Tag Archives: cityscapes

Christmas Exhibition

Alan Reed

Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Our Christmas Exhibition starts on the weekend of the 4th and 5th November 2017. The scene above of Grey Street on a bleak winter’s day in Newcastle is this years Christmas Card and is also available as an original watercolour.

The Christmas Exhibition also includes many new original watercolours and oil paintings which I’ve been working on over the last 12 months in between painting commissions. Local scenes are featured together with works inspired by our Painting Holidays in Italy. Tranquil olive groves and picturesque hilltop towns are always a delight to capture on location in my sketchbook. Then it’s a trip down memory lane in the studio as I reflect on the holiday and develop these studies into more finished paintings.

I’ve also managed to squeeze in some new cityscapes of London and and beach scenes on the island of Tiree in Scotland.

There are a number of new limited edition prints also being showcased for the first time so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Our Christmas Exhibition will continue until Saturday 23rd December 2017.


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City Church Portraits

Sight Size Painting

Oil Painting Portrait of Sola Idowu

Over the last 12 months I have been working on a painting project for City Church Newcastle which meets at the CastleGate, Melbourne Street, Newcastle.

In the summer of 2013 I was approached by Ed Morrow (who manages the CastleGate) asking my advice about what kind of artwork would look good in the new atrium which would reflect the vision of the church.

My wife Susan and I have been members of City Church since it’s beginning. Our vision is that we will be a church of thousands, a community full of people from every nation. My suggestion was that I painted a number of portraits of church members of different ages, races and stages of life that represented the church family.

I started the first one in October 2013 with several sittings of Adrian Smith. The Portraits have been painted in oils on aluminium panels for Health and Safety reasons. They have to be prepared first with emery paper then primed using an Etch Primer. I then paint several coats of an oil paint primer before tinting each panel to a neutral tint. It’s at that point I can begin a series of sittings, painting from life.

I have used photography as an aid to make sure that the proportions are correct. With the exception of the children I’ve painted 90% of the painting work is from life, painting from observation.

Most of my 30 year professional career has been spent painting landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes in watercolour throughout the North East, Scotland, UK, Italy and the Middle East. I’ve learned many years ago when to finish a painting in watercolour, the danger of overworking it being a real possibility. Once you overdo it, there’s no going back with watercolour!

With oil painting, it’s quite different. You can always see little details to fiddle on with to keep trying to improve the portrait. If you make a mistake, you simply correct it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting so I needed a justifiable reason to stop each portrait. All christians are a work in progress, none of us will achieve perfection until the day we are united with Jesus Christ. I’ve deliberately decided to have some of the portraits “unfinished”. This is a random choice and not any reflection on anyone’s spirituality!

The plan at this point in time is to have a launch later on in the autumn when the portraits will be hung in the atrium to coincide with a “Vision Sunday” for the church.

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Paintings of Durham

Watercolour of Saddler Street, Durham

Saddler Street in the Snow

On the 6th June I will be exhibiting a number of paintings at Durham School for a wine and art evening in conjunction with St James Wealth Management. Several new paintings of Durham will be on display including this one of Saddler Street in Winter.

The painting was started at a watercolour demonstration that I was doing on Wednesday evening for Hartlepool Art Club where the theme was cityscapes. The demonstration was recorded so I hope to have the tape uploaded on to You Tube in a few weeks time.

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Sketchbook 5 Things to do

Top Sketchbook Tips

Charcoal Sketchbook Studies of John Singer Sargent Portraits

Here are 5 things you can do in your sketchbook to help improve your skills and to make you more visually aware.

1. Do drawings of some of the great masters of painting. I recently went to the newly re-opened Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and was able to do a couple of sketchbook studies of Rembrandt’s paintings. If you can’t get to a gallery or museum, draw from your art books. You can see some of my studies above of John Singer Sargent portraits.

2. Make sure you carry your sketchbook (I recommend the Moleskine brand) and something to draw with at all times, so that if you’ve time to kill, you can quickly draw whatever is around you. Drawing from life will sharpen ones technical ability in terms of being able to draw and will increase visual awareness.

3. Try to paint a sky a day (or even just one a week). At the end of the year you will have 52 –365 studies that will capture different seasons and times of day that you can refer back to for ideas when painting landscapes, seascapes or cityscapes. It will also help you to see cloud shapes and the effects of light as washes of colour.

4. Instead of using a pencil, try drawing with a brush and paint with one colour. You will achieve an interesting quality of line and you will become more confident about handling a brush.

5. If you are struggling to find someone to draw, then try a self portrait in front of a mirror. Then use the mirror to check on the accuracy of your study by holding up the sketch in front of the mirror alongside your face. You will be surprised how the reflection shows up any errors.

To finish with, a quote from John Singer Sargent:

“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”.

