The Immersive Power of Painting

(a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

How often have you heard yourself say “I’d love to paint but I’ve got too much going on… I’ll have to wait till I’ve finished work….the kids have grown up….

“I wish I had more time to paint but… but, but, but”

Just finding space to set your paints out means upheaval of something else and squeezing a free window of time feels too difficult to plan in an already jam-packed calendar.

And then, having to learn how to paint on top of that ….uh, I can see why you’d think you’d have to wait until you retire!

But is it possible by not painting now, you’re missing out?

What if you don’t need more time to paint, but you need to paint, to give your mind a much-needed refresh?…

The Power of Painting

Painting is seen as a way to relax and empty your mind as you merrily wash great swathes of colour over a canvas.

But the reality is, it takes real concentration, planning and broaches a whole new set of visual problems.

So why does this help?

Because when you make decisions and solve problems of any kind, whether its work, organizing a holiday, choosing what to wear or designing a painting, you use an area of your brain called your prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is helpful for:

  • Planning
  • Solving problems
  • Setting goals
  • Imagining the future
  • Thinking creatively

The only issue is there are limitations:

  • It has a limited capacity to remember things – about 4
  • It can’t multitask – it single task switches.
  • It gets tired easily and needs glucose (tea and biscuits  – did you say you were putting the kettle on?)

So when it has too many thoughts and things to remember, it gets tired and our planning, reasoning and self-control all suffer.

Change is the key.

By changing your task and focusing your mind on a new set of problems, in our case painting, the tired parts of your mind become rested by using this new subject of interest.

Your mind doesn’t just switch off into a Zen-like state, it’s working hard to solve the problems of your painting, giving all of your other worries time to take a back seat, opening up space for clarity and a new perspective when returning to them later in the day.

“Painting came to my rescue in a most trying time.

I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen.

All one’s mental light such as it is, becomes concentrated on the task. Time stands respectively aside, and it is only after many hesitations that luncheon knocks gruffly at the door……”

Sir Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime, 1948.

Churchill wrote with real enthusiasm about the joy of painting and how it became an important method of rejuvenation, keeping his mind keenly focused.

The Daily Practice of Painting

So if you’re feeling inspired to experience some of these benefits yourself, I thought I’d share with you my painting practice from today, a little colour sketch inspired by my trip to Venice.

When artists talk about their work, they often refer to it as their painting practice, just like yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Thinking of it in this way encourages you to do just that – regular personal practice. Making the shift from the pressure of creating a finished piece to embracing the power of practice, encourages small studies, simple line sketches and the absorbing ritual of just mixing colours.

What really matters is the actual doing.

Do not fail as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worthwhile and will do you a world of good

Cennino Cennini, The Craftsman’s Handbook, circa 1400

I often like to revisit reference images I’ve taken and look back at them in a more close up view. This photo was a small bridge next to the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, also called San Zanipolo, the largest church in Venice. (See: Sketching the Light & Landscape in Venice)

Reviewing photos can be a useful exercise especially when the weather is too cold to sit outside and sketch, or there isn’t a still life set-up in your studio space and it gives an achievable subject matter. It’s also a great way to practice your composition by looking for a pleasing balance of light and shadow and there were 3 contenders from within the wider view above.

The Power of Projects

I find it useful to create a set of guidelines for a mini-project before you begin.

This will help you make quick decisions on what you’re going to paint that day, keeping you on track resulting in the momentum of creating more studies throughout the year.

Starting with too vast a subject matter will send you down a rabbit hole of new decision-making problems, which will tire out your prefrontal cortex, and the idea of having a brew and a biscuit will become much more appealing!

‘I want to paint Venice’ is not specific enough.

Limit your choices to what you’ve already got to hand, so for my practice today I said to myself:

  • I want to paint 8 x 10 inch – because that’s the size board/canvas/paper I already had in
  • A Venice street scene, with an element of a bridge – I know I had photos with this in
  • Use soft pastel colours – I’ve got a new warm white pigment I want to experiment with

Now I was off to the races, this changed my thought process into the ‘next easy step’ with a clearly defined path.

“It is the limitation of means that determines style, gives rise to new forms and makes creativity possible.”

George Braque, Cubist Painter and Sculptor, 1882 -1963

Crop 1 & Crop 2

In the first crop of my Venice scene, the archways had nice dark and light contrast which appealed to me and would make a great high contrast sketch, but my warm white wouldn’t get a look in so I moved on to my second crop.

In this, the man checking his watch in the window reminded me of some of Vermeer’s street scenes of Delft, which I really liked. It had a nice bridge arch and elements of the warm white but there wasn’t a wide enough range from warm white to cool white – so onto crop 3.

Crop 3

I decided on the third crop, as it had more focus towards the row of buildings within the centre of the composition. The white edge of the Basilica on the right-hand side helps to frame the image and the range of warmer hues and tones are quite close together, so I’ll be able to achieve a lot of the colours just with a couple of pigments.

