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.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Splendid 14th South Holland Open Arts Exhibition.

It's very pleasant to attend a private view of an exhibition especially on a Wednesday evening out in Spalding in the fens.
We drove from Peterborough  followed by a clear peachy orange sunset, past Crowland Abbey silhouetted against the sky and through flat bulb fields.
We were visiting The 14 th Souh Holland Open Arts Exhibition.
I had two  paintings selected and my friend Tony Nero had one.
This is quite a local exhibition selected through postal application. There is no fee for entry and no prizes except a trophy for favourite work decided by public vote. I chose Ireland Sea and Sky by Janice Glew. , a huge canvas finished with resin. Very impressive.
The private view was quiet, the venue is impressive, a large space at the top of the Spalding arts centre, which also hosts a cafe and cinema.
The exhibition room, think ballroom, has a high ceiling and there is a permanent display of about  a dozen large paintings of tulips, once the lifeblood of Spalding. You can see them in the photo. At first it's difficult to draw your eyes away from these and look at the art work below but after a while you cease to look up. I enjoyed the artwork very much. There was a huge diversity and of course many familiar names. My only criticism is that some of the framing was definitely dodgy with not enough attention paid to highlighting the art. There were a few mean mounts and thin not right frames. This is a problem when the selection is from photos of artwork. But otherwise a lovely exhibition.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Colour Chart.

One of the blogs I regularly read is  Jeanette Jobson, the Illustrated Life . She has been writing about colour charts.
Of course I really ought to know that this is a GOOD IDEA. But then again I do stumble through my art on occasions and only get there by trial and error.
So I have started a series of colour charts. When you think of how many colours you use, I regularly use about 16, and then do the maths, it becomes obvious that there's an awful lot of combinations, particularly if you use white as well.
For my first chart I have used lemon yellow mixed with only 6 colours and white, there wasn't room for more on the paper. It may well need some rethinking , but this is my first attempt.
I can see that this will be a mammoth task.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual.

Some art books are decorative, some can be works of art themselves, but this book, first published in the 1980's is just plain useful. I think you can still get it on Amazon.
It has very few words, and comes with not a syllable of instruction except that you can copy the pictures to your heart's delight.
It's full of pictures. My kind of book really. It takes a number of poses  and photographs each one from every angle and elevation. Some of the characters have the weirdest costumes and it looks horribly dated, but it certainly comes in very handy when you need some figure reference in your art.
It is said the great Jack Vettriano used it for "The Singing Butler" and you can certainly identify some pictures in it.
All the images are there for any artist to use, no copyright involved, and whilst I haven't cribbed directly I've found it very useful on several occasions.
And while I'm thinking about that it does occur to me that a computer programme must be possible to show a figure in any pose. Or has it been done already? Now there's a thought.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Packaging Artwork for Posting.

I've had another order for a painting via the internet this week.
It's on occasions like this that I'm grateful my work isn't very big!
It still presents several challenges when posting though, not least of all packaging.
I paint on two different surfaces, canvas bonded onto board, and stretched canvas.
Packaging canvas on board.
For this I need a smooth barrier on the face of the painting, cellophane is good or glassine.
2 sturdy pieces of card ( mountboard will do) just a little bigger than the painting or one could be polystyrene foam board.
Bubble wrap.
Strong polythene postal bag.
Waterproof fibre tip pen.
I put the cellophane on the face of the painting, and lay it face down in the middle of the mountboard and tape  securely.
On the back goes the other piece of mountboard. It's taped it so there's a sandwich where the filling can't move. This should protect the corners.
Round it I put some bubble wrap and enclose it all in bubble wrap again and tape it up well. It all looks very cosy.
Then it's into the bag, making it fit as tight as possible, and taping where necessary with parcel tape.
Write on the bag with waterproof fibre tip pen. A label with your return address is also useful.
Packaging Stretched Canvas.
I use pretty much the same method but pack expanded polystyrene in the back of the painting between the stretchers as well.
Framed Paintings.
The method is virtually the same with special attention to corners.
Glazed Work.
Remove the glass and let the recipient put in glass at the other end. Honestly!
This method I've set down works well for my artwork that is no bigger than 40 x 40 cms.
I use Royal Mail and for original pieces ask for insurance and a trackable service.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Tree in Winter. Sunday Morning Drawing.

