Tag Archives: Edward Seago

The Artist

Selection of Alan Reed Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks painted on location

This blog post continues on from the previous one where I have writing about my working methods, how I started my career as an artist and my artistic influences.

11. I use a limited palette with watercolours, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Rose Madder, Vandyke Brown, Payne’s Grey, Manganese Blue, French Ultramarine, Purple, Cadmium Red, Windsor Green, Purple and Lamp Black. For oils I use Lead White, Yellow Ochre, Light Red and Ivory Black. I rarely use any other colours.

12. For my watercolours I tend to use Stratford and York synthetic brushes, Winsor and Newton Artist’s Paints and either Arches or Fabriano watercolour paper. I sometimes use Two Rivers watercolour paper. For oils I use Old Holland Paints.

13. I’m often asked if I use masking fluid. Very rarely but on the odd occasion I find it helpful.
14. I tend to prefer early morning light and will usually try to avoid painting midday, particularly in the summer when the sun is high. I find painting sunsets “plein air” a little frustrating as your’e battling against the fading light. At least if you start a painting as the sun is rising you will have generally put down the right colours before they have changed which will then set the mood for the rest of the painting.

15. I will usually spend some time thinking through the composition and plan out the scene in my minds eye and in sketchbook form before starting on a studio painting.

16. Regarding art competitions, much will depend on my work schedule. 2013 was the first time I’d entered the Royal Watercolour Society Competition so I was delighted to have had my work accepted and recognized by The Artists Magazine and won The Artists Prize.

17. The hardest aspect of being an artist is the actual running of a business so that one can make a living to pay a mortgage and support a family, particularly during a recession.

18. I probably do about 4 or 5 paintings a month. However some will have taken a day and some will have been painted over several months.

19. Buildings and people are hard to do. I’ve spent considerable time working on both.

20. I started off my career admiring Rowland Hilder’s landscapes. Over the years I’ve been a great fan of Sir William Russell Flint, Winslow Homer, Edward Seago and Arthur Melville. They were all great draughtsmen which I think is essential when using watercolour and for painting portraits from life. At the moment I find myself drawn to John Singer Sargent, an extraordinarily gifted individual.  I will often warm up before I start a painting by copying a John Singer Sargent portrait sketch in my Moleskine sketchbook. I’ve even copied several of his portraits in oils like “Head of a Capri Girl” to help understand his techniques.

They have all been an influence one way or another. It’s good to study the techniques and skills of those who have been before and have left a rich body of work for others to enjoy.

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Watercolour Tips

Favourite Artists

Watercolour Artists

I’m currently running a 6 week watercolour painting course at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. One of my top Watercolour Tips is to study the work of some of the great watercolourists.

There are a some terrific books available which are a “must buy” for anyone wishing to develop their watercolour skills.

Starting with Watercolour by Rowland Hilder is the first book on painting that I really took note of. Not only does it contain some great watercolour advice but also some good, simple examples of basic drawing principles like perspective, vanishing points and eye levels.

Another great book by Rowland Hilder is Painting Landscapes in Watercolour. It has a good number of paintings reproduced in stages from the start to completion. This is really helpful if you want to have a go at copying them. Copying paintings is a discipline which I totally endorse as part of the learning process.

One of the finest watercolorists is the American Winslow Homer. His watercolours are breathtakingly beautiful. A book by Helen A. Cooper on his watercolours will be a constant inspiration to anyone who loves this medium.

In June I saw a couple of brilliant exhibitions of Edward Seago paintings in London. One of the exhibitions at the Portland Gallery was to coincide with a new book on Edward Seago by James Russell. It’s certainly worth getting if you like his work. Another book to add to your Christmas list (which contains some larger plates of Seago watercolours) is Edward Seago by Ron Ranson.

For more Watercolour Tips you need look no further than John Singer Sargent. The recent book John Singer Sargent Watercolours which was launched in conjunction with a major exhibition of his watercolours in New York and Boston in 2013 is another inspirational book.

There are many other books on the market which I could recommend. These however, are amongst my favourites.

Some of the links on this post is are affiliate links to books which I personally read, available from Amazon. If you click on any of the links and buy the product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself. 

