After 30 years living in Edinburgh painting the landscapes of Scotland, Robert Nelmes decided that, to pursue his ambitions as an artist, he needed a change of scene — and that change was Roydon.
Since settling into his new home in Snow Street earlier this year, Mr Nelmes has already made an impression on the region’s arts scene, winning one of the top prizes in the 2016 Paintout Norwich last month, against his own expectations.
His aim now, he says, is to establish himself in the area in the discipline of ‘en plein air’ — painting outside the confines of a studio — and he believes the “expansive and open” setting of Norfolk, plus Diss’ close proximity to the Suffolk border, can help achieve this ambition.
“As beautiful as Edinburgh is, you tend not to see it once you have been there long enough. We had lived there for so long, it was time for a change,” Mr Nelmes told the Diss Express.
“We have not regretted it. It (Roydon) is a lovely place.
“The light of Norfolk, the skies and the sheer distance you can see is amazing.
“It doesn’t really compare. It’s a totally different feeling.”
Mr Nelmes, who previously featured in the Sky Arts Landscape and Portrait Artist of the Year competitions respectively, was drawn to Paintout Norwich as the UK’s only fully juried ‘en plein air’ art event, and he won the ‘Best Freestyle Painting’ award for his oil canvas, named ‘Norwich Market’.
He said claiming the prize was “most unexpected” due to the high standards of the artists in attendance, but added that it was a great feeling, describing ‘en plein air’ as a style that provides “a greater test to the artist than the safety of the studio”.
He explained: “It’s a totally different sensation. In a studio, you have got a bit more time to think about things, and subsequently, that can be a bit more restrictive.
“If your intent is to leave that work in its raw state, it (en plein air) is a very honest representation of you as an artist.
“The painting I did in Norwich for the competition was started in the pouring rain and was finished three hours later in bright sunshine.
“It is very much more instinctive. It’s all about the experience of painting.”
Formerly a commercial artist, a life drawing teacher in Edinburgh and a watercolour painting tutor in Tuscany and Sicily, Mr Nelmes stated from 2017, he hopes to set up art classes and courses with local schools and community groups.
For more information about Mr Nelmes and his work, go to www.robnelmes.co.uk