I love a bright Sunday morning.
You should capture it and keep it forever.
Copyright of Mary Kemp. Tree in Winter.
This is part of the view from the back bedroom in our house.
I had to sit on hard desk to draw it. The radio was playing, sun was shining and someone else was cooking lunch. What more could you wish for?
This was drawn in my medium sized sketch book, using a Staedler triplus fineliner pen and Derwent coloursoft pencils.
It took about an hour.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Hurrah for Contact Lenses !

Sometimes things must change.
All my eye wear!
For years and years I've been struggling with bi focals, computer glasses and once I even tried varifocals.
I never thought I was seeing as I ought to.
I clean my glasses, take them on and off and get them dirty, great big thumb prints and blurry blotches in my line of sight.
Paint gets on them and I can't see out the corners because the frame is in the way.
Then I put my computer glasses down and can't find them, or I put my bifocals down and definitely can't find them because I can't see beyond the computer....
Glasses are inconvenient.
So on Monday I visited  the optician for a contact lenses trial.
Already I've been wearing them the maximum time, have been shopping, spent a day painting, even done a bit of housework. I have yet to draw from life with all the looking up and down but I'm sure that will work. I just  won't need to move my head about so much as you do with bi focals.
I feel so full of excitement.  I can't imagine why I didn't do it before.
Onwards and upwards.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

PS Touch. Secrets Revealed.

Mary Kemp. Cliffs at Moher, Northern Ireland.
When I bought my all singing and dancing Galaxy Note 10 inch tablet with a stylus and loads of battery life, rubbish for doing any serious typing but apparently the tablet for artists, I was only interested in the Sketch programme it came with.
But of course as time went by and I explored more, spoke to other people, notably Jill Ray of Jill Ray Landscapes, I realised there was more it could do. And I discovered PS Touch, a photoshop variant for tablets. I am not a graphic artist and as far as computers are concerned I've learnt as I've gone along. So I was pleased to get a few timely words that helped me build up pictures in photoshop and I now fully understand the secret of layers.
I think the effect is a bit like a screen print . I'm sure there's a whole new journey to discover, but on the whole I'm quite pleased.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Open Studios. The Countdown Begins!

It is only four months to our local open studio event.
The forms and the money have to be in by Friday.
There's a lot going on behind the scenes.
And while that goes on, by artists themselves who volunteer for the job of organising it all, we mere participants start thinking about what we ought to do to get our own little space ready.
Last year I had the plan of how I would set out my studio and home written out  before I'd even put in my application.
2012 and 2013
Peterborough Artists Open Studios Directories.
I decided less is more and didn't throw every single thing I'd painted or drawn that year into the mix. I think it worked well. But this is all the easy part.
For me the most difficult part is putting the word out and attracting visitors. This I had to plan. Some years I've left it till the week before . Bad idea.
Most important is a list of contacts, whether it's family and friends or clients who like and may have bought your work before.
Next I had to decide how to contact them, a mail out, posh card or photocopied slip?, or should it be via email? Then there's facebook and twitter and instagram, or perhaps a text. Of course talking to everyone you come across about it then following up with card, email.
And people will come having looked at your entry in  the directory so your image and 30 word statement better be enticing.

Mary Kemp.
 Grace the Border Collie Encounters a Wave.
It's all not as easy as it first appears.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Spring Fair NEC. Two Finds.

We run a picture framing business and part of our annual routine is a visit to the Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham. This is a large trade show and picture framing  supplies are just a tiny part of it. For the retail trade, from John Lewis to the corner shop, it is a cornucopia of delight.
There are always several artists exhibiting and this year was no exception. Here I've singled out two of my favourite.
Two very different artists.
Kerry Darlington.
Tree of Life.
The first was Kerry Darlington, very showy and exuberant, lots of colour and gloss. Hit you right between the eyes.
Billed as "The UK's original 3D resin artist". In essence these are prints with 3D additions in a thick glossy resin. They were very striking and instantly drew you to them.
Jill Ray.
Walk on the Coast.
The second was Jill Ray of Jill Ray Landscapes. Her work couldn't be more different, quiet and restrained, peaceful to live with , a series of computer generated prints that look like watercolours. I loved the restraint and elegance of them.