 

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Bomber Command Memorial

Charcoal Sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

Charcoal Sketch of Bomber Command Memorial

I went to see a couple of fine Edward Seago exhibitions in London recently. More on that later. Whilst on my travels around the city I decided to have a look at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park.

It commemorates the aircrews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War. The Bomber Command Memorial was built to mark the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth as well as civilians of all nations killed during the air raids. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth officially opened the memorial on 28 June 2012.

On arrival I was immediately impressed by the scale of the 7 crew members depicted in the memorial and the detail of the flying uniform rendered in the sculpture. Many of the larger bombers like the Lancaster had a crew of 7 so it was only fitting to show a full crew.

I began by doing an A5 sketchbook watercolour. Whilst I was painting it, a retired pilot came alongside to watch me paint. It turned out that his father used to fly Lancaster Bombers during the war.

The Bomber Command Memorial has been designed in such a way that one cannot see all the crew members at once. You have to move about to see them all. I suppose that it could signify that the crew members were spread about the aircraft from the nose to the tail of the plane.

I decided to return to the Memorial the following day when I produced another watercolour sketch and a couple of charcoal pencil drawings in my Moleskine Sketchbook. One of the figures reminded me of my Great Uncle Ronnie who was a flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers.

Many of my sketchbook studies can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland as part of the Art Tour 2014.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, 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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Painting of Burnham Overy Mill

Watercolour Study

Sketchbook Study of Burnham Overy Mill

In September 2009 and July 2010 my wife and I spent a weeks holiday in Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk with our daughter and two of our grandchildren.

It proved to be a mini inspirational homage to one of my painting heroes Edward Seago. Like Seago, I was captivated by the distinctive flat landscape and “big skies” punctuated by windmills, sailing vessels and trees.

I would rise early in the morning before the family woke up so I could spend an hour or so painting directly, without any preparatory pencil drawing, into my handmade sketchbook and Arches watercolour block. As one study was drying, I would alternate to the other until both were completed. Two hours later I was back at the cottage cooking breakfast!

This sketchbook watercolour of Burnham Overy Mill has been painted into a mini handmade sketchbook of Norfolk and is based on 4 separate watercolours painted on location “en plein air” in September 2009. The watercolour of Burnham Overy Mill I painted on the Arches 14″ x 10″ block can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Sketchbook Tip – Painting “Plein Air”

plein air painting

Sketchbook Watercolour of Burnham Overy Mill

I’ve enjoyed a couple of very enjoyable painting trips using my Sketchbook in Norfolk in recent years following in the footsteps of one of my painting heroes Edward Seago who lived and painted around Norfolk. For those of you who are interested in landscape painting, there are some excellent books available about this immensely gifted and popular artist whose exhibitions would sell out within hours.

I’ve made several studies of Burnham Overy Mill on these trips. Whilst I was painting the one above, I also did a larger 14″ x 10″ on an Arches 140lb watercolour block whilst the washes were drying in the sketchbook which you can see on my website alanreed.com

I would keep reverting back to the sketchbook study and back again to the watercolour block. I also did another watercolour in my moleskine sketchbook.

It’s a useful “plein air” painting tip to employ for several reasons:

You can generally get twice as much done in the same amount of time whilst you are waiting for paint to dry.

The scene is usually a changing one because of the sky and cloud formations.

You will become more visually aware of your subject.

You will have something to refer back to in your sketchbook if you sell your other painting.

Next time you’re painting “plein air” in watercolour, try painting two of the same scene. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Invest in Art

Corso Palladio, Vicenza

Corso Palladio, Vicenza

Rarely does a week go past without one of my customers commenting about the value of their paintings and often they joke about their “Alan Reed” original being worth a fortune once I’m dead! Joking aside, it does raise the question, should one invest in art, and if so, whose art should one buy?

The truth is, not every artist’s work will be worth more money once they are dead, after all, what one generation finds appealing and popular, the next generation may find it ghastly. Conversely, paintings by artists like Van Gogh who hardly had any success when they were alive, are now way beyond the reach of the average collector.

