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
Paint Out Sudbury took place on 30 June 2018, on the Essex/Suffolk border, home to Thomas Gainsborough who inspired John Constable, with picturesque scenery including the Water Meadows and River Stour, an old railway line, the market town itself, St Peter’s Church and Gainsborough’s house. One day, two sessions, en plein air!
A baker’s dozen of plein air artists took to the historic wool town of Sudbury, birthplace of Gainsborough with its snaking River Stour, Suffolk countryside and some 247 Heritage Listed buildings in the town itself. It was a veritable treasure trove of idyllic painting locations on one of the hottest days of the year.
Participating artists included: Eleanor Alison, John Behm, Sarah Berbank Green, Mary Blue Brady, James Colman (non-competing), Tom Cringle, Robin Drury, Jack Godfrey, Julie Hodgson, Andrew Horrod, Robert Nelmes, Eloise O’Hare, Sue Willmer.
Join our mailing list to register interest in future Paint Out events and a return to Sudbury and other towns in Suffolk.
Paint Out Norfolk 15-24 July 2022 saw 700+ paintings created by 75+ plein air artists at a dozen Norwich and Norfolk locations around coast and countryside with a week-long rolling exhibition at Whitlingham Country Park, Friday Awards and Private View with prestigious judges, and Weekend Final View. See the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Paint Out Norfolk 2021
Paint Out Norfolk 16-24 July 2021 saw 600+ paintings created by 70+ plein air artists at a dozen Norwich and Norfolk locations around coast and countryside with a week-long rolling exhibition at Whitlingham Country Park, Friday Awards and Private View with prestigious judges, and Saturday all-day Final View. See the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Paint Out Norfolk 2020
Paint Out Norfolk 16-23 July 2020 saw 400+ paintings created by 50+ plein air artists at a dozen Norwich and Norfolk locations around coast and countryside with a week long rolling exhibition at Whitlingham Country Park and last day Final View. View the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Paint Out Gardens Series 2019
Paint Out Gardens in Norfolk ran May-October 2019 and saw 130 paintings created by 36 plein air artists across the seasons and 6 hidden or historic gardens. Prizes were awarded by Norfolk-based Art Historian, Charlotte Crawley – a former curator and past Director of the East Anglia Art Fund, as well as Tom Humphrey and Sophie Barratt of the Fairhurst Gallery, Norwich. View the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Paint Out Holt 2019
Paint Out Holt 19-20 July 2019 saw 55 paintings created by 22 plein air artists across 3 sessions from Friday to Saturday morning ahead of opening the Holt Festival at Picturecraft Gallery in Holt. Prizes were awarded by Robert Upstone, former Senior Curator of 20th Century Art at Tate and Norfolk-based Art Historian, Charlotte Crawley – a former curator and past Director of the East Anglia Art Fund. View the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Paint Out Norfolk 2019
Paint Out Norfolk 1-5 July 2019 saw 100 paintings created by 27 plein air artists at 5 Norwich and Norfolk locations from coast to county ending at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art for a last day paint out and Private View. View the winners and other selected paintings gallery.
Karen Adams, Paul Alcock, John Behm, Mary Blue Brady, Shaun Carey, James Colman (guest artist), Tom Cringle, Sheila Cunningham, Jan Dingle, Jan Gaska, Jack Godfrey, Audrey Hay, Julie Hodgson, Mary Kallagher, Susanna MacInnes, Aggie Matyjaszek, Eloise O’Hare, Georgina Potter, Sam Robbins, Lesley Williams
Paint Out Great Yarmouth 2018
Paint Out Great Yarmouth took place in the historic Norfolk coastal town on 1 September 2018. Yarmouth has featured in historic paintings and its history in art was portrayed during ‘Drawn to the Coast: Turner, Constable, Cotman‘ which explored the identity of Great Yarmouth and its surrounding landscape through the artwork it has inspired. J.M.W Turner and John Constable, Norwich School of painters such as Joseph Stannard, John Sell Cotman and John Crome were all drawn to paint here.
Paint Out Sudbury took place in the historic wool and silk town on 30 June 2018, on the Essex/Suffolk border, home to Thomas Gainsborough who inspired John Constable, with picturesque scenery including the Water Meadows, Valley Trail and River Stour, the old railway line, market town itself, St Peter’s Church, and Gainsborough’s house and garden, among the 247 Heritage Listed buildings. One day, two sessions, en plein air! View the gallery of artworks online.
Paint Out 2017 saw an en plein air invitational event at the Royal Norfolk Show. Fifteen hardy artists painted all the colour and character of the UK’s largest two-day agricultural event amidst torrential downpours and mud to rival Glastonbury! From fairground to farriers, and pigs to poultry, there was plenty to paint. Our artists were positioned around the Norfolk Showground site, returning their wet artworks every few hours to our tent for a live art auction on the first day, and continually refreshed rolling exhibition over both days. View the gallery of artworks online.