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Italia! Magazine

Watercolour of Susan in The Basilica San Marco

Susan in The Basilica San Marco

I’ve recently been asked to write some responses to the Questions & Answers section of the Italia Magazine. Readers are encouraged to ask any questions they may have about Italy. From time to time, questions about painting in Italy crop up. Here is one from the March 2013 issue from a lady called Valerie in Weymouth.

Q. I have been experimenting with sketches and painting on my recent trips to Italy, but am not sure which medium to use. How do you choose between watercolour, oil or charcoal sketches – for example, does one suit landscapes or cityscapes more?

For me personally, choice of medium when sketching outdoors is usually a matter of preference and to a certain extent practicality. Also one needs to have some clear goals and objectives as to the purpose of the sketching.

When working “plein air” in Italia I’m often gathering reference material which will be a source of inspiration for some future studio painting. I find watercolour the ideal medium to capture the colour, mood and atmosphere of both landscapes and cityscapes. A small box of watercolour paints with a sketchbook can be easily carried about in a jacket pocket or small bag. It’s not too difficult to find a place to rest the sketchbook on like a wall, a table at a cafe or a fence if you’re painting in the countryside.

Watercolour painting does demand more skill but working small makes it less daunting. Italian cities are great for their wonderful shops selling leather bound journals and sketchbooks containing hand made papers. Find a book with a heavy watercolour paper and fill it with your studies of city life, architecture or the distinctive Italian landscape. You will hopefully create a delightful record of your travels in Italia which you can refer back to jog your memory or use for inspiration to paint. An alternative to buying a sketchbook in Italy is the Moleskine brand which you can buy in the UK.

I find that working in oils is more arduous in comparison. The drying time of the paint is longer and you will generally have to carry a lot more equipment like an easel, a bag to carry paints, turpentine, a range of brushes and your canvas/boards to paint on. It can be done but it’s a little more demanding.

An alternative to watercolour and oils is acrylic paint which is water soluble and dries quickly. It’s more forgiving than watercolour, allowing one to paint over mistakes.

Working in charcoal can be rewarding if you are not concerned about recording colour but you will also need some fixative (or hairspray) to stop your drawings from getting smudged.

Here is an example of how goals and objectives are important to choice of medium. Last year I was making some studies in the Basilica San Marco in Venice. I used a combination of watercolour in one sketchbook to record the colours and a biro in another for some of the architectural details. The sketchbook watercolour  is one of several studies I made on that trip in preparation for an oil painting I have been working on recently of Susan.

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Painting of York Minster

York Minster Watercolour

York Minster

If one was to remove the figures from this watercolour of York Minster, the scene would not only loose it’s sense of scale, it would also look lifeless. Cityscapes are meant to look alive with a life blood of their own, indeed people are the heart of a city. There are occasions when it is appropriate to omit figures from a street scene, but generally it’s best to arrange them accordingly to give the composition interest, scale, life and colour.

Even though York Minster is quite clearly the backdrop to this street scene of busy shoppers, it’s still an integral part of the painting.

This limited edition print of York Minster can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland and is the natural partner to my print of the Shambles.

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Portrait in Charcoal

Margaret in Charcoal

Margaret in Charcoal

Although I’m best known for my watercolours of cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes, I’ve painted a number of portrait commissions, going back to the mid 1980’s. I’ve recently found myself being drawn back to the artistic challenge of capturing people’s portraits from life. This particular drawing of Margaret was made over three sittings in charcoal and was a preliminary study for an oil painting that can be seen below.

The oil painting took four sittings and I have to say that Margaret was a lovely model to paint. She was able to sit motionless for a couple of hours at a time and has beautiful features that are a delight to paint. Her family and those who know her say that both pictures are a very good likeness and that I’ve really captured her personality. I’m looking forward to painting her again soon.

Margaret in Oils

Margaret in Oils

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Theatre Royal at Night

Since my first exhibition over 30 years ago (when I was an art student) I have regularly painted specific scenes for my clients. The subjects have varied considerably and have ranged from landscapes to cityscapes, sailing ships to aircraft, even red blood cells to pets! There have been many occassions when my clients have asked me to put themselves and their loved ones in a particular scene.

Theatre Royal at Night

Theatre Royal at Night

The painting above of the Theatre Royal at Night was one such commission where I was asked to paint the client with his wife and three children walking out of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne as if they had just been to see a show together. The children are now young adults themselves, so the painting really is capturing a special moment in their family life together. Over the years I have painted the Theatre Royal at different times of day and seasons. The night time is one of the more difficult as artificial light is tricky to capture well in watercolour, but if you can get it right, it looks very dramatic.

To find out more about commissioning a painting of something unique for yourself or a loved one, visit my commissions page on my website or call in to my studio and gallery in Ponteland to have an informal chat without any obligation. It’s always best to give me a call on 01661 871 800 before setting out to make sure I’m in.

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