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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Painting an Olive Tree

Painting an Olive Tree

Sketchbook Watercolour Painted in Umbria

One of the subjects I often get our guests on our Painting Holidays to have a go at is Painting an Olive Tree.

The grounds of Chiesa del Carmine are full of them. They are not too difficult to draw compared to other subjects so it’s relatively easy for the guests to spend a couple hours sketching to come up with a result they are pleased with.

On our last Painting Holiday in June this year I made a video of me Painting an Olive Tree. It was a small sketchbook watercolour painted in one of the leather bound sketchbooks that I’ve made containing some quite heavily textured watercolour paper.

Over the years I’ve often worked my sketchbook watercolours of olive trees into larger Studio paintings, making sure that I retain the spontaneity of the original study.

My interest in olive trees began when we first visited Umbria, Italy in 2002. I’d purchased some delightful leather bound sketchbooks from the Fabriano Paper Factory in the Marche region of Italy. I couldn’t wait to christen them with some watercolours and began by painting various scenes around the hotel we were staying. This was the start of a new creative process for me, painting directly with a brush onto hand made watercolour paper with no preparatory drawing in pencil.  Of course I’d painted on location in watercolour many times before, but it had always been on watercolour blocks. Also this was the first time I had not drawn out the scene before hand in pencil. I now have numerous leather-bound sketchbooks containing a wonderful record of our travels both here in the UK and overseas.

Throughout the months of July and August I am displaying my sketchbooks at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. Recently a couple of our guests who had been on two Painting Holidays with us, commissioned a watercolour inspired by one of my sketchbook studies. The subject was Perugia, one of the places we had taken them to. They wanted a painting to remind them of the lovely holidays they had been on. They have also re-booked for 2019 which means that our week in June 2019 is fully booked.

Please feel free to visit our gallery to look through my sketchbooks to see if there is something I’ve painted that reminds you of that special place that you have fond memories of. Best to telephone 01661 871 800 first to make sure we’re open.

 

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Great North Exhibition 2018

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Grey’s Monument, Newcastle

 

The Great North Exhibition 2018 started at Newcastle’s spectacular quayside on the evening of Friday 22nd June. It heralded the start of 80 days of brilliant events, activities, performances and exhibitions celebrating art, design and innovation. I was unable to attend the launch however when I turned up to the Junction 42 offices this morning in Newcastle I couldn’t help but notice the brightly coloured banners bathed in early morning sunshine that were wrapped around Greys Monument.

The banners contain declarations like “no starving children” and “abolition of privilege”.

Great North Exhibition 2018 is a celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit which has three starting points, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, the Sage Gateshead and the Great North Museum. These starting points also include the Get North Water Sculpture and the Discovery Museum which has Stephenson’s Rocket.

Starting on 30th June at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, I will be embracing the Great North Exhibition 2018 theme of celebrating art, design and design by exhibiting some of my finest paintings.  I will also be describing to visitors my creative process which will include a tactile display of my leather bound hand made sketchbooks.

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

 

The pages of the sketchbooks record many of my painting travels, not just around the region but overseas in countries like Italy and Oman. Without doubt, these “en plein air” studies in watercolour are amongst my most precious possessions and are the catalyst for many of my studio paintings. Just last week a couple who have been on two of our painting holidays in Italy commissioned a watercolour of Perugia from one of my sketchbook watercolours of the Umbrian town.

My Summer Exhibition also includes recent oil paintings of the Angel of the North and the Tyne Bridge which have been embellished with 22 ct gold leaf and take on a different look and feel depending on the light.

If you would like to come and see the exhibition and look at the sketchbooks then it is best to contact first to make sure we are open.

 

 

 

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Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Castelluccio and Piano Grande

I was Painting Piano Grande for the first time in September 2004. I’d seen spectacular photographs of colourful flowers growing in this vast plateau in the Sibillini mountains and hoped to capture them in watercolour. Of course it was completely the wrong time of year! I needed to return in late spring, early summer.

In May we decided to see if Piano Grande could be a day trip for our Painting Holiday Guests. We’d booked two nights at Agriturismo “Il Casale degli Amici” just outside of Norcia. We found it was well located, just a few minutes drive from Norcia and 45 minutes drive from Castelluccio.

