Sketchbooks

Our first visit to Umbria was March 2002. It was a much appreciated break away from running an art gallery in Newcastle’s city centre and an opportunity to spend time reflecting on what had been anxious year in 2001 when Susan and I had major surgery together. I had donated one of my kidneys to Susan in June 2001 in an operation carried out at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

It was lovely to be able to travel around this stunning region, exploring various hilltop towns and villages and being able to enjoy simple yet delicious local cuisine together.

On one particular day we decided to go further afield into the Marche region and visited Fabriano, famous for their hand made paper. I was immediately attracted to their tiny leather bound sketchbooks containing wonderful hand made watercolour paper and purchased a couple.

When we returned to our hotel, the Relais il Canaliccio I decided to make a start tackling the view out of our window of the sun disappearing behind a farm building, seen below. I also made the unusual decision not to do any preliminary pencil work, instead “drawing” with the brush and paint.

Sketchbooks Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour from the Relais il Canalicchio

From that point on, almost all my watercolour sketchbook work has been carried out in this way. Only a handful of slightly more complex subjects have some rudimentary pencil drawing to act as a guide for the brush work.

I now have a significant collection of leather-bound Sketchbooks containing studies painted around Italy, the UK, Oman, the USA and other countries. One of my goals for the year is to make some short videos of some of these books which you can see on my YouTube Channel.

These days I make my own Sketchbooks rather than visit Fabriano which is a very rewarding experience. You can see some of my Sketchbooks at our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 2019.

Sketchbooks Great North Exhibition 2018

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

 

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20th Anniversary

 

20th Anniversary

Bamburgh Castle, Early Morning Walk

April marks the 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com It’s hard for me to believe that my domain name dates back to the 20th Century! I knew very  little about the world wide web in those days but it only took a few weeks for me to realise the value of having a website to promote my business. A client called into the gallery that we had at the time in the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre in Newcastle. He wanted to see a watercolour of Iona which he had noticed on my website. Understandably he wanted to see it for real rather than buying it from a jpeg. Once he saw it, he made the purchase.

This was the start of numerous online sales, commissions and visits to our gallery from clients from all over the world.

Morning Eye, 20th Anniversary

Morning Eye

It never ceases to amaze me how people find my paintings. The client who purchased the original watercolour above titled Morning Eye came across my work whilst working on the Caspian Sea. He turned up at our gallery and ended up making a number of purchases.

An Italian working in Canada came across my original watercolour of the Pantheon whilst searching for paintings of ancient Rome. After making the initial purchase online he went on to commission several large watercolours of Rome including views of aqueducts and the Roman Forum.

20th Anniversary

Sketchbook of Umbria

Posting some of my sketchbook studies of Umbria, Italy on my website back in 2003 resulted in a whole series of fascinating commissions of Italian holiday homes and was also the birth of our Painting Holidays in Italy.

The World Wide Web has opened a door for me into other countries further afield including Oman. Susan and I have fond memories of our visits to Oman for various painting commissions ranging from Arabian Dhows and ancient mountain villages and forts.

Alan Reed 20th Anniversary

Dhows, Sur, Oman

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com being on the World Wide Web we are having an Easter Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 9:30 – 5pm

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SAM Mortgages

SAM Mortgages

Oil Portrait of Margaret

For many years Susan and I have trusted in the advice given to us by professional financial advisors. Unfortunately we have been persuaded to take out certain policies which were not in our best interests.

The same can also be said of my mother in law, Margaret Thompson who was advised to take out one of the SAM Mortgages (Shared Appreciation Mortgages) that used to be available through the Bank of Scotland in the late 1990’s. Below is part of a letter of complaint that she wrote in 2003 that describes some of her story.

Feb 1998  (Name of the financial advisor) came to visit me for my annual financial review. I shared my slight concerns regarding how I would continue to pay my mortgage payments once I had retired. At this point in time the financial advisor was aware that I had a considerable amount of savings.

It’s important to say that Margaret had sufficient savings to pay off her entire mortgage.

His advice to me was that there was a new scheme out with the Bank of Scotland, which he advised, would be just right for me.

I explained to him that my primary concern was to leave an inheritance for my three daughters after working so hard all of my life. He explained how the SAM Mortgages worked by me not having to make any more mortgage payments and that the Bank of Scotland would take 25% of the profits when my house was sold + the original mortgage amount.

I repeated this back to him on numerous occasions to make sure that I had fully understood the concept and the percentages involved. He agreed that I had fully understood everything correctly.

The mortgage application forms were completed and he recommended me to see his friend who was a part time solicitor who worked from home to sign the documents (name of solicitor). 

