Tag Archives: cadmium lemon

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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Beadnell Harbour

Beadnell Harbour-Watercolour Painting

Beadnell Harbour-Painted on Location

On Friday evening Susan and I set off for a weekend break with two of our grandchildren at Breakwater Cottage in Seahouses. The weather was fantastic the whole time and I was able to snatch a couple of hours painting on location at Beadnell Harbour. What made the experience of painting “plein air” even more pleasurable was seeing a shoal of dolphins feeding remarkably close to the shoreline.

I had already primed a 14″ x 10″ watercolour block with a wash of cadmium lemon before arriving to the scene which saved me a good thirty minutes of drying time. This enabled me to crash on with the sky and sea as the sun was starting to set quite quickly. Once that had dried I could knock in the boats and the harbour wall just before the sun went down. I returned the following evening to add a few more extra details to the wall and boats. This study will prove to be an excellent source of inspiration for future paintings I may tackle of Beadnell Harbour.

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Oman Watercolour Sketchbook

Sketchbook Oman Sphinx

Sphinx Sunrise

Painting a sunrise on location like this Oman Watercolour is one of the hardest challenges as a watercolourist. The main problem is that the colours change so quickly, so by the time you have laid your first wash and waited for it to dry, the rising sun will have brought a complete change to the scenario before your eyes. One can quicken the process by working on a paper which you have already tinted. This will allow you to skip a step and crack on with the next wash.

For this particular scene in Oman, I went out with a friend who took me out to a remote spot to walk his dogs early in the morning whilst it was still dark. Before the sun rose, I anticipated what the initial colours were going to be and started painting in semi darkness. It was very hot, temperatures already in the high twenties, so the paint dried quickly. Just before the sun came up over the sea, it was already starting to tint the sky a fugitive pink which I was able to lay in along with the gentlest touch of Winsor and Newton Manganese Blue for the sea. I allowed parts of the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to show through which helped to create further mood and atmosphere.

Oman has some very distinctive rock formations throughout it’s stunning coastline. The rock on the top right of the page reminded me of the profile of the Egyptian Sphinx, hence the title Sphinx towards Muttrah. This is one of 40 paintings which feature in my signed limited edition Sketchbook of Oman which is available online or at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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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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Dhow, Reflections

Dhow, Reflections

Dhow, Reflections

A simple composition like this titled “Dhow, Reflections” is actually one of the most difficult subjects to paint successfully in watercolour. Over the last five years I’ve made many sketchbook studies of Arabian dhows whilst painting on location in the Gulf and find them a delight to paint. This particular painting was inspired by a dhow I saw coming in to harbour towards the end of the day. I decided to do a large studio watercolour 28″ x 20″ to capture the warm light and the solitary vessel.

The challenge is achieving the the graduation of the background colours. When you blend blue into yellow, it’s very easy to get it wrong and create a dirty green colour, so patience is the key. I drew out the basic shape of the dhow and masked off the white areas using masking fluid before tackling the background.

First I laid a wash of clean water over the entire sheet of hand-made watercolour paper. Whilst it was still wet, I ran in a wash of Cadmium Lemon about a third of the way from the top, fading it out slightly as it went towards the bottom of the paper. About two hours later when it was dry, I repeated the process with another wash of clean water, however, this time I laid a wash of Rose Madder about halfway down the paper and faded it out about a third of the way from the bottom.

Another two hours later and I applied another wash of clean water over the whole sheet, this time running in some French Ultramarine and Manganese Blue in the top third of the painting, making sure it faded out quickly as it hit the yellow. I ran a touch more of the blue into the bottom third to create a reflection of the sky. By painting the background in a series of washes, you create a depth and richness to the colours which would not be achieved if one tried to do it in one wash.

Once it was all dry, I rubbed out the masking fluid and began painting the dhow and it’s reflections. The result is a very restful painting that one can see at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

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River Tyne Sunset

River Tyne Sunset, Near North Shields

River Tyne Sunset

In one of my recent blog posts I talked about a commission I received when I first went full time as an artist back in 1984 at the age of 22. It was to do two watercolours of the River Tyne near North Shields for a leading North East businessman. He wanted me to depict the industry on the River Tyne, in particular the cranes, docks and ships.

Last year I decided to re-visit the reference I gathered over 27 years ago to do a fresh take on the scene. I stretched a massive sheet of Arches watercolour paper around 40″ x 30″ and drew out the basic composition in pencil. Then the real fun began!

First I wet the paper and flooded specific areas of the sky and all of the river with a mix of Cadmium Lemon and orange to create the effect of low winter sun catching the clouds. Once that first wash dried (about one to two hours) I wet the paper again around the yellow parts, however this time I brushed in some subtle washes of Rose Madder, intensifying the colour nearer the horizon.

An hour or so later, when that wash had dried, I wet the paper once again in carefully planned out shapes around the yellow parts to indicate where the next application of colour was going to go, some nicely painted in Manganese Blue for the sky. Finally, when the blue wash dried, I completed the sky with some much darker cloud shapes with a mix of Paynes Grey, Rose Madder and Manganese Blue.

Next came the fun of painting in the main subject of the boats, cranes and docks using a wet on dry technique with all of the colours mentioned previously and some Raw Sienna, Vandyke Brown and Lamp Black. All the colours are Winsor and Newton Artists quality and the entire painting was done with a Stratford and York size 20 synthetic brush. Sadly, this particular brush is no longer available but I do have a few for sale at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

The painting titled River Tyne Sunset is currently on view at the North East Art Collective in Eldon Gardens, Newcastle upon Tyne where I also have a number of other original watercolours on display.

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