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Paintings of olive trees

Alan Reed

Olive Grove, Spring Light

I’ve been painting “en plein air” in Italy since 1991 when Susan took me to Venice. I fell in love with its architecture, the light, atmosphere and culture. However, it was not until our first visit to Umbria in March 2002 that I started to make sketchbook studies of olive trees.

We were staying in the Relais il Canalicchio hotel, perched on a hill commanding stunning views of the Umbrian countryside. During the first night of our stay, having enjoyed a fabulous meal at their restaurant, there was a heavy fall of snow. We awoke to complete silence and total white out. We were literally snowed in until the following day. Once the snow had cleared we began to explore Umbria in earnest, taking in hilltop towns like Orvieto, Todi, Perugia, Assisi and Norcia.

On one occasion we drove to the Fabriano paper factory and I purchased several leather bound sketchbooks containing their wonderful hand made watercolour paper that is so lovely to paint on. On our return to the Relais il Canalicchio I wasted no time in testing the first sketchbook by painting the view from our room as the sun was going down.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour from the Relais il Canalicchio

It was during this period that I began to develop a sketchbook painting style in watercolour where I would deliberately avoid drawing out beforehand the scene in pencil. This meant that the brush marks became more considered, fluid and direct.

I also began to make sketchbook studies of the olive trees that surrounded the tiny hill top town of Canalicchio. These became the inspiration for a number of studio paintings including the one below of the Relais il Canalicchio available as a limited edition print.

Painting of Relais il Canalicchio

Relais il Canalicchio

On our reedart painting holidays in Umbria we stay at Chiesa del Carmine. The gardens have plenty of olive trees for the guests to paint. They have fun painting and drawing their twisted branches and beautifully shaped leaves. I also join in the fun with my own sketchbook watercolours. These days I make my own sketchbooks using paper from Khadi Papers and leather from a local supplier.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Olive trees

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Tree of the Year

Painting of Robin Hood's Tree, Hadrians Wall

Sycamore Gap, Hadrians Wall

Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland was voted Tree of the Year this week by a public vote for the nations best loved tree, organised by The Woodland Trust. 

The winning tree will now receive a grant of £1000 for some “Tree LC” and will compete against trees from all over the Continent for the title of European Tree of the Year, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association.

I recall painting a watercolour of the tree in snow as a Christmas Card for the Marie Curie Cancer fund over 10 years ago. This stretch of Hadrian’s Wall is bleak but spectacular in its barreness and stark beauty. As I’m writing this I’m feeling compelled to go for a walk along the wall and do a spot of sketching!

Sycamore Gap is also known as Robin Hood’s Tree for its appearance in the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.

I’ve since painted the famous tree of the year again in winter sunlight. My viewpoint is taken from the Military Road which shows the tree of the year nestling in the famous gap in the wall. Sunlight is catching the clouds behind and creating an overall feeling of warmth to the painting.

The painting forms part of my Christmas Exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland which finishes on the 24th December 2016.

 

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San Gimignano

Alan Reed

San Gimignano, Afternoon Sunlight

Susan and I first visited San Gimignano in February 1999. We were staying in Florence for several days and having seen San Gimignano featured on a holiday programme, we decided to go there for the day. A local bus took us to nearby Poggibonsi then after a short wait, another bus to our destination, the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano.

From a distance it looks like a mini Manhattan with its 14 towers gracing the Tuscan skyline. Apparently it did boast 72 towers, built by the Patrician families who controlled the town. The bigger the tower, the greater your wealth! I remember painting a watercolour by the well in Piazza della Cisterna whilst Susan went off to buy some wild boar salami for an al fresco lunch. Even though it was February, it was bright, warm and sunny, ideal conditions for painting “en plein air”.

After lunch I spent the afternoon wandering about gathering further reference to do a studio painting to add to my Italian Collection of Limited Edition Prints. As the sun began to set and we made our way to the bus I noticed that the stonework began to turn a beautifully warm pink with hints of orange. I logged the colours in my mind and decided that this would be mood and atmosphere I would aim to capture.

The studio painting of San Gimignano which was reproduced as a limited edition print was an immediate success. I still sell copies of it online and from our gallery in Ponteland. More recently I’ve painted a portrait version of a similar view which is also available as a limited edition print.

