Our Christmas Exhibition is now on where you can visit us and see a large collection of Paintings, Prints, Christmas Cards and Gifts.
In 2013 I won “The Artist Prize” in the Royal Watercolour Society competition with my painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman. The prize was a 3 page feature in “The Artist” Magazine where the writer Susie Hodge interviewed me.
I’m regularly asked questions by art students about my working methods and how I started off as an artist so I thought it may be helpful for me to post some of my answers. Here are the first 10 answers.
- Although I had seen my father use watercolours and I had always admired Rowland Hilder’s paintings featured in the Artist’s Britain Calendars in the 1970’s it wasn’t until the age of 15 that I first tried them out at school through my art teacher. I immediately fell in love with the way one could achieve different colours by laying one wash on top of another. I enjoyed art at school, particularly when I came second in an art competition at the age of 9. With the prize money I purchased some poster paints which I then used to win first prize in another art competition the following year with a painting of Bamburgh Castle.
- There was never really any doubt in my mind that I wanted to become an artist, particularly with my father Ken Reed) being an artist and seeing my grandfather paint too.
- I left school at 16 and went to art college in Newcastle upon Tyne studying Graphic Design and illustration. At college we were introduced to lots of different mediums. None of the lecturers showed me how to use watercolour though. I recall starting to teach myself one summer holiday by studying Rowland Hilder’s paintings. I showed my efforts to my lecturers the following term and they were very encouraging. Some of them actually bought my paintings. I had my first exhibition as an art student in our local library and sold all 12 paintings exhibited. I started to receive commissions from the exhibition.
- A couple of years after leaving college I decided to go self employed as a full time artist at the age of 22 using the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. To be eligible you had to be unemployed for several weeks then open up a business account with £1000 in. The government would then pay you £40 a week for a year. I guess 99% of the businesses would have failed but it was a great help to me. I also did a couple of days part time lecturing in art and design around the North East which was an additional income. I gave up the lecturing around 2004 although I still do 3 or 4 watercolour demonstrations to various art clubs around the North East.
- The time I spend on doing a painting varies. If I’m painting “plein air” it will take an hour or two. I might spend a little time in the studio to finish it off if required. Studio paintings will generally take a day to two weeks depending on the size, subject matter and interruptions!
- If I’m painting a landscape or cityscape in watercolour I will use a combination of sketchbook studies painted on location and my own photographs. I sometimes have to work off the clients photographs on some commissioned work. If I’m painting a portrait in oils, then I much prefer painting from life over a period of 4-6 sittings rather than photographs.
- Choice of scenes will depend on if it’s a commission or for an exhibition. The client will often be guided by my own thoughts and ideas. I usually get an idea straight away of what’s going to work. When painting a landscape or cityscape, I’m wanting the viewer to feel as though they are a part of the scene before them, so creating mood, emotion and atmosphere are very much a part of my design.
- I will use artist’s license whenever necessary, sometimes leaving out cars, road signs and certain figures in a cityscape or adding in figures. I’ll often change the sky or add foreground shadows to create drama in a landscape.
- I love to capture the hustle and bustle of city life with interesting architecture, particularly cities like Edinburgh, Bath, Newcastle, Florence and Venice. Coastal scenes like the West Coast of Scotland and Norfolk are also a favourite. I’m enjoying portraiture at the moment too.
10. Capturing mood and atmosphere, the fleeting moment of light striking a building or the first rays of sunlight in a Tuscan landscape really appeals to me.
Also trying to describe someone’s personality and psychology in a portrait is a really enjoyable challenge.
Grey Street in Newcastle has been described by the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as the finest curved street in Europe. I never tire of sitting down to capture its fine sweeping curve and Georgian columns in all seasons. You can see a number of limited edition prints of Newcastle’s Grey Street including Grey Street, Saturday Morning which was featured on the BBC’s “Show me the Monet”.
Newcastle is a very busy city so when painting Grey Street I find it great fun to bring life to the scene by adding in people for extra movement and interest. It’s even more fun painting Grey Street in winter because you have the extra challenge of resolving the reflections of the sky, buildings and figures in the wet pavement. Watercolour is the ideal medium for this but you need to know the sequence of washes and how to build up the colour.
