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Arabian Dhows

Alan Reed

Dhows, Sur

When we first visited Oman in 2007 we were fortunate to go on a day trip to the coastal town Sur, famous for its dhow building. I recall doing a couple of sketchbook watercolours in the heat of the day, the high sun catching the top of the clouds.

These studies of Arabian Dhows became the inspiration for a number of studio paintings including one on gold leaf, and a number of watercolours which are available as a limited edition prints from alanreed.com.

I’ve recently painted a 14” x 10” watercolour capturing these beautifully shaped sailing vessels lying out of water which I’ve filmed for a new Painting Video which you can watch on Youtube.

For your interest, here is the script for the voice over for the video to save having to take notes.

First step is to get my usual wash down of Cadmium lemon and Cadmium Yellow which is used to harmonise all the other colours and to take away the stark white of the paper. I’ve wet some of the paper with clean water so that the first wash spreads easily, avoiding hard edges. This initial wash always seems to look wrong to begin with but remember, it always dries lighter.

I forgot to film the second wash of Rose Madder, but again, I wet the paper in places allowing some of the yellow to show through. As you can see, the Rose Madder doesn’t cover the whole sheet.

Once dry, another application of clean water and it’s time to add Manganese Blue for the sky. This time the brush marks are even more carefully considered. I want to re-create the effect of the sun bursting through the clouds from the top right hand side corner. The brush marks echo the direction that the rays of sunlight are coming from. I’ve added a touch of purple to the blue to bring a sense of depth to the lower foreground cloud.

Using a smaller brush it’s time to paint the areas of sky being reflected on the sand that is still wet from the receding tide. The brush marks I’m making are more horizontal and I’m working wet on dry. At times I’m just catching the surface of the paper to replicate the patterns in the sand. As with the sky, I’m dropping in the occasional purple for variation. You can also see that I’m leaving the first wash of yellow to come through in places to suggest the sunlight sparkling on the surface of the water.

A subtle mix of purple and Raw Sienna is used to paint in the areas of wet sand. I’m careful not to overload the brush, almost dabbing it on the surface of the paper.

I’m using this colour, not just for the wet sand but also for the hull of the dhow that is in shadow. Taking the shadow area back into the sand, always leaving parts of reflected blue and sparkle to shine through. Also a few very small details to indicate the ripples of wet sand. Where the shadow is darkest, I’m adding a slightly more intense purple to deepen the shadow.

Arabian Dhows on Gold Leaf

Dhows, Oman – Oil on Gold Leaf

The distant dhow has a base of Manganese blue to suggest a cool shadow, intensifying it with a darker blue for the keel.

A much finer brush is required to paint the fine wooden details that are another distinctive feature of the dhows. You need to be very careful at this point because it’s difficult to lift out any mistakes against such a light background.

It shouldn’t be necessary to say that this 12 minute video does not represent the entire time it took to do this painting. I’m just showing the main areas of interest.

I’ve mixed a lovely rusty red for the sides of the dhows. Again, I’m being very precise as to where I’m adding the colour, varying the intensity of the colour.

The same rusty red is used “wet on wet” for the distant dhow.

A darker purple and the thin brush is used again for these other detailed areas which take a bit of time to work out. I’m keeping the brush marks simple, not too niggley or fiddly but still varying the tonal values of the linear brush marks for interest.

I’ve decided that I’d like the hull slightly lighter so I’m painting some clean water on to the hull then just dabbing the water with some tissue to lift off the colour.

This dark shadow area almost looks black. It’s actually a mix of purple, Paynes Grey and perhaps a touch of Lamp Black. Carefully defining the gentle curve of the hull then contrasting that mark with some freer more expressive brush marks to suggest the more uneven ground where there are some rocks.

The left hand side of the hull needs to go darker so I’m running a slightly lighter version the same shadow colour over the rusty red.

On this close up you can see many other details that I’ve added like the anchors and rocks.

So there you have it. Arabian Dhows resting at low tide at the coastal town of Sur in Oman.

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Painting of Todi

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Todi, Umbria

On our painting holidays in Italy we take our guests to the various hilltop towns that are a feature of Umbria. This sketchbook watercolour was painted on location in a picturesque town called Todi which we have been to on a number of occasions.

Using a combination of the sketchbook watercolour, this simple pen drawing and photographs I decided to paint the scene as a larger A4 Watercolour Painting of Todi on hand made deckled edged paper for one of my painting videos.

Alan Reed

Sketch book pen drawing of Todi, Umbria

I like the colours of this watercolour sketch of Colle di Val d’Elsa in Tuscany which are more autumnal so I  intensified the colours from the sketchbook watercolour. I remembered the time when we visited Todi in the autumn one year.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany

The first step after drawing out the scene in pencil was to wet the paper and get down a quick wash of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. This set the tone and mood for all the other colours. I kept the yellow light in the sky so that when I added the blue, it didn’t end up looking green. However, it is distinctly more intense over the buildings.

Next wash was Rose Madder. Again, I wet the sky to avoid hard edges and to create some lighter patches for the clouds. However the area where the buildings are was dry because I wanted a few areas of yellow to come through in places to create interest and variation.

I recently purchased some new brushes from Rosemary & Co so I used a size 14 Series 344 to apply some clean water up to the edges of the buildings so that when I painted the sky, the colour flowed freely up to the rooftops without me having to paint round them and run the risk of the paint drying to quickly and end up with streaky brush marks.

So using the same brush I painted in some French Ultramarine over different parts of the sky, allowing some of the Rose Madder to show through to represent cloud shapes.

As I was painting nearer the buildings, I switched blues to Manganese Blue which added further interest, fusing into the French Ultramarine. A tad more Rose Madder helped the whole blending process.

The same Rosemary & Co brush is great for this type of painting. I just worked my way around the different buildings, catching the surface of the paper at times so that the painting retained the fluidity of the sketchbook study. The darker Rose Madder colour that I painted at the start, suddenly didn’t look to dark when  up against the darker shadow colour.

This is where the brush came into its own, large enough to cover the bigger areas but having a fine enough point for detail.

A number 4 Rosemary & Co brush from the same series was required for some of the smaller shadow areas.

When the shadows areas dried, I started to work on even finer detail, picking out all the windows with a very dark mix of purple, Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey.

I wasn’t being too fiddly with these details, just sufficient accuracy to represent the windows, eaves and chimneys.
Once I completed all these finer details, which took more than an hour, I brought the painting to conclusion by painting in the foliage to break up the interlocking shapes of all the buildings.

I mixed a nice green made up of Cadmium Lemon, Paynes Grey with possibly the smallest touch of Winsor Green.

Alan Reed

Watercolour Painting of Todi, Umbria

I was back to the size 14 again, this time using mainly the side of the brush rather than the point to represent lots of branches. I used a wet on dry technique, flicking the brush over the surface of the paper to create the effect of lots of foliage.

For the smaller areas of foliage I used the size 4 brush again, going in with a much deeper green, probably more Paynes Grey than green for the shadows. I used the same technique of dragging the brush to create texture.

If you would like to learn more about how to produce a Painting of Todi or similar, why not join us on one of our Painting Holidays in Umbria, Italy.

Watch the Video Painting of Todi here.

Visit www.alanreed.com or www.reedartholidays.com to find out more.

 

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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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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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