Paintings of Umbria

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Via dell’Orso

When producing Paintings of Umbria I always try to articulate in paint the distinctive characteristics of this fascinating region in Italy which my wife and I have been visiting since 2002. We’ve grown to love and appreciate Umbria’s wonderful hilltop towns, its food and wine. Through our reedartholidays we’ve been able to share our knowledge with many others who regularly join us. Our trip in June 2018 is already fully booked so we are taking expressions of interest for a possible trip in September 2018.

On a recent Painting Holiday to Italy we took our guests to Perugia, a large town in Umbria which has lots of narrow streets winding their way to the top. I noticed this particular street which was mainly in shadow apart from a shaft of sunlight breaking out to catch different aspects of the architecture in the distance.

I quickly whipped out my sketchbook and did this small watercolour making sure that I captured not only the sunlight and shadows but also the figure to provide a sense of scale and interest. By the time I had finished there was another strong shaft of midday sunlight hitting the top of the archway I was under on the right hand side.

I was recently doing a watercolour demonstration for a North East Club and decided to do a much larger watercolour inspired by the sketchbook study. In the demonstration I only got as far as the first two washes. The first was a mix of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. Once that dried I went over parts of that first wash with some Rose Madder.

For the benefit of those attending the demonstration I decided to video me finishing off the rest of the Painting of Umbria which you can watch on YouTube. Most of the video is a time lapse and it doesn’t include all the painting work I did but it does give you an idea of how I tackled the main areas and some of the important details.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Via dell”Orso, Umbria

You can see in the video that I’ve been very direct with the brush marks to keep them lively and fresh. I’ve also dropped in some more Rose Madder to capture parts of the stone work being warmed by the sunlight.

Once the shadow areas have dried you can see how there is some lovely granulation of the pigment which provides some interesting texture to the stonework.

I used a much smaller brush to start adding in a few areas of detail like the windows, stonework and bricks. I kept the original sketchbook study close at hand to make sure I didn’t fall in to the trap of just copying the reference photograph which I use for accuracy.

I always let the shadow areas dry before going in with the details like the dark doorways and I like leave some of the first washes to show through to bring some light and sparkle to parts of the painting which could otherwise become lifeless.

The bottom of the street is sunlit and this became the focal point of the painting, not just because of the warmer, lighter colours but also because of the figure making its way down the steep hill.

I went into the shadows with some even darker tones for further detail and depth. And it was back to using the big brush to avoid going to fiddly. You can also see in the video that I’m not just using the tip of the brush but also its side, using it to catch the very rough texture of the paper, which is Fabriano Esporzione, a beautiful handmade paper.

A few more details were added before making the decision to lift out some of the colour where the sun is just above the tops of the buildings. This emphasised the sense of sunlight breaking out to create the shaft of light cutting through the dark, slightly foreboding shadows.

So there you have it. A large watercolour of Via Dell “Orso in Perugia, Umbria available from www.alanreed.com and from our Gallery in Ponteland.

You can see more watercolour Paintings of Umbria and painting videos on alanreed.com

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Arabian Dhows

Alan Reed

Dhows, Sur

When we first visited Oman in 2007 we were fortunate to go on a day trip to the coastal town Sur, famous for its dhow building. I recall doing a couple of sketchbook watercolours in the heat of the day, the high sun catching the top of the clouds.

These studies of Arabian Dhows became the inspiration for a number of studio paintings including one on gold leaf, and a number of watercolours which are available as a limited edition prints from alanreed.com.

I’ve recently painted a 14” x 10” watercolour capturing these beautifully shaped sailing vessels lying out of water which I’ve filmed for a new Painting Video which you can watch on Youtube.

For your interest, here is the script for the voice over for the video to save having to take notes.

First step is to get my usual wash down of Cadmium lemon and Cadmium Yellow which is used to harmonise all the other colours and to take away the stark white of the paper. I’ve wet some of the paper with clean water so that the first wash spreads easily, avoiding hard edges. This initial wash always seems to look wrong to begin with but remember, it always dries lighter.

I forgot to film the second wash of Rose Madder, but again, I wet the paper in places allowing some of the yellow to show through. As you can see, the Rose Madder doesn’t cover the whole sheet.

Once dry, another application of clean water and it’s time to add Manganese Blue for the sky. This time the brush marks are even more carefully considered. I want to re-create the effect of the sun bursting through the clouds from the top right hand side corner. The brush marks echo the direction that the rays of sunlight are coming from. I’ve added a touch of purple to the blue to bring a sense of depth to the lower foreground cloud.

