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Ponteland Paintings

Watercolour of 1 Main Street, Ponteland

1 Main Street, Ponteland

The watercolour above is a scene in Ponteland I first painted back in 1980 when I was an art student. I remember selling the original watercolour to one of my lecturers at the time. Little did I know that 23 years later I would have a Studio & Gallery 2003-2008 upstairs in the building on the right hand side of the painting.

I’ve reproduced the watercolour as a limited edition print. You can see it at my Studio & Gallery which is now at our home in Ponteland, 17 Cheviot View, just a short walk from Dobbies Garden Centre.

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Tyne Bridges in the Snow

Tyne Bridges in Snow Christmas Card

Tyne Bridges in Snow

Paintings of the Tyne Bridges always strike a cord with folk from the North East. The charity The Cyrenians based in Newcastle work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. earlier this year Sian Thomas, their marketing administrator, asked if they could use some of my paintings as Christmas Cards to help raise money for the charity which has been going for over 40 years.

This original watercolour of Newcastle’s bridges and quayside caught in a snow shower is the third painting which about to be scanned, ready to be reproduced as a charity Christmas card. All three paintings, including this one of the Tyne Bridges, can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland from next week.

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Angel Christmas Card

Angel Christmas Card

Angel, Snow Sunset Christmas Card

Many years ago I did an Angel Christmas Card to help raise money for a local charity. Earlier this year I was approached by the charity The Cyrenians based in Newcastle who work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. Sian Thomas, their marketing administrator, asked if they could use some of my paintings as Christmas Cards to help raise money for the charity which has been going for over 40 years.

Over the last 20 years or more, I know that the paintings I have done have raised thousands of pounds through being reproduced as Christmas cards, in particular for the Marie Curie cancer care, so I was more than happy to oblige.

We’ve decided to do three paintings of Newcastle, the first of which is a classic scene of the Theatre Royal in the Snow which was a sell out limited edition print. I’ve painted a similar view recently which I reproduced as a limited edition print titled Grey Street, Snow Shower.

The second card is this one of The Angel of the North depicted against the backdrop of a winter sunset, the colours of the sky being reflected in the snow. The two figures at the feet of the Angel help to create a sense of scale.

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Theatre Royal in the Snow

Theatre Royal in Snow Watercolour

Theatre Royal in Snow

Over the years I’ve painted the Theatre Royal in Newcastle many times in different season and from various view points. I know that it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas but for those of us who are involved in Charity Christmas cards, it’s time to get things moving.

Over the last few months I’ve been working on several paintings to be reproduced as Christmas cards for the Cyrenians, a charity based in Newcastle who work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people.

This one titled Theatre Royal in the Snow is similar to a watercolour I painted earlier in the year titled Grey Street Snow Shower which is currently available as a limited edition print.

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Painting of Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle Painting

Painting of Dunstanburgh Castle

I don’t need much of an excuse to paint Dunstanburgh Castle. Northumberland’s Castles are well photographed and painted by amateurs and professionals alike. I’ve often been commissioned to do paintings of castles and I have to say, it’s always a delight. One such project came in 2003 when I was commissioned to do around a dozen large watercolours of the regions castles for a major North East Company for their boardrooms. Dunstanburgh Castle was one of the chosen paintings and I decided to paint it on a summer evening just as the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon.

I recently went back to the reference I gathered on that evening to do a watercolour demonstration for a painting class. They asked me to show them how to tackle a seascape in watercolour. The painting above is the result. I’ve painted a similar version of the scene which is available as a limited edition print.

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The Lit & Phil Library

Lit & Phil Watercolour

Lit & Phil Original Watercolour

The Lit & Phil stands for the Literary and Philosophical Society which was founded in 1793 as a place for the people of the North East to meet, talk and learn. Its members were many of the leading thinkers and innovators of their day and early presidents included Robert Stephenson, Lord Armstrong and Joseph Swan. The present building was opened in 1825 and the magnificent reading rooms remain largely unchanged today. Sadly, many folk in the region are not aware of its existence and are truly missing out on this outstanding resource for learning.

