New @willkempartschool collection – Turner Adventures in Colour Exhibition

Growing up in Kent, a trip to Margate beach brings back memories of avoiding jellyfish, penny slot machines and overdosing on ice-cream.

As kids, we thought it was a pretty good beach.

Mainly because it meant the freedom of the Summer holidays but also because of the huge expanse of sand we could run about on.

Turner thought it was a pretty good place too, becoming a regular visitor throughout his lifetime.

For him, it was the unique quality of light in East Kent, with impressive skies and turbulent sea that inspired his works.

You can read more about Turner’s life in this article: On Tate, Turner & Unlikely Partnerships.

turner-contemporary-architecture

The Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate, Kent. I liked the comparison in scale and architecture between the sharp lines of the Turner contemporary and the rambling line over the townhouse in the lower right corner.

In 2011, Turner Contemporary gallery opened to celebrate Turner’s association with Margate and on my recent visit home I was lucky enough to catch ‘Turner Adventures in Colour Exhibition’. With more than 100 works in both oil and watercolour, it demonstrates Turner’s distinctive use of vibrant, bold and brilliant use of colour.

The exhibition includes views of Margate as well as his trips to Florence, Venice and his many travels abroad. There are also some of his art materials on display, along with his well-used travel watercolour palette and paint pans.

Sketching from inside the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, Kent.

Pro tip: When I was looking around the exhibition, one of the gallery technicians was taking Lux meter readings around the paintings. Always interested in a Lux reading, I enquired what the painting levels were set at. It was amazingly low for the palettes and art material on display – around 30-50 Lux and no more than 200 Lux for the oil paintings.

On Turner’s many return trips to Margate, he stayed in a guesthouse overlooking the beach.

The Turner Contemporary Gallery is built on the very site of Mrs Booth’s guesthouse where Turner stayed on his visits during the 19th century, so the views from the first-floor window are the same views that he would have seen – giving us a frame to the skies Turner would have been inspired by.

turner-waves-breaking-on-shore

J.M.W Turner, Waves Breaking on a Shore, Oil on Canvas, c.1835

With some of the smaller pieces, you can get a good insight into Turner’s working method. He often had a balance of thin and thick passages of colour.

On one of the exhibition information sheets, it said that some of the exhibited pieces were unintentionally flattened during the 19th Century conservation treatment. This study had the full texture intact and noted that Turner mixed in a ‘Meglip’ with his oil paint to give the paint a greater body.

turner-waves-breaking-on-a-shore-detail

J.M.W Turner, Waves Breaking on a Shore (Detail), Oil on Canvas, c.1835

Meglip is traditionally a Resin and Linseed Oil medium but you can buy modern equivalents that use a quick drying Alkyd Resin. This enables you to add thicker texture to your oil paints without a super long drying time.

will-kemp-artist-sketching

Sketching the sky from the sea wall.

Even on windy days, the skies over Margate seem to hang in the air. The cloud formations and shifts in colour are very subtle (especially on overcast days!) and they have that beautiful watercolour quality.

painterly-skies-tutorial-1

Heading home from Margate, I couldn’t resist pulling over and taking this amazing sunset over East Kent

“…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe” – J.M.W Turner

Inspired by the exhibition, I captured this Sunset over Biddulph Moor, with these really beautiful blue hues.

It’s always best to try and vary the shapes of the clouds in your paintings, to draw the viewer through your works, but this sky over my studio felt so orderly I had to capture it.

The exhibition runs until 8th Jan 2017.

 

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This Post Has 122 Comments

    1. Cheers Mary, you’re too kind! hope you have a lovely Christmas.
      Will

      1. I share Dottie’s reply, she wrote all I would have written,thank you for sharing your experiences.
        Have a lovely Christmas yourself and a exciting and creative 2017.

        1. Thanks Linda, hope you’re keeping well, wishing you a fab Christmas.
          Will

    2. Will,
      Thanks for taking me in your wonderful trip.
      Beautiful pics, clouds (amazing) and wonderful paintings.
      I wish a Lovely Christmas to you and your family!
      God bless you all !

