This blog is moving!
At last I have discovered a way to have my website and blog all in one place.
So from now on all new blog posts will be on my new website.
I'm still writing about the same sort of things, and you can still find the old posts on this page.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Last Painting of 2012. Happy New Year !

I've been working on this picture over Christmas.
Mary Kemp - Late Apples
The view from the back bedroom. See my  studio, the late apples, the pansies and the winter viburnum.

There's still quite a bit to do yet, but it's taking shape. A work in progress; there are things to resolve.

And I'm still uploading images to Picassa.

Happy New Year one and all.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Keeping Digital Files Safe. "Should Have backed Them Up"

One of my painting friends had her laptop and desktop computer stolen.
Mary Kemp - Four Yachts
With them went all her digital images.
"Should have backed them up."
I keep saying that, so now it's post Christmas quiet time that is what I aim to do.
I researched all this and there are several options.
First is the external hard drive. It's just a question of downloading to it. We've got one of those so that's a start, but it could get stolen as well or destroyed in a fire, so I think online is a better bet.
Picassa to me seems the best site. You can upload images in most formats, even raw images, and download them the same, which for hi resolution images is optimum. There is a maximum capacity, fairly high, but you can buy more space, but of course if you forget to pay your subs you've lost out.
Flikr is quite good, restricted capacity again, and doesn't support raw images.
There's also Google Cloud, but I haven't worked that one out yet.
Snapfish also stores images as long as you buy at least one print a year.
So I'm off to download images of my great works of art onto Picassa.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Whole New Experience - Painting on Lana Vanguard Paper

So I bought this Lana Vanguard plasticised paper, nearly £1.00 per A4 size sheet.
It's the nearest you can get to the American Yupo paper.
It's quite wonderful and different to anything I've ever painted on before.
Mary Kemp - St. George's Day.
It's very  smooth, non porous and quite sturdy, doesn't cockle and is alarmingly white.
Watercolour just skates over the surface and settles into puddles. You need to be quite controlled in use.
Colour will lift off with a wipe leaving a pristine white surface, you can polish the colour to get a smooth wash and a drop of water will plunge the whole lot into chaos.
I tried overlaying a wash but that didn't work.
I tried drawing over with a pen but the pen clogged up.
But the colour is so bright and clear, I used inks and I used watercolour.
Oh joy!
Lots more experimenting to be done.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


For those of us who don't know what ACEOs are, they are tiny miniature works of art measuring 3.5 x 2.5 inches, usually backed with stiff card and enclosed in a cellophane sleeve.
These dear little gems get their name as a short version of "artists cards editions and originals".
Their natural home seems to be online and all sort of sites, eBay and Etsy particularly have loads and loads of examples.
Mary Kemp - Stonehenge - Pair of ACEOs.
You can send them in with a letter or a card,  put them in a mount and frame on the wall or just keep them to look at.

I've just sold these two of Stonehenge from my Etsy Shop, Florence Fantasy Art.
I shall have to paint some more. They're enormous fun.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas is Nearly Here. Behold the Poinsettia!

It's been a funny day today. I haven't really been able to get down to anything. I started painting in the studio on my largish oil painting but got interrupted, then I had to go out, but in between I just had to paint this beautiful poinsettia, using the equally beautiful Dr. Martin's water colours. The intensity of colour is quite breath taking.
Mary Kemp - Poinsettia
I think I over did it!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Swing by Fragonard

The Swing
by Jean-Honore Fragonard
One of my all time favourite pictures is this smallish painting "The Swing" by the French painter Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732 - 1806)

It's home is the oval drawing room in  the Wallace Collection which is situated in Manchester Square in London, just behind the unbelievable bustle that is Oxford Street.
What impresses me about the Wallace Collection is how different it is to the brash street life outside, how clean and polished it is, and how full of the most exquisite objects the light and airy rooms are.
I first came across the Wallace Collection in the swinging sixties, and have been visiting it ever since. It seemed the perfect foil to the hectic lifestyle we all liked to think we lead.
"The Swing" is such a wonderfully composed painting, painted with precision and a theatricality. The colours are sumptuous, a blue green, with the sugar pink providing the climax. Of course the subject is mildly erotic, perhaps it was very erotic back in 1767 when it was painted. I think what I like about this picture is the harmony of the colours, the beautiful detail, the nostalgia for a life that didn't really exist and a feeling of lightness and slightly naughty joy.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Beat Those Winter Blues with Bright Watercolours.

