Tag Archives: commission

Tyne Bridge Painting

Alan Reed

Oil Painting of the Tyne Bridge

In 2017 I received a commission to do a very large oil painting of the Angel of the North which you can read about in an earlier blog post.  The Angel’s wings were coated with 22 carat gold leaf.

My client loves his painting of the Gateshead Angel and once I’d hung it for him we discussed a second commission to go alongside, this time a Tyne Bridge Painting.

After bringing the Tyne Bridge Painting close to completion I decided to add a little extra gold leaf and make a short video of the process which you can see on YouTube. First I applied some liquid size for the gold leaf to adhere to. The next stage is to place the gold leaf over the size once it’s gone off and it sticks straight away. As you can see in the video it also sticks where you don’t want it! I just have to carefully lift it off and put it where I want it to go.

Then with the backing paper over the gold leaf I can rub it down so that the bond becomes more secure.

As you will see, the video of the Tyne Bridge Painting is showing some of the smaller details of the painting process.

This is not the actual finished painting commission, it’s actually a much smaller preparation oil painting on canvas board 30″ x 20″.

The reason for doing a smaller preparation painting first is to make sure that everything is going to work out in terms of colour, composition and of course where on the painting to apply the gold leaf.

The Tyne Bridge Painting can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and online at www.alanreed.com.

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Bill Quay

Watercolour Painting of River Tyne

Original Watercolour of Bill Quay

Several months ago I received an enquiry about taking on a commission to do a watercolour painting of Bill Quay. The painting was to be a “thank you” present from a lady to give to her parents as she was getting married in the summer.

Bill Quay on the River Tyne holds special personal memories for the family. We discussed a specific size that would fit with her budget and I went one evening to Bill Quay to do a small sketchbook watercolour of the scene that the client had in mind.

Over the years I’ve painted many views of the River Tyne including North Shields, Fishing. I had a good idea of what would work for this particular painting.

The client approved the sketch so I was able to commence on the finished 14″ x 10″ watercolour, painted on an Arches Watercolour Block. Once again, the painting received the “thumbs up” from the client so all that needed to be done was to organise the framing and delivery.

We offer a bespoke framing service at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland where we have a comprehensive range of framing and mount options and I have over 30 years experience in helping customers choose the right frame and mount for a painting. I thought it would be nice to feature the client’s response to the commission.

“Just to let you know I have given the painting of Bill Quay to my parents today. It was also the first time I have seen it. Needless to say there were lots of tears! They were so pleased they have made sure everyone has seen it who is here today at the family barbecue.  I can’t thank you enough, its absolutley brilliant and the mounting and frame is just fantastic. They have said they will put a review on the website and of course I will as well. Thank you again, its just everything and more.” L.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to an Arches Watercolour Block, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.


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A Room with a View

Looking towards Prestwick

View from my Studio Window

For most of my career as an artist I’ve had quite small cramped studios to paint in. In 2006 we decided to look into the possibility of building a Studio in the loft space of our home in Ponteland. The plans were passed in 2007 and building commenced later that year. In July 2008 we were finally able to re-located our Studio & Gallery from Ponteland village to our home at 17 Cheviot View. This has provided me with a Room with a View.

The main benefit of this working space is the consistent north light I have over my drawing board but I also have some stunning views from one of the other windows looking north west towards Prestwick Hall, a lovely Georgian building designed by North East Architect John Dobson. I was actually commissioned to do a painting of it a number of years ago by the owners.

Of course much of my painting work these days is on location both in the UK and overseas so I’m able to enjoy the best of both enviroments.

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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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Portrait Painting in Oils


Andrea in oils

One of the hardest things to learn when painting in watercolour is knowing when to stop. The most common problem that most beginners in watercolour have is overworking the painting and in doing so, killing the freshness and translucency of the paint. Fortunately I find that I’m always able to stop just in time.

Working in oil paint however is completely different, particularly when painting a portrait. When the sitter isn’t there in front of me, I can usually see various elements which need to be changed during the next sitting and oil paints allow you the freedom to do so.

A recent portrait commission is this one of Andrea painted over several sittings. Andrea has been a great model and the painting is almost finished. There are a couple of small changes to be made to complete this project and I’m looking forward to the next commission which is one of her husband.

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The Bailey, Durham

The current painting project I am working on is a commission of the Bailey in Durham, an historic area in the centre of Durham. I took advantage of the glorious weather last week to do a couple of sketchbook watercolours and take some reference photographs so that the client can choose exactly the view that captures the scene that holds special memories.