I did see her to sign some documents, I was in her home for less than 10 minutes, not at any time did she explain or talk me through the terms of the mortgage.

April 2003 My daughter and son in law were watching BBC Watchdog where various viewers had complained about SAM Mortgages. My daughter telephoned me to inform me that the percentage of profits owed to the Bank of Scotland was 75% and not the 25%, which I had been led to believe by the financial advisor. At this point I was in total shock and decided to complain through the appropriate channels.

A complaint was put forward by Margaret, however no compensation was ever received. There may be some hope for those who were mis-sold SAM Mortgages as there is now a legal challenge against SAM Mortgages confirmed for 2019

I had the privilege of painting several portraits of Margaret before she passed away in 2014 through secondary breast cancer.

Because of my mother in law’s loss and the costly advice Susan and I have received from several financial advisors, we have decided to join Genistar, a financial education company. Our mission is to help families become debt free and financially independent. We do this through education and by involving YOU in the planning process. Instead of advice we offer something better: education to make the right choices.

 If you would like to receive a free Financial Game Plan that gives you a comprehensive overview of your finances so that you can make educated and informed decisions or if you would like to discover how you too can become a part of Genistar then please telephone Susan and I on 01661 871 800 or email art@alanreed.com

 

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Hand Made Card

 

Hand Made Card by Alan Reed

Hand Made Cards

Today is our 26th Wedding Anniversary. Once again my main gift to Susan has been a Hand Made Card painted in watercolour. She now has quite a sizeable collection of cards that every so often we will browse through and reflect on. The card itself will often be of a place that we have visited in the past year and the words inside will pertain to that particular trip.

It’s not just Susan that receives a Hand Made Card by myself. Over the years I’ve given various family members and close friends this kind of gift which I know is really appreciated. Of course, what they are actually receiving is an original watercolour which is worth £300 to £500.

A Hand Made Card that captures a place or moment that is shared by a loved one is a wonderful way of celebrating a special anniversary, birthday or memory. They don’t have to be tucked away in a drawer. Framed up and hung on the wall, the Hand Made Card becomes a valued piece of artwork to cherish forever.

Hand Made Card Alan Reed

Hand Made Card of Venice

Last year my second grandson Harry was born. His Christmas present was a Hand Made Card painted in watercolour of the canal in Venice where his dad dropped his toy cars into the canal when he was a little boy living in Italy. Susan and I went to Venice last year with our son Oliver and his wife Sophie. We went to see the home where they used to live and I did a sketchbook watercolour of the scene. Inside I wrote inside the story which I know Harry will read when he grows up.

Someone once said that “LOVE” is spelt T-I-M-E. Spending time with someone, which is the most precious thing we have, is a wonderful way of expressing love. Commissioning a Hand Made Card or an original painting of a place or person that holds dear memories its another beautiful way of cherishing those times together.

If you would like to commission a small Hand Made Card or a larger original painting then please visit our website or call in to our Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Art Lessons for Children

Painting Lessons for Children Alan Reed

Painting Lesson for a Child

As Alan unpacked his paints and brushes, I’m sure the tension emanating from my mum was palpable, considering he was doing so right next to her brand-new sofa. Naturally, she was wondering how much mess a 3-year-old having their first painting lesson could truly make. The profound thinkers amongst us would probably say that the answer to that question was a lot, but Alan assured her that she had nothing to worry about.

I was that 3-year-old, and back in the early 2000s, Alan was bestowed with the task of teaching me how to paint. Even though this day was a long time ago, I remember it with total clarity which certainly attests to how much fun I had, being a child who loved her arts and crafts. Alan got out some paper and showed me different brush strokes and various ways in which I could mix paint to get different colours, all in a way which was understandable to me. He then asked me what I would like to paint. I pondered this for a while, as if it was a deep philosophical question, and finally revealed what would be my first masterpiece: a rainbow.

He then got out a canvas – I knew at this point that this painting lesson was a million times more exciting than anything I could do at nursery. I loved the lesson because instead of Alan dictating to me how to paint a rainbow, he allowed me to go wherever my developing artistic tendencies took me. Soon the rainbow was joined by a tree, and I started to fill in a deep blue sky. Being free to paint what I wanted, I asked Alan questions. He showed me how I could press the paint brush on the canvas in a certain way to put leaves on the tree, and helped me to mix the perfect shade of blue for my sky. It wasn’t all totally serious – Alan is very good at getting down with the kids, so to speak, and he was fun to talk to and made me laugh a lot. My mum talks about hearing me giggling throughout the lesson. She was also quite pleased to discover that her new sofa had been left unharmed. 