You can see a short video on YouTube of the original watercolour “San Gimignano, Afternoon sunlight” which can also be seen at my Studio & Gallery.

 

 

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Roman Forum

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, First Light

For over a year now I have been working on a number of painting commissions for an overseas client who has a passion for Roman history and paintings depicting Roman architecture. To paint these subjects with the kind of insight and integrity that they deserve, I make sure that I gather sufficient original reference by going on location to the exact places that have been requested.

Considerable time is spent surveying the subject from different angles and at different times of day to get the best composition and lighting. For this particular view of the Roman Forum I awoke when it was still dark and walked briskly from our hotel room along the deserted streets of Rome to capture the first rays of sunlight striking the ancient columns of the Temple of Saturn. I have to say, if you are visiting any busy city, it’s well worth the effort to get up early before the rest of the tourists take to the streets.

I wasted no time in whipping out my leather bound sketchbook to do a rapid watercolour study to get a feeling of the mood, light and general atmosphere of the Roman Forum.

Alan Reed

Painting on location in Rome

After taking several photographs from my first view point of the Roman Forum, I then made my way to another vantage point to tackle another possible painting. By then however, the sun had risen considerably higher so the lighting was not as interesting. I decided to return again the following morning. Fortunately I’m used to getting up early, so another visit was very much a pleasure than a chore. In the end, it was the second painting which the client was delighted with and which has been added to his growing collection of Alan Reed original paintings.

I’m pleased to say that my original painting of the Roman Forum titled First Light has been published as a limited edition print available online and from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland. The original watercolour is also currently on view as well.

 

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Painting Grey Street

Alan Reed

Shoppers, Grey Street

Grey Street in Newcastle has been described by the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as the finest curved street in Europe. I never tire of sitting down to capture its fine sweeping curve and Georgian columns in all seasons. You can see a number of limited edition prints of Newcastle’s Grey Street including  Grey Street, Saturday Morning which was featured on the BBC’s “Show me the Monet”.

Newcastle is a very busy city so when painting Grey Street I find it great fun to bring life to the scene by adding in people for extra movement and interest. It’s even more fun painting Grey Street in winter because you have the extra challenge of resolving the reflections of the sky, buildings and figures in the wet pavement. Watercolour is the ideal medium for this but you need to know the sequence of washes and how to build up the colour.

You will notice that the gentle yellow colour that you can see just above the distant buildings is actually running throughout the entire painting (apart from the snow lying on the rooftops) and is particularly evident in the pavement in the centre of the foreground. When the wash of yellow dried, I wet the sheet of paper and introduced a very subtle hint of Rose Madder in the sky and foreground before introducing the slate grey for the sky and reflections.

After these washes had dried, it was simply a matter of adding detail to depict the architectural forms before finally painting the various figure. Over the years I’ve developed a “shorthand” painting technique to capture figures moving about. Photography can be a help but it’s also a very useful discipline to observe and sketch from life. That way you can’t get bogged down with detail. You have to pick out the main gesture and gender of the person and make sure that you have them positioned at the correct eye level.

Painting Grey Street outdoors is a real challenge and not for the faint hearted. As I’m writing this blog post, I’m getting tempted to get out there again! In the meantime however, my studio painting “Shoppers, Grey Street” can be seen online and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Mount Street Gardens

Mount Street Gardens is a very quiet, peaceful public garden in Mayfair, London created in 1889. When I first came across it I was immediately struck by its calm, tranquil atmosphere. The warm afternoon sunlight was forming dappled areas of sunlight and shadows. There was little sound of the traffic, only the birds which have made Mount Street Gardens their home.

I wasted little time in getting out my sketchbook to make some simple watercolour studies to capture the scene which you can see below. A light wash of Cadmium Lemon over most of the page has added warmth to all the other colours. As with the majority of my sketchbook watercolours, there is no preliminary pencil drawing. I prefer to draw with the brush with paint so that all the brush marks are loose and have a directness to them.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Mount Street Gardens

The studio painting is a 12″ x 9″ watercolour available from my website and has been painted on Arches watercolour paper. I’ve deliberatly chosen to keep the same palette as the sketch and avoided the temptation to tighten up with extra detail. I did take several photographs that afternoon and decided to base the composition on a viewpoint where I was standing up, rather than the seated position for the sketch.

