Tag Archives: Bath

The Artist

Painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Original Watercolour of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

In 2013 I won “The Artist Prize” in the Royal Watercolour Society competition with my painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman. The prize was a 3 page feature in “The Artist” Magazine where the writer Susie Hodge interviewed me.

I’m regularly asked questions by art students about my working methods and how I started off as an artist so I thought it may be helpful for me to post some of my answers. Here are the first 10 answers.

  1. Although I had seen my father use watercolours and I had always admired Rowland Hilder’s paintings featured in the Artist’s Britain Calendars in the 1970’s it wasn’t until the age of 15 that I first tried them out at school through my art teacher. I immediately fell in love with the way one could achieve different colours by laying one wash on top of another. I enjoyed art at school, particularly when I came second in an art competition at the age of 9. With the prize money I purchased some poster paints which I then used to win first prize in another art competition the following year with a painting of Bamburgh Castle.
  2. There was never really any doubt in my mind that I wanted to become an artist, particularly with my father Ken Reed) being an artist and seeing my grandfather paint too.

    Alan Reed

    Winter Landscape after Rowland Hilder

  3. I left school at 16 and went to art college in Newcastle upon Tyne studying Graphic Design and illustration. At college we were introduced to lots of different mediums. None of the lecturers showed me how to use watercolour though. I recall starting to teach myself one summer holiday by studying Rowland Hilder’s paintings. I showed my efforts to my lecturers the following term and they were very encouraging. Some of them actually bought my paintings. I had my first exhibition as an art student in our local library and sold all 12 paintings exhibited. I started to receive commissions from the exhibition.
  4. A couple of years after leaving college I decided to go self employed as a full time artist at the age of 22 using the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. To be eligible you had to be unemployed for several weeks then open up a business account with £1000 in. The government would then pay you £40 a week for a year. I guess 99% of the businesses would have failed but it was a great help to me. I also did a couple of days part time lecturing in art and design around the North East which was an additional income. I gave up the lecturing around 2004 although I still do 3 or 4 watercolour demonstrations to various art clubs around the North East.
  5. The time I spend on doing a painting varies. If I’m painting “plein air” it will take an hour or two. I might spend a little time in the studio to finish it off if required. Studio paintings will generally take a day to two weeks depending on the size, subject matter and interruptions!

    Alan Reed

    Sketchbook Watercolour of the Arch of Titus

  6. If I’m painting a landscape or cityscape in watercolour I will use a combination of sketchbook studies painted on location and my own photographs. I sometimes have to work off the clients photographs on some commissioned work. If I’m painting a portrait in oils, then I much prefer painting from life over a period of 4-6 sittings rather than photographs.
  7. Choice of scenes will depend on if it’s a commission or for an exhibition. The client will often be guided by my own thoughts and ideas. I usually get an idea straight away of what’s going to work. When painting a landscape or cityscape, I’m wanting the viewer to feel as though they are a part of the scene before them, so creating mood, emotion and atmosphere are very much a part of my design.
  8. I will use artist’s license whenever necessary, sometimes leaving out cars, road signs and certain figures in a cityscape or adding in figures. I’ll often change the sky or add foreground shadows to create drama in a landscape.

    San Gimignano

    San Gimignano, Evening Sunlight

  9. I love to capture the hustle and bustle of city life with interesting architecture, particularly cities like Edinburgh, Bath, Newcastle, Florence and Venice. Coastal scenes like the West Coast of Scotland and Norfolk are also a favourite. I’m enjoying portraiture at the moment too.

10. Capturing mood and atmosphere, the fleeting moment of light striking a building or the first rays of sunlight in a Tuscan landscape really appeals to me.

Also trying to describe someone’s personality and psychology in a portrait is a really enjoyable challenge.

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#SBS Winners Event 2013

Photo Shoot #SBS Winners Certificate from Theo Paphitis

Receiving #SBS Winners Certificate from Theo Paphitis

Last Thursday I went to the #SBS Winners Event 2013 at the ICC Birmingham. I had several attempts at tweeting @TheoPaphitis my business with the all important hashtag #SBS during the time slot 5-7:30pm on a Sunday before winning the coveted RT from Theo Paphitis to his 400,000 plus followers.

My winning tweet on 11th June 2012 was “Painting is my passion, come rain or shine” with a photo of my original watercolour “Pump Room, Bath” available as a limited edition print from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

Small Business Sunday, shortened to the hashtag #SBS on Twitter, was created by Theo Paphitis in October 2010. Theo is best known for appearing on Dragons Den on BBC Two. He is Chairman of Ryman Stationery plus Boux Avenue lingerie and Robert Dyas, as well as joint owner of Red Letter Days.

Each week Theo looks at the 1,000’s of tweets he receive’s and chooses his favourite 6 who are then re-tweeted. The winners can gain an immediate surge of followers and some positive social media coverage.

The winners event 2013 was a great experience as we had the chance to ask Theo questions and hear his valuable business insight. My favourite quote from Theo on the day was “make a living doing something you’re passionate about”. I’ve been very fortunate to being able to do just that for the last 29 years.