Using a smaller brush it’s time to paint the areas of sky being reflected on the sand that is still wet from the receding tide. The brush marks I’m making are more horizontal and I’m working wet on dry. At times I’m just catching the surface of the paper to replicate the patterns in the sand. As with the sky, I’m dropping in the occasional purple for variation. You can also see that I’m leaving the first wash of yellow to come through in places to suggest the sunlight sparkling on the surface of the water.

A subtle mix of purple and Raw Sienna is used to paint in the areas of wet sand. I’m careful not to overload the brush, almost dabbing it on the surface of the paper.

I’m using this colour, not just for the wet sand but also for the hull of the dhow that is in shadow. Taking the shadow area back into the sand, always leaving parts of reflected blue and sparkle to shine through. Also a few very small details to indicate the ripples of wet sand. Where the shadow is darkest, I’m adding a slightly more intense purple to deepen the shadow.

Arabian Dhows on Gold Leaf

Dhows, Oman – Oil on Gold Leaf

The distant dhow has a base of Manganese blue to suggest a cool shadow, intensifying it with a darker blue for the keel.

A much finer brush is required to paint the fine wooden details that are another distinctive feature of the dhows. You need to be very careful at this point because it’s difficult to lift out any mistakes against such a light background.

It shouldn’t be necessary to say that this 12 minute video does not represent the entire time it took to do this painting. I’m just showing the main areas of interest.

I’ve mixed a lovely rusty red for the sides of the dhows. Again, I’m being very precise as to where I’m adding the colour, varying the intensity of the colour.

The same rusty red is used “wet on wet” for the distant dhow.

A darker purple and the thin brush is used again for these other detailed areas which take a bit of time to work out. I’m keeping the brush marks simple, not too niggley or fiddly but still varying the tonal values of the linear brush marks for interest.

I’ve decided that I’d like the hull slightly lighter so I’m painting some clean water on to the hull then just dabbing the water with some tissue to lift off the colour.

This dark shadow area almost looks black. It’s actually a mix of purple, Paynes Grey and perhaps a touch of Lamp Black. Carefully defining the gentle curve of the hull then contrasting that mark with some freer more expressive brush marks to suggest the more uneven ground where there are some rocks.

The left hand side of the hull needs to go darker so I’m running a slightly lighter version the same shadow colour over the rusty red.

On this close up you can see many other details that I’ve added like the anchors and rocks.

So there you have it. Arabian Dhows resting at low tide at the coastal town of Sur in Oman.

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Christmas Exhibition

Alan Reed

Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Our Christmas Exhibition starts on the weekend of the 4th and 5th November 2017. The scene above of Grey Street on a bleak winter’s day in Newcastle is this years Christmas Card and is also available as an original watercolour.

The Christmas Exhibition also includes many new original watercolours and oil paintings which I’ve been working on over the last 12 months in between painting commissions. Local scenes are featured together with works inspired by our Painting Holidays in Italy. Tranquil olive groves and picturesque hilltop towns are always a delight to capture on location in my sketchbook. Then it’s a trip down memory lane in the studio as I reflect on the holiday and develop these studies into more finished paintings.

I’ve also managed to squeeze in some new cityscapes of London and and beach scenes on the island of Tiree in Scotland.

There are a number of new limited edition prints also being showcased for the first time so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Our Christmas Exhibition will continue until Saturday 23rd December 2017.

 

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Painting of Todi

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Todi, Umbria

On our painting holidays in Italy we take our guests to the various hilltop towns that are a feature of Umbria. This sketchbook watercolour was painted on location in a picturesque town called Todi which we have been to on a number of occasions.

Using a combination of the sketchbook watercolour, this simple pen drawing and photographs I decided to paint the scene as a larger A4 Watercolour Painting of Todi on hand made deckled edged paper for one of my painting videos.

Alan Reed

Sketch book pen drawing of Todi, Umbria

I like the colours of this watercolour sketch of Colle di Val d’Elsa in Tuscany which are more autumnal so I  intensified the colours from the sketchbook watercolour. I remembered the time when we visited Todi in the autumn one year.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany

The first step after drawing out the scene in pencil was to wet the paper and get down a quick wash of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. This set the tone and mood for all the other colours. I kept the yellow light in the sky so that when I added the blue, it didn’t end up looking green. However, it is distinctly more intense over the buildings.

