Hi, I'm Mary Kemp, passionate painter of anything to do with the seaside.
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Monday, 29 October 2012

Buckenham Gallery, Southwold.

Blustery Southwold
Last week combined, with a lovely seaside break in blustery weather conditions, I took some paintings of beach scenes down to Southwold in Suffolk to the Buckenham Gallery in the High Street for their Christmas show which commences next month.
It's a friendly gallery spread over three floors and has a tasty tea room attached.
Buckenham Gallery Southwold
There's a programme of ever changing exhibitions and art works for sale and is a delight to spend time in.

On another level it amazes me how different a place can look in the summer and in the winter. When I first  painted at Southwold it was all gentle pale blue seas and people strolling down the pier. This time there were howling winds, figures fighting to stay upright, no children with their mums, just determined dog walkers and mad holiday makers. I loved the calm and peace of the summer, but I also find the wildness I have just witnessed exhilarating.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Use of Photography as an Aid to Painting.

As an artist I collect material in many ways, but basically I look and I record. Some people just remember what they see, some people write down words to remind them, others draw what is in front of them. And then again there's the camera. I use all of these methods, although the looking and remembering is a bit dodgy. So I have this lovely little digital camera .....
My Nikon Coolpix camera. I dropped it, so the battery case is held on with tape.
 Every thing I see I can capture in there and take it home for my delight later. Sometimes there's too much.
And then what do we use for painting? Do we slavishly copy a photo? Look at it for ideas? Only copy the things that'll take us ages to work out? Paint from memory? Paint from imagination. Sit out there and paint what we see? Or of course paint an abstract work, which may have been abstracted from a photograph anyway.
You have to take a photo with a pinch of salt. Shadows are too dark, colours are not the same as real life. I once took a picture of a bright red poppy in a mixed border. When I saw the photo it looked faded pink. That was not my memory.
There's a good article in November's Artists and Illustrators magazine about the use of photography, and also a very technical one about how to photograph your own work.
http://www.artistsandillustrators.co.uk/

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Frames for Oil paintings.

Oh if only we didn't have to frame our pictures !

If we could just paint them and someone would whisk them away and hand us a nice fat cheque and loads of adulation in return.
Dream on!
But it is most important to finish off work with a frame that showcases your painting to it's best advantage. Yet the frame itself must only be noticed in a very secondary way.
I use two types of frame for my 12 inch square pictures.


  1. Curved near white moulding with gold slip, more traditional. Makes the picture appear larger.
  2. Plain white float frame, looks very clean and modern.
I like both frames, but the choice depends on surroundings and the customer, or potential customer.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Wreck In Stagnant Water - Recipe for this Painting.

I've painted this wreck several times, and go back to it each time I visit Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast. It looked very water-logged this time, and the wood was much darker than I'd seen before.
Mary Kemp -Wreck in Stagnant Water

My materials were:
30 cm square canvas panel.
Acrylic paint : violet, Venetian red, raw umber.
Oil paint : titanium white, buff titanium, raw sienna, naples yellow, cadmiun yellow medium, burnt Siena, venetian red, raw umber, cerulean blue , cobolt blue and ultramarine violet.
Brushes. Selection of Rowney acrylic brushes, and harsher hogs hair for larger passages. Also use watercolour sable ( or cheaper synthetic)  for fine detail.
Medium. Odourless turpentine. Sometimes Liquin, but that alters the texture quite a bit.
Method : I paint the canvas with the acrylic venetian red and violet, watered down a lot.
I let it dry.
My composition I've worked out carefully beforehand, so I now draw with pencil and the acrylic raw umber.
When that's dry I block in the main colours with oil, using clean colours for the surroundings and dull sludgy colours for the boat. The landscape in the distance I use splodges of purples and greens.
When all this is dry ( I leave it for several days at this stage) I start on the detail of the boat, my favourite bit. This is where I use the fine no1 watercolour brushes.
Then it's a question of looking at it over several days and adjusting tones and colours. As it's a very simple composition there's not too much alteration to do.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

An Afternoon at Art In the Heart, Peterborough.

Art in the Heart is a brilliant new venture in our lovely city of Peterborough, a shop / art gallery set up by an enthusiastic entrepreneur in the centre of Peterborough. Look at the website and see what's happening.
Art in the Heart at full speed. Photo Courtesy of Tony Nero 
This afternoon I volunteered for a shift at the shop. My packing is a wonder to behold ! 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

One Dog is Just Not Enough !

I loved the picture of the dog I painted two weeks ago, so I've painted another picture of Grace at the seaside. She really wanted to join these two larger dogs, but I think they were just too big for her.
I'm not too sure whether I've finished it yet. Might have a bit of work yet to do. I shall prop it up in the kitchen and think about it.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Hurrah ! It's Monday.

Mary Kemp - Four paintings.
It's Monday morning again.
These are the four paintings I am working on, all in various stages of undress.
Of course I don't have then up on the easel like that, just work on them one at a time.
Something I've noticed on this photo is all the blue. I waiver between cerulean blue and cobalt blue. At the moment I'm more fond of cobalt, but if you were to ask me the question "What's your favourite colour?" I would say  "BLUE!  BLUE! BLUE! "

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Peek Inside the Studio


I really have tidied the studio, it's so much easier to get working in the morning when everything is where it should be. The mirror is not there for me to admire myself but to check composition and tone. I don't know why but when you look in the mirror it gives you a much more objective view of your work.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Peek at my Studio.

This is my studio, I cut out the paper sign last year when I opened up for the Peterborough Artists' Open Studio event.
We painted the outside blue, and even on the darkest day it adds a little sunshine to the garden. It's a pleasure to go down there to paint. There is a bank of windows on the right hand face, which let in loads of  light. It's well insulated although in extremes of temperature - sub zero and boiling hot sunshine I retreat to the house.
Next blog I'll post a picture of the inside of my studio.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Welland Valley Art Society Autumn Exhibition.

The Welland Valley Art Society  of Stamford opened it's Autumn Exhibition on Sunday with a very well attended private view at the The Stamford Arts Centre in the heart of Stamford.

I'd submitted two pictures, and luckily both were hung. I've decided that when it comes to selected shows I'll submit only my best pictures , and small ones as well as they're more likely to ease themselves into a spot on the wall!

My theory is that small ones are more likely to get in, but big ones are more likely to win prizes.
Of course this year I was wrong because the most beautiful tiny print won the Gladys Teasedale prize.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Recipe for a Watercolour Sketch.

Mary Kemp - Watercolour Sketch.
Ingredients.

  • Nice sunny day.
  • Seawhite of Brighton Euro 160gsm cartidge sketchbook 250 x 250mm.
  • Sepia No 1 Edding profipen.
  • White Knight St. Petersburg watercolours - I don't know the colours, they're just in this box I have.
  • Large sable brush no 12, also small no 2 brush.
  • Water
  • Tissue.
  • Garden
  • Cat
  • Sprinkle with dead insects.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Two Dogs on the Beach.

Some times you paint a picture that you really like. This painting reminds me of a jolly day at the seaside, and when I came to set the image down on the canvas it came together "just like that!" The dog in the foreground is Grace, a Border Collie who finds life very exciting.
Mary Kemp - Two Dogs on the Beach. 30 x 30cms oil on canvas.



Monday, 1 October 2012

The Start of a Sunset Painting , Blakeney.

It was a still, warm evening when I saw this scene. I knew I had to paint it. I had drawn the boats several times but I wanted more than a blue sky.
Mary Kemp - Sunset  (see how restrained I am. No colour. Yet !)

Mary Kemp - Sunset ( of course it's not finished)
And then I saw the sunset!!!