 

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Christmas Exhibition

Grey Street, Snow Shower limited edition print

Grey Street, Snow Shower

My Christmas Exhibition Preview weekend 9-11th November was very well attended with plenty of sales. Star of the show was “Grey Street, Snow Shower” which received a good number of print orders. Despite the rising cost of stamps, there were still plenty of folk buying my new Christmas cards too.

My new range of Magnetic Bookmarks also proved to be popular, with customers buying them as stocking fillers. Images include scenes of Newcastle, Italy, Bath and Oman.

Locally produced hand made glass was another hit as well. The exhibition continues at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-5pm until Christmas Eve so there’s still plenty of time to pop in for a browse and a cup of fresh coffee.

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#SBS Winner Alan Reed Art

Painting of Pump Room, Bath in Snow

Pump Room, Bath in the Snow

Theo Paphitis, one of the “dragons” in the BBC television series Dragons Den, has developed an innovative way of giving publicity to small business in the UK. Businesses are required to tweet a description of what they do to @TheoPaphitis on Twitter between 5pm-7:30pm on a Sunday with the all important hash-tag #SBS (Small Business Sunday). Theo will then review the multitude of tweets that qualify and choose 6 each week who are then re-tweeted. The lucky business owners become an #SBS Winner.

As Theo Paphitis has over 250,000 followers and a special website www.theopaphitissbs.com dedicated to the winners, this provides a great opportunity for the winners to increase their profile on twitter and connect with other businesses. I first found out about this through a business colleague and friend Jules Phair who has her own cleaning business TLC Totally Love Cleaning and was one of the lucky winners in January this year. You can follow Jules on Twitter @TLClean Since then I have been tweeting my business to Theo most Sundays and my persistence paid off. On 11th June 2012 my tweet “painting is my passion come rain or shine” with a picture of my watercolour “Pump Room in the Snow” a scene in Bath, was one of the 6 businesses chosen by Theo. We’ve now published the painting as a limited edition print available from alanreed.com for only £149 unframed.

This week my twitter feed has been very busy with lots of congratulations and mentions from other folk on twitter and around 150 new followers, so a special thank you to Mr Theo Paphitis, Ryman Stationary and to Jules Phair for making me aware of #SBS so that I am now an #SBS Winner.

 

 

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Pump Room in the Snow

Pump Room in the Snow, Bath

Pump room in the Snow, Bath

“Pump Room in the Snow” is a large studio watercolour based on studies I’ve made on location in Bath. Over the last two years I’ve entered the Bath Prize, a painting competition  held annually in Bath where contestants are given a specific location in Bath to paint “plein air”. Once they have painted their allocated scene before the competition deadline, they can enter other paintings they may have done of Bath.

In 2010 I came runner up with my painting of the Royal Crescent and in 2011 I won first prize for the best painting of the Circus in Bath. In 2011 Kingsmeade Square was the place I was given to paint on location. On the day I went to Bath to paint there was heavy rain, however I was able to turn the elements to my advantage by using some of my studies of figures holding umbrellas in this painting of the Pump Room in the snow.

Over the years, I have often painted snow scenes, so I drew on my experience to render the snow falling from the heavy clouds to create wet reflections in the pavements. By keeping the palette quite monochromatic, I was able to make the whole cityscape feel cold and moody. The little girl dressed in a bright red coat (my eldest granddaughter Emily) added an important focal point to the composition. The original watercolour can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Bath Prize 2011

Pump Room in the Snow

Pump Room in the Snow

I entered 4 paintings for the Bath Prize 2011 including the winning painting of the Circus and the one above of the Pump Room in the Snow. My paintings can currently be seen at the Octagon, Milsom Place, Bath until 27th October 10am-5pm. An auction sale of all the paintings entered  will take place at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath on Friday 28th October, starting at 7pm.

 

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Alan Reed Winner of the Circus Prize 2011

The Circus, Bath, Early Morning

The Circus, Bath, Early Morning

Early this morning I received an email to say I had won the category for the best painting of the Circus in the Bath Prize 2011. In 2010 I came 1st runner up in the Bath Painting Prize with my watercolour of The Royal Crescent. Spurred on by this success, I decided to enter the competition again this year which had several new categories for artists to paint, one of which was the best painting of the Circus. To enter, one had to paint a scene “plein air” of a specific location in Bath given to each artist by the organisers. My location to paint was Kingsmead Square, so in August, Susan and I went to Bath for a couple of days for me to paint on location and to get reference of the other scenes I wanted to paint. Unfortunately it rained for much of the time, so my plein air painting was executed under the shelter of an umbrella, however on the morning of our departure, the bad weather lifted and I was able to spend some time to get the reference I needed to do the winning painting of the Circus.

I decided to do this scene in the same landscape format as last years painting of the Royal Crescent to emphasise the curve of the architecture. After drawing the main composition in pencil, I put down some base washes of yellow and rose madder 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.

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 I had painted of the Circus, so I kept my leather bound sketchbook open in front of me at all times as a constant reminder. The result was a winning painting, an original watercolour capturing the early morning summer sunlight warming up the classical Georgian architecture.

The paintings entered for the competition can be seen at the Octagon, Milsom Place, Bath from 21st -27th October 10am-5pm (Sunday 12noon-4pm). An auction sale of Bath Prize paintings will take place at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath on Friday 28th October, starting at 7pm.

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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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