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Paintings of Tiree

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree

2017 has been a very busy year for Susan and I both with business and family. Our son was married 13th May so as a way to relax after the build up to the wedding we planned a painting trip to a Scottish Island called Tiree. Some friends of ours bought a holiday cottage there called An Caladh ( meaning rest place by the sea ) so we arranged a three night stay and hoped that the weather would be favourable and that its name would live up to expectations.

As we left from Glasgow Airport in a Twin Otter we hit thick cloud so it wasn’t until we descended below cloud level that we caught our first view of this small island, only about 8 miles long. We landed on the tiny airstrip that was once used by Coastal Command during WW2 to be greeted by our friends.

First port of call was Scarinish Harbour to purchase lobsters, crabs, fresh langoustines and local steaks for our evening meals which were exquisitely prepared by Susan. Whilst these were being discussed at the local fish van I launched into my first sketchbook watercolour of the picturesque harbour set against the backdrop of an ominous sky.

Alan Reed

Tiree Lobster & Crab

 

Alan Reed

Langoustines from Tiree

Fortunately the ominous sky was more of a show than a shower so after lunch we were able to enjoy a sunlit walk along Balephil Bay where I painted the beautiful white sands. This just whetted my appetite for more beach paintings so before our evening meal I went down to Balevullin Beach only 5 minutes walk from An Caladh.

The beach is a favourite haunt for surfers and I could see why as the waves rushed in. I found a suitable vantage point and tackled two watercolours of the beach, one in my sketchbook, the other on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Block.

Alan Reed

The beach at Balevullin, high tide

The next day I returned to do another sketchbook watercolour, this time changing the format of the composition to include the foreground rocks. Due to the strong sunlight and low tide, the sea became more turquoise in colour which made for a completely different painting. I was already starting to build up a mini collection of Paintings of Tiree to be developed into more finished pieces.

Alan Reed

The beach at Balevullin, Tiree

The pattern for the weather was rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon and great sunsets in the evening so on the Monday morning I was confined to painting a view from one of the windows of An Caladh. The distant white houses highlighted against the threatening sky and the palm tree made for an interesting composition.

Alan Reed

View from a window, An Caladh, Tiree

Producing Paintings of Tiree is just one of the many activities I enjoyed during our three days on the island.

Did I mention the bike rides, watching thirty seals playing very close to the shore of Balephetrish Beach, wonderful walks and spotting very large hares, feasting on local produce, bird watching and a visit to the museum about Skerryvore Lighthouse?

As we took off, the skies were clear so we were able to enjoy stunning views of the inner Hebrides including Staffa, Mull and Iona, a reminder of some of the paintings I have produced in the past of these islands.

Visit alanreed.com to get updates on new Paintings of Tiree.

Alan Reed

Tiree Sunset

 

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Painting Holidays in Italy

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine watercolour

We have just returned from another wonderful week in Umbria where we ran another Painting Holiday. Once again Chiesa del Carmine was the venue. For some of the guests it was their 3rd and 4th Painting Holiday in Italy with us and they have already re-booked for 2018 along with some our new guests this year.

This time we decided to make the holiday even more relaxing by hiring a luxury coach to enable stress free transfers for guests travelling from Newcastle Airport and for our day trips out to the hilltop towns of Assisi, Cortona, Todi and Perugia.

We added wine tasting and a fun trip around the nearby vineyards to our itinery which everyone loved.

The painters responded well to the challenge of painting “en plein air” throughout the week and were pleased with their results. It was a delight to see them develop their skills and grow in their understanding of drawing and painting.

As usual, I would often paint alongside the painters to aid tuition. Sometimes I would do a simple pen drawing in my sketchbook to help resolve the composition.

Alan Reed

Pen & Ink drawing of a vineyard near Chiesa del Carmine

Alan Reed

Sketch book pen drawing of Todi, Umbria

On other occasions I would either paint a sketchbook watercolour on hand made watercolour paper in the new batch of leather bound sketchbooks I had made myself at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle. It’s so rewarding painting in a sketchbook you have made yourself.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of a vineyard

Or I would produce a larger painting on an Arches Watercolour Block. Sometimes I would do all three!

Although there is always lots to paint around Chiesa del Carmine, when you are running Painting Holidays in Italy, it’s always fun to break up the weeks activities by visiting other nearby places. The hilltop town of Todi has easy access for the guests who are less mobile. Park at the bottom of the town and take the funicular to the top where you can get terrific views of  the town which are fascinating to paint.

Several of the guests had a go at painting the scene below. What could have been quite a daunting cityscape for many was simplified by breaking down the complex array of gable ends, eaves and rooftops into more manageable horizontal and vertical shapes. A light wash of Lemon Yellow and Rose Madder for the sunlit areas and a gentle purple mix for the shadows helped to capture the higgledy piggledy nature of the Medieval town without resorting to lots of fussy detail.

Alan Reed

Todi, Umbria

It was a very satisfying trip on so many levels, summed up beautifully by the lovely testimonial below from one of our new guests who has already re- booked for 2018.

 

“Of all the many and varied holidays I’ve had this was one of the very best.  So many aspects of it will stay with me:  the beauty, tranquility, flora and fauna of the valley; the superb reverentially restored church and farmhouse; the attention to detail and comfort (who would have thought of building a fridge and glasses cupboard into an ancient wall surrounding the swimming pool?); the wonderfully talented chefs and friendly staff; the lovely and unspoiled local towns and cities and, most importantly of all, the thought and care that goes into combining all of these into a perfectly balanced week with something for everyone and lots of choice.
 
What about the painting? you’ll be thinking. This was a very personal experience for each of us. As someone with a love of art and no experience of creating any I learned something very important. How to look and how to see. I love Alan’s style and very much enjoy the paintings of his I own. A treasured possessions is one of his exquisite notebooks.
 
He is a sensitive, encouraging teacher at the same time as being an honest and helpful critic (not an easy balance to achieve). I confess to being frustrated by my own crass attempts at producing an actual painting of something recognisable but was not discouraged. I learned about mixing colours, appropriate brushes and something about the techniques I’d be so proud to master. I do have a drawing of an olive tree I’m quite happy with.
 
It was an absolute joy to watch those more skilled (and dedicated!) on site, in cafes, churches and viewpoints learning, sketching and painting. The finished works are more than inspiring.
 
I’m much better at shopping.  And Susan is a highly skilled mentor and adviser in this respect. Local knowledge and networking is something else that is a huge bonus in so many aspects of this holiday.
 
Good conversation, laughter and fun were in abundance last week. I’m missing that already – and the sun. Did I mention the sun? It shone all the time and sometimes with a gentle cooling breeze. Perfect. Everything was, actually, perfect.
 
 Thank you Susan and Alan so, so much”.
Maggie C

We have already set one of the dates for our Painting Holidays in Italy for 2018, 2nd – 9th June. There is now only one double room available.

Due to growing interest, we are considering running another one of our Painting Holidays in Italy in either September or October 2017. You can register your interest for 2018 at reedartholidays.com or alanreed.com

 

 

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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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