cathedral of Our Lady. 


The Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp



Peter Paul Rubens, The Elevation of the Cross, 1610-11, Oil on panel. This triptych was originally created for the Saint Walpurga church that has since been destroyed. It was to be placed high up at the end of a series of steps and viewed from a distance.

When you’re in such a big space, it’s hard to distinguish the scale of these pieces, but they are massive. The piece above is over 4.5 meters wide by 3.5 metres when the triptych is fully open.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) specialised in altarpieces, religious and mythological scenes. As our extremely knowledgeable guide led us around the Cathedral and the story of each painting unfolded, I had a growing appreciation for the hidden symbolism and the many layers within each masterpiece.

Although huge in scale, Ruben’s paintings still maintain fantastic technical skill, and he manages to balance flow and energy throughout each painting alongside symbolic colours. 

Rubens chose to become a history painter at a young age, painting scenes from the Bible. Religious painters had to understand the rules of composition and perspective as well as the story and the morals of what they were painting. He was considered the most influential Northern Baroque master of the time, his canvases filled with grandeur, richness, drama, vitality, movement and emotional tension.

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from The Elevation of the Cross

Passionately our guide explained, we should use our five senses to enter into the story of a Rubens painting, become part of the scene, place yourself as different characters within it and ask yourself, who would you be?

Can you hear the snorting of a horse or the cry of a baby, feel the dogs fur or the fabric of the dresses, see the expression on the faces of the soldiers, smell the stormy air and taste the smoke from the torches?

She explained there’s always one figure within the painting looking directly out at you the viewer, inviting you in.


The application of the senses when viewing paintings, so popular then, is a lost art now. Where usually I would have been looking at the technical aspects of the work, our fantastic guide truly brought these paintings to life.

The Hinged Panels

For most of the year, the hinged outer panels of the triptych were closed over with two more subdued but equally beautiful paintings that would make up the ‘front’. The opening was reserved for important dates within the religious calendar to reveal the large, dramatic, colourful central panel, so make sure you sneak around the back to see the full story of the painting.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Descent from the Cross, Oil on panel, 1612–1614

Hanging opposite is another painting, The Descent from the Cross, which was designed for the Cathedral. It seemed to glow as if there was a spotlight shining on it due to the sharp contrast in the central panel where Rubens has used dramatic light and colour to focus our attention. The vibrant red of John’s cloak (who is always depicted in red) increases the tension in the piece; you can imagine the struggle of carrying someone’s weight, while precariously balancing one-foot on a wooden ladder.



This folding postcard shows the front panels from The Descent from the Cross. When the triptych is closed over the panels, tell the story of St. Christopher and the hermit with the lantern.

Peter Paul Rubens,  The Assumption of the Virgin, Oil on Panel, 1626

Modello Sketch


Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from ‘Modello’ for the Assumption of the Virgin

Rubens did some fantastic contour drawings that captured the gestures of a scene, and this drawing technique would have been used to create colour sketches onto wood panel. These sketches gave his client or patron an idea of what the finished composition would look like and are known as ‘Modello’ sketches.

Above, you can see the Burnt Umber underpainting on top of a warmer ground in preparation for the stunning Altarpiece, The Assumption of the Virgin.

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from The Assumption of the Virgin, 1626

Here is a detail of the finished painting, with the more fully developed faces and richer colours in the skin and clothes.


Loved how the marble floor had this watercolour feel to it, with the rich red drapery giving a ‘Ruben’s red’ feel to the floor. At the very top of the frame, you can make out the altarpiece.

Arriving in Antwerp


Arriving in Antwerp, you can’t help but be impressed with the amazing architectural details, here the afternoon light is just catching the top of the fantastically elaborate buildings in the main square, the Grote Markt. Between the narrow streets, you get these great reflections within the window frames.


The turquoise of the central bronze Brabo fountain shone out when the sun caught it.

Frites Atelier, now this is my sort of Atelier! Epic choice of mayonnaise and fried potatoes goodness.

The Happy Baker


Outside of a great little bakery Brood & Spelen, just off Grote Markt. At the top of the shot, you can see a lovely example of Belgium brickwork.


The happy baker! From Brood and Spelen, producing some excellent freshly baked goods.


The speciality of the house had a flan base, then a custard layer, then cream, then strawberry, finished with a glaze, mmm. Ok… I admit it; I did have a generous slice for breakfast to keep me going on the walk to Ruben’s studio.