Titan Buff Light, New Masters Acrylic, Old Holland

I’d wanted to experiment using my new purchase of Titan Buff Light from New Masters Acrylics from Old Holland.

You can make your own by mixing Titanium White and Yellow Oxide, but this pre-mixed tube is a convenient way of working with a warmer white, handy when painting white stone and buildings that are slightly warmed by the sun.

I had a pre-prepared 8 x 10-inch board that had been primed with a muted pale blue in my studio, the ground colour was a mix of Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and a little Burnt Umber to mute down the blue.

Sketch using Liquitex Neutral Gray 5 Acrylic marker

I sketched in the drawing using a Neutral Grey 5 acrylic marker from Liquitex, due to the darkness of the ground, the drawing is nice and muted. I can now start to introduce some warmth with a Burnt Umber

I’m diluting the paint with water so I get this watery wash effect. Varying the consistency of the paint depending on the lightness or darkness of the tones.

The faces the buildings are now easier to judge because of the warm shadows that have been painted in, so I can now introduce the warm Titan Buff Light.

Again, just using water, I then dilute the paint slightly and block in using a small flat edged synthetic brush. As the light is brighter on the buildings on the right, I mix in more Titanium White to lift the value and cool the mix.

Now I add some of the Titanium White in with the Burnt Umber, this gives us a warm muted brown that can block-in the base for the buildings.

I glaze some watery Burnt Umber over the Titanium White, this creates an optical mix onto the paint surface. You can see how the water separates on the black duck tape.

To add some more saturation into the warms, I introduce a Light Red from Winsor & Newton.

This can be glazed over to warm up the buildings, and then mixed with the Titan Buff Light for more solid areas of the orange.

Total planning & sketch time: 40 minutes
Total painting time: 30 minutes

Here’s the finished, sketch, is it perfect? No, but there are some areas I really like and my favourite part?

This little area of the doorway. For me it’s got a nice balance of optical mixing with the Burnt Umber glaze at the top, the saturation of the solid Light Red at the bottom and I like the way the post on the right has been subtly ‘outlined’ by the blue ground.

President Eisenhower sometimes quipped that he was able to devote more time to painting during his tenure in the White House than afterwards because his time was so efficiently scheduled.

So if you’ve been putting off creative projects because your mind is busy racing with other things, try and block out 30-45 minutes practice time a week and enjoy the benefits of a refreshed outlook.

You Might Also Like:

1. On Painting, Procrastination and What Might Have Been
2. How to paint, sleep (and nearly die) like Cézanne



This Post Has 182 Comments

  1. Susan M

    Will, you always inspire me! Just when I never seem to have time to sit down and set everything up to paint, an email arrives from you and I know I must stop and find space and time to create. Thanks for reminding me, love hearing from you.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Susan, so pleased you enjoyed it and are feeling inspired!

  2. Robina Nicol

    Thank you so much, Will, a most detailed example of your process through this piece. I continue to thrive on the shared work of so many artists on line… wonderful for me as this Essex girl lives in Mexico.

    I also enjoy watching Put Colour in Your World from Australia and talented artists from Germany.

    Gracias, Robina

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Robina, glad you liked it.

  3. Anthony D’Abramo

    Thanks again, Will,for your encouraging words on keeping working at our art for the joy and relaxation that it brings.

    I have a picture of Quebec City quite similar and cannot wait to use the unique way that you handled that particular subject on my 10 x 12.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Anthony, hope the Quebec City piece works out well.

  4. Howard Park

    Great concept Will and wonderfully expressed. I will try to pass on that logic to my students

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Howard, hope they find it helpful.

  5. Alan Howlett

    Hi Will,
    I am just putting the finishing touches to your Padstow Harbour scene, and have, for the last couple of days been looking back on my holiday photo’s taken around europe for my next painting. This latest lesson will, I hope, prove invaluable in helping me choose and complete a unique painting.
    Thanks for this,

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Alan, hope you enjoyed the Padstow painting! yes, getting into the specifics can really help with making the next choice in the subject matter when faced with a range of photos. Here’s to your next piece!

  6. Breeze

    Thank you…this has been helpful.Love the info on frontal.cortex
    Loved the paint suggestions. Mostly love your humor.You really inspire me to paint. I can feel some kind of energy trying to materialize out of my hands. Now I have guidance to stop procrastinating.
    Thank you Pal

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Breeze, that’s very kind of you to say so.