      1. You’re more than welcome Sandra, really pleased you enjoyed it, have a lovely Christmas.
        Cheers,
        Will

        1. Thank you that you share your experieces with us, and you take us to your
          colourful world. Have a year with success and ful of wonders

          1. Thanks for your kind wishes Ghodsieh, have a wonderful time with your family over Christmas.
            Will

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your visit to Turner’s temporary residence. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the beautiful skies you photographed, too! In my home, we call sky scenes as shown in your last photo “bad painting” skies. Totally unsuitable for a painting as they are but beautiful all the same!!

    Hope you have a happy holiday season,

    Dottie Dracos

    1. My pleasure Dottie, pleased you enjoyed it.
      Will

  2. Thanks for sharing that Will. Lovely pictures as well.

  3. My husband grew up in the Deal area of Kent and I know the Kent coast well from visiting relatives. The Margate beach is spectacular, but the town itself is so needy. We were last there in 2014. The high street has such potential, but the shops were either empty or pound saver-types. With the historical importance and the beauty you would think Kent would pump some money into revitalization. Anyway, weren’t you just overwhelmed by the sand and sea and sky?

    1. Hi Candice, pleased you’ve had a chance to experience the sea views, have a great Christmas.
      Will

  4. Will,
    Thanks for sharing your JMW Turner experience. I am new to painting and was pleased to discover you on the internet and all the free instruction that you offer on youtube. I missed your recent sale over the Thanksgiving holiday but as soon as you offer a discount again I will sign up. Although I am new to painting I am not new to art as I have been an art gallery owner and collector of old etching and engravings for more then 25 years. In fact I have several JMW Turner volumes from the 1800’s and the work is incredible even in black and white. I am putting the Turner Contemporary Gallery on my bucket list for the next time I am in the UK. I am now working on my third painting which is the Jug that you have on line and it is very instructional to follow you step by step. My first two were landscapes that were from photos that I had taken previously. Thanks for all that you do for us budding artists.
    Bill Handler

    1. Hi Bill, nice to hear from you and really pleased you’ve been enjoying working through the lessons, yes, it can be handy to study works in black in white you really get an idea of the importance of the tonal relationships.
      Will

  5. A really nice shared story of your trip home. Thank you. These travels back are very important I believe.
    My husband and ( as the Queen says) returned to the UK for two months this year, and were able to stay with friends is many beautiful places. Grasmere hit us both as we walked and discussed Wordsworth.
    I painted my Xmas card from the Herdwick sheep this year.
    All the best enjoy a break. Nicola Blakey BC Canada.

    1. Thanks Nicola, sounds like you had a great trip and so pleased you enjoyed the article.
      Will

  6. Thank you for this . While I was aware of Turner staying here, I was not aware of this gallery now at this location. I shall have to put it on my travel list.

    I studied Turner with a passion when I began to try and capture the skies of my prairie home …. He too spent many hours studying how to capture light …..

    Cheers

    Robin

    1. Hi Robin, I think the gallery was only opened in 2011 so a relative new addition.
      Will

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience of the Turner exhibition loving the sky and sea paintings.best wishes for Christmas Dorothy
    Pestell

    1. Thanks Dorothy, best wishes to you and our family.
      Will

  8. I just saw a movie about the life of Mr. Turner (that was the name of the movie). He was quite the odd bird. His paintings are breathtaking. Thanks for this mini art show. It was lovely.

  9. GORGEOUS! THE SKY IS EVER CHANGING AND ALWAYS AMAZING. THE COLORS JUST ASTOUND ME. U JUST WANT TO GAZE AT IT FOREVER. I ONCE FLEW OVER THE GRAND CANYON ON A COMMERCIAL FLIGHT WHEN THE PILOT TIPPED THE PLANE A LITTLE AND WAS ABLE TO VIEW THE PURPLES AND ORANGES, IT WAS TRULY BREATHTAKING. THANK U FOR SHARING WILL AND I HOPE U HAVE A “ARTFUL” MERRY CHRISMAS

  10. I originate from Kent and Margate was a place of my childhood. Knowing the exhibition is on gives me every reason to go back and visit old friends and relatives too. Thank you

  11. Thank you . I really needed that beauty today. So inspiring.

    Merry Christmas.

