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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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River Tyne

River Tyne Sunset, Near North Shields

River Tyne Sunset

One of the first commissions I received when I went self employed back in 1984 was to do two original watercolours of the River Tyne near the North Shields Fish Quay for a leading North East businessman. Over the years I’ve enjoyed going back to the reference material I gathered back then to do fresh interpretations of the same scenes. My watercolour style and technique has changed over the years but it still ends up being a joy to tackle paintings of the Tyne which capture a bygone era.

The River Tyne of course has been an inspiration for local songwriters and musicians including Sting, Lindisfarne and Jimmy Nail and when you spend time looking at the Big River it’s easy to see why.

The scene above titled “River Tyne Sunset” is now available as a limited edition giclee print online and from our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. It was painted as a very large original watercolour which was challenging to paint with huge washes of colour to control for the sky and water.

Another difficulty was ensuring that the colours worked together. In particular I had to be careful that the Manganese Blue didn’t pollute the yellows and oranges around the darker cloud shapes. In the end I was very satisfied with final outcome and feel it is a long overdue addition to our growing collection of North East Prints.

 

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Paintings of Venice

Alan Reed

Handmade Sketchbooks

I’ve been fortunate to paint on location in Venice many times since my first visit in 1991. A small box of watercolour paints, travelling brush and a hand made sketchbook is all you need to capture its wonderful light, mood and atmosphere. Many of my studio Paintings of Venice started off as either small watercolours on blocks or sketchbook watercolours.

On our last trip there in 2012 I recall taking the vaporetto across the dark waters of the lagoon to St Marks Square. I managed to take a few photographs of San Marco before reaching the stop. The sketchbook watercolours and photographs became the inspiration for a small watercolour “Venezia di Notte”. I decided to make a video of the main aspects of how I painted this scene which you can see on YouTube.

For those of you who are interested in painting in watercolour I’ve added the script for the video which gives you the names of some of the colours I’ve used which you may find helpful.

“I’ve sketched the main elements in pencil so the first step is to get some colour down. After wetting the paper I’m using my usual mix of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow to provide the base colour for the artificial light that illuminates the magnificent architecture that attracts so many tourists.

This first wash covers the top half of the paper but for the bottom half I’m being more selective, leaving some of the white of the paper to indicate the lights around the buildings and their light reflecting in the water. Whist the paint is still wet, I’m dropping in some more intense colour to add variation.

Now for some Rose Madder to add depth to the night sky and warmth to the architecture. As with the first wash of yellow, I’ve wet the paper to help the colour spread easily without leaving any steaks. However I’ve left the paper is dry where the buildings are so I can paint hard edges to define them.

This colour is also being reflected in the water. You’ll see that I’m having to be more precise with the brush marks even though I am wanting the overall scene to look lively and loose. The texture of the watercolour paper helps the brush marks to retain a sense of spontaneity.

This next wash is a mix of purple with a touch of turquoise which I’m going to be using throughout the painting, not just for the sky but also for some of the architectural details. Again, I wet the paper with clean water before adding this wash. Just softening the edge of the wash with some clean water before tackling the windows with a much smaller brush. It’s worth saying that this video only represents a fraction of the time I’ve spent painting the details.

Now it’s time to use a colour which appears as black but it’s actually a mix of Paynes Grey, Purple and Lamp Black. This time it’s wet on dry. Again, I’m using a small brush to pick my way around the distinctive architecture.

Alan Reed

The Original Watercolour “Venezia di Notte”

I’m continuing to take my time rendering the different features of the Doges Palace. You will notice that the preceding colours of yellow and Rose Madder loose their dominance when the much darker colours are placed alongside.

These finer details are very small, occupying an area of just a few centimetres so I’m taking a little bit more time to paint them in. Having a contrast of larger, looser, bolder brush marks up against finer, more precise strokes creates further interest in the painting.

Once again, I’m taking my time, working carefully on the different elements of the painting so that they look convincing and credible when there is so much going on. Each arch is painted differently.

You will also notice a few little blobs of slightly darker yellow. This is masking fluid for the white lamps which I will rub off at the end when the paint is dry. A touch of Rose Madder to the turquoise grey adds further interest to these dark arches.

Back to the big brush and the black mix for the night sky. I’m working rapidly wet on dry to avoid streaks. Care is needed here because I’m also having to define the the left hand side of the bell tower and the tops of the buildings. Even though the brush has a decent point I have to switch brushes for the finer details.

Now a rusty red mix for the campanile, St Marks Bell Tower. First painting around the windows then working my way down the tower.

The base colours of yellow and Rose Madder are giving the effect of light as I’m picking out its features. The same rusty red colour is used again for the reflection in the water. I can afford to be more expressive with my brush strokes.

More reflections with the dark turquoise grey wash, being conscious that the water is constantly moving so the brush strokes that I’m making need to be communicating movement.

