Susan Isaac trained in fine art at Cardiff and Newport Art Colleges. Design history at Brighton followed and then industrial archaeology at Birmingham University. She initially worked as an illustrator and surveyor of historic buildings and landscapes before turning to painting and sculpture full-time at the turn of the millennium.
“A central theme in my paintings is a search for those particular characteristics that define British towns and countryside. I seek to convey this in a distinctive loose figurative style, drawing on my early fine art training whilst continuing to reflect influences from my time studying industrial landscapes and the built environment.”
Susan’s practice is a mixture of studio work and en plein air work and she first tried her hand at Paint Out at Wells-next-the-Sea 2017 before entering the Norwich event.
“I instantly fell in love with the whole thing and have taken part each year since. This juried, leading exponent of plein air practice is also a tremendous collective event with similarly motivated and yet singular artists each focussed on their own way of working.”
In 2018, she won the Nocturne First Prize for her 2-hour oil painting, “Up The Steps”, painted from the rear of St Peter Mancroft with its eerie gothic feel late at night lit by a single street lamp. In 2019 and 2020 she walked away with first prizes in Oils and then the overall competition prize.
“I was pleased with the theatrical effect of this composition and the slight sense of foreboding and mystery. It also made me think of an emptied auditorium, its proscenium lights inverted and cast upon the emptied raked seating, following the days performance. “ – Susan Isaac [more on the creation of her Nocturne winner here]
Her works are definitely distinctive, often described as dark, reminiscent of John Piper and his love of brooding landscapes and iconic churches. There is always a strength to Susan’s works in her choices of subject, composition, and contrast.
Buxton Spa Prize Open Art Competition – International Festival Choice (2017)
Leicester and East Midlands Art Exhibition – Open26 winner of Wilson Brown Prize (2015)
Oxford Art Prize plein air competition – winner of 1851 prize (2015)
Artist & Leisure Painter Open Art Competition – winner of Winsor & Newton Award (2015)
Thoresby Gallery Open Exhibition – exhibition prize & Tony Wilkinson Prize (2011, 2012, 2015)
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.