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Drawing

Sargent Studies

Charcoal Studies of Sargent Portraits drawn at The National Portrait Gallery

A few weeks ago I was asked to write an article for the website of a new initiative here in the North East called Drawing?

Drawing? is a 6 month long, region wide programme of exhibitions and events which aims to explore drawing in art and culture and also in other areas such as science, design and technology. The project is a partnership between The Customs House, Sunderland University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University and mima (Teesside University) and is being co-curated by Esen Kaya and Mike Collier.

Below is the article which I wrote describing the reasons why I draw but it’s well worth visiting the Drawing? website to find out more from other artists too.

Drawing is and always will be the main foundation of my creative process. Many visual artists and painters do rely heavily on photography to pull together the material from which they paint from. There’s nothing wrong in that, however I do feel that the discipline of drawing and observing from life is a valuable tool that can enrich the flow of creativity.

For me, one of the main uses of drawing is research. If I’m going to an exhibition, I am armed with a moleskine sketchbook and some charcoal pencils. A good recent example would be the John Singer Sargent “Portraits of Artist’s and Friends” at the National Portrait Gallery. I will typically spend several hours sketching the portraits on display as a means of achieving a deeper appreciation of Sargent’s use of tone, lighting and his characterisation of his sitters. The studies and techniques that I record in this kind of research are then translated from charcoal pencil on paper to a brush loaded with oil paint on to canvas when I come to do my own portrait paintings. I strive to keep the brush strokes as lively, free and expressive as those rendered from observation.

Likewise, if I’m painting a landscape or cityscape I will often paint the scene on location “en plein air”. This time however, the drawing element is achieved by using a brush, drawing directly with watercolour paint on to the paper. I rarely pre-draw the scene in pencil. This very spontaneous, direct approach means I can produce a very fluid and loose “drawing” that can prove to be invaluable when it comes to creating a larger studio painting where I may also harness the use of photography for topographical accuracy. The observational studies will help to prevent any slavish copying of the photographs that could result in a more sterile, static painting.

I also draw simply for the “fun of it”. Regular drawing helps my hand to eye co-ordination and enables me to be more visually selective when painting in the studio. It’s much easier to focus on the main point of interest when you’re drawing from life. This “focus” can be realised by using stronger, more direct lines on the areas that are really important. Conversely, the use of less fussy, more simplistic line work on background areas helps to create a composition that has more visual impact. Again, this can translate well when it comes to painting. I’ve been painting professionally for over 30 years and I’m drawing more now than I ever have done, not just to maintain my technical skills as a draughtsman, but to stay connected in a deeper flowing stream of creativity.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy the product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Sketchbook Painting

Sketchbook watercolour

View from the Relais il Canalicchio

Our first trip to to the region Umbria in Italy was in the spring of 2002. We stayed at the Relais il Canalicchio which boasts commanding views over the Umbrian countryside. In fact the owners of the hotel commissioned me to do a painting of the Relais which is available as a limited edition print.

On one of our trips out to explore the region we ventured further afield and visited the Fabriano paper factory in Le Marche. I couldn’t resist purchasing several leather bound sketchbooks containing their beautiful hand made paper. It’s a delight to paint on.  You initially feel a little scared to paint in these books in case you mess up!

I did pluck up the courage though and one evening I painted the view from out window, a simple composition of a small farm building silhouetted against the warmth of the spring evening light.

These are the kind of subjects that I would be encouraging guests on our painting holidays in Italy to paint. I would be leading by example but also overseeing their work, deciding on the right composition, advising on choice of colours, sequence of washes and of course making sure that they don’t spoil the painting by overworking it.

Nowadays there are some excellent sketchbooks available in the UK and online containing good quality paper to paint on. I also recommend the Arches watercolour blocks for slightly larger paintings. A 14″ x 10″ or 12″ x 9″ containing rough paper which is small enough to pop into a bag with the rest of your painting gear.

I usually have a range of materials available from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland. To find out more about our painting holidays in Italy visit reedartholidays.com

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Bomber Command Memorial

Charcoal Sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

Charcoal Sketch of Bomber Command Memorial

I went to see a couple of fine Edward Seago exhibitions in London recently. More on that later. Whilst on my travels around the city I decided to have a look at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park.

