John Behm has a natural affinity for the landscape of Norfolk and the Scottish borders where he was occupied in the conception and execution of public sculptures. He had been unable to work for a while due to a near fatal accident but fortunately has sufficiently recovered to be back to creating art and sculptures and has been making some beautiful paintings en plein air.
John studied Drawing & Painting, Sculpture and Architectural Design in the US, and at the Edinburgh College of Art.
Several decades of working within art and design with turns in teaching, writing, portraits, life-drawing, and several exhibitions means that John has a strong background in art that he is currently augmenting by studying Art History. He has numerous sculptures on past and/or present display in Scotland and Norfolk, as well as work in public collections including the City of York, the National Museums of Scotland, “The House for an Art Lover” in Glasgow, and the Coldstream Museum.
Whilst mainly painting in oils, when not carving stone and wood, and casting sculptures in bronze, he has occasionally gone mixed media including adding twigs to a three-dimensional painting at Paint Out events; he is always willing to try something new. His preference of subject includes landscape as palimpsest, the spirit of place human experience, history, family, and sensory delights.
John says of his work that:
“The idea is first, then I choose the medium – paint, wood, bronze, steel, stone, film. The word ‘art’ comes from Sanskrit, from a root meaning simply to make: it’s the making, and what, that keeps me going.”
John made the press when, in 2018, he dived into the River Wensum to rescue fellow artist and Paint Out founder James Colman’s artwork that has fallen in, easel and all, and was floating face-up in the water, heading towards Fye Bridge. Despite the October chill, John handed over his own painting, stripped off his art clothes, mounted the bridge wall and dived in the cold river to cheers from onlookers. He swam towards the waterlogged gouache and dragged it to dry land, lifesaver-style!
Now a four-times winner of the Paint OutSpirit of Plein Air prize in two locations, John is renowned for getting into deep water! Back in 2009, he waded chest-deep into the sea to install bronze sculptures in the sea off the Berwickshire coast. “All in the name of art,” was his explanation or perhaps excuse, looking for any reason to get wet!
“Ultimately it was an adventure that took us over two hours in the sea wading about bringing everything ashore. We lit a fire to warm ourselves up then installed the waymark without two much trouble.” – John Behm