Norcia, Castelluccio and Piano Grande

Nothing could prepare us for the devastation we saw in Norcia. Susan and I were woken from our sleep when the earthquake struck just after 3:30am on the 24th August 2016. We were staying more than 50 miles away near Chiesa del Carmine. The epicentre was south east of Norcia and left 297 dead from the villages of Accumoli, Amatrice and Arquato del Tronto. We’d heard that Norcia had been hit by another earthquake on the 30th October 2016 and the damage was plain to see.

When we walked into Norcia, renowned for shops selling amazing local produce, we could see many that had closed down. A young man selling wild boar salamis and cheeses welcomed us to try them. They were delicious and a few minutes later we’d made a significant purchase!

It was so sad to see scaffolding surrounding the devastated church and many other buildings effected by the earthquakes. I remember writing about the shop signage below on a previous blog post. Tragically it is now closed.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

A Shop in Norcia

Shop Sign, Norcia, Umbria

Great Signage, Norcia, Umbria

Painting Piano Grande

After an amazing evening meal at “Il Casale degli Amici” and a great nights sleep, we set off for Piano Grande. The drive took us a little longer than usual because of damage to the roads. Several sets of traffic lights where the road was one lane held us up. The drive was spectacular, taking us through the rain clouds into bright sunshine where we were looking down onto the clouds.

We had to wait until noon to actually drive down into Piano Grande and Castelluccio because the road was closed for workmen repairing the road. This was not a problem for me. Painting Piano Grande was on my radar! Even though we’d seen poppies growing around Orvieto and Montefalco on our way, it was still too early here.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Piano Grande

 

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande

I had plenty of time to capture the few patches of snow on the Sibillini Mountains surrounding Piano Grande and the vast plateau where wonderful lentils are grown in the summer. When the road opened we had an hour to drive into Castelluccio which is sadly now a ghost town because of the earthquake. It’s going to take a while for Castelluccio to become inhabited again. It’s such a place of outstanding beauty I pray that it receives all the help it needs become a tourist destination, along with Norcia too.

 

 

 

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Painting in Italy

 

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio

 

Our next Painting Holiday at Chiesa del Carmine in Umbria in Italy is just a few weeks away. Once again we are fully booked. For some of our guests it will their fourth and fifth time with us Painting in Italy. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some wonderful trips out. We’ve visited many of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages which are a distinctive of Umbria. It’s described as the Green Heart of Italy.

Susan and I decided that it would be a great idea for us to travel out to do some Painting in Italy earlier this month. Our mission was also to visit a few of the towns that we haven’t been to for many years. We wanted to explore some new places that might be of interest to our guests.

Our time on our flight from Newcastle to Pisa Airport passed quickly. We ended up deep in conversation with a lovely couple who have purchased many of my paintings over the years. After picking up a car we drove to Orvieto, famous for its lovely white wine and magnificent Duomo, to see if our guests would enjoy a visit.

Susan and I were staying at Locanda Rosati, an agriturismo just a few miles from Orvieto. After checking in we still had sufficient time to drive to Orvieto and have a quick exploratory trip before our evening meal. Dinner was a jovial affair as the twenty plus guests from all nationalities including Italy, France, USA, Greece, Australia and Bulgaria were all seated on a long table. Our conversations enabled us to find out more interesting places to visit. One came highly recommended, Civita di Bagnoregio, just twenty minutes drive away.

Civita di Bagnoregio and Lago di Bolsena

Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines in the region of Lazio. I discovered that it only has 1o residents. However it is beginning to thrive as a tourist destination due to an initiative from the Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Any tourists crossing the foot bridge must pay €5 on a Sunday or public holiday and €3 during a weekday. Their ticket system has meant that residents of Civita and Bagnoregio no longer have to pay communal taxes and there is zero unemployment. I found it fascinating that the 850,000 tourists forecast for 2018 has created 400 new jobs for the 200 new businesses that have been birthed in recent years.

When we arrived the following morning thick fog had descended. I was wanting to paint the classic view that I had seen in photographs but it simply didn’t exist!

As it was a Sunday, crowds were already starting to arrive in their droves. We decided on a return visit to Orvieto. Despite the dull, overcast light, I managed a sketchbook watercolour of the Duomo from Via del Duomo. After a lovely lunch I found two great vantage points to paint Orvieto from a distance.  On completion, we set off to a new destination for us, Lago di Bolsena.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Lago di Bolsena

By the time we arrived, the low clouds had lifted and we were able to enjoy shafts of sunlight sparkling on the calm waters. I was able to record the tranquil scene in my trusty sketchbook.

