Tag Archives: London

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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Painting of Piccadilly

Alan Reed

Piccadilly, London

In 2016 I was working on a number of painting projects in London. As I was walking along Piccadilly, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight I was struck by the wonderful contrast between the warm rays of sunlight catching the opposite side of the street, the cool shadows and the way the two were being connected by shoppers darting in and out of the sun.

I had some time to spare so I dashed off a quick sketchbook watercolour knowing that it was warm enough for the paint to dry in time for my next appointment. Over the years I’ve developed a shorthand technique of rendering buildings and figures in a way which provides sufficient information to inspire me for any future studio paintings.

Once I’d knocked in the people (some of which were literally blobs of colour) I knew that this was going to work as a larger watercolour Painting of Piccadilly.

Because the main palette was Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Rose Madder and Manganese Blue, applied over a series of simple washes and non detailed shapes, I also felt that this Painting of Piccadilly would also work as a short video that might be helpful for any budding watercolourist.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Piccadilly

Obviously a few other colours have been introduced for the figures and the telephone box but essentially, like most of my paintings, I’ve kept it simple.

The Studio watercolour was painted on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Watercolour Block which is ideal for painting smaller watercolours as there is no need to stretch the paper.

The video Painting of Piccadilly shot on my iphone in my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland can now be seen on YouTube so I hope you find it helpful.

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Royal Albert Hall

Alan Reed

The Royal Albert Hall

I’m always been attracted to fine, beautifully designed buildings. Painting them means that you end up looking much more intensely to their architectural features and appreciating them all the more.

I first painted the Royal Albert Hall, London in 2005 and sold the original watercolour to a famous opera singer. I recently decided to paint a much larger study which is now available as this limited edition print.

As it was almost 12 years since I first painted the Royal Albert Hall, I decided to re-visit the scene early autumn last year to remind myself of its scale and majesty but discovered that the trees either side of the fine steps leading up to the monument had grown much taller and were obscuring the building. Fortunately I still had the research studies I’d made 12 years previously so I could refer to them.

On a painting of this kind of scale the danger is to really tighten up with the brush marks to the point of making the painting look like a photograph. I had to keep stopping myself from going too detailed to keep the painting looking bright and fresh.

I also made sure that I didn’t go too dark with the shadow areas which could have caused the colours to go muddy. Keeping the effect of autumn sunlight hitting the golden architecture was an important element to the painting too. A light wash of Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Lemon at the start provided a good base for all the other colours. The wash was intensified around the area of the Royal Albert Hall.

A large size 20 brush was used for much of the painting to avoid going too tight although I did use a smaller brush for some of the architectural details and the figures.

You can watch a short video of me painting 2two of the figures on YouTube.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. Since I’ve started to learn to play the piano in 2015, it has become even more influential to my daily routine. For anyone who has fond memories of seeing concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, this painting will no doubt trigger off recollections of their favourite music.

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Mount Street Gardens

Mount Street Gardens is a very quiet, peaceful public garden in Mayfair, London created in 1889. When I first came across it I was immediately struck by its calm, tranquil atmosphere. The warm afternoon sunlight was forming dappled areas of sunlight and shadows. There was little sound of the traffic, only the birds which have made Mount Street Gardens their home.

I wasted little time in getting out my sketchbook to make some simple watercolour studies to capture the scene which you can see below. A light wash of Cadmium Lemon over most of the page has added warmth to all the other colours. As with the majority of my sketchbook watercolours, there is no preliminary pencil drawing. I prefer to draw with the brush with paint so that all the brush marks are loose and have a directness to them.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Mount Street Gardens

The studio painting is a 12″ x 9″ watercolour available from my website and has been painted on Arches watercolour paper. I’ve deliberatly chosen to keep the same palette as the sketch and avoided the temptation to tighten up with extra detail. I did take several photographs that afternoon and decided to base the composition on a viewpoint where I was standing up, rather than the seated position for the sketch.

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John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent's Painting sells for $5 Million

John Singer Sargent’s “Marionettes”

John Singer Sargent paintings are still hugely popular. The American Art sale auction yesterday in New York showed the continued strength of the market as it succeeded in surpassing its presale high estimate for the third consecutive time. Norman Rockwell works proved as popular as ever with all six offered sold, totaling $6.5 million.

I saw John Singer Sargent’s Marionettes last year at Trinity House, London. A stunning painting which remained in the artist’s personal collection for some 20 years before being passed down through the family. It was the sale’s top lot, hammering down for $5.2 million. The auction confirmed that buying the right art at the right time at the right price, can be one of the best investments in these times of financial uncertainty.

If you are interested in finding out more about investing in art then you can read a blog post I wrote March 2012 about some of the criteria for finding the right artist to buy.

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Royal Watercolour Society

Painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Original Watercolour of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

I was delighted to discover that my painting of “Jebel Akhdar, Oman” was recently selected by the Royal Watercolour Society for their Competition 2013 and even more thrilled that it won “The Artist’s Prize”. The Artist’s Magazine has asked me to be one of their featured artists later on in the year when I will be answering questions about my painting career.

