Just before Christmas, Paint Out Norwich ran a Plein Air winter nocturne event to close out the year. Fifteen plein air artists braved the cold and Stephen Johnston came first winning a bottle of seasonal cheer in the form a nice Champagne for his 16 x 20-inch oil painting of Jarrolds at night. Quite a large canvas and completed in around 2 hours. Impressive.
Its bold brush strokes and dark bluish hue created a strong impression as Christmas shoppers went in and out of his chosen subject. Definitely some Monet and van Gogh by night influences.
One artist, Emily Faludy – a veteran of the last two Paint Out Norwich plein air art competitions and winner of one in the oil category, came up all the way from Hampshire for the evening painting event.
She appropriately titled her Red Lion St (from Orford Hill) painting ‘Starry Night, Norwich’ – reminiscent of both the Don McLean song and of the title of Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 painting, ‘The Starry Night’, which it references.
It was an evening of firsts as it was Stephen Johnston’s first nocturne, along with other artists like Eleanor Alison and Patricia Harper who were painting nearby and also attempting their first nocturnes. Paint Out had also joined forces with the Norwich Outdoor Painting Group, about half of whom had done Paint Out events before. Among them was a previous Paint Out winner, Richard Bond who was also painting his first nocturne in oils, previously he had tried watercolour at night. He chose to paint from under a streetlamp, minus the minor lamp headgear that some artists sported but which can get in the way of natural colour and lighting. Whatever the artists’ choices of lighting assistance or none, nocturnes are an interesting challenge and sometimes a surprise seeing how they turn out the next day in daylight.
— Richard Bond (@primarypalette) December 20, 2018
Stephen had an unforeseen problem painting Jarrolds from outside of the Halifax because their neon-lit sign kept rotating in different colours casting inconsistent lighting across his canvas and palette to add to the difficulties of painting at night. Whilst storefront lighting was a distraction for Stephen, for another artist, Eloise O’Hare, the Jarrolds’ window display with a busker playing outside was the attraction. Her painting won an honourable mention for showing a different side to the city at night and in a different painting medium.
Honorary Award @PaintOutNorfolk Christmas city scene competition nocturnal ink and watercolour painting of @JarroldsNorwich shop window with Saxophone busker raising money for Children’s society. pic.twitter.com/0EVCYknf8g
— Eloise O Hare (@EloiseOHare) December 21, 2018
Plein Air Nocturne Locations
The city of Norwich looks beautiful at night but even more so during the season of Christmas lighting which is mostly tasteful not tacky – although, like art, which is which is always a personal view. Locations painted at included Jarrolds, the top of the Market looking across to the Castle or St Peter Mancroft, Timberhill, the Forum and Christmas Market, and St Andrew’s Halls.
Nocturnes were first introduced to our plein air painting competition events in 2015 and have been a fond feature of many artists since, pushing their practice under different and difficult conditions. Using a more limited palette, often finishing in just 2 hours, but having one hidden benefit – the light barely changes because it’s gone!