    1. Pleased you’re feeling inspired Mickey, have a lovely Christmas
      Will

  12. Thank you Wil for sharing your fantastic adventure and glad you were able to be apart of it. Really enjoyed it. Saw the movie Mr. Turner a couple of months ago. He was quite a character but quite an artist for sure .TY again and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family and friends .

    1. Cheers John, pleased you enjoyed the Movie and could relate to the skies! Merry Christmas to you and your family.
      Will

  13. Lovely article and pictures! It’s always fascinating to learn more about the unique light and landscape that inspired artists. I’m really enjoying your website!

    1. Thanks Hannah, glad you enjoyed it.
      Will

  14. Loved your article. Will have to look you up on youtube.

  15. Merry Christmas and a very happy, prosperous and peaceful year in 2017 Will.

    I shivered looking at the truly beautiful skies over Margate, and you all rugged up. And that from Sydney, Oz, where at the moment we are “enjoying” hot summer weather. Beaches filled with tanning bodies, and long stretches of white or golden sand and skies so blue it hurts the eye. Thanks for being you and all that you encompass, Will. I look forward so much to reading it all. Hope one day you come “down under” and find the time to paint our very different light.

    Anne.

    1. Thanks very much for your festive wishes Anne, nothing like a good excuse for a cosy fire and a Whisky Mac in the pub!

  16. Hello Wills,
    what a lovely surprise to open up my computer this morning at 5.45 a.m. and find your message about the Turner Exhibition and your visit there. It must have been a very interesting visit for you to be able to stand where Turner did his paintings from. The views of the skies you took are so beautiful in particular the sunset over Kent, the “orderly sky full of clouds” and the beautiful blues at Sunset over Biddulph Moor, . What a wild place the sea must be at times at Margate if Turners paintings are anything to go by. As a young girl of 6 I well remember when we first arrived here in Melbourne from Edinburgh the red and orange skies of the first summer in the late afternoon, I still see it in my minds eye it made such an impression on me, I do not think I had ever seen skies like them before, they were huge , like they were on fire, no blue at all and it was so hot. That and the buzzing of mosquitos flying around my head what a strange place it seemed to me then, as I get older the more vivid these scenes are in my mind. Strangely enough it is years since I have seen a sunset like those, our skies have certainly changed and I imagine due to our putting so much rubbish into our atmosphere.
    Thanks for sharing this with us Will, I wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2017. Isabel

    1. Thanks very much Isabel, yes skies really can put you back to a time and a place, so pleased it evoked good memories. Have a fantastic time over Christmas with your family.
      Will

  17. Thanks for the wonderful photos. Have yourself a Merry Happy Christmas.

    1. Thanks very much Isaura, have a great time yourself.

  18. Hi Will
    Wishing you happy holidays and a peaceful artsy New Year. Thank you so much for all your postings, great interesting emails and very useful educational information. I really appreciate all your efforts and energy in teaching the arts to people all over the world.
    Cheers!
    Best regards,
    Noeleen

    1. Thanks Noeleen, glad you’ve been enjoying the lessons and hope you’ve been able to work the methods into your own studio practice. Have a great Christmas.

      Will

  19. Gosh, thank you Will. I don’t read your emails often enough, when I do though I kick myself for missing some. Thank you so much for being the generous teacher that you are and for all the invaluable information you share, because you care.

    1. Pleased you enjoyed the article Vanessa and thanks for your kind words.
      Will

  20. Hello, Will,
    Thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your visit. It is obvious that you love Turner’s work by how you speak of him. I have been busy traveling and catching sunsets in St. Croix, Phoenix, AZ, and the middle of Illinois! Funny how I go to see places and end up shooting sunrises and sunsets. I guess they will always be a thing of beauty to us mere mortals. Have a wonderful holiday season !
    Blessings,
    Renee

    1. Cheers Renee, sounds like a great selection of sunsets, so pleased you enjoyed the article. Have a great time with your family.
      Will

  21. thanks for sharing the Turner exhibition and the place where he stayed I thoroughly enjoyed it
    Have a wonderful Christmas

  22. Thanks for sharing Will.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

    1. My pleasure Michael, thanks for your kind Christmas wishes.
      Will

  23. I love learning about artists from times gone by. Turner’s work is very subtle, unlike mine! I want to control everything. Anyway, thank you for sharing his story. I especially like your photo of the red sunset. Have a wonderful Christmas. I look forward to more of your stories in 2017.

