Hi, I'm Mary Kemp, passionate painter of anything to do with the seaside.
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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Small Paintings Versus Large.

Dear Seaside Friends,

I am a small person, at least next to the rest of my family who are all taller than me (except the one year old grandchild), so I like things petite and delicate.
You can understand that to me a small painting is a delight, especially as it is often an immediate response to the things and scenes around me.  And of course a small painting is a way of owning original art for not a lot of money.

But I also adore a big picture, the sweep of a large composition, and the excitement of a plan coming together, because believe me a big painting needs a lot of planning.

Then of course there's the all important question of where you're going to hang your art. If your wall is full of family photos there's no space to hang a gigantic landscape, but a small perfectly formed oil painting? now that will look good.

Here's the two paintings I'm working on at the moment, both almost complete. They're at the stage where I think they're almost finished, but I need to put them away for a few days and then look again to make sure.

To be honest I'm feeling pretty good about the pair at the moment........ but I'd love to hear your thoughts, (in the comments box below) and whether you prefer a large or small painting.

Best wishes

Mary

P.S. Feel free to share this blog with a friend you think might like it.

Friday, 15 September 2017

I Love Autumn!

This morning I stood on a hill top outside my home town and felt the wind whipping my face as the first autumn storm ripped into us. It wasn't too bad, just exhilarating, giving me an appetite for warm soup and wooly jumpers.

Of course I love the colours of autumn, the warm russets and coppers and feel compelled to paint a few pictures that celebrate the season. Once I got painting I couldn't stop!
Here are a few:




I've called these simply "Autumn Tree" and numbered them. Have a look on my website.
This is just the beginning! There are more to come.

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Jaunty Tail of Grace the Border Collie.

Just when I think I've come to the end of a series of paintings another idea hops into my mind!
Grace the border collie is as varied as Cleopatra and quite as beautiful so it was no wonder that after a jolly day out at the seaside earlier on in the year another painting or two hit the canvas.
"Jaunty Tail"
© Mary Kemp
Oil on canvas panel.
Available

We'd gone over to the Norfolk coast, us and the rest of the population of East Anglia, and Grace had been so good and patient stuck in the traffic.
We managed to get parked, and all hot and sweaty decamped onto the beach.
Whoosh! Grace was off, being sociable with whoever she could find, then haring off to an empty part of the beach, and then back again. Is there no end to her energy? It seems not.

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Thursday, 3 August 2017

How an Idea Became a Painting.

I've never got used to the buzz I get whenever a person likes my paintings.
And it gives me an even bigger thrill when I get instructions to paint a picture specially for someone, knowing they trust me to do a good job.

I'm quite a practical person, so enjoy the challenge of working to a brief.
"Two People on the Sea Edge,with Birds"
Oil on canvas
© Mary Kemp
This particular commission arrived through summer's open studio event, from a couple who came to visit. In truth I think they had studied the Peterborough Open Studio website carefully and targeted a few artists they liked the look of.

They had a new, plain grey wall to fill.......

They looked at the paintings I had, at work in progress and particularly liked my latest seaside collection.
But nothing was big enough, so this is where the commission part came in.
We looked at images of some sold artwork and they settled on something similar, "not too much pink". We agreed size and price, and a timescale for the project. I asked for a non-returnable deposit of a third and it was all systems go!
 It's so much easier to make changes at this stage
 than when the painting is almost finished
.







As part of the commissioning process I like to show a preliminary sketch. And this is the one I sent.

The next part of the plan went very smoothly. Over about a month I painted the picture, building it up in layers, standing back, thinking about it, adding more, taking away some but always staying faithful to the vision we had.
Then it was finished. I left it for a few days allowing it to dry, and silently worried.

