Paint Out’s open air art event comes to Sudbury, Gainsborough’s hometown

Artists Robert Nelmes & James Colman painting from old railway in Sudbury, Suffolk. Photo © Katy Jon Went

Paint Out, which began life in Norwich five years ago, takes to the road and will bring a dozen or more plein air artists to Sudbury, Suffolk, on 30 June 2018. This will be followed by a same-day pop-up art exhibition at St Peter’s of fresh artworks, straight off the easel.

The wool (and now silk) town was home to Thomas Gainsborough, founding member of the Royal Academy, who inspired fellow notable artist, John Constable. Modern outdoor artists follow in their tradition, painting in situ, and in Paint Out’s case with curious public onlookers as we invite passers-by to ‘experience art, live’.

Sudbury Stour Valley Trail, Suffolk. Photo © Katy Jon Went
Sudbury Valley Trail, Suffolk. Photo © Katy Jon Went

The picturesque scenery including the Water Meadows trail and River Stour, the bridges and old railway line, Mill, the market town itself, St Peter’s Church, Gainsborough’s house and period-planted garden, will all serve as landscape inspiration for our experienced outdoor painters and illustrators.

Artists Robert Nelmes & James Colman painting from old railway in Sudbury, Suffolk. Photo © Katy Jon Went
Artists Robert Nelmes & James Colman painting from old railway in Sudbury, Suffolk. Photo © Katy Jon Went

The artists will spend one day, across two intense open air painting sessions, 10-1pm and 2-5pm, recording local views on canvas, and then displaying and selling them in a pop-up one-hour art exhibition in St Peter’s Church, 6-7pm, which also hosts the Sudbury Summer Art Fair, 2-8 July.

The artworks will all have been painted in under three-hours and many will still be wet, even with the sunny forecast! Just like the weather, they will be hot off the easel, and sold unframed, ‘painting-to-go’ so to speak, in carry away boxes, not unlike pizza boxes!

This is a process Paint Out first tried at the Royal Norfolk Show, last year, and has since continued, enabling art lovers to take away a fresh artwork, moments after it is painted, and then to frame it at their leisure and according to their preferred style.

Paint Out began in Norwich in 2014 and has since run a dozen events in Wells-next-the-Sea, other North Norfolk towns, and five large scale multi-day events in Norwich itself, during the annual Hostry Festival (October 2018). Sudbury, is the first of many planned wider East Anglian events.

Royal Norfolk Show Plein Air Invitational, June 2017

Royal Norfolk Show Art & Music, Paint Out
Paint Out – part of the RNS Art & Music show

Paint Out 2017 featured a select group of invited artists painting the UK’s largest two-day agricultural fair – the Royal Norfolk Show. With up to 100,000 visitors it is the premier event of its kind.

Fifteen hardy artists painted all the colour and character of the fauna, flora, and fun of the fair amidst torrential downpours and mud to rival Glastonbury! From fairground to farriers, and pigs to poultry, there was plenty to paint. So long as the rain held off! That said, we pushed the artists out irrespective of the weather. (See the gallery)

First Prize-winning artist Robert Nelmes painting blacksmiths under sponsor Leathes Prior‘s big umbrella at Paint Out RNS17. Photo by Katy Jon Went

It took, however, an adventurous, as much as artistic, spirit in each artist to seek out semi-sheltered locations from which to paint some challenging views with overbearing skies and a sea of tents and puddles.

Some artists ended up sharing a sty with pigs, a tent with an owl, a marquee with chickens, the back of a van with rescued greyhound, or the awaiting-judging ring with cattle.

Our artists were positioned around the Norfolk Showground site, returning their wet artworks every few hours to our tent for labelling, pricing, and display in our contemporary pop-up art gallery.

Keys Auctioneers Paint Out Art Auction at RNS 2017. Photo by Katy Jon Went

Sat next to the main art tent at the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association showground the Leathes Prior sponsored Paint Out tent was filled with art made on the day. There was an auction of the still-wet fresh art on the Wednesday 28th by Arnolds Keys fine art auctioneers and a rolling gallery exhibition and sale of paintings from shortly after 8am 28 June to 6pm 29 June.

Paint Out Royal Norfolk Show Prizes

Archant newspapers sponsored and presented £500 of prizes for First and Second places “Best in Show” paintings to Robert Nelmes and Tom Cringle. Norwich Art Supplies provided the art materials voucher prizes, presented to Haidee-Jo Summers and Mo Teeuw, for the jointly-shared ‘Spirit of Plein Air‘ award.

View the Gallery of artworks painted at the Royal Norfolk Show, the winners, and those still for sale.

First Prize Robert Nelmes, Second Prize Tom Cringle at Paint Out Royal Norfolk Show 2017. Photo by Katy Jon Went
First Prize Robert Nelmes, Second Prize Tom Cringle at Paint Out Royal Norfolk Show 2017. Photo by Katy Jon Went