  8. jennifer bloor

    Dear Will,
    I really enjoy looking at your work and the advice you give. Gorgeous effect of those colours in the Venetian scene.I learnt a lot from this as in the past I have tried to paint a whole scene instead of looking for the more interesting snapshots within it. I have just looked at the the Cezanne Studio trip and love your sense of humour (although I think you had a very lucky escape!) as well as the facinating story of Cezanne. My favourite painter is Sorolla and his studio in Madrid is also well worth a visit.
    Kind regards,


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Jennifer, really pleased you enjoyed the paintings and the Cezanne, trip. Sorolla does some fab work doesn’t he, thanks for the tip on his studio in Madrid.

  9. Jenny

    Aww I loved that demo, and I think the finished painting is perfect! Gorgeous.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Jenny, glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Jean

    Hi will
    I have been following your site for a few months now. I managed to paint the cherry and started on the apple.
    Your comments resonate with me because I fit right into that scenario of being “too busy” to make time for this “hobby”.
    I travel almost every week and live in condo , so not much space, but again I am making excuses.
    I bought a wet palate and some new paints and brushes that are now sitting idle.
    Your idea to make just 45 minutes a week is great. Everyone can work that out.
    Thanks for the updates.
    Your faithful follower and student.


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Jean, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the videos and so pleased you resonated with the article. Good luck with your next 45-minute painting session!

  11. Jackie

    This was such a helpful read. Too often I find myself put off by lack of extended lengths of time to do some painting, so your helpful idea about cropping into images to find enough for a quick (ish) practice piece was great – thank you you so much!

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Jackie, hope it helps for finding new inspiration from old ideas!


  12. Sheila

    Thank you! Sooo needed to read this today. We are surrounded by glorious mountains that I can hardly wait to paint.

    1. Will Kemp

      Sounds bliss Sheila, have a great day painting.

  13. Promila kaul

    Thanks for sharing your work and inspiring to keep on going….

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Promila, glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Ricky NYC

    I could just listen and watch you paint all day long! I had purchased your floral still life class months ago and all the supplies needed but have yet to start it, I’m feeling INSPIRED to do so now!
    Thanks Will, I look forward to all your posts!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you to say so Ricky, glad you’re feeling inspired with the floral piece. Keep the faith when mixing those green leaves, it will be a concentration, but the results I’ve been seeing from students from the course have been fab.


  15. Beck Mc

    Thanks so much for this! Good reminders and new insights to ponder. I always appreciate your posts.

  16. Cathy Jacobi

    Beautiful and helpful! Thanks, Will!

  17. Marcia

    You are so good and I love the way you instruct. I hope your beer turns out.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Marcia, yes, very exciting about checking the beer’s gravity with a hydrometer to check the ABV! (p.s. I have no idea what any of those mean!)


  18. Alison Stafford

    Ah two Will fixes today! I rehung your Whitby Bay print in my lounge and then this in my inbox! Love the limited palette and your infectious enthusiasm. I agree that painting/drawing is such a valuable way to relax the mind. Now, where are those photos…..I feel a quick painting coming on :) x

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Ali, what a coincidence! hope you’re doing well.

  19. Peter Kitson

    Hi Will,
    Another great lesson, they’re always so inspiring. I’ve not been painting long but never fail to learn something with every visit to your site or email in my inbox. Your work is great and your enthusiasm catching. Thank you

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Peter, thanks very much, glad you’ve been finding the lessons of interest.

  20. Audrey

    Love your articles and look forward to each and everyone. They say we are never to old to learn. I am 92 and still love to paint. Thank you, Will, for your inspirational articles.

    1. Will Kemp

      Wow, what an inspiration you are Audrey! so pleased you enjoyed it.

  21. Kim

    Thank you , loved this article , fits my lack of habit painting and reminds me to do it ,awesome little painting ,going soon to finish a much larger one !

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Kim, glad you’re feeling fired up!

  22. charlotte piper

    Always good to be reminded of the ‘obvious’, which is easily forgotten in the marlstrom of every day life. Thank you ‘ – i hope the beer is tasty!

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Charlotte, pleased you enjoyed it, yes, do hope my fermentation skills are up to scratch!

  23. Marla Q

    Exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks, Will.

  24. Pam

    Thank you! This was just what I needed today! With all the busy lives we lead…sometimes you do need to stop and paint (or create) something! I must make time….and like you said…even 1/2 hour a day! It will be so worth it!

    1. Will Kemp

      Really glad you enjoyed it Pam, yes, even 30 minutes can make a really big difference.

  25. Vivian Ho

    You’re always so generous to share your idea, good to have you guide and encourage .


  26. Keith

    Very interesting & inspiring….. Beautiful work. Keith.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Keith, glad you enjoyed it.

  27. sandra wagenfeld

    ‘Painting as a Pastime’ is the book that finally pushed me over the painting edge and prompted me to find a bit of space, and not worry about making a mess! I doubt I’ll become a fine painter, I’ll satisfy curiosity and have some great fun. Thanks for blending the practical with the philosophical.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good to hear it Sandra, really pleased you enjoyed the article.