Dr. Martins Hydrus Watercolour
I treated myself to some wonderful Dr Martins Hydrus Watercolours from Jacksons. They are beautiful, I've always struggled in the past to get the intensity of colour I wanted in watercolour but these seem to zing off the page, and they tell me they're lightfast which Dr Martins Brilliant Watercolours weren't.
So I did a very quick watery painting of some apples and went a bit overboard with the colours. Oh joy. I had some trouble with the cobalt violet which seems to have congealed in the bottle, but Jacksons are sending me a replacement.

Mary Kemp - Winter Apples

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sparkle and Spin at Peterborough Museum.

Paola McClure - Sparkle and Spin
Last week I visited the fabulous Sparkle and Spin Exhibition at Peterborough Museum. Peterborough city council link.
If some one had told me that it was an bunch of dolls made from scraps of material I might not have gone, but it was the most joyous, visually exciting installation I've seen in a long time. Was it because I'm quite fond of all things sewn ( except dolls) ? or because it gave you a weird feeling about the world we inhabit? What ever the reason it was delicious!
The artist is Paola McClure and the exhibition runs til January 26th.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Cley Windmill - Recipe for a Painting

Mary Kemp -  Cley Windmill.
This picture of Cley Windmill in Norfolk is almost finished. In fact I can't think what else to do to it so it must be finished.
Here's the recipe:
  • Two quick drawings to get the feel of the place.
  • Photos for accuracy.
  • 30 x 30 cm canvas on MDF ( Courtesy of Great Art)
  • Acrylic paint, burnt siena, Venetian red and ultramarine violet.
  • Tile for mixing acrylic.
  • Water.
  • Acrylic brushes and one fine sable (artificial equivalent) watercolour brush for drawing outline.
  • Oil paints, titanium white, buff titanium, Naples yellow, raw siena, burnt siena, raw umber, yellow ochre, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine violet, cobalt blue, cerulean blue.
  • Disposable palette.
  • Odourless turpentine.
  • Brushes for oil paints , some bristle but I prefer pro art acrylic brushes, size 0 to 14.
  • Palette knives for mixing.
  • Lots of rags for cleaning up. Old tea towels are best.
I draw a rough outline of the image with the raw umber acrylic and then put on a wash of ultramarine violet and Venetian red acrylic.
After it's dried I get stuck in blocking in the main colours with the oil paints, making sure the tones work and paying special attention to the main feature, the windmill.
It's then a question of painting your way through the picture until it reaches where you want it to be.
Sounds quick and easy. I've struggled with elements of it, particularly the boats, but I wanted to show how much the windmill is part of the landscape.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Nicholas Verrall - My Favourite Modern Day Painter

In the spring of 2011 I visited the Catto Gallery  in Hampstead expressly to see the works of Nicholas Verall.
Nicholas Verrall -

Cordes sur Ciel in the Spring

He's long been a favourite of mine ever since I borrowed a book by him called "Colour and Light in Oils" and subsequently bought a copy.

I was not disappointed when I saw his paintings for real and I greatly admire his handling of subjects and the way he brings out the lusciousness of the world. It is wonderful to see works that are superbly and thoughtfully crafted, not only is the vision beautiful but so is the execution. I love the purity of his colours and the seemingly effortlessness of his drawing.

Does that sound too star struck? Any way thank you Nicholas Verrall for your art!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Apple Trees in the Winter - Proposed Painting.

I looked down from the upstairs window and saw the low sun through the apple trees. It was all golden and earthy. I felt a painting eager to see the light of day.
I have my piece of board ( primed MDF ) at the ready, the drawing is done, Thursday morning in the sunshine, and the idea is fizzing round my head. I want to get on with it. Blow the unfinished paintings of the seaside , the dishes, food. I want to get on and paint.
Mary Kemp - Drawings for "Apples Trees in the Winter"
Step One: Plan the painting, placing the various components, determine tone and colour.
Step Two: Draw the shapes roughly on the board.
Step Three: Underpainting.
I will keep you informed.
This is going to be bigger than my usual 12 x 12 inch so it may take some time!