Roy Connelly’s greatest talent is his ability to describe the very essence of a scene – a dawn landscape not only describes the quality of the first light but also, somehow, he manages to describe the water droplets in the air, the temperature, the sounds, even the smells!….his paintings really transport you to the place and tell the story about how it felt to be there. Roy paints exclusively in oils and always from life in order to achieve the level of description that he strives for in his work. He is a co-founder of the Plein Air Brotherhood – a group of painters that celebrate their common passion of painting out of doors.
Lisa: When did you first discover painting out of doors?
Roy: I bought a pochade box about ten or twelve years ago. Everything about painting suddenly made much more sense and I haven’t stopped painting outside since.
Lisa: What is it about painting out of doors that you love?
Roy: There are so many reasons that I like to paint outside. I like the challenge of capturing a changing scene in the limited time available and, very often, by being at a location for a long time you will observe the fleeting effects of light that bring out the best in a scene. It is also great just being out in the fresh air surrounded by the sights and sounds of the countryside or the noise of the city.
Lisa: Can a landscape tell a story?
Roy: Yes, I think it can. When you work outside, you are recording what happens over the time it takes to paint the picture, whether that is an hour or several days. In a street scene, for example, people will come and go and the light will change throughout that time. The painting you produce will reflect those changes and include whichever people, light effects etc you decide to put in. The artist is a bit like the editor of a film choosing what is important to tell the story – what makes the final cut and what ends up on the cutting room floor.
Lisa: What are your top tips for preparing for an outdoor painting session?
Roy: Just get out there and do it. Don’t take too much equipment but make sure you have all that you need. You will soon learn what you can and can’t do without. Make sure you are prepared for the weather and take something to eat and drink. And importantly, take enough boards – there’s nothing worse than running out just as the light gets really good.
Lisa: What do you do if you are half way through a painting session and it starts to fall down with rain?
Roy: If the light hasn’t changed too much I’ll just carry on. Once you have got about half way through a picture the rain drops will sit on top of the oil paint and it’s possible to keep on painting. But, if it rains just as you are starting and the board gets wet before you get the paint on, it is difficult to get the paint to stick to the surface. I do have a small umbrella that I can clip on to the easel if I really need to.
Lisa: How do you deal with nosey passers-by whilst painting?
Roy: I’m not really bothered by people looking and I will tend to set up where I get the best view rather than where I’m hidden away from prying eyes. Most people don’t hang around for too long and if they are genuinely interested you can always invite them to your next show! If potential plein air painters want to get over their nerves, I recommend setting up and painting halfway across Waterloo Bridge. The view is fantastic and you soon forget about all the people walking by.
Lisa: Can you tell us a little bit about the Plein Air Brotherhood?
Roy: The Plein Air Brotherhood is a group of friends that exhibit together. We all love painting outside and have had three annual exhibitions so far. The name came from a comment by a friend at The Bath Prize who thought the same small group of painters were winning all the prizes. We hope to promote the value of painting outside from direct observation and are pleased to see an increasing number of outdoor painting events in the UK.
Lisa: How do you know when a painting is finished?
Roy: I think Ken Howard RA was absolutely right when he said a painting is finished when it gives back to you what you originally saw in the scene. When the painting says what you want to say – it’s done.
Lisa: What’s the best plein air painting trip you have been on and why?
Roy: I always enjoy my trips to Venice. In recent years I’ve met up there with friends who’ve travelled from the UK, US, France and Spain. We paint all day and into the night in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we see more of your work?
Roy: My next exhibition, Landscape and Light – Oil Paintings by Roy Connelly, is on from 24th – 29th May 2014 at the Edmund Gallery, Angel Hill, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1LS
You can find out more about the show and see plenty of my other paintings on my website: www.royconnelly.com
You can also find my work in the following galleries:
Island Fine Arts – www.islandfinearts.com
Gallery France – www.galleryfrance.com
Llewellyn Alexander Fine Paintings – www.llewellynalexander.com