Sussex Watercolour Society exhibition 2023

Well it’s been quite the week!

Here’s a picture of me taken at the end of the Private View last Friday night. We’d all set the exhibition up on Friday morning in readiness for opening to the public at 2pm.

I was pleased that my hanging scheme came together just as I’d planned, it really did save so much time on the day.

Considering I still have a painting in Bologna, another still at the TALP exhibition at the Patchings Art Festival and two still on show at the Atelier Open exhibition in Brighton, I was quite pleased with how my space came toegether.

All dressed up for the Private View

With the Private View out of the way, I returned on Sunday with everything I needed to spend the day painting throughout the final day of the exhibition.

Just don’t call it a demonstration!

I decided to paint for a number of reasons. Primarily because I’m a terrible fidget and, if I wasn’t painting, who knows what trouble I might get up to.

I also thought it would be good practice, not just the painting, but the painting in public, with an audience, answering questions and, hopefully, coping with it all to produce a painting!

I’ve been growing in this area for some time as I’ve spent more and more time painting plein air. I’ve also painted whenever possible at other shows that I’ve been involved in (see the primary point!)

So hot I even had to dispense of my flip-flops!

What was different this time, which I hadn’t really appreciated, was the challenge of painting not just in public, but in front of an audience of supremely talented watercolour artists! Add to this a stifling hot day and it made for a much more pressured situation than I’d anticipated.

I think this was all compounded by the choice of subject too. I’d done a little play around in the morning to help me loosen up, but I was also partly putting off starting ‘the main event’!

Here’ s the reference photo that I’d committed myself to paint. The view is in Lewes, from the bridge over the high street and the building in the background, with the triangular roof, the Linklater Pavilion, which was the venue of the exhibition – so it all seemed to make perfect sense!

Unfortunately, perfect sense alone doesn’t make a perfect painting, or even an easy one, and this one seemed somehow fraught with potential pitfalls (not least the water!)

The view from Lewes High Street towards the Linklater Pavilion

Here’s how I’d got on after about and hour and a half of painting, not including lots of conversations with other members of the public, other artists, oh, and selling one of my paintings too!

99% done!

I had to stop painting at this point, partly because the exhibition was closing, but also because I’d pretty much finished the painting, aside for the addition of the boat’s masts and some rigging. I couldn’t do these justice when the paper was still so wet and buckled. I needed to wait for the painting to dry out completely and to flatten out.

Here’s the finished painting:

The finished painting: Low tide on the river Ouse at Lewes.

Considering the circumstances under which this was painted, I was pretty pleased with how this one turned out!

Thoughts on Sussex Watercolour Society exhibition 2023

8 thoughts on “Sussex Watercolour Society exhibition 2023”

  1. This is a superb painting – and your newsletter is truly one of my absolute favourites! I look forward to the next installmet already 🙂

    1. Oh thanks so much for this, that’s two wonderfully kind and generous compliments in one comment! I’m trying not to feel the pressure to make next week’s instalment especially riveting!

  2. A very entertaining write up John, I’m envious of your ability to produce such a fine painting in public!
    And, you sold art too.
    It sounds like a most successful exhibition.

    1. Thanks so much for this Drew, so pleased you like the post and the painting! Looking back, it was a successful exhibition but I think moreso because of facing the challenge of painting in those circumstances than anything else! Sales overall this year were down on last year which I think could reflect some collective cost of living belt tightening!

  3. I reckon you’re starting to realise how good you are, John – putting yourself out there to be shot at by proper marksmen, not hiding behind a plain shirt AND revealing your hippy roots by painting barefoot! Congratulations! A great painting to boot.

    1. Haha, thanks so much Rob! What was really funny is that it was the silent ones that I found most disconcerting! Some of the other exhibitors would sometimes just circle past, have a look, and then saunter off without saying a word… then come back 10 minutes later and do the same again – I’m not used to that and could help spend my time wondering ‘what are they thinking?’, and ‘what am I doing wrong now?’! The might just have been offended by my shirt and lazy approach to footwear! Thanks so much Rob

  4. Sounds like you had a very successful experience. You sold a painting and the one you did at the exhibition is quite good. You should enter it in your next show if it isn’t sold first. Perhaps to someone at the exhibition that watched you painting it.

    Those tan lines show you have been doing a lot of plein air in those flip flops.

    1. Thanks so much Mary, much appreciated! I do have another local exhibition coming up (more to come on this next week) and I might show this painting if I get it framed in time! Sadly I think the tan lines have more to do with the amount of time spend outdoors camping this year more than painting! I think I’ve hardly worn shoes for the past 3 months and am dreading having to squeeze my feet back into them for the autumn!

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