The Challenge of a Paint Out Plein Air Competition

Haidee-Jo Summers, Paint Out 2014, blank canvas at Elm Hill, Norwich

A blank canvas in a busy city centre

Paint Out Norwich 2014, Patrick Boswell in among the traffic
Paint Out Norwich 2014, Patrick Boswell in among the traffic!

Paint Out‘s mission is to take art back out on to the streets, to reinvigorate en plein air painting, challenging artist and audience alike to partake in the events. We want to bring a diverse range of artists and their mediums to new audiences. For the artists, our aim is to increase their reach and stretch their skills and temperament by putting them ‘out’ there among the challenges of weather, environment, crowds of onlookers and in-picture walk-on parts. Indeed, artists have previously included in their artworks other artists, team members and passers by.

Keeping up with a Changing Environment

Views can radically change during the 3 hours of painting or overnight. Objects can move, rain or roadworks intervene, or you could be surrounded by rubbish and yet produce something the very opposite of that.

Dan Llywelyn Hall painting Elm Hill, Norwich, PaintOut 2014
Dan Llywelyn Hall painting Elm Hill, Norwich, PaintOut 2014

 

The transient light can shift and the subtlety of it was beautifully captured last year by artists, whether looking down medieval cobbled streets or reflected in the river by Pull’s Ferry.

For instance, take the dilemma of whether to include the scaffolding or paint it out, or a parked car that then moved. These were faced by the winning artist – Haidee-Jo Summers. Her competitors faced the same view the next day but with the scaffolding gone.

What to include?

Haidee-Jo Summers with inset Mo Teeuw, Paint Out 2014 at Elm Hill, Norwich
Haidee-Jo Summers with inset Mo Teeuw, Paint Out 2014 at Elm Hill, Norwich

There are many paintings in history with the artist, or their friends, included in or hidden in the finished work. But in a competition, if your vista includes a friend or fellow artist and competitor, do you include them – wheelchair, in this case, and all? For Mo Teeuw entered the competition despite a broken leg and featured in the winning painting by Haidee-Jo Summers.

Varied and Alternative media

Last year we had a young brave open air printmaker, Bryony Birkbeck, battling the clock and the elements whilst also being filmed by BBC Voices and quizzed by fascinated spectators. She handled herself unflappably despite the odd breeze rustling her papers.

Elm Hill, another view, another medium
Elm Hill, another view, another medium

Paint Out is open to artists, illustrators, printmakers in acrylic, ink, oil, pastels, pen, watercolour and more – anyone who wants to interpret the modern ‘landscape’. All of the art works are started and finished outside in public view in virtually any media on paper/board/canvas taking in either coastal Wells-next-the-Sea (Sep 9-11) or modern and medieval urban Norwich (Oct 19-22).

Some of the popular pieces last year were black and red wash works that concentrated on people milling around the market, rather than buildings or nature, although a more traditional piece – albeit with scaffolding, a wheelchair and a roadworks sign included, did scoop the first prize.

Diverse opportunities

Francesca Heathorn painting on the Norwich Forum Roof 2014
Francesca Heathorn painting on the Norwich Forum roof 2014

Last year artists positioned themselves with easel and paints on top of the Forum roof and on top of the Castle mound, or nestled in among the Market or a busy road intersection.

Interpretation is up to the artist with many and varied locations and vantage points at each venue available. This year Norwich has day and optional nocturne sessions running and Wells’ hub is an historic Dutch cargo clipper.

Paint Out is a fantastic opportunity for:

artists to make new friends, surpass their expectations, give their work a new lease of life, challenge themselves, know when to stop painting, and to sell their work.

All these statements come from the feedback of artists at Paint Out Norwich 2014. There is still time to apply for #PON2015.

Mark Greenwood painting the Cathedral, Norwich, PaintOut 2014
Mark Greenwood painting the Roman Catholic Cathedral from Grapes Hill, Norwich, PaintOut 2014

 

Paint Out Norwich 2014 Winners and Prizes

Prize winners and their cheques - Chris Daynes (2nd), Haidee-Jo Summers (1st), Roy Connelly (3rd) [L to R]

Challenges of the Competition

The inaugural Paint Out Norwich competition saw a high standard of work among the over 100 entries by 28 artists at 7 locations spread across the 2 days of 22-23 October. A maximum allowed painting time of 3 hours for each canvas, very often ended up as less, with setting up, selecting a viewpoint and possibly changing their minds. Some artists managed more than one painting in a single session, another was able to knock off early!

“I have never seen people paint as a competitive sport before … it was astonishing to witness in the city … what really amazed us was that this brought together … pressure of time limit, pressure of light, pressure of constantly interacting with a public … to a deadline.” – Amanda Geitner, Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (SCVA)

Judges’ Comments

The judges – Trevor Chamberlain, Colin Self, and Amanda Geitner, were “knocked sideways by the extraordinarily consistent, commanding quality of the works” and were absolutely in accord in their choices of winners. The competition brought an opportunity “to celebrate the tenacity of figurative painting, the skill and discipline of painting … experienced in the real.” – Amanda Geitner, SCVA

The Prizes and Winners

Haidee-Jo Summers“Work to be Done” (#53)
Haidee-Jo Summers (1st Prize) with her winning painting - Work to be Done
Haidee-Jo Summers (1st Prize) with her winning painting – Work to be Done

First Prize, sponsored by Savills, went to Haidee-Jo Summers for her piece, “Work to be Done”, created outside the corner craft shop looking down Elm Hill, past the suddenly erected scaffolding and “road closed” signs that had appeared overnight and remained for just 24 hours. She wins £1000. Haidee is a veteran winner of Plein Air painting competitions across the country and has a track record of half a dozen prizes under her belt recently.