Ruben’s House & Studio


From the sixteenth century onwards Italy had become extremely attractive for artists, so in 1600 Rubens left Antwerp for Italy. He spent the next eight years living and studying Renaissance painters such as Caravaggio, Michaelangelo and Titan, making the fullest possible use of his time. This period in Rome had a significant impact on him. It heavily influenced his future painting style with the introduction of chiaroscuro, the strong contrast between light and dark and brighter colours.

The Rubens House  – The artist’s former home and studio in Antwerp which is now a museum

In 1608 Rubens returned to Antwerp and by September 1609, was appointed as a painter to the court of Archduke Albert and Isabella. Rubens had become the most sought after painter in Europe, by 1610 with his business expanding; he needed more space for his family and work, so purchased a house and a piece of land in Antwerp.

Over the years, he extended the house with his design, adding a covered semicircular statue gallery, a grand studio and a garden pavilion where he liked to take a stroll with friends, having philosophical conversations.

These improvements gave his home the air of an Italian Palazzo and reflected Rubens artistic ideals of the art of Classical Rome and the Italian Renaissance. Here he also housed his collection of paintings he admired which included Titans and classical sculptures. 

At this time, such a large artist’s house, with separate living quarters, a studio and museum, was unheard of in Northern Europe.


Inside the house, I love how the open shutters allow shafts of sunshine onto the walls, spotlighting the dark interior.

The leadwork within the windows create these narrow frames to glimpse the ornamental garden below.

Now, this is how you pull off a leather wallpaper! Gilt embossed no less throughout Rubens house, framing a self-portrait by Anthony van Dyck, Oil on Canvas, 1635-1641.


The building is believed to have retained its original appearance until the mid-17th century at which point it was fundamentally altered. The portico and the garden pavilion are the only remaining original features, and the artworks that Rubens surrounded himself with are now spread out over the world.


Love these hand-painted tiles set within the fireplace.


Peter Paul Rubens, Self-portrait, Oil on canvas, 1630

Compared to his contemporary Rembrandt, Rubens painted very few self-portraits.

He produced just four, whilst Rembrandt painted around 40 but most interestingly, Rubens always portrayed himself as a self-assured and distinguished gentleman never as a painter. The self-portrait in the Rubens House above is the most informal of the four.

Rubens had many interests alongside painting; he was highly intelligent, spoke several languages and made shrewd art investments. From 1625 until 1628 he travelled around Europe as a diplomat, negotiating a peace treaty between Spain and the Netherlands and he was knighted on two occasions.

The Studio

Rubens studio was the largest in Europe and most of Rubens’s works were created here

Rubens had an impressive well-organised studio with several students, assistants and colleagues who helped him produce his work. Demand had risen considerably, so assistance now became essential if he was to meet the constant flow of orders.

For a big commission, Rubens would produce a small preparatory oil sketch (Modello) often leaving the task of transferring the panel to a larger format to his assistants. Rubens input was “limited” to the figures in a painting and the final flourishes of the master.

Sometimes other painters with a particular specialisation would then complete sections of the painting. It wasn’t unusual in 17th century Antwerp for two or more artists to collaborate on a single piece. One painted the figures and the landscape while another took care of flora and fauna, Rubens collaborated on several occasions with the animal and still-life painter Fran Snyders.

Every piece that left the studio, regardless of who had worked on it, was overseen and approved by Rubens. However, if you wanted to commission Rubens to paint the entire piece, you would have to pay several times more.

The Master’s Protégé – Anthony Van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck, Self-portrait by Rubens’ protege Anthony van Dyck.

Not much is known about Rubens many assistants, but there were two standouts.

Justus van Egmont (1602-1674) was able to replicate Rubens style so skilfully that his later work was often mistaken for a real Rubens. But Rubens most famous and undoubtedly most talented assistant was an exceptionally gifted artist Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1640) a child prodigy with exceptional talents.

He started his apprenticeship in Rubens’s studio in 1617 at the age of seventeen and he mastered Rubens style so well that he often acted as a stand-in for the great master.

The above portrait of the young Van Dyck had been previously attributed to Rubens, but under recent examination proved to be in fact, a self-portrait.

He would become Rubens first serious rival in Antwerp, later working in Italy. In 1632 Van Dyck was made court painter to King Charles I in London, proving to be a brilliant portrait painter with powerful empathy and dazzling technique.

There’s a Van Dyck portrait I used to and still regularly visit in the National Gallery, London of Cornelis van der Geest. I have always been amazed at how deftly Van Dyck painted the white neck ruffle, you know when you look at something and can’t work out how it’s done? That’s the ruffle on this portrait.