There are lots of gondolas berthed at the waters edge so these are painted using the black mix, together with their mooring poles and other details. Again small brush is required. It’s these contrasting tones, light and dark that are doing all the work.

The same colour is used for further reflections so that the water really does start looking dark and mysterious, particularly up against the light that is now starting to sparkle in the water. I’m using the side of the brush with horizontal strokes. Once again, it’s another contrast to the vertical brush strokes I made earlier.

So there you have it, Venice at night, as seen from a vaporetto”.

My Paintings of Venice continue to be very popular with my customers. Susan and I are looking forward to returning to Venice later on in 2018.

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Paintings of Umbria

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Via dell’Orso

When producing Paintings of Umbria I always try to articulate in paint the distinctive characteristics of this fascinating region in Italy which my wife and I have been visiting since 2002. We’ve grown to love and appreciate Umbria’s wonderful hilltop towns, its food and wine. Through our reedartholidays we’ve been able to share our knowledge with many others who regularly join us. Our trip in June 2018 is already fully booked so we are taking expressions of interest for a possible trip in September 2018.

On a recent Painting Holiday to Italy we took our guests to Perugia, a large town in Umbria which has lots of narrow streets winding their way to the top. I noticed this particular street which was mainly in shadow apart from a shaft of sunlight breaking out to catch different aspects of the architecture in the distance.

I quickly whipped out my sketchbook and did this small watercolour making sure that I captured not only the sunlight and shadows but also the figure to provide a sense of scale and interest. By the time I had finished there was another strong shaft of midday sunlight hitting the top of the archway I was under on the right hand side.

I was recently doing a watercolour demonstration for a North East Club and decided to do a much larger watercolour inspired by the sketchbook study. In the demonstration I only got as far as the first two washes. The first was a mix of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. Once that dried I went over parts of that first wash with some Rose Madder.

For the benefit of those attending the demonstration I decided to video me finishing off the rest of the Painting of Umbria which you can watch on YouTube. Most of the video is a time lapse and it doesn’t include all the painting work I did but it does give you an idea of how I tackled the main areas and some of the important details.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Via dell”Orso, Umbria

You can see in the video that I’ve been very direct with the brush marks to keep them lively and fresh. I’ve also dropped in some more Rose Madder to capture parts of the stone work being warmed by the sunlight.

Once the shadow areas have dried you can see how there is some lovely granulation of the pigment which provides some interesting texture to the stonework.

I used a much smaller brush to start adding in a few areas of detail like the windows, stonework and bricks. I kept the original sketchbook study close at hand to make sure I didn’t fall in to the trap of just copying the reference photograph which I use for accuracy.

I always let the shadow areas dry before going in with the details like the dark doorways and I like leave some of the first washes to show through to bring some light and sparkle to parts of the painting which could otherwise become lifeless.

The bottom of the street is sunlit and this became the focal point of the painting, not just because of the warmer, lighter colours but also because of the figure making its way down the steep hill.

I went into the shadows with some even darker tones for further detail and depth. And it was back to using the big brush to avoid going to fiddly. You can also see in the video that I’m not just using the tip of the brush but also its side, using it to catch the very rough texture of the paper, which is Fabriano Esporzione, a beautiful handmade paper.

A few more details were added before making the decision to lift out some of the colour where the sun is just above the tops of the buildings. This emphasised the sense of sunlight breaking out to create the shaft of light cutting through the dark, slightly foreboding shadows.

So there you have it. A large watercolour of Via Dell “Orso in Perugia, Umbria available from www.alanreed.com and from our Gallery in Ponteland.

You can see more watercolour Paintings of Umbria and painting videos on alanreed.com

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Painting of Seaton Sluice

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Watercolour

Earlier this summer I painted a small sketchbook watercolour Painting of Seaton Sluice on location.

As well as being a family day out, it was a typical summers day in the north east, patches of blue sky with sunlight bursting through dark threatening clouds.

I decided to work the sketch up into a larger 14” x 10” studio painting on an Arches Watercolour Block which I made a video of showing the different stages. You can watch the video here on YouTube.

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Sketchbook Watercolour

As in the sketchbook watercolour I decided to keep the rooftops of some of the buildings white to indicate bright sunlight striking the surface. I could have used masking fluid but instead carefully painted around them using just clean water.

The water allows the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to flow quite freely around the areas I wanted to keep white so that the application of colour looks fresh and lively.

Whilst the yellow was still wet, I introduced some Raw Sienna to the party accompanied by the delightful Rose Madder for the sandy beach colours.

Again, I left a few areas of white for the waves and the sunlight dancing off the surface of the pools of water. The rough surface of the paper helped to suggest the highlights.

Using Manganese Blue, the next step was to paint in the transitory patches of blue sky that appear behind the darker clouds.