    1. Thanks Dale, pleased you liked the colours of the sunset, it really was a cracking sky. Have a great Christmas.
      Cheers,
      Will

  24. Thank you Will!
    You are a great teacher.
    Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks Buchie, kind of you to say so.
      Will

  25. Greetings from Waldport Oregon, USA
    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures. I especially enjoyed your beautiful sunset picture that looked very much like my sunrise today. I loved seeing the Turner paintings, the Tate is my favorite museum in the UK. I was able to spend almost one whole day there. Have a blessed Christmas holiday.
    Sally Morris

    1. Thanks Sally, have a lovely festive season with your family.
      Cheers,
      Will

  26. Thank you for sharing the Turner exhibition and such an awe inspiring selection of photos. Painting has given me a new view of the world – so much more is visible when you look at it with an artists eye – we are truly blessed.
    Hope you and your family have a joyful Christmas and New Year.
    Cheers,
    Jenny

    1. Thanks Jenny, and fantastic to hear that you’ve been viewing the world through a painter’s eyes, it really does make the simplest of scenes have a whole new sense of fascination. Have a great Christmas.
      Cheers,
      Will

  27. Thanks Will for sharing things anout Turner exhibition. It’s wonderfull indeed.
    Wish you a very happy X- mas and new year 2017. We always love your arts and the way you teach.

    Regards
    Prakash Thapa
    Pokhara Nepal

    1. You’re more than welcome Prakash, pleased you’ve been finding the articles of interest. Have a lovely Christmas with your family.
      Cheers,
      Will

  28. Hi Will,
    For some reason it’s taken me years to really love Turner’s paintings, never been able to fathom why, I think it could be the subject matter and not seeing enough of the real paintings. Photographs just don’t do them justice. Love your blogs.
    Happy Christmas
    Cath

    1. Hi Cath, yes, some to the scale of his landscapes do make such a big difference to the experience of the works, have a great Christmas.
      Will

  29. Happy Christmas Will! It was lovely to hear about your visit to the Turner exhibition. I live in Broadstairs, just around the corner, and visited the Turner Contemporaryjust a few weeks ago. It was amazing to see so many of Turners paintings in one place!
    Since moving here in the summer I have come to appreciate Turners comments about the skies here, they are beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts
    Penny

    1. Hi Penny, glad you got a chance to explore the show, and you also have some great ice-cream parlours on your doorstep! have a lovely Christmas.
      Will

  30. will cheers for the turner exhibition info and sharing your experience with us
    have good Christmas and a happy new year thanks for your email
    kind regards steve

    1. Thanks Steve, wishing you well over the festive season, have a great time.
      Cheers,
      Will

  31. Turner is my favourite artists of all time, his use of light and shadow is, to me anyhow, totally unsurpassed.

    ps you must catch the Timothy Spool film of Turner, it’s great and you find out more about the guest house!

  32. Thanks Will, I always enjoy your postings. We live in Boston MA but spend the summer in West Wales where the light, sea views and sunsets are spectacular. Painting there is very fulfilling and inspirational and, as a beginner, your postings have taught me so much. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Nadolig Llawen
    Barbara

    1. My pleasure Barbara, pleased you had an inspirational trip to Wales, there are some stunning coastlines. Have a lovely Christmas.
      Will

  33. Really enjoyed this and seeing some of Turner’s fantastic seascapes .
    Have lately been looking at some of your free video tuition on acrylics as i am a complete beginner to the medium really . I have some inspiration now to have a go following your video ‘s . I love old houses and as we live in France there is an unlimited supply of subject matter to work from . Especially love the old villages .
    Happy Christmas
    Valerie .