Earlier this year I visited the Lit & Phil in Newcastle for the first time and was introduced to Alma Devine their fundraiser. The building is in desperate need of some tender loving care to maintain its status as a landmark building with an extraordinary library. I have agreed to do a watercolour of the Grade 2 listed building and a limited edition print run with a portion of sales to donate to the fundraising cause. An exhibition of some of my paintings will be open to the public from Friday 6th July and will run throughout the month. Again, a portion of painting sales will go to the Lit & Phil.

I’m also doing a portrait in oils of North East Businessman Bill Midgley, chairman of Leazes Homes who is the Appeal Co-ordinator of the Lit and Phil. Both paintings will be unveiled at a special private viewing on the 5th July to launch the exhibition. Should you wish to receive an invitation to the special preview for the exhibition then please contact me.

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Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

The Northumbrian town of Alnwick boasts a magnificent castle as well as stunning gardens. I’ve had the privilege of painting both. In 2003 I was commissioned to paint over a dozen Northumbrian Castles in watercolour for a leading North East company to grace the walls of their boardrooms and Alnwick Castle was one of them.

I had already decided that I would spread the paintings out over the course of a whole year so that I was capturing all of the seasons. After working out when the sun was most likely to be catching the ancient architecture, I felt that the last light of a summer evening was going to best for this particular scene.

It was painted on an expensive hand made watercolour paper, heavily textured, which was ideal for rendering both the stone and the foreground grasses. It also allowed me to make quite large, free brush strokes to indicate the low lying clouds reflected in the slow moving River Aln. The painting that was commissioned worked well for the client and I was so pleased with the result that I decided to do a slightly different interpratation of the same view which I later reproduced as a limited edition print. The original watercolour can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Dunstanburgh Castle, November afternoon

Dunstanburgh Castle, November Afternoon

Dunstanburgh Castle, November Afternoon

In November 2009 my birthday fell on our day off, a Monday, so Susan and I decided to celebrate by driving up the Northumbrian coast to Newton by the Sea to have lunch in The Ship Inn. After feasting on crab sandwiches and some local ale we walked along the beach towards Dunstanburgh Castle. I stopped to do a small sketchbook watercolour (yes even on my birthday) to capture the striking low light.

There was no wind and the sea was like a mill pond. I took some photographs and wasted little time in the studio to set about producing this watercolour which sold last year from a charity exhibition at the CastleGate in Newcastle in 2011. I did reproduce it as a limited edition print and sold another copy this afternoon to a couple purchasing it as a 40th birthday present for their daughter. There are only 25 copies in the edition which can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

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Theatre Royal at night

Theatre Royal at Night

Theatre Royal at Night

Prints of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne are always popular but I’ve seen very few artists paint it at night which is when most theatre lovers see it. Artificial light is not easy to capture convincingly in paint, particularly in watercolour, however, this scene has worked well. The key is keeping the palate simple and the colours clean and fresh in terms of application.

For this watercolour I used Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Yellow, Purple, Paynes Grey and French Ultramarine for most of the painting with touches of Scarlet Lake and Windsor Green for some of the details on the figures and traffic lights.

The original watercolour sold many years ago but I do have other original paintings of the Theatre Royal on view online and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Grainger Street

Grainger Street

Grainger Street

The popularity of my limited edition prints is partially down to the fact that I usually include figures in the paintings which bring the painting to life. Over the years I spent considerable time observing people going about their daily business in cities like Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Venice, Florence and New York. I’ve developed a kind of shorthand for drawing them on the move in my sketchbook which I can refer to when I come to do a studio painting. I will of course take photographs as it’s impossible to draw people in detail walking about the streets unless they are deliberately modelling for you.

It’s the figures in this painting which are the dominant point of interest. Folk have often commented that they love the old man shuffling along with his newspaper sticking out of his back pocket, the two old ladies nattering away with their shopping bags and the road sweeper who has stopped to light up a fag. The original painting sold many years ago but the limited edition print titled Grainger Street is still available online or from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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