On the third day I looked at the painting again with new eyes, and decided I quite liked it. I asked my husband. "It's alright" he said. A man of few words.
There was nothing for it but to contact the lovely couple who had commissioned it.
I'm pleased to say they were full of praise, and came round the very next day, whisked it off home and sent me a photo of it looking resplendent on their grey wall.
Visit my website marykemp.co.uk


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Belonging to an Art Society

As I write this post I know that really I should be sending a report to my local art society on how our web presence is going. Over a year ago I fool-hardedly volunteered to take over the job of webmaster, or is it webmistress, and I think I took on a bigger job than I envisaged.

Handing in day for our Spring Exhibition.


Not that I mind really because it makes me feel even more part of this wonderful society, and as you're inquiring I'll tell you it's the Welland Valley Art Society based in Stamford Lincolnshire.

Over the years I've belonged to several art societies, some frankly have overawed me until I got to know them better, but all have provided me with plenty of people to talk to about the passions I keep from the family, different brands of oil paint, how do you clean your brushes, will breathing the fumes of oil paint kill you ? etc.

Art societies seem to break down into two groups, those whose main thrust is exhibiting and those that meet often with an emphasis on the social aspect as much as art. I think both are equally valid.

Up on the wall!

Of course some take themselves more seriously than others with selection of members and work. And others are very keen on demonstrations by established artists. I've been to many a demo and enjoyed them immensely as well as learning loads. I've also daydreamed through a few.

But what I really wanted to say was how wonderful art societies are, how nurturing and supportive they can be, and how any artist at any level can benefit from joining one whether to share their own knowledge or learn from others, or a bit of both.

And I don't like to boast. Not much! but here is the painting that I put into our latest exhibition. It won a Commendation, Great back slapping all round.

©Mary Kemp
Border Collie on the Beach
Oil on canvas panel.
And the icing on the cake was that even though it didn't find a home during the exhibition  the next weekend a collector came to my studio and liked it so much she took it home.

So now I've written this I'm going to knuckle down to my report and finish it before bedtime.



Thursday, 4 May 2017

Welland Valley Art Society's Spring Exhibition 2017

We artists often paint or sculpt in glorious isolation so it's wonderful to feel yourself part of a group with a common aim.

Twice a year the Welland Valley Art Society gets together for an exhibition at the Stamford Arts Centre lasting two weeks.

Preview Day

The Exhibition runs until May 13th and during this time the selected work is available for all to see and two exhibiting members of the society are always on hand to talk about the work and conduct any sales.


I look forward to my time "on duty". It's an opportunity to talk about art, not just my own, but that of the other artists. Many of our visitors are so very interested in what they see and the chance to vote for your favourite exhibit sparks some lively debate.

I also love visiting Stamford and the delights of the Arts Centre coffee shop.

As usual the exhibition was a joyful mixture of work in a variety of mediums. Selection, hanging and the hundred and one organising jobs are all done by volunteer members of the society.

And now, after many years making sure it all works effortlessly, our Exhibition Secretary Chris Illsley has decided to step down. It is a tribute to her seamless running of the event that the job is now being done by, not one, but four people.


Our chosen theme this year was
"A Celebration of Spring"
I had a few favourite pictures this year: 
A delicate botanical study by Christine Butler and Judy Merriman's Sea of Daffodils and any of Keith Hemsley's controlled gouache paintings.

These are those who work received recognition.


Gladys Teesdale Award: 
Will Illsley for Cairn 1. mixed media

John Fountain Award ; 

Joanna Crawford for Life Study, pastel.

Commended works:

Barbara Allen: Rough Day, N'stra da Barca , oil
Philip Dawson: Spring Teepees at Dusk, Barnsdale Wood, mixed media
Chris Illsley: Will's Pots, mixed media
Mary Kemp: Border Collie on the Beach, oil

