Why should anyone tell me I can’t paint a sunset? – Hermann Albert

Thomas Cole L Allegro Italian Sunset 1845

“You can’t paint that anymore these days”

Why can’t you paint what has been painted before? German artist, Hermann Albert asked in 1972 of whether one can still paint an idyllic Tuscan countryside scene. “Why can’t you? You can do everything. Why should anyone tell me I can’t paint a sunset?”

“In the summer of 1972 I was in Florence for a while, and one weekend I went on a trip to the mountains with some colleagues. We got out of the car and there we were standing in the Tuscan countryside, with cypress trees, the olive groves and the old houses–it was harmony…. The sun was setting and soon it was out of sight, but the rays of sunlight were still, illuminating the countryside obliquely, the shadows were getting longer and longer, and you could sense the approach of nightfall although it was really still daytime. We stood there, with our own consciousness, looking at this dramatic spectacle, and suddenly one of us said “Its a pity you can’t paint that anymore these days.” That had been a key word I’d heard ever since I started trying to be a painter. And I said to him, out of pure impudence: “Why can’t you? You can do everything.” It was only after I’d said it that I realized what had initially been a piece of provocation was really true. Why should anyone tell me I can’t paint a sunset?” – Hermann Albert from an exhibition catalogue, 1985 by Thiele-Dohrmann

Michael Richardson painting the Forum, Norwich Oct 2014
Michael Richardson painting the Forum, Norwich Oct 2014

In commenting, on whether repetition of what has been painted before lacks originality, the art critic Arthur Coleman Danto decried that on the contrary one should neither be put off nor be blinded to the freshness of the new interpretation.

“As a critic, I am never put off by the fact that what an artist does has been done before. That someone did it “first,” it seems to me, is often an observation that only blinds you to what the artist did who did it “second.” The repetition need not entail a lack of originality.” – Arthur Coleman Danto, 1993 

James Colman, one of the founders of Paint Out Norwich (and now Wells-next-the-Sea), was inspired to set up a plein air arts competition that draws dozens of artists with easels to paint similar locations but each interpreting it in their own ways. He says:

Timothy Betjeman painting St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Norwich, October 2014
Timothy Betjeman painting St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Norwich, October 2014

“Until you’ve started the plein air journey your perception as to what it takes to do it to a very high standard may be clouded by having to walk on the shoulders of giants or having to overcome the fear of being ridiculed as some outmoded eccentric. Forget that straight away. Easel painting never went away. Pick up your brushes and come and join us in Wells. You may surprise yourself. It will open up a whole new world of challenges. You will meet new and interesting people and it will be a lot of fun along the way. See you there!”

Easels are indeed not dead, in fact, they are being revived as Paint Out and other plein air events revive open air painting across the UK, Ireland, Europe, and America. You can see easels everywhere during 9-11 September in Wells, North Norfolk and 20-22 October in Norwich. You can apply to take part or enter the public sunrise ‘paint out’.

 

 

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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