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Painting an Olive Tree

Painting an Olive Tree

Sketchbook Watercolour Painted in Umbria

One of the subjects I often get our guests on our Painting Holidays to have a go at is Painting an Olive Tree.

The grounds of Chiesa del Carmine are full of them. They are not too difficult to draw compared to other subjects so it’s relatively easy for the guests to spend a couple hours sketching to come up with a result they are pleased with.

On our last Painting Holiday in June this year I made a video of me Painting an Olive Tree. It was a small sketchbook watercolour painted in one of the leather bound sketchbooks that I’ve made containing some quite heavily textured watercolour paper.

Over the years I’ve often worked my sketchbook watercolours of olive trees into larger Studio paintings, making sure that I retain the spontaneity of the original study.

My interest in olive trees began when we first visited Umbria, Italy in 2002. I’d purchased some delightful leather bound sketchbooks from the Fabriano Paper Factory in the Marche region of Italy. I couldn’t wait to christen them with some watercolours and began by painting various scenes around the hotel we were staying. This was the start of a new creative process for me, painting directly with a brush onto hand made watercolour paper with no preparatory drawing in pencil.  Of course I’d painted on location in watercolour many times before, but it had always been on watercolour blocks. Also this was the first time I had not drawn out the scene before hand in pencil. I now have numerous leather-bound sketchbooks containing a wonderful record of our travels both here in the UK and overseas.

Throughout the months of July and August I am displaying my sketchbooks at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. Recently a couple of our guests who had been on two Painting Holidays with us, commissioned a watercolour inspired by one of my sketchbook studies. The subject was Perugia, one of the places we had taken them to. They wanted a painting to remind them of the lovely holidays they had been on. They have also re-booked for 2019 which means that our week in June 2019 is fully booked.

Please feel free to visit our gallery to look through my sketchbooks to see if there is something I’ve painted that reminds you of that special place that you have fond memories of. Best to telephone 01661 871 800 first to make sure we’re open.

 

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Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Castelluccio and Piano Grande

I was Painting Piano Grande for the first time in September 2004. I’d seen spectacular photographs of colourful flowers growing in this vast plateau in the Sibillini mountains and hoped to capture them in watercolour. Of course it was completely the wrong time of year! I needed to return in late spring, early summer.

In May we decided to see if Piano Grande could be a day trip for our Painting Holiday Guests. We’d booked two nights at Agriturismo “Il Casale degli Amici” just outside of Norcia. We found it was well located, just a few minutes drive from Norcia and 45 minutes drive from Castelluccio.

Norcia, Castelluccio and Piano Grande

Nothing could prepare us for the devastation we saw in Norcia. Susan and I were woken from our sleep when the earthquake struck just after 3:30am on the 24th August 2016. We were staying more than 50 miles away near Chiesa del Carmine. The epicentre was south east of Norcia and left 297 dead from the villages of Accumoli, Amatrice and Arquato del Tronto. We’d heard that Norcia had been hit by another earthquake on the 30th October 2016 and the damage was plain to see.

When we walked into Norcia, renowned for shops selling amazing local produce, we could see many that had closed down. A young man selling wild boar salamis and cheeses welcomed us to try them. They were delicious and a few minutes later we’d made a significant purchase!

It was so sad to see scaffolding surrounding the devastated church and many other buildings effected by the earthquakes. I remember writing about the shop signage below on a previous blog post. Tragically it is now closed.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

A Shop in Norcia

Shop Sign, Norcia, Umbria

Great Signage, Norcia, Umbria

Painting Piano Grande

After an amazing evening meal at “Il Casale degli Amici” and a great nights sleep, we set off for Piano Grande. The drive took us a little longer than usual because of damage to the roads. Several sets of traffic lights where the road was one lane held us up. The drive was spectacular, taking us through the rain clouds into bright sunshine where we were looking down onto the clouds.