  28. Austine

    Will, I always appreciate your emails, but this one was particularly timely for me. The concept of practicing yoga was a familiar one to me, but I had not realized that the practice of painting was analogous. Now I know why painting is beneficial to my mood.
    Many thanks for the encouragement to paint more!

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Austine, really pleased it was timely for you and gave a new insight to your painting practice.

  29. Jack Hassard

    Thank you,Will. I really enjoyed this and have already ordered the buff light and neutral grey marker. This will be great project on Tuesday when we return from selling English antiques at a fair in Raleigh, North Carolina. Best regards, Jack

    1. Will Kemp

      Enjoy the marker Jack, it can work well for quickly establishing an underdrawing and with the chisel tip, you can block in masses of grey.

      1. Margo

        Hi Will. Is that the 2 or 15 mm marker? I’m fairly certain it is the 2 mm, but thought I would ask first before placing my order.

          1. Margo

            Thanks, Will. :-)

  30. Katheen Miller

    Many thanks for sharing. Venice, how beautiful. Will save this art lesson to reread etc. How true about letting other things take preference. I do have an idea for my next oil painting, but fractured a rib doing something stupid and now the holidays are coming. See how that goes. I can get lost in doing a painting but don’t want to start then have it set aside and dry some on me. Will set time aside to sketch which I need to get back doing. My paining that I just finished (dog, Commander) was first painting I have done for quite a long time. Best on your beer and enjoy.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Kathleen, hope the ribs are on the mend and yes, working on sketches and more developed paintings can be a great way of keeping your practice fresh.


  31. CHERYL


  32. Ed Murphy

    Thanks, Will, for another inspiring travelogue + drawing/painting tips. There’s something in your easy-going approach to the sometimes challenging act of painting that appeals to me and urges me on. You could probably teach brain surgery… if you were so inclined.


    1. Will Kemp

      Really pleased you find the teaching style suits Ed, glad you enjoyed it.

  33. Michael Parry

    Fantastic ‘Words of Wisdom’. Every word and every example is so true. My life is a perfect example of the “I don’t have time, space, concentration . . . to paint or draw”. So, here I am, just days from retirement and will have all the time in the world to paint and draw. As I waited for the perfect time, I lost so much of any time.
    I fully support what is said here and DON’T wait. Paint, draw, paint, draw, and paint some more.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Michael, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  34. Carmene

    Many thanks Will for sharing your knowledge. It’s fantastic.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hugs back at you Carmene.

  35. Julie

    Thank you Will, love reading your words. Great inspiration and also has given me the push that I needed. Love your work. Hope your home brew turns out well. Cheers, Julie

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Julie, really pleased you found it helpful (yes, looking forward to a tasting party!)

  36. Beverly

    Too often I find myself with a strong urge to paint, but by the time I clear a few hours to devote to painting, then decide WHAT to paint, and what size canvas to use, and what color to use as the undercoat, etc., etc., I am so put off and mentally exhausted by all the decisions that I just give up and go do something else. Then I feel guilty for not following through. So your suggestions to just DO it, even for short bursts of time, is inspiring. I WILL, and thank you for the figurative kick in the pants!

    1. Will Kemp

      Good on you Beverly, glad you’re feeling inspired to do!

  37. Gordon

    Hi Will
    Thank’s so much for another awesome lesson. Regards Gordon.

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re more than welcome Gordon.

  38. Jan Davies

    I have recently joined an art group in Wrenbury Cheshire. They are a great bunch of people who every Friday meet up to share their love of art in all mediums.,plus tea and biscuits ! You have inspired me to start painting in Acrylics. Finding subjects to paint as a short lesson from your email today ,rather than a finished piece is very interesting. Your Apple video was the first on I found on Y- tube , brilliant you make it look so easy and from that I was hooked. Thank you Will for your time , your patience and for sharing your knowledge with us all. Art is a wonderful gift , soothes the soul. Jan

    1. Will Kemp

      Sounds like the perfect ratio of biscuits to painting Jan! really pleased you’ve been enjoying the apple tutorial.


  39. Tamara Torres

    Always loving your lesson.
    Thanks a lot!


  40. Norbert

    Thank you for keeping me motivated and inspired, Will.

  41. Julie Powell

    Thank you again Will for another inspiration fix. My husband takes amazing photographs on our travels and I have never really thought about painting a smaller section rather than tackling the whole thing. I’m definitely going to use these ideas!
    Whilst I’m here I also wanted to say that I am so so enjoying your Venice Impressionisitic course, which I bought as soon as you released it and have only just got around to doing it. This was not because of procrastination, although it did take some time to gather all the necessary materials, but because I have been busy working on lots of other pictures and wanted to wait until I could allow myself the luxury of concentrating completely on it. The course is wonderful and I’m learning a lot – many many thanks!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Julie, so pleased the tips of cropping into photos has helped and glad you’ve been enjoying the challenge of the larger scale Venice painting.