A painting lesson is not something that a lot of 3-year-olds get to experience, but I wish that more did. The lesson inspired a love of art and creating, and the little skills that Alan showed me that afternoon stayed with me with every painting I did, from nursery all the way up to my school years and beyond. He told me recently that he’s started giving drawing lessons to a 5-year-old from the local area. I’m thrilled that Alan is teaching children still, and I hope the next generation love his art lessons as much as I did.  

Guest writer Catriona McVey.

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Theatre Royal in Winter

New print Theatre Royal in Winter.

In 2008 I released one of my most successful limited edition prints titled “Theatre Royal in the Snow”. The appeal lay partly in the monochromatic colours that were punctuated by the little girl wearing the red coat. She is one of my granddaughters, braving the elements, holding her grandmother’s hand. It wasn’t the first time I’d captured this scene in watercolour. A few months earlier I painted a smaller A4 version as a Christmas card for the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.

A few years later I was commissioned to do another Christmas card which you can read about in an earlier blog post. This time it was for a local charity (who were called the Cyrenians) who work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. They are now called Changing Lives. I re-painted the subject, changed some of the figures and altered the composition slightly.

In 2012 I published “Grey Street, Snow Shower” as a limited edition print which is now sold out.

Grey Street, Snow Shower limited edition print

Grey Street, Snow Shower

The feedback that I get from my customers is that the limited palette with the small dash of red really appeals as well as the subject matter itself, the Theatre Royal in Winter. Even though most of us don’t enjoy being out in cold wintery conditions, we seem to enjoy looking at paintings of winter from the warmth of our living rooms!

Due to popular demand I’ve decided to publish this version as a limited edition giclee print titled Theatre Royal in Winter. There are only 45 prints in the edition, available in several sizes from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. The most requested size 495 x 345 mm image size is available online from alanreed.com

The original watercolour of the Theatre Royal in Winter can also be seen at our Gallery and forms part of our first Exhibition for 2019. Please telephone 01661 871 800 to make sure that we are open before setting out to visit. We look forward to seeing you.

 

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Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019

Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Lago di Trasimeno

Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019.

Our Painting Holiday for June 2019 is fully booked. We have now booked a second week for another Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019 September 21st – 28th. Already the spaces are filling quickly.

Guests will once again have the opportunity to travel around Italy with Susan and I and learn how to capture in watercolour scenes of this beautiful country. The venue is the stunning Chiesa del Carmine, a delightful, ancient church that has been tastefully restored to the highest standards right in the heart of Umbria.

You will enjoy 5* luxury for 7 nights, where we will take you to picturesque hilltop towns and villages, make pizzas, wine tasting and much more. For some of our guests, 2019 will be their 5th and 6th time with us. Non painters are more than welcome and can join in with everything mentioned above, to walking, swimming in the heated pool or enjoy a round of golf at the championship course Antognolla.

 Painters from absolute beginners to advanced will have specialist tuition from myself where I draw on my 34 years professional teaching experience. Places like Perugia, Cortona, Gubbio, Lake Trasimeno, Montepulciano, Assisi, Spello, Montone and Todi are a delight to visit and to have a go at painting. Not only that, the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine and the Carmine estate offers plenty of inspiration with it’s vineyards and olive trees for those relaxing days painting in the warmth and tranquility of the countryside.
Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Sketchbook Watercolour of Montepulciano

Evenings are convivial gatherings, with pre-dinner drinks taken on the terrace, followed by a delicious gourmet Italian evening meal lovingly prepared by our own Italian chefs.
In 2017 we received this lovely review about the wine tasting from one of our guests who came again this year and booked up for 2019 as soon as she returned home. To find out more about our Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019 September 21st – 28th please contact myself or Susan on 01661 871 800 or art@alanreed.com

This was our first Watercolour Painting Holiday, but not our first wine-tasting! This time, however, it was a very different experience. The invitation to accept this late addition to our itinerary for the week was inspired. What a wonderful way to begin the week after an easy day’s travelling. Instantly, Chiesa del Carmine became more than an exquisite place to stay. The wine-tasting experience, delivered on the terrace by a well-informed Isabella, transformed the venue into a living, organic establishment where the surrounding vines and olive groves were testament to produce of the highest quality. It felt as though we were enjoying a most intimate insight into the workings of a vineyard. Isabella made it so interesting and entertaining. She was charming and welcoming, keen to answer questions, and informed in her knowledge of the intricacies of the wines we tasted. A light buffet of Italian cheeses and meats complemented the occasion, and this was one which we would happily repeat should we be privileged to visit Chiesa de Carmine a second time.

