ThE. Kemp-wclch School of Animal and Figure Painting at Bushey offers every facility to the student who is anxious to obtain a thorough general training in art, and, at the same time, to specialise in animal painting from the live model.
The school is under the immediate direction of Miss Lucy Kemp-welch, whose own splendid work has caused her to be regarded as the English Rosa Bonheur of the day. One of her first important pictures, ' Colt Hunting in the New Forest," which was exhibited a1 the Royal Academy in 1897, was bought for the Chantrey Bequest, and hung in the Tate Gallery.
An animal model in the Glass House. This is the most important of the six studios. It has a gravel floor, and a roof and sides of glass, so that the lighting effect on a model is that of an open-air pose
All artists delight in the situation of the Bushey Art School, which, though only some twelve miles from London - and a mile or so from Bushey Station - is picturesque in the extreme. It was built by Professor Herkomer, and standing in the midst of delightful grounds, commands a wonderful view of the surrounding country.
It is perched on the top of a hill; to reach it one has to wander up an old-world village street, passing en route the village pond and green, and, a little farther on, the village forge, where the constant stream of horses waiting patiently to be shod provides endless subjects for the ardent sketcher. Indeed, before the forge almost always a student or two may be seen seated on camp-stools, making rapid studies of its equine clients or gazing with rapt interest into the inside of the smithy, preparatory to dashing home to jot down some memory sketch of a scene which will never cease to fascinate the onlooker.
Within easy walking distance are to be found settings and subject matter for every genre picture the budding artist could want to paint, little frisking lambs in early spring, orchards in a glory of pink and white bloom, children romping amidst the hay, harvest fields with bronzed men and splendid teams of horses working in them, and last, but not least, a delightful little Wood, which is paintable and lovely at all times and seasons of the year.
The school buildings contain no fewer than six large and well-lighted studios, the most important of which is known as the Glass House. It has a gravel floor, and the roof and the sides - to within four feet of the ground - are of glass, so that the lighting effect on any model posed there is exactly similar to that which would obtain were it posed out of doors, and splendid effects of light and shadow are obtained in sunny weather.
At night, during the winter term, a huge incandescent light sheds its rays upon the sitter, so that a good opportunity of practice in obtaining contrasts of light and shade is afforded to the students at the evening classes.
Advanced classes in drawing and painting from the live animal model are held in the
Glass House every day, and on three mornings a week the students also work there at modelling in clay, under the direction of the principal; for Miss Kemp-welch has the greatest faith in modelling from the living animal as one of the quickest and surest means by which a student can get the intimate knowledge of its true contours and anatomy "in the round" which is so essential for the animal
Besides this Glass House studio, there is an immense preliminary studio, capable of accommodating as many as fifty students and their easels. Here newcomers study from casts, many of which consist of plaster horses' heads and hoofs, besides the usual classical models; and here picturesque village costume models are posed.
The fourth studio, a much smaller one, is built with a curious V-shaped annexe, made of glass, at one end; and into this the model throne is built, affording an excellent place for the painting of picturesque heads.
In the life room. Here a professional model sits for the more advanced students, who work under the direction of Miss Kemp-wesh herse.f
In summer-time, from April to June, students are about betimes, and, indeed, rise almost with the lark, for the classes work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an hour's interval at noon for lunch.
On Saturdays the students get a well-earned half-holiday, working only from 8 o'clock to 11 a.m., after which time the day can be spent in playing tennis in the excellent court, which students can have the use of on paying 5s. a term; in rambling over the countryside sketch-book in hand; or in some bicycling expedition into the country, with tea at some old-fashioned wayside inn as an object, before returning home through the cool of the dusk.
"During the winter months the classes work from 9.30 to 12.30, and from 1.30 to 3.30, and again in the evening from 7 o'clock to 9 p.m., while on Saturdays work begins half an hour earlier and stops at noon. On sunny days in spring and summer animal painting classes are often carried on out of doors, on a pleasant, shady stretch of lawn just at the back of the Glass House; and a slenderly-built Arab, or fine, stalwart hunter, or a picturesque cart-horse will be tethered up between a couple of posts for a morning's sitting.