A Developing Style

Peter Paul Rubens, Adam and Eve, Oil on canvas, 1598-1600

Apprentice painters learnt their trade by grinding pigments, mixing, mounting canvases and cleaning the palettes and brushes, whilst observing the master’s methods.

Rubens had three teachers in all. The most important and influential of the three was Otto van Veen. He studied languages, trained in Italy and was a great fan of the Renaissance.

Very little is known about Rubens output between 1598, the year he established himself as an independent artist and his departure for Italy in 1600. This panel of Adam and Eve is one of the few surviving paintings from that period. The use of colour mainly the cool use of green and blue is reminiscent of Van Veen.

At this stage, Rubens treatments of the figures and the landscape are rather static and precise, after his time in Italy his style became freer and his use of colour more expressive.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Annunciation, Oil on canvas, 1609

The rendering of the figures has much more realism and luminosity since Rubens returned from Italy. Using colours more reminiscent of Titian and the more fully rendered form, adding a more sculptural quality to his paintings.

Rubens’s health steadily declined and he was forced to stop painting, on 30th May 1640, he died at his home, just a month short of his 63rd birthday. Rubens and his family are buried in a chapel in Antwerp’s St. James’s Church.


A Dog of Flanders

When we were leaving the Cathedral, we asked the guide what the big sculpture outside in the square was. She explained, there is a book called  A Dog of Flanders by Ouida about the inseparable bond between an orphan boy called Nello and his faithful rescue dog Patrasche, living in 19th century Belgium.

The story goes, as they were very poor Nello helped his grandfather selling milk with Patrasche pulling their cart into town each morning. Nello falls in love with the daughter a well-off man in the village, but he doesn’t want his daughter to have such a poor suitor.

Although Nello is illiterate, he is very talented in drawing. He enters a junior drawing contest in Antwerp, hoping to win the first prize, 200 francs per year. However, the jury selects somebody else – we’ve all been there!!

When his grandfather dies, Nello and Patrasche were left all alone in the world. Having nowhere to stay, Nello desperately wants to go to the Cathedral of Antwerp to see Rubens ‘The Elevation of the Cross’ and ‘The Descent of the Cross’, but the exhibition is only for paying customers, and he’s out of money.

On the night of Christmas Eve, he and Patrasche go to Antwerp finding the door to the church open, sneak inside. The next morning, the boy and his dog are found frozen to death in front of the triptych.

The book became a bestseller and a literary classic in Japan and is still taught in secondary schools today. In 1975, a Japanese television studio aired a year-long animated series, every Sunday night. More than 30 million Japanese tuned in for the heartbreaking last episode.

Many Japanese fans of Nello make a pilgrimage to Antwerp Cathedral to stand in front of Ruben’s great triptych alter piece where Nello and Patrasche died.


We left Antwerp feeling inspired by Rubens, enlightened by our Cathedral tour, saddened by Nello and overly indulged from the fantastic Belgian hospitality, Sante!


A delicious local amber pale ale made by the De Konnick brewery, although when ordering everyone uses the name ‘Bolleke’ after the bowl-shaped glass it’s served in.

p.s. One of the blog readers Nicole just let me know there is currently a show of early Rubens works in Ontario, Canada (October 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020)

This Post Has 130 Comments

  1. Beverly

    Great reading – thanks Will

  2. Bob Newman

    Hi Will. What a fantastic weekend to have I have been a fan of Rubens for a while now simply because I like the way he defines muscle and shade and of course his gorgeous female forms, regardless of my son’s accusation that I am just a voyeur but that’s my son for you. Is the above selfie going to be framed cos it looks like you already.
    I have done five selfies but on in drawing form, I wish I had come across you years ago.
    Fantastic weekend Will
    Best wishes. Bob

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Bob, glad you enjoyed the article and pleased the selfie drawings are going well!

  3. Liz Coyle

    Thank you, Will for this wonderful glimpse of the wonders of Antwerp. This city is now on my must visit list!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Liz, it’s a fab compact city, great for exploring on foot, also forgot to mention the Belgium chocolates and waffles!

  4. Eddie

    Thanks for your excellent blog Will. I have never been a great fan of Rubens but I see him in a different light now.

  5. Tracey Carnahan

    Thank you for sharing, Will!