It commemorates the aircrews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War. The Bomber Command Memorial was built to mark the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth as well as civilians of all nations killed during the air raids. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth officially opened the memorial on 28 June 2012.

On arrival I was immediately impressed by the scale of the 7 crew members depicted in the memorial and the detail of the flying uniform rendered in the sculpture. Many of the larger bombers like the Lancaster had a crew of 7 so it was only fitting to show a full crew.

I began by doing an A5 sketchbook watercolour. Whilst I was painting it, a retired pilot came alongside to watch me paint. It turned out that his father used to fly Lancaster Bombers during the war.

The Bomber Command Memorial has been designed in such a way that one cannot see all the crew members at once. You have to move about to see them all. I suppose that it could signify that the crew members were spread about the aircraft from the nose to the tail of the plane.

I decided to return to the Memorial the following day when I produced another watercolour sketch and a couple of charcoal pencil drawings in my Moleskine Sketchbook. One of the figures reminded me of my Great Uncle Ronnie who was a flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers.

Many of my sketchbook studies can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland as part of the Art Tour 2014.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself. 

 

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Painting Holiday in Italy

Painting of Olive Trees on Location

Watercolour of Olive Trees, Villa Capanne

Painting in Italy

Alan giving an informal and positive critique of guests paintings carried out throughout the week.

We’ve just returned from a weeks Painting Holiday in Italy where we took 10 guests to stay at the luxury accommodation Villa Capanne in northern Umbria.

Whilst five of the guests were producing paintings of Italy, the others were happy to enjoy the visits to nearby towns such as Cortona, Assisi, Spello and Perugia and of course to sample the local food and wine. One of the guests enjoyed several rounds of golf at the Antognolla championship course.

To help the students with their painting “en plein air” I like to lead by example, so I did a number of watercolours in my leather-bound sketchbook and on Arches Watercolour Blocks.

Above is one of several watercolours I painted of the olive trees that grace the gardens of Villa Capanne.

At the end of the week I gave an informal and relaxed critique of the guests work carried out throughout the week.

The whole trip was such a success that we have planned a second painting holiday in Italy for 9th  – 16th May 2015.

“Thanks to Alan & Susan Reed for an amazing week’s painting holiday in Italy. Food, scenery, everything exceeded expectations! 5* would not do the week justice!! Made some lovely new friends! Thoroughly recommend it when they do their next one – but be warned – Alan can be a hard task master (in our own interest!!)”.

Mr A. Rapley

 

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Hareshaw Linn

Hareshaw Linn, Bellingham

Hareshaw Linn Waterfall

Hareshaw Linn, Bellingham

Sketchbook Study of Hareshaw Linn

Hareshaw Linn painting

14″ x 10″ watercolour of Hareshaw Linn

In April I was asked to do a watercolour demonstration for a painting/writing club who were having a weekend away together in Bellingham. On the Saturday I went out with the group to paint various scenes of the local area. I’d read about Hareshaw Linn in the hotel guide book so I decided to make it my first port of call.

I decided to do several watercolour studies of the waterfall at Hareshaw Linn which is about 2 miles walk outside of Bellingham. The walk is lovely and the waterfall quite spectacular, especially after the heavy rain we’d had the night before. In total I did two sketchbook studies and two watercolours on Arches blocks.

You can see in the first photograph my improvised studio (a moss covered rock) which gave me a standing position to paint from. The second photograph is my sketchbook. The third is my larger watercolour painted on the Arches Block. By the time I’d finished there was no time to start on anything else!

All the paintings were made without any preliminary pencil work which enabled me to paint very directly onto the paper with a size 20 brush. The paintings can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

Since this weekend  away I’ve painted a larger watercolour of Hareshaw Linn using the studies made on location. I’ve kept the palette the same and tried to avoid getting into complicated detail, maintaining the freshness of the “en plein air” watercolours.

 

 

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Painting Holiday in Umbria

Watercolour of Perugia

Sketchbook Watercolour of Perugia, Umbria

We’ve just returned from a weeks painting holiday in Umbria, Italy where we took 10 guests to stay at the luxury accommodation Villa Capanne.

