Tag Archives: architecture

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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Colosseum Painting

Alan Reed

Colosseum, Rome

One of the many thrills of being a full time artist is receiving commissions to paint subjects which you find stimulating and exciting. Over the last 12 months I’ve received a number of commissions to paint some of the architecture built by the Romans.

Because of my training at art college in architecture, I really enjoy the whole process of gathering reference material on location through watercolour sketchbook studies of the ancient architecture and photography. Pulling all the material together in my studio to create a finished watercolour is a rewarding task, particularly when I know how much the client really appreciates the final outcome.

The most recent commission is a painting of the Colosseum in Rome. I’ve painted the Colosseum on a number of occasions at different times of day and various angles. This particular view of the Colosseum is taken from the Roman Forum when I spent an afternoon sketching around the various ruins.

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, Dawn

I also rose before dawn to capture the sun rising over the remains of the temples as you can see in the watercolour sketch above.

Other commissions of Rome have included the Arch of Titus and Parco degli Acquedotti and the Roman Forum.

To find out more about commissioning a painting, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland for an informal chat or watch the Commissions Video on my website.

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Princes Street

Alan Reed

Princes Street, Edinburgh

I have a number of new watercolours being exhibited at the Gullane Gallery, East Lothian 12th March until 3rd April. One of the paintings going on show is this cityscape capturing Princes Street, Edinburgh on a winter’s afternoon.

The scene is taken from Calton Hill which boasts commanding views over the city. Often it is the inclusion of figures which can bring a cityscape to life, but in this instance it’s the traffic, in particular the buses nudging their way into the queues of cars, that bring a sense movement to the watercolour.

Even though the time of year is winter and the sun has almost set, there’s a strong feeling of warmth and light coming through because of the base washes of Cadmium Lemon and Rose Madder. This is contrasted by the cold shadows created by a quite bold application of Paynes Grey for the road and rooftops. Further interest has been achieved by the highlights on the cars and buses on Princes Street which have been very simply rendered.

Lifting out some of the colour has brought a feeling of mist and smokiness, giving the architecture an ethereal quality which has enhanced the depth and ariel perspective to Auld Reekie.

I also have a limited edition print titled Princes Street which is available online at alanreed.com and from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

 

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The Kiss

The Kiss by Rodin

Charcoal Sketch of Rodin’s The Kiss

 

I’d heard the Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Kiss is currently on display in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. I’ve been painting its stunning architecture and famous streets for over 20 years, producing over a dozen limited edition prints of Auld Reekie. Last week I was dropping off some paintings at a gallery nearby so I couldn’t resist popping in to the National Gallery to see some truly engaging art. There’s too much to see in less than two hours so I restricted myself to making three charcoal sketches in my moleskine sketchbook.

After a brief date with the lovely Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent and a quick hello to one of Rembrant’s later self portraits (both recorded in my sketchbook) I decided to make another charcoal drawing of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Kiss”. I had already made several studies earlier on this year which I used to produce a larger watercolour available as a limited edition print.

If you haven’t been to the National Gallery recently then it’s well worth a visit and if your’e an artist, make sure you take your sketchbook!

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Painting of the Grand Canal, Venice

Last night Susan and I watched the  BBC 2 programme Shakespeare in Italy narrated by Francesco da Mosto. Part of the programme was set in Venice, a city which was Susan’s home for 5 years and a place which has been a content source of inspiration for my paintings of Italy collection. One of my favourite views is taken from the Accademia Bridge, looking at the Santa Marie della Salute. I’ve painted it several times on location and using the sketches, I have produced a number of studio watercolours which have included commissions. On one particular painting, I decided to photograph the painting of the Grand Canal, Venice in stages so that one can see the progression and development of the painting, from the initial pencil drawing through the sequence of washes, to the build up of detail.

After stretching a sheet of hand made Italian watercolour paper on to the drawing board, the first stage was to draw out the main elements of the composition with a B pencil. I like to paint a lot of the detail from observation with my brush, so there isn’t a huge amount of detail in the pencil drawing.

Next, I covered the whole sheet with a wash of clean water then ran in a gentle wash of Winsor and Newton Cadmium Lemon from about a third of the way from the top of the board. This helps to take away the starkness of the white and set the tone and mood for the rest of the painting.

One the yellow had dried I repeated the process of laying a wash of clean water except once it hit the architecture, I began to be more random with the wash leaving some of the paper untouched by water. I quickly ran in a wash of Rose Madder into the water but left some of the yellow showing through as pure yellow.

Before starting the sky, I masked off some of the detailed areas in the water like the poles and boats so that I wasn’t having to paint around them with the blue. I started off the sky with quite an intense wash of French Ultramarine and Manganese Blue, fading it out slightly as the sky came closer to the horizon and then painting around the architecture.

Once it had dried, I deepened the blue for the foreground part of the Grand Canal I then started on the buildings on the right hand side. The detailed photograph shows how some of the blue in the sky and water was used as shadow areas for the buildings.

I finished the right hand side before commencing on the left so that I could use slightly more stronger colours to give the impression of the left hand side being closer.

