Sunday, October 14, 2018

Simplifying Design & Colour for Artists: Linda Kemp

My break from art has been long. Perhaps about 15 years? But anyway, I'm trying to get back to it now, as it's always been such a deep part of me. I've felt lost and frustrated for years because I wasn't nurturing that part of my soul.

Even when I did paint and draw, right from art college, I never did feel that I'd discovered my “style”, not completely. I also have always had issues with composition. Yes, I know the theory, but it all flies out of the window when I start to paint an actual piece. Ditto colour. I throw the entire darned rainbow at the canvas and then have issues with harmony, and cohesiveness just because I don't plan.

Having recently bought two books by artists I adore, I think that is beginning to change this time round. I think its partly my age too, older and wiser, and really wanting to knuckle down and discover something for myself.. to "be authentic", to use that word which is so overused and tired these days, nut nonetheless is the best word for what I want to do.   I believe that being authentic, or original, is not saying something uniquely different,  it's more about saying something that you uniquely think.  Something you've arrived at yourself, no matter how many other people have arrived there first.

The first book is “Simplifying Design & Color for Artists: Positive Results Using Negative Painting Techniques.” by Linda Kemp. Long title! Linda is a Canadian artist, whose work I'm only just beginning to discover, but I instantly loved her art and her approach.

I'm currently working through the exercises given in her book, and as well as the pleasant side-effect of the age-old “I have no idea what to draw” conundrum being banished for a while, my sketchbook is beginning to be the joy to me that it should be. My pages are beginning to be colourful and fun, and I'm rediscovering a sense of play. (Although I have artist Jane Davies to thank for that, also. Her YouTube videos are both generous and inspiring.)

It has actually taught me to enjoy studying composition for it's own sake, and I already have ideas on what to do with my numerous photographs as source material.

So here are two spreads from my sketchbook. I've just been playing with coloured pens and markers, much like I did with my felt-tips as a kid. And it's great.

Art is making me happy again. I never thought I'd see the day. With some work, and some luck, I'm optimistic that I'll soon be able to strengthen my compositions, restrict my palette to achieve greater harmony, and eventually; really begin to hone in on what my personal style might be.

Anyone else have any of these problems? Or solutions?



  1. I'm really happy for you that your art is once again bringing you joy! I often wish I could find something creative to do that isn't sewing. Used to love drawing and colouring as a kid and have tried colouring as an adult but a combination of high expectations and poor eyes/wobbly hands have left me frustrated instead of calm!

    1. Aww thanks Anj. It is really nice, after all these years. It can be frustrating though if you have bad eyes and unsteady hands. :(


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