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City Church Portraits

Sight Size Painting

Oil Painting Portrait of Sola Idowu

Over the last 12 months I have been working on a painting project for City Church Newcastle which meets at the CastleGate, Melbourne Street, Newcastle.

In the summer of 2013 I was approached by Ed Morrow (who manages the CastleGate) asking my advice about what kind of artwork would look good in the new atrium which would reflect the vision of the church.

My wife Susan and I have been members of City Church since it’s beginning. Our vision is that we will be a church of thousands, a community full of people from every nation. My suggestion was that I painted a number of portraits of church members of different ages, races and stages of life that represented the church family.

I started the first one in October 2013 with several sittings of Adrian Smith. The Portraits have been painted in oils on aluminium panels for Health and Safety reasons. They have to be prepared first with emery paper then primed using an Etch Primer. I then paint several coats of an oil paint primer before tinting each panel to a neutral tint. It’s at that point I can begin a series of sittings, painting from life.

I have used photography as an aid to make sure that the proportions are correct. With the exception of the children I’ve painted 90% of the painting work is from life, painting from observation.

Most of my 30 year professional career has been spent painting landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes in watercolour throughout the North East, Scotland, UK, Italy and the Middle East. I’ve learned many years ago when to finish a painting in watercolour, the danger of overworking it being a real possibility. Once you overdo it, there’s no going back with watercolour!

With oil painting, it’s quite different. You can always see little details to fiddle on with to keep trying to improve the portrait. If you make a mistake, you simply correct it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting so I needed a justifiable reason to stop each portrait. All christians are a work in progress, none of us will achieve perfection until the day we are united with Jesus Christ. I’ve deliberately decided to have some of the portraits “unfinished”. This is a random choice and not any reflection on anyone’s spirituality!

The plan at this point in time is to have a launch later on in the autumn when the portraits will be hung in the atrium to coincide with a “Vision Sunday” for the church.

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Bill Quay

Watercolour Painting of River Tyne

Original Watercolour of Bill Quay

Several months ago I received an enquiry about taking on a commission to do a watercolour painting of Bill Quay. The painting was to be a “thank you” present from a lady to give to her parents as she was getting married in the summer.

Bill Quay on the River Tyne holds special personal memories for the family. We discussed a specific size that would fit with her budget and I went one evening to Bill Quay to do a small sketchbook watercolour of the scene that the client had in mind.

Over the years I’ve painted many views of the River Tyne including North Shields, Fishing. I had a good idea of what would work for this particular painting.

The client approved the sketch so I was able to commence on the finished 14″ x 10″ watercolour, painted on an Arches Watercolour Block. Once again, the painting received the “thumbs up” from the client so all that needed to be done was to organise the framing and delivery.

We offer a bespoke framing service at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland where we have a comprehensive range of framing and mount options and I have over 30 years experience in helping customers choose the right frame and mount for a painting. I thought it would be nice to feature the client’s response to the commission.

“Just to let you know I have given the painting of Bill Quay to my parents today. It was also the first time I have seen it. Needless to say there were lots of tears! They were so pleased they have made sure everyone has seen it who is here today at the family barbecue.  I can’t thank you enough, its absolutley brilliant and the mounting and frame is just fantastic. They have said they will put a review on the website and of course I will as well. Thank you again, its just everything and more.” L.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to an Arches Watercolour Block, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

 

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Paintings of Olive Trees

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees in Italy

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees

I love doing paintings of olive trees. Several years ago I was commissioned to paint a client’s property in Italy.

As part of the research for the commission, I made some studies in my leather-bound sketchbook of the olive grove that surrounded their house in Umbria.

It was a friends 60th birthday recently so I painted her a handmade card of the scene based on the location watercolour, another opportunity to do some paintings of olive trees! She was so thrilled with her card that she had it framed to add it to her collection of Alan Reed Art.

To find out more about commissioning handmade cards of special places for a loved one go to the commissions page on my website.

More paintings of Olive Trees and paintings of Italy can be seen on alanreed.com and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland.

If you would like to have a go at painting olive trees, why not book a painting holiday in Italy through Alan Reed Art and I can give you some tuition.

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Paintings of Oman

Last Light, Ruwi, Oman Painting

Last Light, Ruwi, Oman

This studio watercolour of Ruwi in Oman is the result of spending many hours making sketchbook studies on location in Oman. I’ve often risen when it was still dark to make sure I was in the right spot to capture the early morning light, however on this occasion it was a case of being in the right place to record the last throws of the middle eastern sunlight catching the distant hills.

The district of Ruwi can be seen nestling in the surrounding foothills with its white architecture coated in cool shadows. I’ve used a limited palate of Winsor and Newton watercolours on a very rough handmade paper to create a distinct contrast between the dark purple, craggy hills and the lighter crisp edges of the buildings.

