The Norfolk Broads are renowned for their early morning mists, beautiful lakes and rivers (known as broads), windmills, trees, wildlife, boats and sailing craft of many shapes and sizes, boathouses, low bridges, old stone ruins, and a few human ruins, sorry – I mean artists, setting up their easels all over the place to capture some of this magical atmosphere.
Of course we’re not the first to notice these natural beauties, The Norwich School of Art was the first in this country, founded in 1803 and made famous by John Crome, John Sell Cotman and Joseph Stannard, to name a few. Their works went on to influence the artists of the French Impressionist school.
Atmosphere is what we as artists are trying to capture in paint. To accurately record the scene before our eyes, isn’t inherently difficult, even a camera can do that quite well. But the artist seeks to capture the ‘atmosphere’ which attracted him or her to the scene. That might be the early morning mist, the sound of the ducks, the way the light is filtered through the tree branches, the smell of the woodland, and all the other senses that the artist is experiencing.
It’s not surprising then why I and so many other artists prefer to work out doors, directly from nature. It is also no surprise to learn that paintings and sketches made on a rainy or misty day, perhaps in the snow, or beneath a magical evening sky or in the early morning light, very often manage to capture something special about that atmosphere in a way that studio work rarely does. For the same reasons working from photographs is almost never successful.
So you might think we have the best job in the world? Visiting interesting places, checking out stunning scenery, painting until the light fades away, well yes and no. That is the creative part of the role, and it has many excitements and disappointments, not least when a few spots of unexpected rain can ruin an hour and a half’s work in watercolour, or a sudden gust of wind carries away the easel, complete with firmly affixed wet painting, requiring a scramble over the rocks or a dip in the cold algae covered lake to retrieve said masterpiece. Of course, this is all forgotten when the next attempt is a success.
The other part of the ‘job’ is less creative, and more ‘sales and marketing’, a subject which doesn’t come naturally to many creative people. So it’s, framing and mount cutting, cataloging and pricing, entering into competitions, talking to galleries, planning exhibitions, placing work in Internet shops, writing detailed descriptions, packing and sending paintings, web site maintenance and writing blog articles, such as this. All very interesting and it has to be done, but still it keeps us from getting out there and being creative as much as we’d like.
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To see earlier blog posts – click on this photo.