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Paintings of Umbria

Alan Reed

Via Roma, Montone

It’s the time of year when I’m busy working on commissions and fitting in time to paint new works for my Christmas exhibition. One of my latest works is this street scene of Via Roma in Montone, Umbria available as a limited edition print.

When we were taking our guests on the Painting Holidays in Italy this year, we spent an afternoon in the delightful hilltop town, Montone. It’s a lovely place with plenty of subject matter to paint. I did a couple of watercolours “en plein air” which were the inspiration for this A4 painting on deckled edged paper.

Over the years, my Paintings of Umbria have resonated with many customers, particularly those who have properties there. I’ve been very fortunate to have received a number of commissions to go out and paint original paintings of clients homes throughout this beautiful region, described as the “Green Heart of Italy”.

Often with my Paintings of Umbria, I deliberately choose to use a limited palatte to create mood and atmosphere. I will refer back to my studies painted on location to ensure that I retain the lively brush marks and looseness of the original sketch. This studio painting of Via Roma follows that pattern. There’s a strong feeling of light and movement running throughout the painting, even in the shadow areas.

This is one of several Paintings of Umbria that will go on display for my Christmas Exhibition later on this year. Please sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on new paintings and events.

 

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Springtime

Alan Reed

Bamburgh Castle Watercolour

It’s springtime! As I’m writing this blog post the weather outside feels distinctly more like winter but that’s not untypical for April in the north east of England. Despite the weather, springtime is the theme for my exhibition currently on show at my gallery in Ponteland throughout the month of April.

Because we can experience such variable weather, sometimes in a single day, my springtime exhibition is as equally varied. There’s an eclectic mix of places and subjects to see for springtime like some of the very picturesque fishing villages on the East Neuk of Fife, cityscapes of Edinburgh and the Alps, including my painting “Mont Blanc and Manganese Blue” which was selected for the Royal Watercolour Society Exhibition earlier this year.

Other subjects include some classic views of Newcastle’s Grey Street, the Roman Forum in Italy both of which have been captured in springtime. I also have some figurative paintings on display too.

Springtime is often a period where we take a fresh look at our homes and gardens to create a new look and feel to the environment we spend so much time in. What better place to start than to add to your art collection.

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Painting of Pittenweem

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Pittenweem.

“A Mix for March” is a new exhibition at the Gullane Gallery which started on the 12th March. I’ve a number of new works on display including this new Painting of Pittenweem. I was fortunate to travel up to the East Neuk of Fife earlier in the year to do some sketchbook watercolours of three of the very picturesque fishing villages dotted along the coastline.

For this particular Painting of Pittenweem, I wanted to retain the loose sketchbook qualities of the “en plein air” study so I used a hand made Indian rag paper with deckled edges and a rough surface. I kept the brush marks lively and fresh without loosing too much detail.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Pittenweem

It’s not the first time I’ve produced a painting of Pittenweem. If you visit my website www.alanreed.com you will see a range of limited edition prints of the East Nuek of Fife including one of Pittenweem.

The exhibition at the Gullane Gallery finishes 3rd April.

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Princes Street

Alan Reed

Princes Street, Edinburgh

I have a number of new watercolours being exhibited at the Gullane Gallery, East Lothian 12th March until 3rd April. One of the paintings going on show is this cityscape capturing Princes Street, Edinburgh on a winter’s afternoon.

The scene is taken from Calton Hill which boasts commanding views over the city. Often it is the inclusion of figures which can bring a cityscape to life, but in this instance it’s the traffic, in particular the buses nudging their way into the queues of cars, that bring a sense movement to the watercolour.

Even though the time of year is winter and the sun has almost set, there’s a strong feeling of warmth and light coming through because of the base washes of Cadmium Lemon and Rose Madder. This is contrasted by the cold shadows created by a quite bold application of Paynes Grey for the road and rooftops. Further interest has been achieved by the highlights on the cars and buses on Princes Street which have been very simply rendered.

Lifting out some of the colour has brought a feeling of mist and smokiness, giving the architecture an ethereal quality which has enhanced the depth and ariel perspective to Auld Reekie.

I also have a limited edition print titled Princes Street which is available online at alanreed.com and from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

 

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