  42. Robyn

    This was a fantastic share and tutorial Will! I really appreciated the discourse on how our prefrontal cortex works and how to take advantage of the organic system we possess that makes it possible for us to imagine, create, and achieve. Einstein said the imagination is a preview of coming attractions, and this feeds right into how our RAS (Recticular Activating System) works to allow us to essentially turn the things of our dreams/imagination into a manifest reality. Very exciting and informative; fascinating to think of the possibilities! Thank you so much for this share Will, and of course, the Venice sketch painting is GREAT!

  43. Celina Gray

    I almost like your writing more than your painting. Almost.
    I appreciate the explanation regarding the prefrontal cortex and tea and biscuits.
    After I read one of your write ups I feel so encouraged to paint more.
    Thank you for taking the time to do this and for sharing!

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, you’re very kind Celina, and fantastic to hear you’re feeling inspired!

  44. Sandy

    Another great offering from the pen and the brush of Mr Kemp….
    A talented writer and inspiring painter. Thanks it brightened a dull day!

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s very kind of you Sandy, hope you’re doing well.

  45. Steven weber

    Thanks for the inspiration, do you always prime your paintings and why? I like the painterly strokes. You give the feel and the content but it is not an exact representation. That is the feel I want to achieve. How do I achieve that?
    Thanks again,

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Steven, I almost always work on a tonal ground, you can read more about it here:
      and see a video demo here: The benefits of a tonal ground It helps to create a colour mood to your piece, judge colours more accurately and utilize optical colour mixing effects.

  46. Catherine

    Thank you, Will! Just as I needed!

  47. David nichols

    Hi Will,
    Now that i have the time, i am 86 yo, and paint with a group of artists, of which i am usually the only man, and find great enjoyment in the challenge, criticism, suggestion and compliments from my fellow artists. I have learned so much from them and your good self where i frequently refer to your tutorials on various aspects for which i thank you most sincerely. I have no trouble keeping the chicks in check!!
    Warm regards.David

    1. Will Kemp

      Well great to hear they’ve been of help David, and so pleased to hear you’re still creating (and learning) at 86!


  48. Leslie

    Thank you Will, you are ever inspiring, I am always happy to see an email from you. My copy of your apple and the Constable lighthouse (in my kitchen) are always a reminder of the joy of painting and your invaluable lessons. I must now attempt the bridge at Ronda. cheers!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Leslie, nice to hear from you and glad you enjoyed the Constable study, so pleased you enjoyed the article.

  49. Anna Maria Stone

    Thanks Will,
    the article and the demonstration are inspiring.
    Thank you.

  50. Graham

    This has inspired me to get going even more so now that I have seen what you can show me to do more i’m looking forward to it, thanks Will.

  51. Agnieszka Włodarczyk

    Fantastic Will. Thank you for this inspiring article. I will defenately apply uR suggestions these days while traveling in the old places in the Middle East.

    1. Will Kemp

      What an inspirational landscape Agnieszka, enjoy your travels.

  52. Frances

    I love getting your email. You are an inspiration to me as i am quite lazy sometimes and you make me get on with it.
    Please dont stop sending mail.

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you’ve been enjoying them Frances.

  53. Becky Bass

    Thank You!

  54. Julie vatcher

    For me this was a really interesting article, I have a very stressful job as a graphic designer and regularly found myself ‘burnt out’. I could not focus or concentrate until I took up painting just a few months ago. I started going through wills free tutorials and quickly found that painting was like having a sleep. My brain felt rested and I found I could deal with the problems I faced at work. I try and paint most weekends. Thank you Will for the article

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Julie, so pleased you’ve been experiencing the benefits of painting within your own busy design practice, thanks for sharing.

  55. Joanna Segal

    Hila Will,
    You are so right, I have a beautifull garden in Mallorca but love to Paint. Always the painting comes last but it is so good for one!
    I have just finished your Provence Monet, trying to do mediterranean colours, now I am doing your floral still life but in oils. What do I use for the glazing liquid, I have some retouching varnish would that do?
    I find the idea of tonal values dificult but then I thought having done a lot of flower wáter colours in the past that one does it naturaly to get the depth of the flower heads etc.?
    Saludos, Joanna

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Joanna, pleased you’ve been enjoying the Monet style painting. I wouldn’t use a retouch varnish as a glazing medium, as we only use a small about of glazing in the final stages you could use a 2 Parts OMS (Odourless Mineral Spirits) to 1 Part Refined Linseed Oil (as long as your underlying medium is leaner – contains more OMS)


  56. Julie Sinclair

    I love what you said here, I found you in the summer when I was looking for tips to start a painting of my recently deceased, beloved dog, (after an awful year …my Mum died 1st, my girl dog, then her dog, we’d all shared such a happy home) Had been meaning to paint for years..time etc as you said above…It was so therapeutic, meditative & a way to play tribute, honour & immortalise my beautiful funny, greedy, rescued black Lab Bettyboo (“Mrs Glossomus Bottomus”paintings called, A1 canvas). Thank you for giving me permission to use black paint, yipee (that made me laugh, went an artist friend had said NO) & also for saying “it’s like drawing with a paintbrush, with added colour”…hoorah, liberated to do what I want in my own style. Your fab & fun & very informative, thanks again x

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you found the painting process therapeutic Julie and are enjoying using black paint!