  6. Maureen Doran

    I enjoyed this post of Antwerp very much. I recently went to Amsterdam and our group was planning a trip to Antwerp and Brugge but the plans changed and we were unable to go. Thank you for showing so many highlights from your trip. I now know I need to visit Antwerp!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Maureen, hope the trip went well in Amsterdam and you get to catch Antwerp next time.

  7. Michael Carlon

    Greetings Will
    Thanks for sharing your trip to Antwerp to visit the Reubens works. As always you manage to communicate the feel of the place and leave me wanting to visit and see for myself.
    Much appreciated! I plan to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto to see Reuben’s early works.
    Mike Carlon
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Mike, hope you enjoy the show.

  8. Jan Davies

    What a fantastic experience. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences … jealous of the strawberry tart !

  9. Sal Cameron

    I really enjoyed this, thank you.

  10. Nancy

    Thanks for sharing. It was inspiring.

  11. Alastair

    Great post Will. I want to read it all, rather than just look through it – I’ll do that properly later. One of my favourite pictures at the National Gallery in London is “Samson and Delilah” by Rubens. Amazingly beautiful colour intensity from a great painter. That and “The Rainbow Landscape” at the Wallace Collection (lovely figures too, plus ducks as well). Thanks for the post.


    P.S. That interior room at the window looks very “Vermeer” to me!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Alastair, much appreciated, yes the Samson and Delilah is a good one. The light in Antwerp was very reminiscent of the Netherlands. On the map Delft it practically in line with Antwerp, a great part of the works for sunlight interiors!

  12. Amy

    I appreciated this so much! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Amy, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  13. Bella

    Thank you very much Will, for the wonderful story and pictures! Always enjoy your blog and classes!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Bella, really glad you enjoyed reading it.

  14. Bonnie Maurer

    Wonderfull! I felt like I was there in person. Thanks so much.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Bonnie, much appreciated.

  15. Lucy Johnson

    THANK YOU for your generous gorgeous pictures. I feel I have visited Belgium. I’m taken back to a Rubens show in Munich many years ago. I have a reproduction Rubens hanging in my hall.
    I’m retired in Texas but travel to European museums by internet. My *kindergarten* art studio is upstairs in a room with windows and birds watching. Painting is my personal joy.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks so much Lucy, glad it brought back good memories of the show you visited in Munich.

  16. Peter Browning

    Many thanks Will. As always, news of your travels are full of information and interest.
    Peter B.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Peter, hope you’re well.

  17. Colleen Umlah

    Thanks, Will, for a few minutes with Rubens in Antwerp. I enjoyed your travelogue very much!

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Colleen, really glad you enjoyed the Antwerp tour.

  18. David Stickells

    Hi Will, I’ve always been a fan or Rubens, especially his use of light and shade and the beautiful figures. Always wanted to go there and see his paintings but, alas, too old to travel now. However, your post has allowed me to see some of Antwerp and the paintings (and what I have missed!!). Thanks very much for the insight.

    1. Will Kemp

      Really pleased the ‘virtual tour’ gave you a small insight into the paintings David.

  19. Honey

    Thank you for taking time to document your trip. I loved reading this!

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Honey, glad you enjoyed it.

  20. Judy Dunning

    Thank you for this beautiful post; it brought back wonderful memories of our trip to Antwerp and the incredible church with his incredible paintings!!! I also saw a room full of his paintings in the Louvre in Paris. You could sit on a bench in the centre and just be surrounded by the massive works as if you were in them. Rubens has always been one of my favourites.

  21. Barbara Baskin-Bowen

    Wonderful photography and so great of you to share your thoughts. Almost makes me feel as if I’ve been there. Thanks, Barbara

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Barbara, pleased you enjoyed the photos.

  22. Mike

    Outstanding! Hearing from you is like a letter from an old close friend.
    Thanks for your influence.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you Mike, so glad you enjoyed it.

  23. victoria watson

    What a wonderful, wonder filled presentation .. one I will keep for future reference ! Thanks so much for including me in your shares !

  24. Linley McKenna

    Loved your journey. What a wonderful write up …I was there with
    you all the way. Never being to that part of the world ..It sounds
    fantastic. Thanks Linley

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Linley, much appreciated

  25. Vicky Kirby

    Another wonderful “you are there” blog! I could feel the warm floor of the cathedral and wonder at the art. Thanks so much for sharing and giving more artists to research and admire. Time for a biscuit and brew :)

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed it Vicky, yes definitely waffle and brew time in Antwerp!

  26. Don Novak

    What a wonderful tour! Thanks for the effort Will.

  27. Frieda

    You are a masterful story teller! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you to say so Frieda, hope you’re keeping well.