Next wash was Rose Madder. Again, I wet the sky to avoid hard edges and to create some lighter patches for the clouds. However the area where the buildings are was dry because I wanted a few areas of yellow to come through in places to create interest and variation.

I recently purchased some new brushes from Rosemary & Co so I used a size 14 Series 344 to apply some clean water up to the edges of the buildings so that when I painted the sky, the colour flowed freely up to the rooftops without me having to paint round them and run the risk of the paint drying to quickly and end up with streaky brush marks.

So using the same brush I painted in some French Ultramarine over different parts of the sky, allowing some of the Rose Madder to show through to represent cloud shapes.

As I was painting nearer the buildings, I switched blues to Manganese Blue which added further interest, fusing into the French Ultramarine. A tad more Rose Madder helped the whole blending process.

The same Rosemary & Co brush is great for this type of painting. I just worked my way around the different buildings, catching the surface of the paper at times so that the painting retained the fluidity of the sketchbook study. The darker Rose Madder colour that I painted at the start, suddenly didn’t look to dark when  up against the darker shadow colour.

This is where the brush came into its own, large enough to cover the bigger areas but having a fine enough point for detail.

A number 4 Rosemary & Co brush from the same series was required for some of the smaller shadow areas.

When the shadows areas dried, I started to work on even finer detail, picking out all the windows with a very dark mix of purple, Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey.

I wasn’t being too fiddly with these details, just sufficient accuracy to represent the windows, eaves and chimneys.
Once I completed all these finer details, which took more than an hour, I brought the painting to conclusion by painting in the foliage to break up the interlocking shapes of all the buildings.

I mixed a nice green made up of Cadmium Lemon, Paynes Grey with possibly the smallest touch of Winsor Green.

Alan Reed

Watercolour Painting of Todi, Umbria

I was back to the size 14 again, this time using mainly the side of the brush rather than the point to represent lots of branches. I used a wet on dry technique, flicking the brush over the surface of the paper to create the effect of lots of foliage.

For the smaller areas of foliage I used the size 4 brush again, going in with a much deeper green, probably more Paynes Grey than green for the shadows. I used the same technique of dragging the brush to create texture.

If you would like to learn more about how to produce a Painting of Todi or similar, why not join us on one of our Painting Holidays in Umbria, Italy.

Watch the Video Painting of Todi here.

Visit www.alanreed.com or www.reedartholidays.com to find out more.

 

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Painting of Seaton Sluice

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Watercolour

Earlier this summer I painted a small sketchbook watercolour Painting of Seaton Sluice on location.

As well as being a family day out, it was a typical summers day in the north east, patches of blue sky with sunlight bursting through dark threatening clouds.

I decided to work the sketch up into a larger 14” x 10” studio painting on an Arches Watercolour Block which I made a video of showing the different stages. You can watch the video here on YouTube.

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Sketchbook Watercolour

As in the sketchbook watercolour I decided to keep the rooftops of some of the buildings white to indicate bright sunlight striking the surface. I could have used masking fluid but instead carefully painted around them using just clean water.

The water allows the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to flow quite freely around the areas I wanted to keep white so that the application of colour looks fresh and lively.

Whilst the yellow was still wet, I introduced some Raw Sienna to the party accompanied by the delightful Rose Madder for the sandy beach colours.

Again, I left a few areas of white for the waves and the sunlight dancing off the surface of the pools of water. The rough surface of the paper helped to suggest the highlights.

Using Manganese Blue, the next step was to paint in the transitory patches of blue sky that appear behind the darker clouds.

Once again, I’ve wet appropriate parts of the paper to create some soft edges to the blue and to allow this colour to flow with ease.

Whilst this was still wet, next another touch of Rose Madder to create a gentle purple just above the rooftops. Let it dry.

Now for the dangerous part! Using some purple and a mix of Paynes Grey and Lamp Black it was time to create some drama.

I wet the paper where I want the dark clouds to flow then dropped in this dark mix, pushing it about, catching the rough surface in places where the paper is dry to emphasis the cloud edges. Initially it looked really dark, but I knew it would dry lighter.

A touch of French Ultramarine helped to add further interest to the clouds. More clean water added variation to the density of the sky.

You will notice also on the video that I don’t paint over the areas of colour once I’ve applied them. Doing so tends to kill the translucency of the pigment and the wash looses its freshness. It’s best to live with the shapes you initially make rather than trying to go over them to try and improve what you’ve already done……..you probably won’t.