We had to wait until noon to actually drive down into Piano Grande and Castelluccio because the road was closed for workmen repairing the road. This was not a problem for me. Painting Piano Grande was on my radar! Even though we’d seen poppies growing around Orvieto and Montefalco on our way, it was still too early here.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Piano Grande

 

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande

I had plenty of time to capture the few patches of snow on the Sibillini Mountains surrounding Piano Grande and the vast plateau where wonderful lentils are grown in the summer. When the road opened we had an hour to drive into Castelluccio which is sadly now a ghost town because of the earthquake. It’s going to take a while for Castelluccio to become inhabited again. It’s such a place of outstanding beauty I pray that it receives all the help it needs become a tourist destination, along with Norcia too.

 

 

 

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Painting in Italy

 

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio

 

Our next Painting Holiday at Chiesa del Carmine in Umbria in Italy is just a few weeks away. Once again we are fully booked. For some of our guests it will their fourth and fifth time with us Painting in Italy. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some wonderful trips out. We’ve visited many of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages which are a distinctive of Umbria. It’s described as the Green Heart of Italy.

Susan and I decided that it would be a great idea for us to travel out to do some Painting in Italy earlier this month. Our mission was also to visit a few of the towns that we haven’t been to for many years. We wanted to explore some new places that might be of interest to our guests.

Our time on our flight from Newcastle to Pisa Airport passed quickly. We ended up deep in conversation with a lovely couple who have purchased many of my paintings over the years. After picking up a car we drove to Orvieto, famous for its lovely white wine and magnificent Duomo, to see if our guests would enjoy a visit.

Susan and I were staying at Locanda Rosati, an agriturismo just a few miles from Orvieto. After checking in we still had sufficient time to drive to Orvieto and have a quick exploratory trip before our evening meal. Dinner was a jovial affair as the twenty plus guests from all nationalities including Italy, France, USA, Greece, Australia and Bulgaria were all seated on a long table. Our conversations enabled us to find out more interesting places to visit. One came highly recommended, Civita di Bagnoregio, just twenty minutes drive away.

Civita di Bagnoregio and Lago di Bolsena

Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines in the region of Lazio. I discovered that it only has 1o residents. However it is beginning to thrive as a tourist destination due to an initiative from the Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Any tourists crossing the foot bridge must pay €5 on a Sunday or public holiday and €3 during a weekday. Their ticket system has meant that residents of Civita and Bagnoregio no longer have to pay communal taxes and there is zero unemployment. I found it fascinating that the 850,000 tourists forecast for 2018 has created 400 new jobs for the 200 new businesses that have been birthed in recent years.

When we arrived the following morning thick fog had descended. I was wanting to paint the classic view that I had seen in photographs but it simply didn’t exist!

As it was a Sunday, crowds were already starting to arrive in their droves. We decided on a return visit to Orvieto. Despite the dull, overcast light, I managed a sketchbook watercolour of the Duomo from Via del Duomo. After a lovely lunch I found two great vantage points to paint Orvieto from a distance.  On completion, we set off to a new destination for us, Lago di Bolsena.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Lago di Bolsena

By the time we arrived, the low clouds had lifted and we were able to enjoy shafts of sunlight sparkling on the calm waters. I was able to record the tranquil scene in my trusty sketchbook.

The next morning we headed straight for Civita di Bagnoregio. This time I was able to paint the view that I had been after the previous day. We didn’t make the short walk along the footbridge into what was once Italy’s dying town. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so one day.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio

Our Painting Holiday for June 2018 is fully booked. You can register your interest for the future at art@alanreed.com

For me, Painting in Italy is rewarding experience. Even though this was an exploratory trip, I still came up with some great reference for some future paintings.

 

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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 Holidays in Italy

Alan Reed

Watercolour of an Olive Tree in the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine

Due to growing demand for our Painting Holidays in Italy we have added another week for 2017

Saturday 7th – Saturday 14th October.

A TYPICAL DAY

We start the day with a good healthy breakfast of fruit juices, freshly baked croissants , fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, toast with plenty of fresh coffee or tea. This is where we might discuss the days events and activities, which might be painting on location around the glorious landscape of Chiesa del Carmine or spending a day painting in the nearby villages or towns such as Assisi, Spello, Todi or Cortona.