Five of the guests were painting, the others were happy to enjoy the visits to nearby towns such as Cortona, Assisi, Spello and Perugia and of course to sample the local food and wine. To help the students with their painting “en plein air” I like to lead by example, so I did a number of watercolours in my leather-bound sketchbook and on Arches Watercolour Blocks.

Above is one of two sketchbook watercolours I painted on our visit to Perugia.

Quote from one of our guests: “Thanks to Alan & Susan Reed for an amazing week’s painting holiday in Italy. Food, scenery, everything exceeded expectations! 5* would not do the week justice!! Made some lovely new friends! Thoroughly recommend it when they do their next one – but be warned – Alan can be a hard task master (in our own interest!!).”

Mr A. Rapley

The next painting holiday in Umbria is  scheduled for 30th August – 6th September 2014 with another one planned for May 2015.

For more information about the Painting Holiday in Umbria and to request a brochure for September 2014 please email alan@alanreed.com 

To see more paintings of Italy visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland or visit alanreed.com

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Temple of Aphaea – A Daily Sketch

Watercolour of Temple of Aphaea, Aegina

Temple of Aphaea, Aegina

In 1999 we had a week on the Greek Island of Aegina. Whilst exploring the island I came across the ruined Temple of Aphaea and made some studies.

Last weekend I was doing a watercolour demonstration for a local art club. As part of my demonstration, I started a small watercolour on a 14″ x 10″ Arches watercolour block based on the reference I gathered on that trip.

Notice also the smaller study made in the moleskine sketchbook that was painted directly onto the paper without any pencil preparation.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use available from Amazon. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

 

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Paintings of Olive Trees

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees in Italy

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees

I love doing paintings of olive trees. Several years ago I was commissioned to paint a client’s property in Italy.

As part of the research for the commission, I made some studies in my leather-bound sketchbook of the olive grove that surrounded their house in Umbria.

It was a friends 60th birthday recently so I painted her a handmade card of the scene based on the location watercolour, another opportunity to do some paintings of olive trees! She was so thrilled with her card that she had it framed to add it to her collection of Alan Reed Art.

To find out more about commissioning handmade cards of special places for a loved one go to the commissions page on my website.

More paintings of Olive Trees and paintings of Italy can be seen on alanreed.com and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland.

If you would like to have a go at painting olive trees, why not book a painting holiday in Italy through Alan Reed Art and I can give you some tuition.

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Sargent Studies – A Daily Sketch

Gouache Sketch

Gouache Sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”

For the last few weeks I have been continuing with my daily discipline of a sketch a day. I try to do this for 20 minutes to an hour, 5 or 6 days a week, usually in my Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Most of my studies have been made with a charcoal pencil, however today I decided to do a gouache rendition of John Singer Sargent’s oil sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”. Although I would prefer to paint this in oils, the advantage of using gouache paint is that it’s quick drying.

I’ve photographed the palate, brushes and Winsor and Newton paints, together with the reference book I’ve used, John Singer Sargent Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899 by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray.

Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray have written some brilliant books on Sargent’s paintings which give a fascinating insight into his work.

To follow my daily sketches on twitter, go to @adailysketch

The links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Sargent – A Daily sketch

Charcoal Sketches

Studies of John Singer Sargent Drawings

Every so often I like to set some kind of painting/drawing discipline to keep on top of my game. Good habits are hard to form and easy to break and sadly the converse of that statement is also true!

I tend to find that my regular sketching habit falls by the wayside, particularly if I’m busy with commissions or working towards an exhibition. However, despite being very busy at the moment working on a series of portraits in oils of City Church, Newcastle members, I’ve decide to set myself the goal of doing some kind of sketchbook study every day for about 10-30 minutes.

The two charcoal sketches above were drawn in my Moleskine Sketchbook and are studies of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait drawings. Making studies of this kind is a great way to develop your own drawing technique, particularly if you are unable to find a willing model to sit for you.

To see my daily (hopefully) sketches, you can follow my twitter accounts @artistalanreed and @adailysketch

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