Back to the darker colour for the higher clouds for a greater sense of ariel perspective. You will notice that I’m also varying the angle of the brush to produce more interesting marks.

When the sky is totally dry, it was time to define the buildings perched on the horizon, a distinctive feature in a Painting of Seaton Sluice. I carefully picked out the main details like the windows and chimneys. This took a while.

Having reviewed the sky, I wasn’t totally happy with a slight cauliflower effect. I lifted it out by applying some clean water then just disturbing the surface of the paint, dabbing it off with a tissue.

The sea is a mix of French Ultramarine and turquoise, moving the brush horizontally and allowing some of the white of the paper to show through for the waves.

I was careful to get the shapes right without getting too niggely or too tight. Then introduced some purple for the shallower pools of water.

Unlike the sketch, I decided to introduce a strong foreground shadow produced by a passing cloud to keep the interest in the middle distance. I used a much more intense purple colour. I also wetted the paint beforehand to let the colour flow and to create a gentle, soft edge where the dark shadow meets the sunlit sand.

Finally, I scratched out a few further highlights of sun on the surface of the pools of water with a scalpel.

So there you have it. A small sketchbook watercolour painted on the beach inspiring this larger studio Painting of Seaton Sluice.

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Hawker Sea Fury

Alan Reed

Hawker Sea Fury

I was recently asked if I had ever painted aircraft. Two commissions from the 1980’s sprung to mind. One was from a friend who’s father was part of a Halifax Bomber crew during WW2. He was shot down and spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war.

The other commission was of a Hawker Sea Fury,  the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built. The painting was for a gentleman who’s father served on HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier from which the aircraft flew from.

These commissions were before the age of the internet, so there were very few photographs to work from that were easily accessible. In the case of the Halifax Bomber, I purchased an Airfix model, assembled it and photographed it from the angle I wanted. When it came to the finished painting I was able to add in the relevant squadron numbers to personalise the painting. My friend’s father passed away over 10 years ago but I know that he was very fond of the painting. It was proudly hung in his living room.

When it came to painting the Hawker Sea Fury I managed to find an old black and white photograph of HMS Illustrious, a number of drawings and photographs of the aircraft in various positions and some photographs of interesting cloud formations from the air. After experimenting with different compositions I decided that because the main subject was being viewed from the air, I would emphasis the airborne aspect of the Hawker Sea Fury by putting the horizon at a 45 degree angle.

Once again, I personalised the painting by giving the Hawker Sea Fury the appropriate markings. The client was delighted with his aviation painting and later commissioned another watercolour, this time a seascape depicting the Battle of Trafalgar.

If you have an idea for a painting commission then please visit our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland or website alanreed.com.

 

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Painting of Piccadilly

Alan Reed

Piccadilly, London

In 2016 I was working on a number of painting projects in London. As I was walking along Piccadilly, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight I was struck by the wonderful contrast between the warm rays of sunlight catching the opposite side of the street, the cool shadows and the way the two were being connected by shoppers darting in and out of the sun.

I had some time to spare so I dashed off a quick sketchbook watercolour knowing that it was warm enough for the paint to dry in time for my next appointment. Over the years I’ve developed a shorthand technique of rendering buildings and figures in a way which provides sufficient information to inspire me for any future studio paintings.

Once I’d knocked in the people (some of which were literally blobs of colour) I knew that this was going to work as a larger watercolour Painting of Piccadilly.

Because the main palette was Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Rose Madder and Manganese Blue, applied over a series of simple washes and non detailed shapes, I also felt that this Painting of Piccadilly would also work as a short video that might be helpful for any budding watercolourist.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Piccadilly

Obviously a few other colours have been introduced for the figures and the telephone box but essentially, like most of my paintings, I’ve kept it simple.

The Studio watercolour was painted on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Watercolour Block which is ideal for painting smaller watercolours as there is no need to stretch the paper.

The video Painting of Piccadilly shot on my iphone in my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland can now be seen on YouTube so I hope you find it helpful.

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Painting of the Angel

Alan Reed

Angel Sunrise

In a previous blog post I described a recent painting commission where I was asked to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. As part of the project I decided to do a smaller study to try out some ideas with colours and cloud shapes.