This could be a half day out or full day depending where we have decided to go and how far it is to travel. The non-painting guests usually come out with us (apart from the golfers) and we all travel together in our luxury coach. Of course anyone who prefers to have a day relaxing by the pool or taking one of the many walks around the valley is their own choice.

We also offer cookery classes, wine tasting, truffle hunting and more……….

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine

On arrival back to our luxurious villa,  the cooks have already arrived and busy preparing dinner in the well stocked kitchen. Those who wish to swim in our amazing pool, this is a lovely time of the day to do so before we sit down to a beautifully prepared evening meal by our own Italian cooks.

All are welcome to join our party even if you don’t intend to paint! Reedart Painting Holidays in Italy take you on a creative journey through winding landscapes, secluded villages and awe-inspiring vistas that’s not only good for your painting portfolio, but good for the soul too.

AVAILABILITY FOR OUR PAINTING HOLIDAYS 2017 & 2018

Saturday 7th – Saturday 14th October 2017

  Saturday 2nd – Saturday 9th June 2018 (1 twin/double room left)

Contact for availability

Open our brochure

Call us on +44 (0) 1661 871 800 | +44 (0) 7718 741 546 or email art@alanreed.comto visit us, chat on the phone or find out any more information.

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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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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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Painting Holiday

Alan Reed

Spello, Umbria

It’s only a few days now until our first Painting Holiday in Italy for 2016. All of the guests from our trip in 2015 have re-booked for another week in the 5 star luxury accomodation Chiesa del Carmine a beautifully restored ancient 13th century church.

Due to the popularity of the Painting Holiday, we have hired Chiesa del Carmine for a second week 4th – 11th June and we do have late availability.

Guests will be able to receive instruction on how to paint “en plein air” in watercolour, taking in the stunning views around the valley. We will also be going out for day trips to some of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages like Spello seen in the sketchbook watercolour above.

There are non painting guests too who are happy to enjoy relaxing in the fabulous grounds, the day trips and a round of golf at the nearby championship golf course Antognolla.

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine

Bed, breakfast and evening meals are included in the price of the Painting Holiday. To find out more visit reedartholidays.com or to see a brochure click on this link.

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Learn to paint

Alan Reed

Watercolour, View from San Gimignano

The guests that come on our painting holidays in Italy learn to paint, mainly in watercolour. I’ve been teaching various aspects of art and design for over 30 years. Throughout this time I’ve learnt that there are no real short cuts to getting good at painting, however there are various things you can do to speed up the learning process.

On our last painting holiday in Umbria, I was impressed by the piano playing of one of our guests who would entertain us on the grand piano at Chiesa del Carmine. I found myself saying, not for the first time, “I wish I could play the piano”. However, on this occasion, I decided to do something about it.

Watercolour by Alan Reed

Leon Playing the Grand Piano at Chiesa del Carmine

When we returned, I went to J.C. Windows in the Central Arcade in Newcastle and purchased a digital piano. I had no previous experience of playing a musical instrument other than playing about on the old piano at my grandmother’s house when I was child, so I knew that if I was going to take this seriously, I would need to get lessons and to practise on a daily basis.

Since the summer of 2015 I’ve been taking lessons once a week and have tried to practise for about an hour a day. When you are a complete beginner in any new skill, you really do benefit from receiving instruction from an expert. Within 6 months of purchasing the piano I had learnt a number of pieces and I’m starting to sight read music. It’s like learning a new language, very difficult at first, but gradually you start to understand what you are meant to be doing.

If you want to learn to paint, then you will benefit from taking lessons from an expert who is good at teaching, however you must also practise on a regular basis. I’m always impressed at how quickly my students have improved when they have attended one of my 6 week watercolour classes, or even on a one week painting holiday. I know that further improvement will happen if they are sketching regularly. You’re better off drawing or painting every day for thirty minutes to an hour than once a week for several hours if you really want to learn to paint.

We still have spaces on week two of our painting holiday in Umbria, Italy 4th – 11th June 2016. Please contact reedartholidays for details.

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