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.
Watercolour

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
Watercolour
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.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Discover the Wonderful North Norfolk Coast.

There's a part of the country that's out of the way. A part that lots of people never visit because it's not on the road to anywhere, no big towns, no ferries to far away places, not a place of magnificent cliffs and sweeping vistas, and it's somewhere you have to travel through vast tracts of flat terrain to reach, like some intrepid explorer.
But , oh, it is wonderful once you get there!
Photo: Mary Kemp
Hunstanton Cliffs at Sunset.
Being brought up in the Midlands I've been visiting North Norfolk all my life. We've had picnics on the sands at Hunstanton, eaten crab at Cromer and walked on the prom at Sherringham, not to mention seen the Queen going home from church as we navigated the windy roads near Sandringham.
Hunstanton or Brancaster in particular always seemed the default places to go for a day out, when you wanted familiarity, comfort and the feeling that childhood certainties still stand. Hunstanton with it's fish and chips, buckets and spade and gawdy funfair, and Brancaster for miles of open sands with the sea in strips, and when you walk out to the water's edge you feel as though the world is so huge and you are so small and so very, very free.
Mary Kemp
Running Forever
Oil on canvas panel
30 x 30 cm
But don't take this as a plea to visit Norfolk. I don't want you to go. I feel it's mine, I like the unfashionableness of the parts I visit and the lack of bustle on every day of the year except a hot summer holiday or the first warm day of spring.
So don't discover Norfolk, you'll love it too much than is good for you. Be warned.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Rock Pools.

If we're lucky our life is punctuated by sparkling mornings and balmy afternoons that we never want to end. 
I remember seaside days when the sun was going down and the breeze freshened and still we didn't want to leave the rock pools.

Rock Pools
Mary Kemp
Oil on board. 50 x 33 cm.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Sometimes Drawing is Hard.

I've been away for a few days, on the east coast, lapping up the sea air and the sunshine.
I took my drawing kit, and this time added some pastel crayons and black paper.
This is some of what I drew.
There are occasions, quite a few, when things don't turn out as you would wish them. I had such high hopes of the pastel on black paper. It's worked in the past, but it proved just too ethereal and in the breezy conditions I smudged a lot of it.


It took me a few sessions to get settled and decide perhaps the pastel wasn't the one for this trip.
I tried pen and coloured pencils
on this drawing of Friary Hill
a scene I've drawn quite often before.
Then it was drawing with a pencil.
I post these drawings not because I think they're brilliant because quite frankly they're not, but because I wanted to show you when it's not going too well!


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

So What Did I Learn at Art School?

Back in the day I spent a year at art school in Salisbury, my only formal art training.
It was a year of excitement and discovery played out in an atmosphere of eternal youth and love and peace.
I remember floaty dresses and sandwich spread sandwiches, Stonehenge, and driving through the Wiltshire countryside without a care in the world.

So what did I actually learn?
Mary Kemp. Stonehenge.


  • Drawing accurately is not everything, but it is VERY USEFUL.
  • Watercolour is not fashionable.
  • Real artists splash paint around a lot and don't wash.
  • The only true vocation is to be an artist.
  • Money does not matter as long as you have enough to buy materials.
  • There's a lot of ways of being an artist, the wackier the better!
  • It's cool to look the part.
  • Colour theory.
  • Composition theory and the golden square.
  • A Kit-Kat is the most perfect snack for elevenses.
And what didn't I learn? Which is more to the point as I've since spent an awful lot of time discovering these things.

  • How to package, market and sell my art.
  • That you've got to work hard and consistently.
  • It's a job, albeit the best job in the world.
This was a great year and I shall never forget it. I wish I had recorded it in some form. I can't even find my sketchbooks, but I know I drew a lot in green ink because Wiltshire is so green.
It was a good kick start to the art bit, and I'd like to heartily thank all my teachers, but we all needed to learn so much more on the business front.
Now the word is art schools have changed and business features much more prominently, but drawing has almost dropped off the radar.
Will a happy balance ever be achieved? I somehow doubt it.