    1. Good one Valerie, hope you enjoy working through the tutorials, have a great Christmas.
      Will

  34. I love Turner. I also love your photos- absolutely amazing- Thank You Will from Roanoke Va. and Merry Christmas

    1. Cheers Gloria, really pleased you enjoyed the photos, have a great Christmas!
      Will

  35. Greetings , Wiil !
    Thank you for sharing the Turner experience with us — really good images , and great photos taken by you , too .
    Here in Ireland in our National Gallery we have a very good collection of Turner’s watercolours which are exhibited once a year during the month of January — so , hurry and come to Dublin next month !
    Hope you and your family have a great Christmas and all good things in the New Year .
    Regards . Patrick .

    1. Cheers for the kind wishes Patrick and good to know about the January display, have a great Christmas.

      Will

  36. Thank you Will for giving me the pleasure of seeing the sky/clouds in Kent. I have never been to Kent – sadly. I have seen amazing sunsets in a little island on the east coast of Canada, called Prince Edward Island. From the pictures I took and the painting I struggled to complete, I realize I do not have the skills to mix my paint and get it on the canvas. I have looked at the paintings you gave us to peruse and enjoy several times. Thank you very much for sharing these. We are having a unique day with a strange winter storm with lots of ice, then several hours of warmth, and now back to freezing temperatures. You might have guessed by now that I live in Canada, on the east coast.
    May you have a happy and holy Christmas,
    Betty

    1. Hi Betty, lovely to hear from you and sounds like you’ve got some changeable conditions to try and capture! have a great time with your family over the festive season.
      Cheers,
      Will

  37. Hi Will, thankyou for sharing this, I would love to visit the Turner Gallery someday when I visit the U.K. Your pictures are wonderful. I have enjoyed your painting tutorials immensely. I have taken painting courses over the years but have learned so much more from you in the last few months. Thanks again and have a Merry Christmas.
    Janet

    1. That’s great to hear Janet, so pleased you’ve been enjoying the tutorials. Wishing you a lovely Christmas with your family.
      Cheers,
      Will

  38. Hi Will, thank you so much for sharing your sketching trip.
    The clouds are gorgeous!!
    Much appreciate your inspiring blogs this year. They have kept me going.
    Have a great Christmas!!

    Aya

    1. Thanks Aya, please you liked the cloud photos and so glad you found inspiration in the blog posts throughout the year. Thanks for your kind Christmas wishes, have a lovely time with your family.
      Will

  39. Thanks for sharing, Will! Beautiful skies! I’d love to see that exhibit myself!
    Merry Christmas!
    Cathy

    1. Thanks Cathy, Merry Christmas to you too!
      Will

  40. Another great article thanks Will. Hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Wealthy New Year. X

    1. Hi Sheila, nice to hear from you, thanks for the kind wishes, hope you have a lovely time with the family.
      Will

  41. Thanks Will,
    I also love Turners work.
    Happy Christmas.

    1. Cheers Tom, pleased you enjoyed the article.
      Will

  42. Wonderful article,Will. you’re a star sharing such joy with all of us. Much appreciated.

    1. You’re more than welcome Susan, have a fab Christmas with your family.
      Cheers,
      Will

  43. Thanks so much Will – beautiful photos and paintings

    1. Cheers Gloria, hope you’re doing well, have a lovely festive season with your family.
      Will

  44. Hi Will

    Many thanks for sharing your Turner experience why is it that when we look at Turner’s work it now looks so modern.. It must have been shocking in it’s day. Fabulous.

    Merry Christmas ~ Julie

    1. Thanks Julie, yes some of the drawings in the show had a very contemporary feel. Have a lovely Christmas
      Will

  45. Hola Will,
    Years ago when I lived in england close to Petworth House but never went to Turners studio! Now many years later and living in Mallorca I read your article and really regret that I never went, but thanks to your really interesting web page with all its information I shall go to Aix en Provence at the end of may and see the exhibition. I am also inspired to go to Amsterdam too.I have managed to download your videos for the Landscape Sketching course and have just finished a watercolour of a Mallorca sea scene using all your advice. I am actualy learning to paint with oils, your comment that they are like wet on wet was a breakthrough for me, I am 71.
    Have a really Happy Xmas and New year.
    Joanna

    1. Hi Joanna, lovely to hear from you and so pleased you enjoyed the article. Fantastic to hear that you’ve been able to put some of your new sketching knowledge to work and I know the Mallorca sunsets are fabulous. I think the exhibition was in Aix this year, but I would say any excuse to visit is a good one!

