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Charity Christmas Cards

Theatre Royal in the Snow on the Drawing Board

Theatre Royal in the Snow

Earlier this year I was approached by the charity The Cyrenians based in Newcastle who work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. Sian Thomas, their marketing administrator, asked if they could use some of my paintings as Charity Christmas Cards to help raise money for the charity which has been going for over 40 years.

Over the last 20 years or more, I know that the paintings I have done have raised thousands of pounds through being reproduced as Charity Christmas cards, in particular for the Marie Curie cancer care, so I was more than happy to oblige.

We’ve decided to do three paintings of Newcastle, the first of which is this classic scene of the Theatre Royal in the Snow which was a sell out limited edition print. I’ve painted a similar view recently which I reproduced as a limited edition print titled Grey Street, Snow Shower.

I hope to finish the other two paintings, one of the Tyne Bridges, the other of the Angel, by the end of the month, so watch this space.

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Grey Street, Snow Shower

Grey Street, Snow Shower

Grey Street, Snow Shower

In the spring of 2008 I launched a limited edition print titled “Theatre Royal in the Snow”. The print was an instant success and the edition of 95 sold out. The smaller preparation study that I made prior to the larger studio painting was used as the Christmas card for the Theatre Royal that year. The popularity of the scene was down to a number of different factors, two of which were the monochromatic colours and the little girl with the red coat who is my eldest granddaughter Emily. She provides that tiny splash of colour and is an obvious focal point.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of folk call in to my studio and gallery in Ponteland asking if the original print is still available to purchase. It’s not, however, so as not to disappoint, I’ve decided to paint a landscape version of the same view, but to include more of Grey Street. The new print will be available in different sizes and will be on my website very soon. Here’s a preview of the painting on my drawing board.

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North Shields, Fishing

North Shields, Fishing

North Shields, Fishing

A few weeks ago I was doing a watercolour demonstration for a class in Rothbury. As part of the lesson, I was showing the students how to begin a painting, in particular the sky. This is often the most difficult part of painting a landscape or seascape and can be quite daunting for the inexperienced. I was working on several paintings that day, one of which was this 12″ x 9″ watercolour of some lads fishing off the Fish Quay at North Shields.

I was working off two photographs, one for the sky, the other for the figures and River Tyne reference. It was a scene I had painted on location about 10 years ago, so I was well familiar with the view. I began by laying a very pale yellow wash over the whole paper which I intensified at the point of the horizon. When that dried, I went over parts of the wash with some Rose Madder which you can see, particularly in the water. Once dry, I began to pick out some of the blue in the sky with some touches of Manganese Blue. Finally, after mixing the colour for the darker clouds with Rose Madder, Manganese Blue and Paynes Grey, I painted in the dramatic, carefully positioned clouds to bring a strong sense of mood and atmosphere to the composition.

I completed the painting in my studio in Ponteland which will form part of my Christmas Exhibition starting in November which will include other paintings of the North East, Italy and the Middle East too.

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Grand Canal Painting

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks finishing off a number of watercolours which will be on show at the NewcastleGateshead Art Fair 30th September-2nd October. The latest one to be completed is this one of the Grand Canal in Venice. It’s a scene I’ve painted several times before, both on location and in the studio.

The painting was inspired by my own studies painted from the Accademia Bridge and a number of different photographs taken by myself during my trips to Venezia. You can also see on the drawing board the limited edition print I have published of the Grand Canal which I kept referring to throughout the painting process. For other limited edition prints of Venice and Italy, go to my website www.alanreed.com

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Manchester in the Snow

Manchester in the Snow

Manchester in the Snow

In 2009 I was exhibiting at Manchester’s Buy Art Fair. I decided to do an original watercolour of one of Manchester’s famous architectural landmarks, the Printworks that overlooked the venue of the Art Fair that year, the Urbis building. A number of weeks before the fair I spent a weekend in Manchester when it rained for much of the time. I managed to do a very “wet on wet” study of the Printworks which helped to capture something of the mood and atmosphere of the city. Along with the reference photographs, I was able to start on the studio painting.

Before embalming on the finished painting, I did an A5 study of one of the figures I planned to place in the painting, a rather portly gentleman sheltering under an umbrella. To make sure the painting was going to work, I then did an A4 watercolour on hand made paper with a deckled edge which I used to refer to for colour and composition.

You will notice of the photograph of what’s on my drawing board, a book on Adolphe Valette, a French Impressionist who lived in Manchester for several years and is best known as L.S. Lowry’s tutor. I went to see some of his stunning paintings at the Manchester Art Gallery which I have to say were a real inspiration. The moody, foggy scenes that Valette painted helped me to decide the palate which I ended up using which involved a greater use of Lamp Black than usual.

The small painting of the large man sold almost straight away when on display at the Buy Art Fair and a few weeks later I sold the large studio watercolour to a customer in Manchester which is also available as a limited edition print. The A4 original watercolour study, however is available online.

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Durham School v Rugby School

Last year I was commissioned by the director of sport of Durham School, Ben Mason,do a watercolour of a mini rugby tournament. The inaugural Veterrimi IV Rugby Tournament, hosted by Durham School, took place on Saturday 23 October and despite the unrelenting rain, rugby fans turned out in their hundreds to be part of this special day. Durham School and Rugby School battled it out in the final, with the A J Dingle Trophy finally going to Rugby School. The event received extensive coverage by Sky Sports, Rugby Club News, Sky Sports News, BBC Look North, Tyne Tees TV as well as the local press.

