Suncage (Jon Hall)

suncage (John Hall)

I will be the first to admit that, when it comes to painting “en plein air” (outdoors), I am a fair weather painter. Days when it’s even mildly chilly find me sitting cozily in font of a computer monitor, or the in the comfort of a heated studio indulging in the convenience of photographic reference.

That doesn’t stop me from admiring the determination of some dedicated plein air painters, and being outright amazed at others.

Suncage (pseudonym of UK painter Jon Hall) is in the latter category. He is astonishingly dedicated to painting outdoors regardless of circumstance; painting in wind, rain, cold, and all manner of unpleasant conditions.

His site and blog are a little short on introductory information, but some of this dedication may have come from a challenge he set for himself that he called “The Limners Contract“. (“Limner” is defined as someone who describes something by painting or drawing. It comes from a root meaning illuminator, from which we also get illustrator. Limner also can refer to ornamental painters in the American colonies.)

Suncage’s Limner’s contract was essentially a contract with himself to complete paintings from life, on site, every day for a year. In the course of the project he created over 500 painted sketches and chronicled the endeavor with photographs and video.

You can see come of Sungcage’s work in his online Gallery. He also maintains a blog, which is often devoted to Podcasts he makes about his plein air painting process.

His site includes a record of other painting projects, including ICE, the Robert Stephenson Awards in which he is painting a dozen icons of civil engineering in the country’s North East.

Last December, Suncage entered an open challenge form London’s National Gallery Podcast to create a piece of audio based on a picture in the National Gallery. He created the winning piece based on his impressions of the thoughts Pissarro may have had while painting a winter landscape in Fox Hill, Upper Norwood during his stay in London. Suncages’ own video about the piece, in which he intersperses the audio piece with his description of his own experience painting in the same location, may be a little confusing unless you’ve seen the original National Gallery Podcast in context (scroll down to view the Podcast. The segment on Fox Hill is a bit past halfway in the video.)

Suncage has provided numerous video accounts of his outdoor painting experiences. Those of you who, like myself, have seen one too many PowerPoint demos, may blanch as his overindulgence in iMovie/Keynote style video transitions, but the stories he has to tell about painting on location stand on their own.

He also has a preference for caging his voice in an echo effect and submerging it in electronica. Personally, I find these unnecessary distractions from his otherwise fascinating stories about painting on location and the challenges he has set himself in his desire to work under all conditions.

Of particular interest to me is his 12 Quick Exercises in painting the same scene repeatedly, as Monet did. Suncage works with this idea in multiple quick sketches on the same day, and in repeated visits to the same scene on different days, spaced both days apart and seasons apart. Within that process, he works in many different approaches to the application of tone and value (images above).


14 Replies to “Suncage (Jon Hall)”

  1. Hey Charley,

    Agreed: another fascinating artist. But I found every link in today’s blog entry results in the following screen message:

    We’re Sorry
    You have requested a page that is not currently available due to data transfer restrictions…


  2. I had occasional problems with accessing his site when I posted about Jon last year. I think the prospect of moving so many images to a new site is, understandably, not one which thrills him.

    However I can very much endorse that it’s a site which is definitely worth visiting and taking a leisurely look around.

  3. I make sketches and would like people to see them…. I can only apologise that I can’t show you them just yet.

    But…. i’d like to thank the Charleys and the Katherines in the rarified atmosphere of this e-world because without them, you wouldn’t be reading this now…. and you wouldn’t want to see the sketches without their validation, …… maybe….

  4. Had the pleasure of meeting Jon on..this beautiful…cold, but ,sunny morning. Pictures are amazing , I had the pleasure of seeing some of your fabulous work.
    Hope you enjoyed the few memories I shared with you.
    Good luck and well done x

  5. Hi Jon
    Trying to get in touch on behalf of my sister
    Alison-the lady with the mushrooms you met on Aug 19.She loved your paintings and you mentioned that she could be a custodian of one.
    She would like to do this and wonders how to meet up.She does not have email but I can send her details.

    Many thanks Patsy Mathieson

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