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.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Picnic Essentials for Artists and Other Picnickers

We're off for a picnic, a day out that involves lunch, and we're not going to a cafe or restaurant to eat, and of course we're going to the seaside. Did I mention that?
Mary Kemp
Picnic Among the Sand Dunes
Oil on canvas panel
30 x 30 cm

So here are a few essentials, in no particular order, but they do include things that an artist might take with her, over and above the wet wipes and the suntan lotion.

Mary Kemp
Two Girls and Boy by the Sea
Oil on canvas panel.
30 x 30 cm

  • Food, which really has to be the most important thing to pack. It doesn't have to be highly nutritious or good for you on this occasion. I like it to be of the high fat, high sugar variety, crisps, pork pies, not much salad because you can't eat it easily with out of a bowl. Sweet is just that, sweets, chocolate bars, yoghurt for wimps and, if you must have fruit, bananas because they go squashy very quickly.
  • Drink, sugary drinks for all. Alcohol for the hardened drinkers among us, if you can have a snooze later on. Stewed tea in a flask or watery coffee. All drunk out of plastic mugs if you can remember them.
  • Mary Kemp
    Day at the Seaside
    Oil on canvas panel.
    30 x 30 cm
  • Something to Sit On Children can have a blanket, that's big enough for all, except one, just to add to the chaos. This grown up wants a chair that someone else carries.
  • Something to Do. This is the most important. You need towels and cossies for the swimmers, towels for the paddlers. A change of clothes for any one under 20, a few buckets and spades, as bright as possible so you don't loose them, and a good book if you like reading.
  • The Artist's Essentials. This is my drawing kit at the moment. 
    Sketching Kit
    Summer 2016
    (No phone here because
    I used it to take the photo!)
  • Sun hat, 
  • Sun glasses, 
  • Phone for photos
  • Sketch book, square 8" x 8"
  • Pencil
  • Watercolour paints
  • Brush
  • J cloth
  • Water soluble pen
  • Water
  • Container.
And at the end of the day we all went to a cafe and had a cup of tea and a bun before travelling home, tired but happy!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sherringham Park

You can tell what sort of a person I am by the fact that I love the National Trust.
Mary Kemp.
Early Morning East Coast.

There's huge tracts of land and coastline in North Norfolk owned by the National Trust and I have stomped my way through quite a number of them, and sat and drawn and painted in most, but this year I discovered a new venue,

the rhododendron heaven of rhododendron heavens, Sherringham Park!
Photo: Alan Kemp
Sherringham Park.

What I love particularly about this is the pattern of the bare trunks where the foliage has been stripped away. There's a painting in there somewhere I'm sure.
In fact in my head are a whole series of paintings waiting to meet the canvas, inspired by the most fantastic and multicoloured rhododendrons of Sherringham as well as the rather grand works seen in the Royal Academy exhibition Painting the Modern Gardens. Because I love the sea so much they may well involve rhododendrons and the sea, as you can glimpse the coast from the park.
Mary Kemp
Misty Morning East Coast
So far my National Trust paintings have been executed on the coastline, looking out to sea, but I've a feeling that may change any time soon!
Watch this space.