This new Painting of the Angel can now be seen at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. As you will see, it is quite different from the larger commission and different in style from all my other paintings. The wings are made up of 22 carat gold leaf. This can cause the painting to look quite different depending on the lighting conditions of the room, whether the room is in natural light or gentle artificial light.

Whilst doing this painting I’ve been asked several times how to paint a straight line. The answer is quite simple, I use a ruler. The find out how you can watch a short video.

On this particular Painting of the Angel I decided to add a solitary figure to provide a sense of scale and heightened drama to the scene.

Although it wasn’t deliberate on my part, these recent works of the Gateshead Angel have reminded me of the stunning painting of the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by north east painter John Martin which can be seen at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. If you are in Newcastle and you have some spare time, the Laing Art Gallery is well worth a visit.

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Painting of the Angel

Alan Reed

The Angel of the North in Progress

Earlier this year I received a request to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. Although I have painted several paintings of the Angel since it was first erected in April 1998 the client had very specific ideas about the size, colours and view point which were completely different from my other paintings of the Angel.

All my previous works of the Angel had been in watercolour so I was excited about tackling it in oils. I suggested to the client that the painting could have more visual impact with some gold leaf on the wings. Over the years I’ve painted a number of different subjects using gold leaf and the effects can be pretty amazing. A more recent example is the scene below of Buckingham Palace from Green Park.

Oil Painting by Alan Reed

Original Fine Art Painting of Buckingham Palace from Green Park painted in oils on Gold Leaf.

I made several trips to see the Angel to get fresh reference and to remind myself just how iconic the Angel has become.

I’m always observing interesting skies and whenever possible I’ll either paint them on the spot or photograph them. In the case of sunrises and sunsets, they are more challenging to paint on location because the colours change so quickly. I searched through my library of photos and found a suitable sky for inspiration.

Alan Reed

Sunset Sky

Producing a Painting of the Angel with gold leaf involved some experimentation with the base colour of the wings so that the gold leaf had maximum impact. I decided that using the same red as the sky would work best. It would provide the right visual connection between the sky and the Angel.

Adding gold leaf demands patience and care but it’s very satisfying when you see the finished result. It’s even more satisfying when the client sees the painting for the first time and loves it!

I’ve had the Painting of the Angel hanging in our kitchen for the last few days. It’s great to see the effects of gold leaf at various times of the day under different lighting conditions. It’s a painting which is quite different from anything else I’ve painted.

I’ve now published this painting of the Angel as a  limited edition giclee print, available on paper and also hand embellished with gold leaf.

A smaller oil painting of the Angel from a different angle is now complete and is available to view at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

Alan Reed

Painting of the Angel

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Painting Holidays in Italy

Alan Reed

Watercolour of an Olive Tree in the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine

Due to growing demand for our Painting Holidays in Italy we have added another week for 2017

Saturday 7th – Saturday 14th October.

A TYPICAL DAY

We start the day with a good healthy breakfast of fruit juices, freshly baked croissants , fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, toast with plenty of fresh coffee or tea. This is where we might discuss the days events and activities, which might be painting on location around the glorious landscape of Chiesa del Carmine or spending a day painting in the nearby villages or towns such as Assisi, Spello, Todi or Cortona.

This could be a half day out or full day depending where we have decided to go and how far it is to travel. The non-painting guests usually come out with us (apart from the golfers) and we all travel together in our luxury coach. Of course anyone who prefers to have a day relaxing by the pool or taking one of the many walks around the valley is their own choice.

We also offer cookery classes, wine tasting, truffle hunting and more……….

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine

On arrival back to our luxurious villa,  the cooks have already arrived and busy preparing dinner in the well stocked kitchen. Those who wish to swim in our amazing pool, this is a lovely time of the day to do so before we sit down to a beautifully prepared evening meal by our own Italian cooks.

All are welcome to join our party even if you don’t intend to paint! Reedart Painting Holidays in Italy take you on a creative journey through winding landscapes, secluded villages and awe-inspiring vistas that’s not only good for your painting portfolio, but good for the soul too.

AVAILABILITY FOR OUR PAINTING HOLIDAYS 2017 & 2018

Saturday 7th – Saturday 14th October 2017

  Saturday 2nd – Saturday 9th June 2018 (1 twin/double room left)

Contact for availability

Open our brochure

Call us on +44 (0) 1661 871 800 | +44 (0) 7718 741 546 or email art@alanreed.comto visit us, chat on the phone or find out any more information.

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