During the end of October I took part in Paint Out Norwich, one of the UK’s leading plein air art competitions. Following my application I was selected to work alongside another 40 artists. The event took place over three days, first day being a bit of a warm up session, the other two days being the competition itself. The subjects for the paintings were locations in the city of Norwich, which is full of a mix of medieval architecture, more modern buildings and riverside views. I had to complete six works, at three hours maximum each. One in the morning, one in the afternoon and finally one in the evening.
Now this was a bit of a challenge for me, firstly I have not done this much solid drawing outside in a day, and secondly I was working larger than I am used to – at A2 size. I do however always draw on location, so was not concerned that it would trouble me technically. I did want to use a dip pen throughout, which is a bit more of a challenge in comparison to my usual fountain pen. I love traditional media and wanted to stick to a ‘proper’ tool in my eyes, which I am glad I did.
The competition had several categories, I was in the mixed-media category as I was using ink and watercolour. Other categories being, oils, watercolour, freestyle (a large artwork completed over the two days) and the night event. My technique I used was a slightly new way of working, which was a risk – but I enjoy pushing things. I painted watercolour washes straight to the paper, building up the composition as I went and then I drew a more detailed ink drawing over the top. I enjoy the difference between the mark making and the fact I don’t quite know how things will turn out!
The weather was mainly fine, with a few showers but was bitterly cold out of the sun. Something which I learnt the hard way, as I shivered my way through my first piece on the Monday morning! I wrapped up a bit more for the next day. Location wise I had a shortlist and luckily we could pretty much go where we wanted. As the days progressed I got used to to the time and found two hours a nice amount of time for me to complete a piece.
On the final day we took our artworks to Norwich Cathedral Hostry where they were hung in a 10 day exhibition. The judges chose what would be displayed so as to not have too much on the walls. Three of my works were selected; Lower Goat Lane, Westlegate and the Adam and Eve pub (which I painted in the rain!)
Overall it was a great experience and I learned a lot about working on location and what you need to make a picture successful. Thanks to James Colman and the team for organising. For more information see: paintoutnorwich.org