The next morning we headed straight for Civita di Bagnoregio. This time I was able to paint the view that I had been after the previous day. We didn’t make the short walk along the footbridge into what was once Italy’s dying town. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so one day.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio

Our Painting Holiday for June 2018 is fully booked. You can register your interest for the future at art@alanreed.com

For me, Painting in Italy is rewarding experience. Even though this was an exploratory trip, I still came up with some great reference for some future paintings.

 

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Junction 42

Alan Reed

Tyne Bridge, Early Morning

Junction 42 is an established charity which exists to see the lives of offenders and their communities visibly transformed by the hope of the Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. Their mission statement is taken from the Old Testament book Isaiah Chapter 42 verse 7 “to free captives form prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness”.

It began in 2012 through their director Joanne O’Connor who had started the work in HMP/YOI Low Newton doing both chaplaincy and education provision, working initially for Youth for Christ back in 2000. As the Entrepreneurial work grew and prison work became more adult focused, Junction 42 was born.

I’ve known Joanne and her husband John for almost 20 years. When John, who had been a  drug addict, met Joanne and they planned to get married, my wife Susan and I did their marriage preparation. Since then we have remained close friends and have closely followed and supported their prison work. In the past couple of years Susan and I have delivered workshops teaching portraiture in Low Newton prison to the young women there.

Junction 42 also delivers art and music related projects and Entrepreneurial Training courses in prisons to equip individuals in custody to take ownership of their employment situation upon release. This can be through setting up their own business using the skills learned in this course or by using the confidence gained form doing the course to make them better candidates in job applications. You can read a report on their Entrepreneurial work delivered in prisons.

The DWP refers offenders to Junction 42 to receive 1-2-1 Mentoring and/or attendance to their CAP Job Club to help them develop an action plan to rebuild their lives and to engage in the community in a positive way to dramatically reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

Another point of help for the ex offenders is Connect, a Christian group who meet at St Luke’s Church on Claremont Road in Newcastle on a Tuesday night. This provides an opportunity for them to find out about Christianity through Alpha Courses and friendship with christians.

As a means of raising support and awareness of Junction 42 I’m going to do a zip wire challenge from the Tyne Bridge on Sunday 15th April at 1pm. Two years ago a team of staff from Junction 42 did a zip wire from the Tyne Bridge and raised £5,000 between them.

If you would like to find out more about Junction 42 then Susan and I would love to see you at our Spring Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland which runs throughout April.

You can make a donation via MyDonate which will be very much appreciated.

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Spring Exhibition

Alan Reed

North Shields Fish Quay

Our new Spring Exhibition started on 31st March 2018 and continues until 30th April.  I use the word “Spring” lightly as it’s snowing outside as I’m writing this blog post.

Due to the wintery conditions we have been experiencing since 2017 there is a snowy theme going on in this latest body of work. However there are some new cheery paintings on view. Please feel free to call us on 01661 871800 to arrange a viewing in a relaxed atmosphere.

The latest painting off the drawing board is “North Shields Fish Quay”. It’s a scene I first painted in 1985 for a client who commissioned a couple of River Tyne pictures. You can read about the other painting on a recent blog post about the River Tyne Painting.

This new watercolour depicts fishing trawlers bathed in late afternoon sunlight. In the distance you can see the old Port of Tyne buildings, some of which have long since gone. Fluid brush marks for the reflected light in the water and the soft edges for the engine smoke belching out of the trawlers help to keep the overall scene lively and free.

 

Alan Reed

Balevullin Beach, Tiree

Another new painting is Balevullin Beach on the island of Tiree, one of the Inner Hebrides. On a recent blog post you can read about our trip there last May where I painted a number of watercolours on location. This oil has been inspired by those studies, including a small watercolour available online.

Balevullin Beach is popular with surfers who take advantage of the waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. The turquoise sea and dramatic skies are a delight to paint.

We enjoyed mixed weather. Heavy rain followed by bright sunshine and wonderful sunsets was the pattern for each day.

Alan Reed

Todi, Umbria

Todi in Umbria points us towards the finer weather to come and our Painting Holiday in June. You can watch a video on YouTube of how I used a number of sketches painted on location to produce this A4 watercolour painted on hand made paper.

Our Spring Exhibition continues throughout April however there are a few days when we will be closed so it is best to call us on 01661 871 800 to make sure we are open before setting out.

