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Paint Out Norfolk 2020 Event and Competition for Plein Air Painting


This event is great experience, I hesitate to say its also a Competition as that really does not describe it well.
This is far more than a competition its an Event which this year 45 painters have signed up for. What they are looking for is not about trying to win a prize but more about the common experience, meeting new artists and having their work on show to the public, if you win a prize – that is icing on a very well layered cake.
The layers of that cake being: meeting fellow artists, seeing other artist’s process, see what they produce, visiting great sites in Norfolk that you have never been too and most important developing your own skills as an artist.

Format for Paint Out

Send in a sample of your work to and you will be asessed as a suitable artist for Paint Out.
There are various events through the year. Normally there will be 1 Paint Out Norfolk and some other events around South East England. Artists travel quite a long way to participate staying in Airbnb or camping for the specified period. Which adds to the fun.
On the day you will register your canvas/canvasses, they are stamped paint out. Then you go off to the location selected for the day. Return your painting to the hub often by 5 pm and it will mostly likely be entered into the exhibition of Paint Out works that run through the week. Paintings are offered for sale to the public. On the final day works will be judged by invited experts. There are a number of cash prizes awarded. Plus Judges commendations.

Grow your Painting Skills

By joining in Paint Out you are expected to return at least one painting every day. It used to have a time limit of 3 hours but now you can paint the whole day if you wish. I still try to stay within 3hrs – max 4hrs. This stops me faffing, concentrates my mind and often I produce a better painting for it. The immediacy of the strokes and concentrating on the quality really does help to create a good/better painting.

A learning experience

If you do not do a lot of Plein Air this will teach you to get to grips with the immediacy of Plein Air. There is nothing like having to hand in a painting to make you scrutinise your work (actually if you are not happy you do not have to hand in your painting so ultimately no pressure). But it really makes you evaluate your work. My own process often cause me to go through the following scenario:

My plein air painting process

  • Identify what I most like about a scene and think about the best composition, squint to see the overall darks and lights – see plein air painting tip 1 here.
  • Loosely map in the dark areas and place the key elements in burnt umber and ultramarine blue mixes direct on the canvas.
  • Mix up some basic colours that form the structure of the painting – either in oils or acrylics (I paint in both these mediums)
  • Start painting – includes modifying basic colours to give different tones that I see as I progress through the landscape
    TIP: hold up your brush with the selected colour on the tip against the area of the landscape with that colour in it and check the tone is correct
  • Often I will progress well for the first hour
  • Sometimes hit a wall where things don’t look right and an element of panic starts to creep in (worst case scenario I begin wondering if I can actually paint at all! this can last half an hour)
    This is the dodgy phase for me. I have to step back AND REALLY LOOK, LOOK AGAIN AND AGAIN
    Ask myself “what is not working and what is working in this painting?”
  • Most often I will identify whats wrong and go about fixing it and progressing the painting
  • Probably around 2 and a half hours I start turning the corner and the painting begins to come together.
  • at 3 hrs marker I should know what I a doing!

Reason I am detailing this process is to show it doesn’t just flow… you often have to step back and make crucial decisions…this is learning!

Paint Out really does help to grow your skills as a painter

Why? because you are not just painting for yourself, you are aware other painters are depicting a similar scene and its up to you to produce your best work.

Cathartic perhaps, but it forces you to ‘up your game’, this is good even if you are not happy with your work as its shows where you need to progress. For me it has been invaluable, my progression from 2018 to 2020 has been quite remarkable, I do not think I would have progressed so fast without doing Paint Out.


Learning Tips for Artists

  • How to sell wet oil painting from the easel
  • Essential promotional items for plein air artists
  • Plein Air kit what to select
  • Best app for checking out a location prior to going