The painting formed part of the Royal Watercolour Society competition exhibition at the Bankside gallery, London and will be on display at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland from noon on 9th March.

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Film Maker & Photographer David Peat Dies


Launceston Place

Launceston Place

Susan and I were saddened to hear of the death of David Peat on 16th April after a long battle with Myeloma. I had the privilege of working with David back in the autumn of 2001 on a television idea my brother and I had. We decided to make a short pilot video of the idea and some friends of ours recommended David whom they had known closely for many years.

Part of the idea was to show the cooking ability of my brother Philip, so it was decided that David and I would meet up at the restaurant where Philip worked as the head chef, the Launceston Place Restaurant, Kensington in London. The other part of the idea was to show my watercolour painting skills, so I was to be filmed outside painting the street scene, including the restaurant.

Philip and I had no experience working to camera but David demonstrated his award winning talent as a film maker right from the start. He quickly took stock of the scenario and came up with some great camera angles to capture me painting which made it a lot more interesting than watching paint dry. The way he filmed Philip cooking was equally impressive and although I say it myself, the pilot came out really well. We never managed to get it seen by the right people and eleven years on, I don’t think that British television needs another cookery programme.

Here is the section that David Peat filmed of me painting.


To see the full pilot of Philip cooking and me painting, follow the link below.


To find out more about David Peat, take a look at his website davidpeatphoto.com     Also there are also touching obituaries to David which elaborate more on his career in Herald ScotlandBBC News Scotland.

Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time of deep loss.




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John Singer Sargent

Alan Reed's Charcoal Studies after John Singer Sargent

Charcoal Studies after John Singer Sargent

The American artist John Singer Sargent died this day in 1925. As well as being an outstanding artist, he was a gifted musician and fluent in French, Italian and German. I’ve been a great admirer of his work for many years and I often spend time deeply engrossed studying the many fine books written about this accomplished artist. For those wishing to find out more about Mr Sargent then I can recommend the fine volumes of work documenting his work written by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray. There are three comprehensive volumes on his portraits alone plus several on his figures and landscapes. Check out Amazon for further information.

The image above is a double page taken from my current moleskine sketchbook and  shows charcoal studies I’ve made of two of John Singer Sargent’s charcoal drawings. The original of Viscountess Astor can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, London and was drawn in 1923. Mrs John Beals Mills was drawn in 1919 and can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. As he grew older, Sargent tired of doing the formal portraits in oils that he was so well known for. At the height of his career he could command around 1000 guineas for a full length portrait which is about £100,000 in today’s money. A portrait in charcoal which he referred to as mugs would normally be drawn in one sitting. These would cost his client about £50 which is around £5000 today.

Sargent would often make his own studies of the great masters as he developed his skills, a practise which I adopted early on in my career. Over 30 years on, I’m still learning as I’m studying the work of outstanding painters. You can see other studies I’ve made of Sargent’s paintings on my website. Sargent died 87 years ago on the 14th April but his influence on art remains undiminished.

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Gassed by John Singer Sargent

Gassed by John Singer Sargent

Gassed by John Singer Sargent

Last night I watched the opening episode of Melvyn Bragg’s documentary on Class and Culture which examined the years from the coronation of George V to the end of the second world war. It examined how the various classes differed and interacted with each other, in particular at the front lines during the first world war. The program held my attention because it kept showing paintings by one of my favourite artists of all time, the American John Singer Sargent including this one titled “Gassed”.

In 1918 the British Ministry of Information commissioned Sargent to paint a large scale piece to a planned hall of remembrance commemorating Anglo-American cooperation.Sargent travelled to the front in 1918 and witnessed first hand the harrowing effects of war including the aftermath of mustard gas attacks. This became the subject of this 6 meter long masterpiece which depicts a procession of wounded, blindfolded men, stumbling towards a dressing station.

Although Sargent is better known for his beautifully executed portraits of high society figures, “Gassed” has to be one of his finest. It’s handled with typical skill, flair and sensitivity. I’m looking forward to seeing it on my next visit to London where it hangs in the Imperial War Museum. You can see several of my own studies of Sargent’s work on my website.

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Head of an Arab

Head of an Arab

Head of an Arab

Head of an Arab is my study of John Singer Sargent’s oil sketch which he would have painted around 1890-91 when he toured Egypt, Greece and Turkey. It was probably painted abroad, however, he may well have painted it from a model when he returned to London. Sargent was commissioned by the Trustees of the Boston Public Library to paint a mural. He was planning a frieze depicting Old Testament prophets, so this painting is relevant to his preparation.

Having worked in the Middle East since 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Arabs on a number of occasions and I’m quite struck by their distinctive, fine looking features which are fascinating to paint. In copying John Singer Sargent’s oil on canvas, I’ve tried to make the same direct, confident brush marks as Sargent, painting directly from observation, without relying on any tracing techniques. Also, I’ve kept to a very limited palate to ensure that the colours are as close to Sargent’s as possible. Of course, I’ve had to work from a photographic copy rather than the original painting, so there will be obvious differences in colouring.

The value in making such studies of the great masters works can be seen when one looks at Sargent’s own studies of the artists he admired such as Diego Velazquez and Frans Hals. This particular study was made on board and can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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