 

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Scarinish, Tiree

Scarinish, Tiree

Scarinish Harbour, Tiree

In May 2017 Susan and I flew to the island of Tiree, one of the Inner Hebrides in a Sea Otter. We were greeted by our friends who were staying in a family holiday home called An Caladh.

First port of call was Scarinish, Tiree, a tiny village which has the only bank on the island, a grocery store, one hotel and a Post Office. There is also a ferry service to Oban on the Scottish mainland.

Whilst the others went to buy food for our stay, I painted a quick watercolour of the harbour in my hand made, leather bound sketchbook. The little red boat is apparently the most painted vessel on the island.

Scarinish, Tiree by Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree

When painting in the comfort of the Studio, it’s easy to forget the mood and atmosphere that painting “en plein air” provides. Supplementary photographs are helpful for topographical accuracy, however they can sometimes be a little cold and sterile. There really is no substitute for having your own interpretation of the scene that was crafted in paint on the spot. As I’m writing this post with the very same sketchbook in front of me, I’m reminded of the heavy rain clouds departing over the sea whilst trying to balance my tiny box of watercolours on a fence post along with my sketchbook.

I’m also reminded of the fish van behind me selling fresh lobster and langoustines that we were to enjoy later in the evening.

It’s these visual aids that activate memories that you can bring to your studio work so that you end up with a painting that others can identify with and relate to.

You can read more about our trip to Tiree and see some of my other sketchbook studies from our trip on my blog post Paintings of Tiree.

This watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree is available online and from our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

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Durham Paintings

Alan Reed

Saddler Street, Durham in Winter

Durham is a wonderfully picturesque city famous for its cathedral, now a World Heritage Site. Folk travelling by train are afforded spectacular views that take in one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe towering above the medieval city below. It will come as no surprise that my Durham Paintings are very popular with customers from around the world.

When I used to lecture part time at various colleges around the north east, one of the highlights of the year was to take one particular class of students to Durham for a painting project. The plan was to encourage the class to spend the day sketching around the city. I would join in on the exercise by painting at least one watercolour of Durham on location, even though the project usually took place in February!

One of my favourite vantage points was Wharton Park above the railway station. Looking into the light on a sunny February morning was always a delight to capture in watercolour. These studies became the inspiration for further Durham Paintings executed in the warmth of my studio.

More recently however I’ve been doing a number of watercolour demonstrations for various art clubs. One particular group asked if I’d show them how to add figures in a cityscape. I decided to re-visit some of my Durham reference and was reminded of a small watercolour I did of Saddler Street in winter. Saddler Street is one of the older streets in Durham that takes you up to the Cathedral. Durham is also famous for its prison. At one time it had two. The old County Gaol was owned by the Bishop of Durham and was rebuilt in Saddler Street in the early 15th century.

The reference I had was perfect for the demonstration which the class enjoyed. I used a limited palette to capture figures making their way up and down the cobbled street, their reflections glistening in the wet. Due to the Beast from the East this week I’ve had time in the Studio to complete the painting which is available online and which can be seen from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Painting Commissions

Alan Reed

St Mark’s Square, Afternoon Sunlight

A significant part of my working life as an artist is working on Painting Commissions and I’m often asked to add in a person or group of people in to the painting that have a personal connection to the client. Sometimes this has been a family walking to the Theatre Royal or on the beach at Bamburgh. On other occasions it’s been a loved one walking their dog.

I recently received a painting commission of St Mark’s Square in Venice, similar to my limited edition print above. The client asked if I could include his partner in the scene so that he could give the painting to her as a birthday present. They had been to Venice on holiday together so the painting would be a lovely reminder and a great gift idea.

Painting Commissions in Venice, particularly in St Mark’s Square, can be challenging because of the crowds but I have a good number of sketchbook watercolours from my travels to inspire me, particularly when painting in the solitude of my studio in Ponteland.

The client supplied me with a few photographs of his partner so that I could paint her in the scene with a decent likeness. I also decided that it would be a nice idea to make a short video of key parts of the painting process. You can watch the video on YouTube.

I had the original painting framed in a lovely deep edged mount with an antique silver frame. I also used non reflective Ultra View Glass which helps to protect the painting from Ultra Violet Light. It’s so good that the painting almost looks like it has no glass.

If you would like to find out more on how to Commission a Painting then please contact Alan Reed Art Gallery.

 

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