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Diana’s Point

Alan Reed

Diana’s Point, Jebel Akhdar

Diana’s Point is named after Princess Diana of Wales who visited Jebel Akhdar with Prince Charles in November 1986.

We first went to Diana’s Point on Jebel Akhdar in Oman back in November 2007. The previous year I had received a number of commissions for a client in Oman depicting scenes around the Al Hajar Mountain range so I felt it would be important for me to visit this stunning landscape for myself. I was not wrong. Apart from the invaluable experience of being able to sketch there on location, six years later my large watercolour of Jebel Akhdar Won the Artist Prize in the Royal Watercolour Society. The winning painting is available as a limited edition print.

Earlier this year we watched a BBC programme on Amazing Hotels hosted by Giles Coren and Monica Galetti. One of the episodes featured the new Anantara Hotel built on the area where Susan and I had a picnic on some rocks back in 2007, long before the hotel was built!

The Anantara Hotel really does live up to the programme. Apart from the total luxury, fantastic food and infinity pool, they have an amazing viewing area called Diana’s Point that overlooks the dramatic canyon below. Early in the morning you can watch the sun catching the jagged mountains. In the evening you can watch the sun disappear behind the horizon.

I did several sketchbook watercolours, some early morning, others at sunset. This A4 size watercolour on handmade paper forms part of my Christmas Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the weekend of the 24th & 25th November 9:30 – 5pm.

I’ve made a short, one minute time lapse video which you can see on YouTube that shows the main part of the painting process. On the left hand side of the screen you can see one of my sketchbook watercolours painted late afternoon.

 

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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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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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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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Tyne Bridge Painting

Alan Reed

Oil Painting of the Tyne Bridge

In 2017 I received a commission to do a very large oil painting of the Angel of the North which you can read about in an earlier blog post.  The Angel’s wings were coated with 22 carat gold leaf.

My client loves his painting of the Gateshead Angel and once I’d hung it for him we discussed a second commission to go alongside, this time a Tyne Bridge Painting.

After bringing the Tyne Bridge Painting close to completion I decided to add a little extra gold leaf and make a short video of the process which you can see on YouTube. First I applied some liquid size for the gold leaf to adhere to. The next stage is to place the gold leaf over the size once it’s gone off and it sticks straight away. As you can see in the video it also sticks where you don’t want it! I just have to carefully lift it off and put it where I want it to go.

Then with the backing paper over the gold leaf I can rub it down so that the bond becomes more secure.

As you will see, the video of the Tyne Bridge Painting is showing some of the smaller details of the painting process.

This is not the actual finished painting commission, it’s actually a much smaller preparation oil painting on canvas board 30″ x 20″.

The reason for doing a smaller preparation painting first is to make sure that everything is going to work out in terms of colour, composition and of course where on the painting to apply the gold leaf.

The Tyne Bridge Painting can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and online at www.alanreed.com.

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Drawing Hands

Alan Reed

Hand Drawing in Moleskine Sketchbook

Following on from my recent blog post about the benefits of regular life drawing, I’m aware that it’s not always easy or practical getting along to a life drawing class. However one simple thing that most of us can do is have a go at drawing hands.

My “warming up” exercises vary from quick self portraits to copying John Singer Sargent portraits. On occasion though I will do a quick study of my left hand which is what you can see here.

Here’s a couple of short time lapse videos of some pen and ink drawings that I did recently in my Moleskine sketchbook using a Shaeffer Fountain pen containing sepia ink.

If you want to add further interest to your drawing, use an angle poise lamp to create shadows from your fingers which will add depth to your study.

To get greater variation to the positioning of the hand then you will need to use a mirror to draw the reflection of the hand.

You can see an example of my hand drawn from being reflected
in a mirror at the end of this video.

If you are drawing hands on a regular basis you will start to see an improvement in your drawing generally. The important thing is to keep practising and not give up.

As Michelangelo once said “Work hard and don’t on any account neglect your drawing’. 

Alan Reed

“Thumbs Up” Pen and Ink Sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

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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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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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