Blakeney Village and Church from the Marshes by Mary Kemp
Blakeney Village and Church from the Marshes by Mary Kemp

When did you first become interested in painting?

I’ve drawn and painted all of my life. My mother was a great influence. I think she was a frustrated artist because she had to leave art school when her father went bankrupt.

Did you always know you would become an artist or did you have other ideas?

I knew I wanted to be an artist, but my parents said it was too risky, and so I trained as a nurse at Guy’s hospital. And then I went to art school for a year in Salisbury.

Are you a full time artists and if so, how do you manage your time?

I’m virtually full time as an artist now, although I do work as a receptionist one day a week, but I call that my hobby! I struggle with managing my time. I’m easily distracted. I wrote a blog about this. Writing that made me realise I needed to ditch the paid job, but I liked it so I compromised and kept one day.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everything  I see is inspiration. The world, particularly the natural world, can be such a visual feast, can’t it. I suppose family life too is an inspiration. And of course family pets.


Morston Creek. "Misty" Artist: Mary Kemp
Morston Creek. “Misty”
Artist: Mary Kemp

How did your interest in garden and allotment  and life on the beach develop?

It’s always been there. I try to draw a lot so the things you see and draw help you develop.

You have a very distinctive style, have you always worked in this way?

I suppose I must have. I can’t bring myself to let go of certain principles so that fixes my style. I do alter the way I work occasionally making it less or more detailed and change the mood of colours but…

Are you influenced by any famous artists, if so who are they?

I visited a Van Gogh exhibition at the Haywood Gallery years ago and that made me see the value of drawing. I remember vividly The Potato Eaters, and the way they held their hands. My favourite modern painter is Nicholas Verrall, and he paints the way I would like to paint. I particularly like the way he handles light.

Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?

I usually start from a drawing I’ve done, or possibly a photo. I plan it in black and white, and then draw it on the canvas which I’ve usually painted a colour which will show up the mains colours of the painting. Then I just get on with it, blocking in the main shapes checking colour and tone and line along the way. I try not to fuss too much, and finish before it’s finished if you see what I mean. It’s left hanging around for a while and then if it looks OK a week or so later it’s finished and I sign it.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up at 7.00 to the sound of Radio 5 Live. Cup of tea, and get up. Wear painting clothes!  After breakfast  I go straight to the studio and try not to think of anything else besides painting.  I will paint until about 1pm.  I rarely paint after that because for some reason what I do after lunch time is never as good as what I do beforehand. I change my clothes and in the afternoon I will do all the other stuff, keeping up with my internet presence, getting artwork ready for shipping, writing a blog, doing the paperwork, and of course a bit of domestic drudgery. I stop at 6.00 if not earlier. I might do an hour on the computer later on , but leave a computer free buffer before bed.