I don't know which one I liked more. I suspect it depends on your mood at the time.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

It's Been a Good Day.

What makes a good day?
I'll tell you what.
Mary Kemp - Castle at Kinvarra, and Cliffs of Moher. Ireland.
A bit of sunshine, great music on the radio, and several hours spent in the studio.
Throw into that a chat with a friend on the phone while painting, plus nothing particularly domestic to do all day and I've reached the pinnacle of human happiness.
Today I got started on two pictures, atmospheric cliffs and sea, memories of a trip to Ireland. ( Has anyone seen Darby O'Gill and the Little People?)
I'm painting in two's again. Each uses the same palette of colours so it saves  on mixing, but also it keeps me in a constant mind set for both. But it could be said that I just multiply my errors. Actually looking at the photo I like both paintings together. The composition would make a good single picture.
Of course I might have got it completely wrong about how a brilliant day should go. Any thoughts on the subject would be much appreciated.
Just click on the space under this post on the comments box.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Where To Buy Art Supplies.

The availability of art supplies has exploded along with the availability of everything else.
My very first memory is of being taken to the Aladdin's cave of artists' materials upstairs at Gadsby's in Leicester to buy a tiny limited set of watercolours. (Gadsby's is still up and running and operating an online shop.)
Throughout my teenage years and art school I relied on local art shops, dedicated to selling materials to artists and everything seemed very precious and rare and expensive. I only bought what I needed at the time. Or was I just a starving artist then?
Now things are different and although dedicated art shops are still holding there own in the market place there are other places to buy art materials.
I live in Peterborough so this is specific to my area, but I know each category is replicated elsewhere.
Local Art Shops.
Coleman's of Peterborough  In the centre of town. They offer 10% discount to artist and are very helpful. They also sell via the internet.
Local Hobby Shops.
Hobbycraft  On a retail park just out of town. National chain, specialising in all sorts of crafts in it's large store. Artists' supplies no more than Coleman's and staff not as helpful. Bit like a supermarket. Large on line operation.
Local Discount Art/Hobby Shops
The Works  Outlets both in town and out of town. Art and craft supplies are just a small part of cheap books and toys. Some lovely art books. Supplies are cheap and cheerful but I've found some great bargains there. Also large online operation.
Online Art Suppliers
Ah. My favourite.
There are two that I use regularly.
Great Art
They both sell great products at great prices delivered quickly and securely.
Although these are primarily online suppliers they both issue a comprehensive paper catalogue each year with regular updates. Their marketing is good, via email as well.
I usually take far too long to order online ( this is from a woman who was one of the first to do on-line grocery shopping) so I always order by phone , having first consulted catalogue and website. Both companies make the phone experience easy and I like both companies a lot and equally.
Online Specialist Art Suppliers.
Cornelissen & Son These are the Rolls Royce of artists' suppliers. I visited one of their sister shops, Brodie and Middleton, recently and felt Turner was about to pop in for some more white for his clouds.
Of course you can buy all the materials you like but if you don't practice your skills, eg drawing, as often as you are able, then it's all a waste of money!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Rowing Boat, East Coast, a Slow Burning Picture.

Some pictures I complete very quickly. Other's take a little longer!
Copyright Mary Kemp.
Rowing Boat. East Coast.
Oil on canvas panel 30 x 30 cms

This picture has been in my studio at least two years waiting to slip from "nearly there" to "finished".
I painted the boat quickly and the sea. But then I thought it needed something else because there was a lot of empty space.
So it's had various incarnations, I've added a jetty, another boat, figures, all sorts, different sea but it never seemed right. I was on the verge of cutting the picture in half at one point, but that didn't seem the solution either.
What is really important in this picture is the boat and the pink reflections in the sea, and the feeling that there is only one rowing boat in the whole of this big wide sea.
So I gave in, and completed the sea at the top of the picture. I put it in a frame and this is the result. I'm quietly pleased because it says what I want it to say.