  57. Ademir

    More and more you give us a fantastic lesson. Sorry if I’m being a boring guy, but I’d really like you to do some more lessons on pen sketching skills like your “Urban Sketch of a Bike for Beginners” tutorial.
    Greetings from Brazil!

    1. Will Kemp

      Not boring at all Ademir, really pleased you enjoyed the Urban Sketching lesson.

  58. Andy

    Dear Will, very inspiring News letter, will try this immediately as I just finished a large canvas started on site of a Fall season colors in Muskoka Ontario, My frontal lobes are tired, I have just been tyding my studio and allowing the association fibres to recover,
    now your news has come at the most appropriate time and I will start tomorrow, donot .have to worry about using a colour chart as you made it all so clear.
    I am sending you my work for your critique
    Sincerely Andy Anand

    1. Will Kemp

      Really pleased you enjoyed it Andy, glad it was timely for your piece.

  59. Gail K.

    Thank you Will for this inspiring article. I like the way you detailed the process. I also appreciate all the ways you are encouraging us in our journey of painting. I’m currently working on the new Still Life video you just released. It’s a joy to watch videos and paint along with your instruction. Thank you!

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you’re enjoying the latest course Gail, hope your peonies are coming together nicely!

  60. Rebecca Phillips

    Thank you for another inspiring article! Very interesting information regarding the prefrontal cortex. No wonder I start to get twitchy when I haven’t painted in a while! And I really appreciate seeing the way you have broken down your reference photograph to create your landscape painting. I live in a beautiful area of the world though I struggle to find landscape scenes as I try to fit too much into the composition. I’m going to try to simplify things a little and focus on more concentrated areas next time I paint a landscape. Again, thanks for a great read.

    1. Will Kemp

      Haha, pleased it was of interest Rebecca, yes it can be really handy o simplify first, you can always build out the composition once you get a feel for the piece.

  61. Rebecca

    As always, your tutorials are the best. You really do inspire my desire to paint and make it so enjoyable. Thank You!
    Is there any chance you will be doing a “how to paint the sea” and or clouds tutorial in the future? As these are two subjects that always stump me and I’d love to have your guidance.
    Cheers, Rebecca

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re very kind to say so Rebecca, I haven’t got any cloud or sea specific tutorials, but you might find the Cornish harbour scene of interest in terms of colour palette used.

  62. jacques des portes

    ” Passionnant ! “, as usual….
    Thanks for all these ways of create, while having fun !

    Best regards from France.


  63. Melissa

    This is such a helpful breakdown. I enjoy your insights and lessons so much. I’d love to see a tutorial on abstract painting or drawing. Whether it’s how to abstract something from real life, like a landscape, photograph, or still life, or how to make a work based purely from the imagination, I’d be so interested to see how you’d approach it. Thanks for all you do. You’re helping so many people!

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed it Melissa, and good to know an Abstract lesson would be of interest.

  64. jamila

    Will, I started painting at the age of 66, which is a little over 2 years ago.I have been painting fabric for years now.I’m so busy, lately, I keep saying later…however your words has inspire, and I will start back as from tomorrow.Thank you so much.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good on you Jamila, yes, your words ‘I’m so busy, lately, I keep saying later…‘ can be so true, fantastic to hear you’ve been inspired!

  65. Janet

    What an inspiring article especially the Churchill quote. I will be trying out your suggestions. Your flower painting course which I recently followed was very enjoyable, taught me a lot and I am now busy painting other flowers after a trip to Wisley.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Janet, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the floral course, and brilliant that you’ve been taking the lessons you’ve learnt from the course and applying to your own studies, fantastic!

  66. Anne Slater

    Hi Will,
    Beautiful painting and brilliant article on keeping ‘us’ going!! So is the one on procrastination. Thanks for your generosity and positive comments and articles that help with our motivation and give us confidence to keep painting and also just enjoying the process. For anyone else reading this, I’ve just completed the new floral lesson and it is a terrific course with plenty of challenge but still very do-able if that’s a word! (No I am not getting paid for this!!) Took my own pics of some pink peonies today so will do some quick paintings of them based on this article. Cheers Anne

    1. Will Kemp

      What a lovely comment to get Anne, you did a fantastic job on the floral painting, good luck with your pink peonies!


