Thursday, 27 October 2016

Why I Never Drew My Babies.

Why I never drew my own children when they were babies.
To any mother the reason is obvious. Babies just squirm and cry and scream and feed and need their nappy changing, and you're so exhausted anyway so you don't pick up a pencil let alone a paint brush, and the only thing you want to do is sleep.... At least that was my experience of motherhood.
Mary Kemp.
Sketchbook drawings.

Now I am a grandmother, and the role is less all encompassing. No responsibility but a lot of pleasure.
Mary Kemp
Baby in mother's arms.

At the weekend my latest granddaughter, with parents, came to stay, only a month old, and her first sleeps away from home.
Mary Kemp.
Sketchbook drawings.

To be honest I can't remember my children being so amenable.
But for the first time I got the chance to draw a baby. How can you depict such perfection? I keep harking back to Rembrandt's drawings and know I've got a way to go.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Autumn, 15 Years Ago.

Digging through my files I came across this image.
Mary Kemp.
French Jug
Oil on board
60 x 50 cm

I painted this 15 years ago at least, looking out of the kitchen window towards the studio. I notice that the huge bay tree, that now obscures my view, hasn't grown up yet, and the Virginia Creeper looks a bit sparse compared with today.
There's another thing that is quite different too. My painting style has changed considerably from those days. Then it was very precise. I planned each mark, and used very little texture on the surface. I was aiming for flat and smooth. A painting like this would take me about a month to achieve. I spent a lot of time painting the shadows, quite enjoying it and the changes of colour within them.

But things move on, I don't paint the garden so much, and people creep into my art.

Mary Kemp
Beach Walk
Man and Dog
Oil on canvas panel
30 x 30 cm

Thursday, 15 September 2016


I am drinking my first cup of tea of the day, the best cup of tea, or is the 4 o'clock one even better?
It doesn't really matter because I'll get up in a minute and have a shower, then make breakfast, fruit and porridge. I'd sooner have white bread and Marmite or perhaps jam but the food police in my head complain.
Downstairs I let the cat out and check my phone. Nothing doing, nobody's bought a painting or print so I can get on with what's in my head. Chat with husband, share the day ahead, talk about food. Important.
I try to keep my head clear first thing. It's not always easy. You can get side tracked by the everyday and the domestic. Some days I still think I'm a 1950's housewife. Hang the washing out, dust something. It's silly really.
Mary Kemp
Garden sketch .
I used a gel pen and coloured pencils.

I take another cup of tea down to the studio. I'm wearing walking trousers and a smock, both covered in paint, and shoes I don't care about.
Sometimes I put the radio on in the studio, but, if I really want to think, it's quiet. And if there's the slightest hint of cold I put the blow heater on. For the next four hours I paint and try to ignore the outside world. I don't really like to talk to anyone then, not even my husband, apart from the occasional practicality.
This is the view from the back bedroom in winter.
The studio is sheltered from the winds by a large leylandii and catches the sun when it is low in the south
Then at one o'clock a switch goes on in my head. I've had enough, and I know even if I am able to carry on working after lunch no good will come of it, so I wash my brushes, tidy the studio and go up to the house and get changed.
Mary Kemp
Oil on board 70 x 50 cm
In the afternoon I am set free. If I really must I do domestic stuff, I do paperwork which actually is computer work and I meet friends and shop and all the other everyday things. I like a bit of gardening and I like to cycle.
But all the time my head is full of paintings, composition, colour, looking at the light, wondering why something looks good, admiring the mix of colours in a passer by's outfit.
My husband thinks of cars in the same way. "You know so and so, he drives a Skoda". I say "You know so and so, he paints in watercolour". We're on different planets!
In the evening I cook, and we watch the telly and in my head I'm planning the next painting.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Why Poppies Pop Up.

Part of art is capturing that which is fleeting.
The common red cornfield poppy, Papaver rhoeas, lasts only for one brief day.
Mary Kemp
"Field Full of Poppies"
Oil on canvas
30 x 30 cm
Stepping out of the car we were surrounded by poppies, to the left, the right and in front. Instead of green, the fields were RED, not just pale red, but bright pillar box alarming red!  
It was the end of the day, and we were hot and tired and late to meet up with the others, so we just took photos. 
But looking at the photos later they didn't seem right. A digital camera evens out a lot of the tones and colours automatically and often leaves you with a bland image. The only way for me to record that wonderful sight was to paint it. Jean used watercolours, but I went in for the heavy artillery, oil paints.
Mary Kemp
"Poppies as Far as the Eye Can See"
Oil on canvas
30 x 30 cm
And why do poppies pop up?
Poppy seeds can stay in the ground for up to 80 years before germinating, but as soon as the soil is disturbed they will grow, and so they appear in ploughed fields and battle fields to bloom for just one day, and then die.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Beach Hut Envy.

Yes, you've guessed it, I would really like a beach hut!
Mary Kemp
A Chorus of Beach Huts
I can see all sorts of nice things about a beach hut, somewhere to sit out the wind, or the sun, and watch beach life go by, a place to change into your swim suit, a mini kitchen, even a pop-up bedroom for an after lunch snooze.
Mary Kemp
Beach Huts and Two Deckchairs.
I could  keep my painting kit safely in there too.
I could watch daytime tv on my mobile phone.
Drink tea, or gin.

Don't mind me. I'm just day dreaming.