David Cromack: The Parched Land. mixed media

Thursday, 20 April 2017

How to Take Great Photos For Your Pet's Portrait

As an artist I often get asked to paint peoples pets.
I love animals and think they make great subjects. I draw and photograph my own and the family's regularly and included them in many a painting.
The interesting bit comes when I am asked to paint someone else's animals that I've never seen before.
For this I have to rely on the owner's photos and here's some of the guidelines I give them.
An elegant pose!
  • Your camera isn't really important. Most modern cameras, even on phones, take a very good picture. If you hold your camera as still as possible you're onto a winner.
  • First of all take at least one photo of your whole pet, don't leave the feet or the tail out.
  • Capture the pose you would like painted. (easier said than done I know)
  • Then take lots of close-ups and from different angles, not just from how you see your pet but from down on their level.
    Not easy to see the dog!
  • In fact in this digital age take as many photos as possible, even if they're not in the pose you want.
  •  Daylight is best. Light from one side shows the best detail.
    A good looking spaniel!
  • Let the artist see the scale of your pet in relation to people and other animals.
  • Consider the colour you want shown. Do your photos reflect that?
What if your pet is no longer with you. Can the photos you already have provide enough information?
Snap of the cat, a bit blurry.




Many a portrait has been painted from an out of focus photo. 
It makes the artist's task harder but not impossible. 

And if you want to find more about commissioning art look at my post How to Commission a Piece of Art Online. or visit my website http://marykemp.co.uk

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

North Norfolk for a Few Days


The need to get away from the everyday is sometimes overwhelming. it's not that the everyday is awful, it's just that it's so......well, everyday.
Just two days at the coast, I said it was to paint but it wasn't really. It was too cold to stop still for long even though the weather was lovely.
Here are some pictures.

Blakeney Marshes full of birds, and walkers.

 
The golden hour, Blakeney Harbour.
© Mary Kemp. Blakeney Marshes.
I sat by the path, and got stared at a lot.
I don't care!

I love a good looking boat!
Whitby Crest now ship-shape and Bristol fashion!

© Mary Kemp."Whitby Crest."
When I first caught the seaside bug I painted a lot of boats.
This is the Whitby Crest before it's refurbishment..
Now I feel refreshed and ready for whatever lies ahead!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

How to Commission a Piece of Art Online

It can be a scary thing asking someone to create a piece of art for you, especially if you're going on line to do it. Usually the art you want to commission is of something or someone very dear to you so you want it to be just right.
I've painted quite a few commissioned works in my time often of peoples families and pets and as an artist I feel a huge responsibility to translate my clients vision into a painting that will hang on their wall for years and be regarded with affection.
© Mary Kemp
This is a painting of two of my grandchildren, which I painted after a trip to the seaside.  It has been the jumping off point for several commissions of family beach portraits.

To reach this happy state of affairs it's incumbent on both artist and client to work together.
So this is why I thought I would write a guide about how to commission a painting online:
  • Do your research, spend hours if necessary trawling the internet to find an artist whose style you absolutely love, and who will paint you the perfect picture in their style.
  • From what you have seen is this someone who makes it easy for you to work with them? Have they got good reviews on their website and other outlets? Is it someone you can trust?
  • Get in touch as soon as possible. These things take time.
  • Be clear in your mind what you want and discuss this in detail with the artist. This is the time to refine your ideas. Also be clear about the amount of money you want to spend.
  • If it's not working at this stage pull out. Seriously. A transaction like this should work smoothly.
  • If your artist is to use your photographs now you're all set to send as many photos of good quality of your subject as you possibly can. They'll want to know if they can work from them.
  • Agree materials and size. Do you want your painting framed?
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY AGREE PRICE AND TIME FRAME. Most artists will ask for a non returnable deposit at this stage. Some artists will also  provide a written contract and if you want one and it's not been offered ask for it.
  • This is the time to ask for a rough sketch of the painting you have agreed upon. Changes can be easily made at this stage, much more difficult once the painting is underway. 
  • When you are totally happy with the design, and are sure that is how you want your painting to look, then give the go ahead. After that sit back and let your artist work their magic. At this point things are out of your hands!
  • The day has arrived. You've received an email with an image of your painting. Excitement all round. If you've followed these guidelines there's a good chance your expectations have been met. If not, communicate. Most things can be resolved. We artists want  happy customers.
  • When you know it's right pay the balance and await your parcel.