  28. Jennifer sutton

    Oh wow really amazing thanks so much

  29. Don

    Thanks, Will – You made the start of my day so very enjoyable !!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Don, glad you enjoyed reading it.

  30. Trudy

    Thank you Will, I like it them!

  31. Pauline W. Jones

    Wonderful article and pictures….thank you so much. Your pictures of the paintings are
    beautiful….what kind of camera are you using?

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Pauline, pleased you enjoyed them both. The photos are mostly a mix of iPhone and a Panasonic compact camera.

  32. Gerda Wolzak-van Hummel

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I have been in Antwerp years ago and now I have to go again; really a source of inspiration your post is.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you to say so Gerda.

  33. Roberto Melfi

    Will, as always thanks for such an entertaining review of your visit to Reubens’ birthplace. And thanks especially for mentioning the current Reubens exhibition in Toronto about which I did not know. Living relatively close by in Montreal, I shall definitely bring along a few interested friends to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario before that Reubens exhibit closes.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Roberto, really hope you get to catch the Ontario show, it looks really good.

  34. Philippe

    Great read to start the week end, thanks Will, now to my canvas

  35. Brenda

    So very inspiring. I felt as if I were there. Thank you very much for sharing.


    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed it Brenda.

  36. Ineke

    Thank you Will. That was a great article. Very informative. I did not know that Rubens was a diplomat and negotiated a peace treaty between the Netherlands and Spain. I was born in the Netherlands and left when I was 32. I have never before heard about this.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Ineke, yes, he seemed to have a wide range of talents and productive output, glad you enjoyed it.

  37. Micael

    Thank you for sharing your Antwerp visit. I am 89 and have never been to Antwerp but you have inspired me to go before it’s too late. Michael

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s fantastic to hear you’re feeling inspired Micael!

  38. Maureen Baril

    Wow Thanks for sharing Will ! How fortunate you were to experience everything!
    Thanks again !

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Maureen, yes it was a real privilege.

  39. Alex

    What a wonderful tour! Thank you so much.

  40. Jennifer Abbey

    Thank you for sharing your memories and enjoyment of such a trip. Confined to home at the moment it felt like I was along for the ride! Many thanks Jenny

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad it helped to bring a little of Antwerp into your day Jennifer, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  41. Norbert

    Thanks for the pictures and the insight. I also liked the motto of the old bakery “Bread and games” – like in the old Rome

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Norbert, I hadn’t noticed that with the bakery name, thanks for pointing it out.

  42. C-Marie

    Thank you so much Will for sharing your visit! This was a wonderful little vacation. There is a movie from 1999 named A Dog of Flanders in which the book’s story is embellished, but I think it very enjoyable. Your good cheer to all of us is wonderful.
    God bless, C-Marie

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks C-Marie, much appreciated.

  43. Lorraine Bollinger

    I, just as the many people above have stated, thoroughly enjoyed your travelogue of Antwerp!! Rubens has ALWAYS been a particular favorite of mine!
    Loved you comment about the lace!!
    Thank you for being so available and such an excellent teacher

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re more than welcome Lorraine, thanks so much.

  44. Karen

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing

  45. Wilma

    Hi Will
    A big thank you for sharing the trip and all the fantastic ART…o I could only wish to paint like the BIG masters…to me that is art. Thank you I have learned a great deal. Photos of the streets and bread baker big one back into their style of living..missing out… where I stay is just the other side of the coin…
    One again thank you Will
    Kind regards

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Wilma, you’re very kind.

  46. Lenore Robson

    Thanks as always for your insight, for someone who has only discovered art & travel in my older age, your emails & tutorials bring great joy! We are so far away here in Australia, but your travels make me feel like I’m right there with you. Keep it going please.
    Cheers Lenore

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s lovely to hear Lenore, glad you’ve been enjoying them.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Brenda, so pleased you enjoyed learning about Rubens.

  47. Syl Hayes

    Love your posts. It’s so wonderful to plan a break from home around a visit to an art exhibition. I visited Amsterdam just to see the Van Goghs. And plan to visit Sydney next year for an Arthur Streeton retrospective. There’s nothing like seeing the artist’s work in the flesh. Regards from Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hope you get to catch the Streeton show, some wonderful work.

  48. Jane

    Will thank you for sharing and giving us all an insight into what we are missing

  49. Katerina

    Your trip stories are always so well written Will. The way you give us an art lesson explaining the story of each painter till the nice spots of the area around is amazing and when we read it, its like being there too. Thank you so much for sharing

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks so much Katerina, really pleased it felt like you were in Antwerp as well.