 

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Diana’s Point

Alan Reed

Diana’s Point, Jebel Akhdar

Diana’s Point is named after Princess Diana of Wales who visited Jebel Akhdar with Prince Charles in November 1986.

We first went to Diana’s Point on Jebel Akhdar in Oman back in November 2007. The previous year I had received a number of commissions for a client in Oman depicting scenes around the Al Hajar Mountain range so I felt it would be important for me to visit this stunning landscape for myself. I was not wrong. Apart from the invaluable experience of being able to sketch there on location, six years later my large watercolour of Jebel Akhdar Won the Artist Prize in the Royal Watercolour Society. The winning painting is available as a limited edition print.

Earlier this year we watched a BBC programme on Amazing Hotels hosted by Giles Coren and Monica Galetti. One of the episodes featured the new Anantara Hotel built on the area where Susan and I had a picnic on some rocks back in 2007, long before the hotel was built!

The Anantara Hotel really does live up to the programme. Apart from the total luxury, fantastic food and infinity pool, they have an amazing viewing area called Diana’s Point that overlooks the dramatic canyon below. Early in the morning you can watch the sun catching the jagged mountains. In the evening you can watch the sun disappear behind the horizon.

I did several sketchbook watercolours, some early morning, others at sunset. This A4 size watercolour on handmade paper forms part of my Christmas Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the weekend of the 24th & 25th November 9:30 – 5pm.

I’ve made a short, one minute time lapse video which you can see on YouTube that shows the main part of the painting process. On the left hand side of the screen you can see one of my sketchbook watercolours painted late afternoon.

 

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Our Christmas Exhibition

Alan Reed

Razah Dancing, Sur in Oman

Our Christmas Exhibition starts on the weekend of the 24th & 25th November 9:30 – 5pm.

I’ve now been a full time artist for 34 years! It’s been quite a journey, one which I’ve shared with many who have become an important part of my story as an artist.

2018 has been a landmark year as it was our 25th wedding anniversary in February. Although Susan became my business partner in 1995, her influence on my work really started eighteen months into our relationship when she introduced me to Venice in June 1991. It was only fitting to squeeze a short trip to Venice in September this year to recall and share our memories with our son Oliver and his wife Sophie. Some of my Venetian paintings will be on display for Our Christmas Exhibition.

For over 10 years I have received many interesting painting commissions from a number of clients in Oman. Another request came in over the summer months so we needed to travel to Oman to get further reference of this fascinating country. It was lovely to catch up with many of the friends we have made there over the years.

On a previous blog post I talked about a zip wire jump I did for a charity called Junction 42. It’s an amazing Christian charity that works with offenders and ex-offenders. In March this year I started doing some part time work for them, working mainly as a Job Coach helping ex-offenders to find employment.

I’ve also been inside several prisons delivering portrait drawing workshops to the inmates. It’s very different work to painting scenes of Oman or running Painting Holidays in Italy but I’m finding it very stimulating and rewarding.

Our Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy was another success with most of the guests booking again for 2019. Demand means we’ve added new dates for the 21st – 28th September 2019.

It’s been a very busy and eventful year with all of the above and much more! Susan and I would love to share some of our stories with you at Our Christmas Exhibition starting on the weekend of the 24th & 25th November, 9:30 – 5pm.

We really hope you can make it. There will be lots of new paintings to see too!

 

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Tyne Bridge

Tyne Bridge Alan Reed

Tyne Bridge

It’s not often that I post photographs of my paintings that are unfinished however I’m so pleased with the progress of this new oil painting of the Tyne Bridge that I couldn’t resist sharing the current status.

Last week the Tyne Bridge was deservedly upgraded to Grade II* listed. For many it is symbolic of the North East, representing the industry, design and creativity that the region is known for. Indeed, these are all themes that the Great Exhibition of the North have been showcasing over the summer months around Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside.

I have painted the Tyne Bridge many times since I was an art student in the early 1980’s but this is the first time I’ve tackled it on this scale. The painting is more than 1.5 meters in width and the main points of interest, the Tyne Bridge, the Millennium Bridge and the Sage are coated in 22ct Gold Leaf.   

Although there are still a few areas to complete and details to add, the painting is already starting to take shape. The Gold Leaf means that depending on the lighting conditions of the room, the areas that are gold really add depth and intrigue to the painting.

Last week I posted a photograph on LinkedIn of my first limited edition print of the Tyne Bridge taken from the former Gateshead Multi Storey Car Park. You can read about it here on an older blog post. It received some very kind and complimentary comments so I look forward to hearing what folk have to say.

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