It is also possible to buy art from a living artist at the start of their career and see it soar in value, even during their own lifetime. A good example of this is Jack Vettriano. One of my clients bought two of Jack’s paintings when he first started off for only a few thousand pounds. He later auctioned them several years ago for over a hundred thousand pounds!

Buying paintings by artists who are dead can often be a sound investment. I recall seeing a delightful watercolour of Venice by Edward Seago at a gallery in London for around £8,000 back in 1994. I had only been married for a year and it was just a little out of my reach at the time. A similar Edward Seago watercolour of Venice would now set you back £20-30,000 and I suspect that his prices will continue to rise.

However, the value of art is effected by a multitude of varying factors, so investing, like most investments, can never be an exact science. Buying from a reputable dealer and seeking expert professional advice is usually a safe guard from making a bad purchase, but even then, I’ve seen forgeries that have deceived the dealers expert eye. One of my clients bought an original watercolour signed W. Russell Flint from an auctioneer that was never in a million years painted by Sir William Russell Flint who died in 1969. I’ve also seen paintings being passed off as an “Edward Seago” that were clearly not painted by the great British artist who died in 1974.

The upside is that investing in art, particularly modern art, has been a huge success in the last couple of decades according to experts. Buying from a living artist means that you know the art is likely to be genuine. Finding an artist to invest in is just the first part of the challenge. Investors and collectors need to know that the artist has talent and staying power. The artist’s commitment to their practise is of paramount importance. I’ve seen a number of artists burst onto the scene only to disappear after a few years, unable to make a living. You need to ask questions about their background, training and how they are progressing in terms of their ability, creativity and success before purchasing for investment purposes. Also look for an artist that has an identifiable style that is developing and improving.

Over the last few years I’ve made my own modest acquisitions using some of the criteria mentioned above but with one underlying philosophy. I like to buy a painting that looks good on my wall which I can enjoy every time I look at it. If it goes up in value, then that is an added bonus.

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Arthur Melville

Arthur Melville by Iain Gale

Arthur Melville by Iain Gale

TIP 3 Be Inspired! If I’m ever feeling dry, I will spend a couple of hours browsing through my reference books of paintings by some of the great exponents of watercolour like Winslow Homer, Sir William Russell Flint, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Arthur Melville and Edward Seago.

Better still, visit an exhibition with your sketch book and do some simple studies of some of the works on display. I had the recent pleasure of seeing the exhibition titled “The Glasgow Boys” held at the Royal Academy of Arts. On show were 4 watercolours by Arthur Melville, one of which was the outstanding original featured on the cover of the book by Iain Gale seen above. There really is no substitute for seeing the original paintings rather than reproductions.

The Glasgow Boys

The Glasgow Boys

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Painting on Location

One of the most satisfying and rewarding disciplines I do as a painter is getting up early to capture the early morning light in watercolour. Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to spend a week in Norfolk over the summer with my family, following in the footsteps of some of my watercolour heros, particularly Edward Seago.
12" x 9" watercolour study of Burnham Overy Staithe

12″ x 9″ watercolour study of Burnham Overy Staithe

Burnham Overy Staithe is a painters paradise. The low lying land means you get the extremes of either low or high tide and of course the dramatic big skies which are always a challenge to paint. This particular scene was commenced about 6am at low tide with the sun attempting to break through the grey clouds which were scurrying across the sky.
As usual, I tackled two paintings, one in my sketch book, the other on a 12″ x 9″ Arches watercolour block of rough paper. The advantage of doing this is that whilst one is drying, you can crack on recording the ever changing scene with the other painting. One can keep alternating between the two, so the whole process is a very intense painting period. The sketch book study is always the more simple study, mainly because it is smaller, therefore one does not have as much space to fit in detail. There is no pencil work in either study as I prefer to “draw” with the brush directly on to the paper. This means you get a very expressive free brush stroke which brings a freshness to the work.
What I have ended up with is two, quite different renditions of the same scene which I hope to work up into a much larger painting at some point in the future. The photograph provides some valuable topographical information to supplement the watercolour studies. The challenge with the studio painting will be to retain the spontaneity of the location paintings.
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