    © Mary Kemp
  •   And when  you've received  your painting if  you could let  the artist know  that would be  most welcome,  and a photo in  situ brings joy to  the heart!
 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sketching With Friends

Last week saw the first sketching trip of the year!
Great joy!

It proved to be a very socialable day, traveling to Stamford on the top deck of the bus with my 91 year old neighbour who was off on a jolly to the weekly market and a cup of coffee with a friend.

© Mary Kemp. Willow Tree


Once there we parted ways and I met up with two like minded atists for a glorious day of sketching and arty type talk, a day we'd planned weeks ahead because Jean had so many socail engagements in her diary she couldn't fit in anything earlier!

We put the world to rights and even managed a couple of drawings  before the cold took over. It must be we're getting a bit light weight as time goes by.

 Stamford meadows was the ideal place to sit, viewing the town and the river and the bridge. Jean and Judy are quite fond of buildings so that's what they drew. I think they're more accurate than me. I gloried in the elegant trees, still beautifully skeletal despite a hint of green. I also included Jean leaning against the railings.
© Mary Kemp. Jean Drawing

I've said it before but one of the nice things about being older is not having to worry about any unwanted attention while you're out sketching in public. I was never very good at the cutting put down and trips out unless accompanied by a man or a child were often interrupted. Now my only interruptions are people who are truly interested.

We finished fairly soon after lunch, but I feel we are limbering up for a feast of drawing outside for the coming year.
There's nothing like sketching with friends. Thank you Jean and Judy!

Next week I'm off to the seaside. I'm praying for decent weather but even if it's too cold and windy to draw I'll take lots of photos.



Thursday, 23 March 2017

Delivery by Bike

Those who know me are getting a bit fed up with me going on about how much I love my bike.

So it's no wonder that my delivery system
 often involves my trusty stead.

Since I bought it last year I've been in raptures, extolling it's rideability and the way it zooms along the road, making me look like a witch on a broom stick even in a head wind.


Some I can't get on
my bike so I have to
call in a carrier!


Each time I go out on it I feel like I'm  on holiday.


The nearest post office is less than a mile away so to dispach prints or small paintings that's where I go. I make my shipping days Mondays and Thursdays unless someone's got a need for an emergency piece of art although I suppose a speedy bicycle trip every day might not be such a bad thing!

These are the two prints I posted today, battling a headwind on the way there, and just floating home on the way back.
Mary Kemp
Ginger Cat on the Table

Mary Kemp
Border Collie in the Northumbrian Coast
If you'd like to be part of my next postal run just hit the link to buy your very own at my Etsy shop.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Something New!! Not Paint but Linocut.

When ever I go to the seaside I never want to leave, and I suspect that's why I paint the pictues that I do. There's an irresistable pull to the coast, to catch sight of the sea and never take my eyes away.
Could it be that my birth sign is Pisces? I'm not really into that sort of things so perhaps that's a bit fanciful.
This week I've been dabbling into the world of lino cutting.
Drying.
It was a nightmare
transporting 12 sticky prints home!

Our local museum in Peterborough ran a workshop (I have to apologise for Peterborough's Vivacity's website with so little information on it. If it hadn't been for a facebook message I wouldn't have known anything about this workshop). Having said that it was a very reasonable price.






I wanted to explore my seaside themes in new ways, and lino cut struck me as being a way of concentrating more on the figures I see on the beach.
Gouging out lino against the clock
is very hard on the hands.
A boy and a dog, one of my favourite ideas at the moment, seemed the ideal subject.


Conclusion:
I've a way to go before I get proficient in this!
Every ..... print had something wrong with it.
It's definitely not the medium for a messy person.
The effects are beautiful.
The best bit is discovering your image when the paper is peeled away, a moment of wonder.

Thank you Janet Bates for your excellent tuition.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

A Passion for Seaside Piers.