When I rubbed off the masking fluid, it meant that the colour underneath remained as a base for the poles and boats. Strong, dark refections on the left provided further depth to the painting and once I had added the smaller areas of detail to the architecture and boats, the painting was completed. I have two paintings of the Grand Canal, Venice available as limited edition prints available online or from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. I also have an original watercolour available of the Grand Canal, Venice which I painted using the same process described.

 

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Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

The Northumbrian town of Alnwick boasts a magnificent castle as well as stunning gardens. I’ve had the privilege of painting both. In 2003 I was commissioned to paint over a dozen Northumbrian Castles in watercolour for a leading North East company to grace the walls of their boardrooms and Alnwick Castle was one of them.

I had already decided that I would spread the paintings out over the course of a whole year so that I was capturing all of the seasons. After working out when the sun was most likely to be catching the ancient architecture, I felt that the last light of a summer evening was going to best for this particular scene.

It was painted on an expensive hand made watercolour paper, heavily textured, which was ideal for rendering both the stone and the foreground grasses. It also allowed me to make quite large, free brush strokes to indicate the low lying clouds reflected in the slow moving River Aln. The painting that was commissioned worked well for the client and I was so pleased with the result that I decided to do a slightly different interpratation of the same view which I later reproduced as a limited edition print. The original watercolour can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Tyne Bridges, Summer Sunset

Tyne Bridges, Summer Sunset

Tyne Bridges, Summer Sunset

Paintings of the Tyne Bridges have always been very popular. Rarely does a week go by without me selling a limited edition print depicting a view of Newcastle’s Quayside showing one or more of its famous bridges. The Quayside itself has some stunning architecture, so it’s not difficult to find some inspirational aspect to paint. Also, it’s an area which has seen massive changes, particularly over the last twenty years, so even the paintings I have done over my 27 years as a full time artist have become historical.

This watercolour was sold recently from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and shows some of the newer additions to the River Tyne, in particular the Sage and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. In the background you have the Tyne Bridge, High Level Bridge and indications of some of the other more distant bridges, all of which are set against the backdrop of a summer sunset. I love the interplay of curves which combine to link the old with the new which is one of the reasons why I decided to publish it as a limited edition print.

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North Shields Fish Quay

North Shields Fish Quay Original Watercolour

North Shields Fish Quay

One of the first commissions I received when I went self employed back in 1984 was to do two original watercolours of the Tyne near the North Shields Fish Quay area for a leading North East businessman. Over the years I’ve kept going back to the reference material I gathered back then to do fresh interpretations of the same scenes. My watercolour style and technique has changed over the years but it still ends up being a joy to tackle paintings of the Tyne which capture a bygone era.

This particular watercolour depicts fishing trawlers berthed at the North Shields Fish Quay. It’s winter time, so the sun is low over the River Tyne and its dying rays are casting a warm glow over the battered hulls of the boats and the architecture. Further mood and atmosphere has been created by lifting out a little of the colour over some of the boats to give the effect of smoke rising from their engines. The use of counterchange for the masts, highlighted against the darker buildings, then dark against the wintery sky gives further added interest. The odd dot of red for the buoys brings extra sparkle to the painting. Achieving the orange and yellow clouds in a cool blue sky is always a challenge in watercolour as it’s easy for the colours to merge and become a dirty green, however I managed to pull it off. The original painting is currently on show at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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London Eye

London Eye

London Eye

London is full of incredible architecture from so many different periods in history. The London Eye has taken it’s rightful place as an iconic symbol of the Thames amongst other famous landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. It was opened in March 2000 to bring closure to the 20th Century and to herald in the new millennium.

For this particular painting I wanted to combine the new with the old and to create a strong visual contrast between the sharp, straight vertical lines of past architecture against the smooth, gentle curve of the giant wheel. By looking into the low afternoon sunlight, most of the shapes became silhouetted which gave me the opportunity to produce some intense golden colours for the sky.

The London Eye is one of two paintings I have reproduced as limited edition prints, the other being Thames Sunrise. The original will be one of the watercolours I will be exhibiting 4-9th July at the CastleGate in Newcastle as part of the charity exhibition titled “INDEPENDENCE” to raise money for OWN IT.

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Emerson Chambers, Newcastle upon Tyne

Emerson Chambers

Emerson Chambers

Emerson Chambers in Newcastle is one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the North East. It was designed by Benjamin Simpson in 1903 and boasts commanding views of Grey’s Monument and Grey Street. Last year I decided to reproduce my original watercolour as a limited edition giclee print which can be viewed and purchased on alanreed.com

Also last year, I was invited by the book shop Waterstones to do a watercolour demonstration one Saturday morning. I decided to paint the view from the second floor window for those who attended the demonstration. The resulting painting titled “Grey Street, Saturday Morning” was one of the final 100 entries selected for the BBC 2 programme “Show me the Monet” presented by Chris Hollins.

The painting of Emerson Chambers is one of my more detailed watercolours as I felt I had to do justice to the fine Art Nouveau architecture that is a real distinctive to the building. Benjamin Simpson also designed the Half Moon Inn, in the Bigg Market, another scene I have painted which is also available as a limited edition print. That particular painting was stolen from an art gallery in 1992 and has never been recovered.

If you have one of my prints of Emerson Chambers, or indeed the Bigg Market, which evokes special memories which you would like to share, then please feel free to post a comment below.

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