  67. Ann Lewitowski

    You are so right about making time! been meaning to paint a portrait of my dogs —today’s the day I start. Thank you Will, I love your tutorials .

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Ann, good luck with your portrait!

  68. Terry Erb

    This was a great lesson…lots of great tips.
    Thanks you, Will.
    Best regards,
    (on the chilly edge of winter arriving)

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Terry, glad you enjoyed it.

  69. Cindy

    Thanks Will,
    Life gets in the way sometimes. Good to know that the same happens to professional painters also. I know if I painting daily, there is a flow that happens and I enter the painting so to speak and I want to continue with it like a friendship. Stop the connection and it becomes more difficult to reconnect. I’m there. Struggling to reconnect with my paint.

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you enjoyed the article Cindy, and hope you’re feeling inspired to reconnect with your own paintings.

  70. Melba Marshall

    Will, helpful advice. Most days I spend some time painting but lately for various reasons, have not felt motivated to pick up a paint brush. After reading your article, I feel I need painting more than ever….to get lost in the moment so that i may find my way back.

    1. Will Kemp

      Really pleased you found it helpful Melba and are feeling inspired!

  71. Giovanna Scott

    Really enjoyed this Will. Loved your tips on cropping and limiting oneself for size and palette. Very inspiring and has motivated me to just get started!

    1. Will Kemp

      Great to hear it Giovanna, so pleased you found it helpful.

  72. Jacqueline

    All of the comments on your tutorial above I agree with and was inspired to get into my studio and stop finding excuses! Once set up I was still having a problem deciding on a subject and picked up a photo with a simple forest scene. As my brush hovered over the blank canvas I then decided to turn the photo upside down and ‘bingo’ I began to look at the shapes and colours rather than the subject and finished the painting in an hour, turned it round and was really surprised how good it looked. I then did another!!
    With very many thanks Will.

    1. Will Kemp

      What a stroke of inspiration Jacqueline! so pleased it helped to kick-start your forest scene paintings.

  73. Robert Douglas

    Hi Will,
    Hope your beer has turned out well. I really enjoy your articles. I used your Venice painting to do my own sketch but using water mixable oils. It turned out well but I used a titanium buff, Cobra brand, by Royal Talens sold here in North America. I think it was quite a bit darker than the acrylic one you were using Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Robert, yes looking to check the beer this weekend! Glad your sketch went well, yes different brands can vary sometimes in the colours even if they are called the same name. The Royal Talens Cobra Titanium Buff contains:
      PW7 (zinc white)
      PY42 (yellow oxide)
      PBk9 (bone black)

      The acrylic version I use from Old Holland contains
      PW6 (Titanium White)
      PY42 (Yellow Oxide)

      So it will be a little more yellow, a little more opaque (due to the Titanium white) and a touch more saturated (because it doesn’t have any black in)

      Hope this helps,

  74. Michael Keene

    I agree–always inspiring your readers! How do you know when your finished with a painting?


    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Michael, I usually know it’s finished when I want to keep the painting for myself!

  75. Jamie McFarlane

    As usual Will, you are spot-on with this one.
    Now if we just substitute the biscuits for the white chocolate & raspberry scones my local bakery makes, I’m right there with you.

    Also, I kind of like the close-up shot as the finished work.
    I know that’s not how you painted it, but I find it more interesting visually. It then becomes more about the people in the scene, as opposed to people just being in the scene.
    Great work either way.


    1. Will Kemp

      They sound epic scones Jamie! good one.

  76. Kate Gray

    Your insight and generosity never fail to bring me joy – and that’s before I even think about doing any painting!

    1. Will Kemp

      Well that’s very kind of you to say so Kate, pleased you enjoyed it.

  77. Tash

    Hi Will, a big big thank you for really taking the time to write such great articles. It’s really inspirational. Having a 2 year old and a seven year old running around the house keeps me on my toes for the most part of the day. However, it’s so refreshing to receive an email from you with such valuable insight. It really helps me put everything into perspective and start painting away. Thank you for your generosity in sharing.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Tash, really pleased you enjoyed the article!

  78. Joanna Segal

    Hola Will,
    How true your article, I go out and paint with a group of artists every tuesday here in Mallorca which helps keep me painting! I use oils and really like the idea of glazing. Please could you tell me what type of varnish should I use.
    I am also trying to get some Gamsol, there does not seem to be anything like it here.
    Thank you so much for all your interesting information.
    Regards, Joanna

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Joanna, Gamsol gives the most flexibility I know of for oils because it’s the only varnish I’ve come across that can be applied when the oil paint is touch dry. If you can’t track any down in Mallorca you can still use a more traditional oil varnish, you would just have to wait for a few months for the oil to have cured more through oxidation.
      Hope this helps,


  79. Valerie

    Will I loved this particular article on daily painting I thiuroughly enjoyed the video that you posted that took us to the live process of you doing this wonderful and quick piece and the detailed written directions. However as I looked back at the article I noticed that he. Ideo is no longer available. Is there a reason why so and could you please post it back to this sight it is very helpful in seeing you go through the steps as I have done on Multiple occasions with your videos? Thank you for your considerations. May e I am just missing where it is posted please help. Thank you, Vakerie

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Valerie, so pleased you enjoyed it. There wasn’t ever a video accompanying this particular lesson, just the step-by-step images.