I've always had a passion for piers. I suspect it began on my first visits to the seaside as a child.
Southwold Pier
 I don't actually remember being on any pier at the time but sitting beneath eating sandwiches and feeling very cold.

Funnily enough I do remember piers from my teenage years and particularly nearly being thrown into the sea (don't ask!) from the one at Ryde on the Isle of Wight which, built in 1813/14, just happens to be the oldest of the Victorian pleasure piers. 

Last summer saw our family staying on the Welsh coast by Colwyn Bay. Languishing in the corner of the bay was a rather sad looking pier. You couldn't actually get to it. It was cordoned off and derelict. Built in 1900 the Victoria Pier had an interesting life, being burnt down twice and bankrupting it's owner. It had been so grand, but now seems to be a collection of mismatched pieces of scaffolding and rotten planks.
The Victoria Pier,
Colwyn Bay


Did you know there is a National Piers Society ? and Cleethorpes Pier was pier of the year for 2016?

I like piers that have a bit of entertainment on them, Cromer with the best End of the Pier Show I've ever seen, or the lovely shops and clock on the one at Southwold.

The Clock on Southwold Pier
These structures were built in a different era, for day trippers in clumsy clothes without mobile phones.

Mary Kemp
Half Term at Southwold
featuring the pier!

The gloriously gaudy pier at Great Yarmouth, alive and kicking!
I think a really nice thing to do would be to make a road trip around the country, visiting every pier, and being an artist I would like to sit and draw every single one! 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Walking with the Dog and Birds.

There's a bit of excitement in the air, spring is just around the corner, and winter walks on the beach may give way to scampers across the sands to reach the cooling water's edge. Or is that just my wishful thinking.

The winter saw me waiting ages for paintings to dry because my studio can get so cold. This painting was on the easel for what seemed like months! I had time to look at it and ponder it's meaning which in the end I realised was very simple.

It celebrates a companionable walk on the beach with the dog while birds whirl all around.

Mary Kemp
"Walking with the Dog and Birds"
Oil on board
60 x 60 cm
I hope you like this painting which is available through  my website.
If you would like more info or to see more detailed photos please get in touch.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Photographs and the Artist

The digital camera is both a godsend and a curse to the modern artist.

Mary Kemp
Sacrawell Farm
See a paintable scene and snap it! Once, twice, a dozen times, each shot just that tiny bit different.
Life is fast. People to see, places to go. No time to stand and stare, let alone stop and do draw like a proper artist.

But...
It's not the same working from photos is it? Something is lost. Everything takes on  an homogonised feel. Insignificant objects, a rougue plastic bag, a street sign, have the same significance as the thing you really want to concentrate on.

When you draw or paint from life you select the important elements and everything is seen in relation to those.

Mary Kemp
Orton Mere
Drawing, as opposed to taking a photo lodges the view in your brain and immediately gives you a better understanding of what you see.

Now I'm not an advocate of painting en plein air. I know it's what the hard core artists do but all that wrestling with the elements long term is not for me. Rather I like to sketch in short bursts outside, gathering up information in a sketch book and sparingly snatch a few photos àlong the way. If you take too many photos you spend all your time trawling through them to find the one you want, and then discover it actually wasn't what you thought it was anyway.
I will confess to having taken too many photos in the past and I never like to delete them. You don't know when you'll regret it! But how many are on my computer???

But I've got over my photo addiction now.

The best photos are in your head, and the best paintings are all the better for a bit of direct observation.

Friday, 3 February 2017

New Painting "Stop Running Away!"

Do you ever have that moment when your day feels as though it's going to end in chaos, with those you want to keep an eye on scattering in all directions.
I had that in mind when I painted this picture.
Mary Kemp
"Stop Running Away"
Oil on canvas panel 40 x 40 cm

Sunday, 1 January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I wish you all a Happy New Year. 

May it be filled with health and happiness, fun and laughter, and art aplenty!

Mary Kemp.
"Rock Pools" detail