      Have a lovely Christmas and a fab new year.

      Cheers,
      Will

  46. Beautiful photos of the sunset skies. I would love to be able to paint them, but just can’t seem to get the intensity of colour. Thank you for your online lessons, they are much appreciated. I enjoyed painting the winter trees. Still to try the copper jug. Hope you have an enjoyable Christmas.

    1. Pleased you enjoyed the photos Carol, for the intensity of the colours it’s all about the contrast or dullness of the surrounding colours. If you have a canvas painted completely red it won’t feel as intense in comparison to a brushstroke of bright red on top of a dull muted green, try starting from the shadow colours first and then creep up on the intense colours.

      Have a great Christmas.
      Cheers,
      Will

  47. Bellissime immagini, colgo l’occasione per Augurarti un Sereno Natale (Beautiful images, I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas)

    1. Grazie mille Giuseppe, hanno un bel tempo con la vostra famiglia. (Thanks so much Giuseppe, have a lovely time with your family.)
      Will

  48. Hello Will, Many thanks for such an interesting piece on one of my favourite artists.
    Have a great Christmas and thanks for all your work on our behalf throughout the year.
    All the best,
    Peter B.

    1. Hi Peter, my pleasure, so pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for the Christmas wishes, hope you have a lovely time with the family.
      Will

  49. Dear Will, thank you for the excellent and simple instructions for painting. I have painters block at the moment! My hands and heart want to paint but my brain is running scared in case I mess it up. Does anyone else get these feelings. wish I could JUST PAINT! Maybe the New year will bring new beginnings for me.
    Wishing you and yours, the very best of the Christmas season and a New Year filled with overwhelming love, and joy.
    Lorraine D-S

    1. That’s fantastic to hear Lorraine, so pleased you’re feeling inspired for a creative New Year.
      Cheers,
      Will

  50. Τhank you so for sharing your experiences with us. I enjoyed your beautiful photos and pictures . I wish you a happy New Year.

    1. Very kind of you to say so Sophia, have a lovely New Year.
      Will

  51. Will, That was wonderful and awesome. Thanks for sharing. Dema

    1. Thanks Dema, so pleased you enjoyed it.
      Will

  52. I paid a last minute visit to the Turner Contemporary Gallery just before the Turner Exhibition closed. What a fantastic experience! His use of light and colour leaves one in awe. I am now finishing one of your courses (at last) with renewed vigour.
    I must say, that like Turner, you have the ability to inspire.
    MM

    1. Good one Marilyn, pleased you managed to catch the show.
      Will

  53. Looking for something positive in these dark times I saw your email about this post and decided reading it was what I needed. And it was, thank you. Living in the Rocky Mountain west of the US where access to materials and teachers are scarce I very much appreciate your website, blog and courses (I’ve taken four). You are a gem in my “wilderness.”

    1. Well that’s great to hear Beck, glad you enjoyed it and so pleased you’ve been enjoying the courses.
      Cheers,
      Will

  54. After viewing lessons 1 & 2 of the beginner’s painting course, I worked on lesson 3 today, the simple landscape. I so appreciate your clear instructions in which you cover basic concepts and also make great use of piano music now and then, which helped me to remain relaxed. I am truly enjoying your lessons so far, as they are wonderful! Many, many thanks for what you do.

    Cheers to you,

    Irit

    1. That’s brilliant to hear Irit, so pleased you’re enjoying the lessons.
      Cheers,
      Will

  55. It is providential to read about Turner. I just got a book about him from a fair, and I love your sunsets. I paint them often which I see from my kitchen window and sunrises from my bedroom! Happy painting, -Liz

    1. Perfect timing Liz! pleased you enjoyed the sunset images.
      Will

  56. Hello,
    Do you never paint subjects from your imagination ?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Jack SYNAVE

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