  80. Simon Thompson

    Will, you really are good at these motivational pieces!

    I’d hit a little bit of a ‘block’ with my own painting (early stages, but with the aid of a few of your courses I’m starting to develop a feel for using acrylics). This blog post has got me incentivised to set aside an hour or so and just paint.

    It’s also good to see how you use photographs you’ve taken, selecting one small area for your subject matter.

    Thanks, again.


    1. Will Kemp

      You’re too kind Simon, really glad you enjoyed it and so pleased you’re feeling inspired!

  81. Suzie Weiss

    Will, I loved your painting and the beautiful colors in it. The only thing is you didn’t seem to paint the sky……..?

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Suzie, I painted the sky by choosing the initial background colour. If you have a range of prepared canvases it can work really well to quickly capture a sense of mood or feeling in your paintings.

  82. Jane Coverdale

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for another wonderful lesson. I love receiving your emails and find them inspirational and informative. I have so many ideas for artwork I want to do for my home. At the moment I am loving abstracts and want to try painting them with heavy body acrylic colours and a palette knife to give a raised texture. I wondered if you have any suggestions as to the best way to do this?

    Good luck with your beer. I enjoy a really cold apple cider and in Australia where I live there are a many to choose from.
    I smiled when you spoke about a brew and biscuits. They are still one of life’ s little pleasures.
    Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s lovely to hear Jane, pleased you’ve been enjoying the emails. For thicker impasto, you can experiment with adding heavy gel into your paint that will hold in peaks and shapes more easily than paint on its own. Have a great Christmas!

  83. Jackie

    Painting is cheap therapy and way better. Thank you for this post and a good reminder for me to pick up my things and paint a little each day. It is so refreshing and Churchill was right it keeps away the black dog.

    1. Will Kemp

      Ha, ha, cheers Jackie! glad you enjoyed it.

  84. Katerina

    Luckily I just found out your site although I have started painting experiment a couple of months now. I think I found what I was looking for. Someone with European culture and education that fits better to me. Your voice and your tutorials are so helpful to go on as well your stories. Thanks Will

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Katerina, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the articles.

  85. Blair Martin

    Hi Will.
    Just discovered your voluminous and wonderful web presence, and I have a question without an obvious destination in your body of articles … so I’m putting it here. I’m in the U.S., but love Europe for painting/painting references. In the past I’ve traveled with painters doing workshops mainly to have artist companions, but not for instruction since most were plein air courses and not my thing. I do large canvas narrative/figurative, dark humor, imagined things, usually acrylic. Can you recommend any international workshop/retreat opportunities? Some technical instruction wouldn’t hurt me at all, as long as I don’t have to paint trees, mountains or streams from life.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Blair, pleased you’ve been enjoying the site. If you’re looking for more classical teaching if you look for painting ateliers in the country you’re looking to visit you’ll often find summer schools or short courses that offer group painting tuition.
      Hope this helps,

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Michelle, pleased you enjoyed it.

  86. Laura Fowler

    I can’t agree more about the mental reward from painting and using it to balance life while living it. I have a lot of hobbies, but painting is the only thing that I do that makes my brain feel happy. I’m hooked.

  87. Rups

    This is so beautiful. My most favorite part is sky color. Absolutely amazing with white and all details of Venice in this 8×10” canvas. Thank you for sharing with us. Love.

    1. Will Kemp

      My pleasure Rups, glad you enjoyed it.

  88. Marilyn P.

    Wow, what a great article! I loved seeing your process, and then what you achieved with such a limited palette is simply amazing. Lastly, I was just about to skip painting tonight, but I read this post just in the nick of time. Thanks, Will.

    1. Will Kemp

      So pleased you enjoyed it Marilyn.

  89. DONNA Woodman

    Would love to receive your email information & guidance.
    I really enjoy painting and look so forward to learning more every time I sit down to see your emails. Heading to a massive Van Gough exposition later this month, can’t wait. But I enjoy some easy listening music and peace & quiet to paint. My sanity break every time . Thank you for your guidance & inspiration.

    1. Will Kemp

      Glad you’ve been enjoying your paintings Donna.

  90. Teresa

    Thank you Will for sharing your knowledge so very generous of you and really enjoying your tutorials!


    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks very much Teresa, so pleased you enjoy them.

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