Chris Daynes, “The Watergate” (#8)
Chris Daynes (2nd Prize) with his painting - The Watergate
Chris Daynes (2nd Prize) with his painting – The Watergate

The Second Prize of £500, courtesy of The EDP, went to Chris Daynes for his oil painting at Pull’s Ferry called “The Watergate”.

Roy Connelly, “The Dark Entry” (#63)
Roy Connelly (3rd Prize) with his painting - The Dark Entry
Roy Connelly (3rd Prize) with his painting – The Dark Entry

Third Prize of £250, also courtesy of The EDP, went to Roy Connelly for his Norwich Cathedral doorway painting called “The Dark Entry”).

People’s Choice Award

The People’s Choice Award was determined on 2 November when voting closed. This was an art hamper worth £250 donated by Norwich Art Supplies. It was won by Liam Wales.

Thanks to our Sponsors and Volunteers

None of this would have happened without the generous overall sponsorship of Broadland Wines, printing courtesy of Ten Group‘s City College Norwich print room, and the tireless commitment of time and energy of our team and volunteers. A beautiful gesture was made by one of the artists, Wil Harvey, in order to appreciate the work of the volunteers, and he donated another one of his Norwich ink drawings to a draw-selected volunteer. Jeanette McCracken was the lucky winner and recipient.

Prize winners and their paintings - Chris Daynes (2nd), Haidee-Jo Summers (1st), Roy Connelly (3rd) [L to R]
Prize winners and their paintings – Chris Daynes (2nd), Haidee-Jo Summers (1st), Roy Connelly (3rd) [L to R]

Honourable Mentions

Francesca Heathorn’s red “Phone boxes” (#72)

One of the judges, the artist Colin Self, said that he “couldn’t believe that somebody sitting their engaging with the real had made a work that to him transported him into a really hallucinogenic dream state”, there was something other worldly about it, he was struck powerfully by it, whatever the artist’s intention.

Simon Page’s “Marzanos – the Forum” (#106)

“With so many arresting, charming, extraordinary, transporting, views outside the city environment it was great that one of the artists pulled us up right short into a really direct encounter with bodies, with people, in the crush of an urban environment.” – Amanda Geitner

Cornelia Fitzroy’s “Crome Gallery” (#11) at Elm Hill

“Yours was the cool glass of water,… calm, clarity of … work” – Amanda Geitner

Auction and Exhibition

Exhibition conversation with Haidee-Jo Summers First Prize Winner
Exhibition conversation with Haidee-Jo Summers First Prize Winner

Some of the paintings sold at the Auction event, attended by nearly 200 people, within hours of the paintings being completed – indeed, many were not yet dry, and some may not be for days and weeks to come! Many have subsequently sold at the Exhibition which ran until 2 November at the Norwich Cathedral Hostry, however they all remained on display for the duration for viewing the winners, honourable mentions, and those still available for purchase. An online version of the exhibition will follow in due course.

Numbers, e.g., (#53), mentioned above relate to the painting numbers in the Exhibition gallery at the Hostry.

Final Artists Selection Announced for Paint Out Norwich 2014

Applications Closed

Applications for the inaugural Paint Out Norwich 2014 competition closed at midnight on 1 September.

We had an overwhelmingly positive response from artists near and far. Some 60 applications, about 60% from the broader East Anglia region and others from the rest of the UK and Europe, were received. International interest from farther afield, such as the United States, was also received and as the competition grows in future years we expect further artists to apply and expand the reach of the vision.

Partake or Spectate?

If you didn’t apply, don’t make the final cut, or are just interested in art and live painting en plein air, then why not come along and watch the competitors as they paint on Wednesday October 22 and Thursday, October 23 at the iconic and historic sites around Norwich including Pull’s Ferry, the Norwich Market, The Cathedrals, Elm Hill and the Norwich Castle.

Selection Panel & Process

Between September 1 and 21 the submitted artists were scrutinised by our panel of experts including Will Buckley, Rachel Campbell-Johnston, James Colman, Rev Dr Peter Doll, Mike King, and Stephanie Sinclair, in order to select not only the best, but a varied range of styles to make for an interesting and exciting competition that will appeal to both artists and appreciators of art.

Competing Artists Announced

Paint Out Norwich would like to announce that the following 31 artists have been selected to participate in the inaugural 2014 event:

John Behm, Timothy Betjeman, Bryony Birkbeck, Richard Bond, Patrick Boswell, Leon Bunnewell, Roy Connelly, Chris Daynes, Anthea Eames, Katie Falcon, Cornelia Fitzroy, Gerald Green, Mark Greenwood, Jane Hall, Wil Harvey, Francesca Heathorn, Tyga Helme, Mary Kallagher, Dan Llywelyn Hall, Chloe Mandy, Stephen Martyn, Elizabeth Monahan, Simon Page, David Pilgrim, Janet Poole, Michael P Richardson, Graham Rider, Haidee-Jo Summers, Mo Teeuw, Liam Wales, and Philip Wilkinson.

Congratulations to all of them for getting selected. Commiserations, also, to all those who did not make it this time –  please try again next year. The quality and range of submitted previous art work was wonderful and led to difficult decisions for the selectors.

 

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