Once again, I’ve wet appropriate parts of the paper to create some soft edges to the blue and to allow this colour to flow with ease.

Whilst this was still wet, next another touch of Rose Madder to create a gentle purple just above the rooftops. Let it dry.

Now for the dangerous part! Using some purple and a mix of Paynes Grey and Lamp Black it was time to create some drama.

I wet the paper where I want the dark clouds to flow then dropped in this dark mix, pushing it about, catching the rough surface in places where the paper is dry to emphasis the cloud edges. Initially it looked really dark, but I knew it would dry lighter.

A touch of French Ultramarine helped to add further interest to the clouds. More clean water added variation to the density of the sky.

You will notice also on the video that I don’t paint over the areas of colour once I’ve applied them. Doing so tends to kill the translucency of the pigment and the wash looses its freshness. It’s best to live with the shapes you initially make rather than trying to go over them to try and improve what you’ve already done……..you probably won’t.

Back to the darker colour for the higher clouds for a greater sense of ariel perspective. You will notice that I’m also varying the angle of the brush to produce more interesting marks.

When the sky is totally dry, it was time to define the buildings perched on the horizon, a distinctive feature in a Painting of Seaton Sluice. I carefully picked out the main details like the windows and chimneys. This took a while.

Having reviewed the sky, I wasn’t totally happy with a slight cauliflower effect. I lifted it out by applying some clean water then just disturbing the surface of the paint, dabbing it off with a tissue.

The sea is a mix of French Ultramarine and turquoise, moving the brush horizontally and allowing some of the white of the paper to show through for the waves.

I was careful to get the shapes right without getting too niggely or too tight. Then introduced some purple for the shallower pools of water.

Unlike the sketch, I decided to introduce a strong foreground shadow produced by a passing cloud to keep the interest in the middle distance. I used a much more intense purple colour. I also wetted the paint beforehand to let the colour flow and to create a gentle, soft edge where the dark shadow meets the sunlit sand.

Finally, I scratched out a few further highlights of sun on the surface of the pools of water with a scalpel.

So there you have it. A small sketchbook watercolour painted on the beach inspiring this larger studio Painting of Seaton Sluice.

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Hawker Sea Fury

Alan Reed

Hawker Sea Fury

I was recently asked if I had ever painted aircraft. Two commissions from the 1980’s sprung to mind. One was from a friend who’s father was part of a Halifax Bomber crew during WW2. He was shot down and spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war.

The other commission was of a Hawker Sea Fury,  the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built. The painting was for a gentleman who’s father served on HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier from which the aircraft flew from.

These commissions were before the age of the internet, so there were very few photographs to work from that were easily accessible. In the case of the Halifax Bomber, I purchased an Airfix model, assembled it and photographed it from the angle I wanted. When it came to the finished painting I was able to add in the relevant squadron numbers to personalise the painting. My friend’s father passed away over 10 years ago but I know that he was very fond of the painting. It was proudly hung in his living room.

When it came to painting the Hawker Sea Fury I managed to find an old black and white photograph of HMS Illustrious, a number of drawings and photographs of the aircraft in various positions and some photographs of interesting cloud formations from the air. After experimenting with different compositions I decided that because the main subject was being viewed from the air, I would emphasis the airborne aspect of the Hawker Sea Fury by putting the horizon at a 45 degree angle.

Once again, I personalised the painting by giving the Hawker Sea Fury the appropriate markings. The client was delighted with his aviation painting and later commissioned another watercolour, this time a seascape depicting the Battle of Trafalgar.

If you have an idea for a painting commission then please visit our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland or website alanreed.com.

 

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Painting of Piccadilly

Alan Reed

Piccadilly, London

In 2016 I was working on a number of painting projects in London. As I was walking along Piccadilly, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight I was struck by the wonderful contrast between the warm rays of sunlight catching the opposite side of the street, the cool shadows and the way the two were being connected by shoppers darting in and out of the sun.

I had some time to spare so I dashed off a quick sketchbook watercolour knowing that it was warm enough for the paint to dry in time for my next appointment. Over the years I’ve developed a shorthand technique of rendering buildings and figures in a way which provides sufficient information to inspire me for any future studio paintings.

Once I’d knocked in the people (some of which were literally blobs of colour) I knew that this was going to work as a larger watercolour Painting of Piccadilly.

Because the main palette was Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Rose Madder and Manganese Blue, applied over a series of simple washes and non detailed shapes, I also felt that this Painting of Piccadilly would also work as a short video that might be helpful for any budding watercolourist.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Piccadilly

Obviously a few other colours have been introduced for the figures and the telephone box but essentially, like most of my paintings, I’ve kept it simple.

The Studio watercolour was painted on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Watercolour Block which is ideal for painting smaller watercolours as there is no need to stretch the paper.

The video Painting of Piccadilly shot on my iphone in my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland can now be seen on YouTube so I hope you find it helpful.

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