The links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

This original watercolour and other paintings of Oman inspired by my painting trips in the Gulf can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Durham School v St Paul’s School

Durham School v St Paul's School

Durham School v St Paul’s School Watercolour Painting

One of the commissions I had in 2013 was Durham School v St Paul’s School in the Veterrimi IV final on 3rd November 2013.

This was a historic event that saw the oldest rugby clubs in the world play off in a fantastic tournament which is one of a kind and only happens every two years.

The painting of such an event is not only a once in a lifetime opportunity to capture the event itself, but even more so for the parents whose sons featured in the match.

An opportunity to possess a painting of them playing is unlikely to occur again in their rugby careers.

I spent the weekend at Sherborne where the tournament was being held so I could gather the necessary reference to do the painting. The standard of rugby was very high and Durham School came out as winners in a competitive final.

The original watercolour painting can currently be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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City Church Portraits

3rd Sitting of Portrait of Leon Le-Dune

Portrait of Leon Le-Dune

4th Sitting of Portrait of Adrian Smith
Portrait of Adrian Smith

 

Portrait painting from life is a demanding artistic challenge. I’ve recently undertaken a painting project which involves painting a number of portraits of members of City Church Newcastle.

These are to be hung in the new Atrium area of the CastleGate where the church meet. The building itself has an amazing story and is very much a part of the City. Adrian Smith, whose portrait is depicted above was instrumental in bringing the building to the attention of the church.

I’ve currently 4 different portraits currently in progress  and will be starting work on one of the younger members of the church very soon.

 

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Bikes in Amsterdam

Painting of sunset in Amsterdam

Bicycles in Amsterdam

A new client recently ordered over 20 limited edition prints to furnish a corridor in their business. Part of the order included two paintings of Amsterdam so earlier this year we took the ferry across the North Sea so I could get some reference.

Over the two days I managed to paint a number of studies in my Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook of the distinctive architecture and the famous windmills that one can see in and around Amsterdam.

Windmills at Dawn has been reproduced as a limited edition print along with this new watercolour of bikes chained up on a bridge, silhouetted against the backdrop of a spring sunset in Amsterdam.

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A Room with a View

Looking towards Prestwick

View from my Studio Window

For most of my career as an artist I’ve had quite small cramped studios to paint in. In 2006 we decided to look into the possibility of building a Studio in the loft space of our home in Ponteland. The plans were passed in 2007 and building commenced later that year. In July 2008 we were finally able to re-located our Studio & Gallery from Ponteland village to our home at 17 Cheviot View. This has provided me with a Room with a View.

The main benefit of this working space is the consistent north light I have over my drawing board but I also have some stunning views from one of the other windows looking north west towards Prestwick Hall, a lovely Georgian building designed by North East Architect John Dobson. I was actually commissioned to do a painting of it a number of years ago by the owners.

Of course much of my painting work these days is on location both in the UK and overseas so I’m able to enjoy the best of both enviroments.

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Painting of Dhows

Arabian Dhows on Gold Leaf

Dhows, Oman – Oil on Gold Leaf

There’s a story on how I ended up doing a Painting of Dhows on Gold Leaf. In 2010 I was involved in a painting of a very large Biblical scene which was to go in a church building. It was a massive project and painting, executed on 5 panels of gold leaf in oil paints. I had several small boards coated with gold leaf to experiment with and decided to do my own paintings on this unusual and expensive surface.

I did two quite different scenes, one of the Grand Mosque in Oman, the other of some Arabian Dhows at low tide in Sur, Oman. I sold the Grand Mosque to a client in Oman, however, this one of the dhows is available to purchase. Other original paintings and prints of the Gulf can be seen on my website.

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Commission a Portrait Painting

I’m currently working on a number of portraits for various clients in oil paints and I thought it may be helpful to see the process developing over the sittings, each one over a period of three hours. The model has at least thirty minutes of breaks.

The first sitting is about getting the basic proportions and likeness using a limited palate of Lead White, Yellow Ochre Deep, Light Red and Ivory Black. After laying in the background I lightly skimmed the paint surface with a cloth to soften the colours and to provide a more gentle image to paint into the next day.

A more accurate rendition of the model’s features is needed for the next sitting, ensuring that measurements and distances between the eyes,nose and mouth are correct. Once established, I painted them in with some stronger tones and built up the flesh tones.

In the third sitting I could see that the background needed to be much stronger to make the hair stand out more, so using a touch of Indian Red with Ivory Black I intensified the background to match the same tonal values of the wooden panelling. I also used a glaze to richen the shadow areas on the model’s face.

The glaze from the third sitting was a little too warm, so the following day I toned it down using some cooler colours. Throughout each sitting I made small adjustments to various parts of the painting to help create a better characterisation.

On the fifth afternoon I concentrated on refining some of the brush marks that I had made the previous couple of sittings and added a touch of pink to Isabella’s cheeks.

The Portrait Painting will benefit from at least one more sitting to improve some of the shapes further but at this stage I’m happy with the progress that has been made so far.

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