After the tournament, there was a charity dinner dance at Ramside Hall with after dinner speakers Andrew Robson (one of Sir Bobby Robson’s sons) and former Scottish international Doddie Weir.

To wet folks appetites for the painting I had yet to do of the tournament held earlier that day, I had painted a large watercolour of the oldest rugby fixture between England and Scotland, Durham School v Edinburgh Academy which had taken place on the 6th October 2010. The painting sold that evening with £1000 donated from the sale to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The heavy rain on the 23rd October presented obvious problems trying to paint outdoors, however, I still managed to do a small 14″ x 10″ watercolour under the shelter of a leaky umbrella which was a great help in trying to capture to atmosphere of the day. Fortunately, there were bursts of sunlight breaking through the heavy rain clouds which caused the autumnal trees to sparkle with colour.

The sketchbook study I’d painted (seen on the drawing board) of another rugby match at Durham School was also a great help. The original painting of the final between Durham School and Rugby School is now available as a limited edition print on www.alanreed.com.

The original watercolour can also be seen and purchased online.

The day saw some close run matches and outstanding sportsmanship and congratulations must go to all four teams. Well done to the winners Rugby School. We look forward to the next one!

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The Circus, Bath

I’ve recently been asked to do a painting of the Circus in Bath. I remember looking at the scene in the summer last year, however it was difficult to get a view of the remarkable architecture because of the central trees in full leaf. I knew I would have to return in the spring before the new buds appeared. I made it just in time. They were already starting to spring forth obscuring some of the detail. I spent the afternoon taking reference photographs and did two watercolour sketchbook studies to help me remember the scene.

In 2010 I came 1st runner up in the Bath Painting Prize with my watercolour of the Royal Crescent. I decided to do this scene in the same long landscape formate to emphasise the curve of the architecture. After drawing the main composition in pencil, I put down some base washes of yellow, rose madder and blue to set the tone for the distinctive honey colouring of the stonework and sky. Like the Royal Crescent, The Circus is constructed from Bath stone, a Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate.

Before embarking on the architecture itself, designed by John Wood the Elder, I decided to paint in the main aspects of the trees, including the early spring buds. As one is painting, a deeper appreciation of the thinking behind the classic Georgian architecture is formed. Wood’s inspiration was in fact the Roman Colosseum, another great piece of architecture I have painted, both from the inside and out. The Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, whereas the Circus faces inwardly. Work began in 1754 and completed in 1768. Sadly, Wood died less than 3 months after the first stone was laid. His son, John Wood the Younger completed the scheme to his father’s design.

Next came the time consuming task of painting the windows and columns. The Circus (Latin for ring, oval or circle) consists of 3 storey townhouses with a mansard roof. Three classical orders are used, Greek Doric, Roman/Composit and Corinthian, one on top of the other. The danger when doing detail of this nature is to make it too tight and photographic. A camera can do a better job than the artist of capturing detail. I wanted to retain the freshness of the location sketchbook watercolours, so as you can see, I kept my leather bound sketchbook open in front of me at all times as a constant reminder.

After laying a fresh green wash for the foreground grass, I returned to the branches of the trees to add more detail. The final painting will form part of the Inspired Exhibition at the Octagon in Bath which opens on the 25th April and ends 10th May..

P.S. You may have noticed an Origami camel on my drawing board. It was made by my talented 9 year old nephew, Noah last weekend in a matter of minutes!

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La Serenata a Rialto, Venezia

La Serenata a Rialto, Venezia

La Serenata a Rialto, Venezia

The recent frosty mornings and beautiful bright sunny days we have been enjoying recently have reminded me of the times we have spent in Venice during Carnival time. The weather in Venice has usually been even colder but characterised by crisp, sunny days and of course, full of the colour and spectacle of the carnival. It has been an inspiration for many artists over the years where there are numerous subjects to paint. I have found that sometimes, some of the most simple of compositions are often the most effective.

The other day I was showing my cousin’s eldest son Jonathan how to do some background washes, by laying one coloured wash on top of another once the first wash was dry. This demonstration provided the perfect backdrop for a single gondola to be placed into what has turned out to be a Venetian sunset. It’s a scene I have painted before and have actually reproduced as a limited edition print titled “La Serenata a Rialto”. In this particular A6 watercolour study painted from Rialto, Venezia on hand made deckled edged paper, I have focused on the gondola, missing out the surrounding buildings. This small original painting can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Oil Painting of Norfolk

Oil Painting of Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk

Oil Painting of Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk

What’s on the Drawing Board?

I have been asked recently to do an oil painting for a particular client. As I usually work in watercolor paints, I thought it would be prudent to get back into the swing of painting in oils (as it is a completely different painting technique) by doing a quick practise painting.

For the last couple of years, I have spent a week in Norfolk painting on location. The place where we have been staying is Burnham Overy Staithe, a small village on the coast not far from Wells-next-the-sea. I’ve painted several watercolours there, two of which you can see on my drawing board above the unfinished oil Painting of Norfolk. Using the two location studies and some supplementary photographs, I’ve tackled the subject of small sailing boats berthed at low tide, early morning.

The frustrating thing I find about oil painting is the time it takes for the paint to dry, so I’m leaving it for now until early next week when I will be adding detail to the boats. I’m thinking about buying some water based oil paints instead of having to use turps to clean my brushes and the smell, so if any artists out there can recommend any particular brand, please let me know.

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