Tag Archives: Gulf

Painting of Dhows

Arabian Dhows on Gold Leaf

Dhows, Oman – Oil on Gold Leaf

There’s a story on how I ended up doing a Painting of Dhows on Gold Leaf. In 2010 I was involved in a painting of a very large Biblical scene which was to go in a church building. It was a massive project and painting, executed on 5 panels of gold leaf in oil paints. I had several small boards coated with gold leaf to experiment with and decided to do my own paintings on this unusual and expensive surface.

I did two quite different scenes, one of the Grand Mosque in Oman, the other of some Arabian Dhows at low tide in Sur, Oman. I sold the Grand Mosque to a client in Oman, however, this one of the dhows is available to purchase. Other original paintings and prints of the Gulf can be seen on my website.

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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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Spring Exhibition

Spring Exhibition Invitation

Spring Exhibition 2012 Invitation

For those of you who have perhaps stumbled upon my bog and are not on our database, my Spring Exhibition starts on the 10th March at my Studio & Gallery at 17 Cheviot View in Ponteland. If you would like to start receiving postal invitations then please contact me on alan@alanreed.com or telephone 01661 871 800 or 0771 874 1546.

The exhibition continues until the 31st March and features new original paintings of the North East, Italy and the Gulf. I’ve published a new limited edition print titled “Grey Street,Snow Shower” which can be purchased at the Gallery or online at www.alanreed.com. There will also be a number of portraits on view too.

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Razha Dancing, Oman

Razha Dancing, Sur

Razha Dancing, Sur

In November 2010 I was working in the Gulf on a number of painting projects, one of which took me to Sur, a town on the coast of Oman. Sur is famous for dhow building and has its own maritime museum. I had been before and I’ve produce a number of paintings of dhows. We decided to call in to the museum in the afternoon and were given an unexpected treat of Razha Dancing which was taking place outside the museum.

The Razha is an Omani dance where local men leap into the air carrying either a heavy sword or rifle. As they land, they must not falter. They will also throw their weapon into the air and catch it as it comes down displaying their strength and prowess. Singing, and what sounds like chanting, will also be accompanied by the beating of a drum to three distinct rhythms to which the participants match their movements.

At first glance, the whole proceedings can look quite unnerving. Indeed, the dance would originally been used as a way to announce war, victory, the mustering of troops or to mediate between warring factions, however the locals made us feel very welcome offering us Omani coffee, bottled water and dates whilst I produced sketchbook studies of the poetic movements. In the evening I returned where the dancing was continuing well into the night. I gathered more reference material which I hope to develop into some more finished paintings. The image above is actually a small Christmas card which I made for Susan that year. The back of the card contains the following appropriate inscription from Psalm 30 verses 11 & 12:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

The verses are appropriate because just after that trip, on returning to the UK, Susan had to be rushed to hospital to have emergency surgery for a twisted bowel. She had complained of stomach pains on the trip which could have been the early signs of problems. We are so pleased that it didn’t flare up whilst we were in Sur!

 

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Dhows, Calm Waters

Dhows, Calm Waters

Dhows, Calm Waters

I recently received an order from a client in the USA for 15 copies of this limited edition print titled “Dhows, Calm Waters”. The painting was inspired by some sketchbook studies I made in watercolour of dhows in Kuwait when I was there in January 2009.

Since I first visited the Gulf back in 2007, I’ve been attracted by these ancient Arabic sailing vessels which grace the waters around Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and beyond. Silk dhows were known to travel to the Far East from Africa. Indeed, The Jewel of Muscat is a reconstruction of the Belitung Shipwreck, the wreck of an Arabian dhow which sailed a route to China around the 9th century. I saw the Jewel of Muscat under construction in Oman and at rest in harbour before its masts were fitted in 2009.

At the Creek in Dubai, one can see dozens of dhows being unloaded, their cargos ranging from fridges to food. Seen from the top of a nearby hotel, it makes a grand sight, especially towards the end of the day when the sun is setting. I have a number of sketchbook studies of the view below which I intend to re-create one day as a studio painting. Watch this space!

Sunset over Dubai Creek

Sunset over Dubai Creek

 

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