Looking towards the church into the early morning light was an attractive scene, however I felt drawn towards the view in the other direction and did a sketchbook watercolour of the street looking slightly downhill. The paint was drying quickly because of the extraordinarily warm weather, so I was able to complete the study and commence on another sketch. This time I walked towards the church and took up position looking towards the area that I had been standing in for the first painting. Once again, it was an attractive scene which, with the light behind me, created an interesting composition with the fine old buildings and folk walking up the street.

On the way back to the car park, the light was forming some strong sunlight and shadow areas on the south part of Saddler Street which I photographed for reference, as it too, would make a strong painting. Now that I’ve been able to do the sketchbook studies and see the photographs, I’m looking forward to tackling the finished painting of the Bailey.

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Val D’Orcia, Toscana

In the autumn of 2006 my wife and I travelled to Italy for me to do a special commission of a clients property in Umbria. After doing the preparation sketches, we then went on to Tuscany to a little town called San Quirico d’Orcia, close to the towns of Pienza and Siena. We stayed for a couple of nights in a delightful hotel with lovely gardens called Palazzo del Capitano.

The countryside in this region is characterised by gentle rolling hills and cypress trees, a real inspiration for any artist, or indeed photographer, but to really appreciate the regions distinctive beauty, one needs to rise when it’s still dark.

The first morning, I did what was required and made my way to a small olive grove, the grass drenched with dew. as it was October, there was still a definite chill to the air, so despite wearing shorts, I still made sure I wore my heavy leather jacket. A thick mist hung in the valley below, shrouding a small farm building surrounded by cypress trees. As the sun crept over the horizon, I began to paint. Although the experience was wonderful, I was not satisfied with my sketchbook studies so I decided to return the following morning.

This time I captured what I felt was the essence of the scene, and together with some reference photographs I took of the sun rising, I was able to produce a large studio watercolour painting that is available as a limited edition print. The original painting hangs in our bedroom which is a lovely reminder of a fruitful trip to Italy.

If you have one of my prints of Tuscany which evokes special memories which you would like to share, then please feel free to post a comment below.

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Linhope Spout

You may recall a post earlier this month about a commission I am working on to paint a scene in the Ingram Valley. On Saturday evening I decided to take advantage of the clear blue skies and return to capture the lower evening sunlight.

The drive along the A697 was beautiful and once we took the turn for Ingram just north of Powburn, the drive became even more picturesque as we followed the river Breamish cutting its way through the valley.

Susan and our grand daughter Emily came with me as they both wanted to see the lambs on route which looked so cute skipping and jumping about. I had decided to paint Linhope Spout, a 60 foot chute of water that cascades into a plunge pool. It’s a popular spot for picnics as it’s only a 3 mile round walk. I parked my car opposite Hartside Farm and took the private road lined with rhododendrons towards the well signposted track for Linhope Spout.

Northumberland is renowned for its wide open moorland which occupies 70% of its National Park. This short walk allows you to get a tiny sample of the stunning scenery. In the distance one can see the domed 715 meter high Hedgehope Hill, the second largest of the Cheviot hills and as the path skirts some woodland, you can sometimes see red squirrels nibbling Scots Pine cones.

I jogged most of the route so it didn’t take long before I was able to cross the stream bubbling from the plunge pool over the slippery stones to sit on the grassy bank to do a sketchbook study looking into the evening sunlight.

I had to work quickly as the scene was in shadow and the sun was disappearing behind the hills but I was able to capture what I wanted. On the way back I stopped to photograph the River Breamish again, looking towards Ingram, a view which could also make an attractive painting.

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Breamish Valley

I have recently received a commission to do a watercolour painting depicting the Breamish Valley near Ingram. On Sunday I decided to do an initial research trip after church to remind myself of the location and general geography. I had driven through it a couple of years ago when I climbed Hedgehope, the second highest of the Cheviot hills. On Cheviot there are the remains of a B17 bomber which crashed in World War 2. From that walk I recall Linhope Spout, a stunning waterfall just a couple of miles further up the valley.

Ingram is 3 miles off the A697 just after Powburn. For part of the way, the road follows the the River Breamish which is surrounded by high rolling hills. On a warm sunny afternoon it is a popular setting for picnics and superb walks with interesting wildlife and scenery. Susan and I joined in with the various families enjoying the beauty of Northumberland’s National Park and had our picnic lunch by the river.

After lunch we had a wander about and called into the visitor centre in Ingram near St Michael’s Church before I decided to tackle a sketchbook watercolour of the river looking into the bright sunlight towards Ingram. The spring colours of the budding foliage were almost sparkling with blossom and verdant greens. We were both really impressed with the overall beauty and tranquil setting of the valley and I think I will have to return soon, perhaps one evening, to take advantage of the lower sun and longer shadows.

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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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