  50. Jenny Hill

    That was so interesting! I have never seriously looked at Rubens work but definitely have enjoyed learning about his paintings and life. Thank you Will for the excellent photos and information as I probably will never get there to see them for myself.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Jenny, so pleased it has piqued your interest in Rubens.

  51. Elsa Krauss

    I just joined your school and I love your blog. Simple and very informative. Thanks for sharing.
    Elsa Krauss

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Elsa, nice to have you along.

  52. Venu

    Thank you for sharing your memories and love your posts…

  53. Denise Christou

    What a great and interesting story about Rubens, the visit to the Cathedral sounds fantastic with all the underlying stories to the paintings and the interpretation of the guide. It is always a treat to have someone to share that knowledge to immerse the listeners. Keep up the good work Will.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Denise, so pleased you enjoyed it.

  54. Liz

    Wow! Thanks, I knew nothing about PP Ruben until now! I could not discern any of the figures in the paintings “looking out”. It must be that you need to be in the room? Marvellous Blog thanks again Will.

  55. Tigisti

    This is so interesting . Thanks a lot for sharing Will. Wish you all the success .


    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of your Tigisti.

  56. Perrin

    Will; Finished your trip to Brussels and the many fine pictures and pertinent commentary you’ve provided; it all is a real keeper in our ‘Will Kemp’ file for a long time to come. Thank you very much.

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed learning about Rubens Perrin.

  57. Christine Oliver

    Hi Will
    Thank you so much for a brief interlude on a wet and miserable afternoon to imagine myself in Antwerp gazing at Ruben’s wonderful artwork.
    You pointed out things I would have missed left to my own devices, and I could spend as long as I wanted to really see what you were seeing.
    My painting is on hold at the moment due to life getting in the way,but really look forward to following more of your demos.
    Thanks again
    Christine Oliver

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased it highlighted new elements to the work Christine.

  58. Bernie

    Thanks Will. Always good to see great art works. Loved the story of the Dog of Flanders.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Bernie, pleased you liked the tale.

  59. Althea

    Thank You!

  60. Elizabeth Tait

    So enjoyed your insight into the world and works of Rubens. Recently visited the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam. I marvel at how diametrically opposite their circumstances were to those of Rubens. Thanks for all the insight into his life and works.
    Regards Elizabeth

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed it Elizabeth, love Rembrandt House Museum.

  61. Linda Thornton

    I saved your blog to read when I finally had time – so well worth waiting, I was totally absorbed! You have a magical touch with the camera as well as a great ability to make the reader feel as though they are there on tour with you! Many thanks!

    1. Will Kemp

      Oh, thanks very much Linda, kind of you to say so.

  62. Chris Rowland

    Hi Will
    Love your style and have consequently purchased a couple of your courses after viewing your wealth on free material online. Used your tuition guide to the Zorn palate to help me create a couple of artworks one of which won the peoples vote in the Stockport Open Art competition 2018. Do you run any face to face courses / schools in the UK, particularly in the northwest?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Chris, congratulations on the Stockport Open Art prize! great work with the people’s vote, so pleased the Zorn palette helped out. I don’t run any live classes at the moment but will add details to the blog/newsletter if I run any in the near future.

  63. Laura Fowler

    Hi Will,
    I enjoyed reading about your journey to Antwerp. So enriching. Speaking of dogs, I just returned last week from the Westminster dog show in New York City, and while there I visited not only the MOMA … didn’t have any particular special exhibit going at the time … but an AKC dog museum! I had no idea something like that existed or what to expect, but I was delighted to discover it had many beautiful painting and sculptures of notable dogs and notable people and their dogs by exceptional artists for that kind of subject matter. I’m trying to remember, I think the works date back maybe a couple hundred years to the present … that was the first day of my trip and I was experiencing quite a bit of jet lag and, well, lack of sleep. Getting back to what you mentioned about the extraordinary skills of some artists, there’s an oil painting of a person and their dog, and the lace work around the person’s neck was truly amazing. It was intricate and beautiful. If you ever visit NYC, you might check it out.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Laura, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the tip about the show.

  64. Elinor Irvine

    I have just finished reading your blog about Antwerp and Rubens. It was such a delight to experience these two subjects. It had inspired me to attempt your portrait lessons.
    Thank you

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed reading it Elinor and fantastic to hear you’re feeling inspired!

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