Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Joy of a Square Painting.

In case you hadn't noticed I love to paint square paintings, to me there is a joy in the symmetry of a painting that has equal sides, top, bottom, left, right.

Somehow it is complete within itself, all encircling , all enclosing.

Mary Kemp.
Three Trees in a Russet Field.
Oil on canvas panel.
30 x 30cm

There are practical advantages too. 

  • If you start with a square doodle it will scale up nicely to whatever size you have. No more messing around with mathematical calculations for a canvas that is too long or too short.
  • And if you have a work that needs a mount, well any frame bigger will do, you don't have to battle with proportions and perhaps loose a little of your composition.

Of course there are disadvantages.

  • The internet can be unkind to square images. 
  • Facebook cuts them off at the knees. 
  • If I list on Etsy I have to put a square image on a landscape shaped background so it can be seen in its entirety at first.

But these are minor gripes.

I've been searching through my books to find square paintings in history. (Google wasn't much help because it kept showing me paintings of squares by Mondrian.)
There weren't many, which left me wondering , am I the odd one out here?

But I did find Gustav Klimt's Kiss, and Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors is nearly square, so all is not lost.

And here, for your delectation, is one of my own square paintings, a favourite.
Click here to view details.

Mary Kemp
Tea Time

Thursday, 21 August 2014

What To Do in Northumberland. Newbigging By the Sea Art Trail.

Oh we've been on holiday. In the glorious north east, in Geordie land where everyone speaks with a beautiful rich sing song accent and the wind blows like billio. Big skies, loads of castles, Hadrian's Wall and Beamish Museum. We had a great time and now I'm ready for a rest, but my mind is so full of what I've seen I might just have to get down to work pretty sharpish.

"Couple" by Sean Henry 20007.
While we were away, to humour me, my family took a detour into Newbiggin by the Sea to view a splendid off shore sculpture and see what other delights Newbiggin had to offer.

I hope Newbiggin won't be offended if I say how cold and

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Studio Snaps.

It's holiday season so nothing too taxing.
My head is full of sea and sand, and family and new places to explore.
So here are some studio snaps.

Tidy!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Peterborough Open Art Exhibition, 2014. A Personal View.

Before I say anything else I have to admit that I entered two paintings for this exhibition. One was accepted, one wasn't.  I was not a prize winner but I can take that on the chin.
Not everyone recognises my stellar talent!

The exhibition is on at Peterborough Museum until September 21st., 2014.
Click here for the link to the museum's site although there is nothing about the exhibition apart from dates and an invitation to take part even after the exhibition is well into it's run.
 ( Or am I missing something?)

It would have been nice to see the prize winners on the site.
First Prize went to photographs by Nisha Keshav, beautiful snow scenes of Holme Fen.

Nisha Keshav's three photographs.

The Two Runner Up Prizes went to Graham Ward, fabulous bright canvases of the Rockability Bus., and Peter Cley's "Babel in the Precincts" a very erudite collage.

The private view was held in the light and airy galleries of the museum which on that night belied their appearance because it was boiling hot! But apart from that it was a very agreeable event.

I liked the hanging of the exhibition. It was well spaced out giving each piece the room to shine . The galleries in the museum are an agreeable showcase for any art.

My favourite pieces:
  • Neil Westwood "Woolwich Power Station", a striking oil painting.
  • Sue Shields "Wanderlust" Cut paper and steel, huge and intricate and inexplainable.
  • Geri Waddington "Cabbage", lovely resin engraving.
  • Karen Harvey. "Untitled. Reading Room Series". A photograph of a doll in Wisbech museum. 
And my thoughts?
This was a fairly modern exhibition, not much room for traditional watercolours!
Roughly half were "painting and drawing". The other half was a mixture of multi media, sculpture, photographs, printing and one video.
But that's art for you, I suppose.




Thursday, 31 July 2014

Some Beautiful Art? Changing My Etsy Shop Name.

By the time you read this I will have probably done the deed.
OK. It's not a big deal, but it is to me and I've been brooding over this for a while now.
I need to rename my Etsy shop. Well I think I do.
What do you think?


I call it by my name Mary Kemp which means a lot to me and my family and a few of my collectors but in the wider world it's not a great selling point.
So I thought I would change it.
My first preference was Beautiful Art, but guess what, someone else has got there first.
Which is a shame because I rather liked it.
So I've been thinking of a few more names.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Seduced by Acrylic Paint.

There I go again! I've been seduced by acrylics for the umpteenth time.
It happens every so often. I think "Why am  I using oils colours?

  • They're messy.
  • They're expensive
  • And they take forever to dry".
So off I go and paint something using acrylic paint.

Here's my latest picture. 
Mary Kemp.Boats in Galicia.
Acrylic on board 40 x 30 cm.
I was attracted to the bright day
and the strong colours,
so typical of Spain.


Of course I like the colours, which were bright and bold, but I struggle to get the paint to lie as I want it to. It feels sticky, and the surface seems to me to be lacklustre, and although I have difficulty telling the difference between other people's oils and their acrylics , with my own the difference is obvious. I feel I can express myself better with oils.


  • Acrylics are hasty to dry and blend clumsily on the canvas.
  • They stick to your equipment.
  • They're not as classy as oils.
And yet.....

  • This picture took less time to complete, giving it more immediacy.
  • I can layer colours without needing to wait 2 days.
So on balance?
Speed and immediacy for acrylics.
Time to craft your painting, and  the indefineable charm of oil paints.

No contest.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

14 Things I Bought at Peterborough Artists Open Studios 2014.

One of the delights of opening up your studio for just one weekend  out of three of our Peterborough  open studios event  is that you have time to visit other artists.

We set aside last Saturday to do just that and what a lovely, enjoyable time we had of it!

Of course you never get round  as many as you think you will but we still manage three venues.

This is who we visited on our jaunt out and here is the haul I came home with.