You will notice that the gentle yellow colour that you can see just above the distant buildings is actually running throughout the entire painting (apart from the snow lying on the rooftops) and is particularly evident in the pavement in the centre of the foreground. When the wash of yellow dried, I wet the sheet of paper and introduced a very subtle hint of Rose Madder in the sky and foreground before introducing the slate grey for the sky and reflections.
After these washes had dried, it was simply a matter of adding detail to depict the architectural forms before finally painting the various figure. Over the years I’ve developed a “shorthand” painting technique to capture figures moving about. Photography can be a help but it’s also a very useful discipline to observe and sketch from life. That way you can’t get bogged down with detail. You have to pick out the main gesture and gender of the person and make sure that you have them positioned at the correct eye level.
Painting Grey Street outdoors is a real challenge and not for the faint hearted. As I’m writing this blog post, I’m getting tempted to get out there again! In the meantime however, my studio painting “Shoppers, Grey Street” can be seen online and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.
It’s springtime! As I’m writing this blog post the weather outside feels distinctly more like winter but that’s not untypical for April in the north east of England. Despite the weather, springtime is the theme for my exhibition currently on show at my gallery in Ponteland throughout the month of April.
Because we can experience such variable weather, sometimes in a single day, my springtime exhibition is as equally varied. There’s an eclectic mix of places and subjects to see for springtime like some of the very picturesque fishing villages on the East Neuk of Fife, cityscapes of Edinburgh and the Alps, including my painting “Mont Blanc and Manganese Blue” which was selected for the Royal Watercolour Society Exhibition earlier this year.
Springtime is often a period where we take a fresh look at our homes and gardens to create a new look and feel to the environment we spend so much time in. What better place to start than to add to your art collection.
This is my new Christmas Card titled “Dear Santa” featuring my 7 year old Granddaughter Anya posting her letter to Santa.
A classic Grey Street snow scene with busy Christmas shoppers and their umbrellas. I’ve used a limited palette for the architecture and sky however a touch of Cadmium red for the traditional British red pillar box and Anya provides a focus point to this wintery Christmas Card.
The original watercolour painting is for sale in our Christmas Exhibition starting on Saturday December 5th.
The Network Artists North East annual Art Tour begins this weekend.
This ever popular event, now in its 19th year, gives you the opportunity to meet artists from around the North East who are opening up their studios for The Art Tour.
This year I’ve decided to display many of my sketchbooks which contain numerous watercolours painted on location. These “en plein air” studies document my travels to all kinds of paintable places including the UK, Italy, the USA and Oman.
Customers will be able to browse through the sketchbooks and can commission a painting based on one of these studies.
Also on display will be a selection of original paintings and limited edition prints.
Paintings include views of Northumberland and Newcastle throughout the seasons. I’ll also have on display some of the watercolours painted in Arches Watercolour Blocks on location from the recent painting holiday in Umbria, Italy.
For those folk interested in the Middle East, there will be paintings and prints of Oman and some copies of my limited edition Sketchbook of Oman.
I’m currently working on a number of portraits in oil paints on aluminium for City Church Newcastle, to hang in the atrium of The CastleGate so some of these paintings will be on display. As part of the Art Tour I will be showing the painting process involved in painting on aluminium, from priming the metal through to tinting the oil paint base.
The Studio and Gallery is near Dobbies Garden Centre on the A696 on the way into Ponteland.
Apart from The Art Tour we are usually open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-5pm.
One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to 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.
Every so often I like to set some kind of painting/drawing discipline to keep on top of my game. Good habits are hard to form and easy to break and sadly the converse of that statement is also true!
I tend to find that my regular sketching habit falls by the wayside, particularly if I’m busy with commissions or working towards an exhibition. However, despite being very busy at the moment working on a series of portraits in oils of City Church, Newcastle members, I’ve decide to set myself the goal of doing some kind of sketchbook study every day for about 10-30 minutes.
The two charcoal sketches above were drawn in my Moleskine Sketchbook and are studies of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait drawings. Making studies of this kind is a great way to develop your own drawing technique, particularly if you are unable to find a willing model to sit for you.
To see my daily (hopefully) sketches, you can follow my twitter accounts @artistalanreed and @adailysketch
It’s 22 years since I first painted this amazing view of Newcastle’s Grey Street. Over the years I’ve captured it in all the seasons.
I’ve just completed this new original watercolour of “Grey Street, Spring” which is going to be on show at my “Spring” exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting Saturday 8th March.
Grey Street, Spring is also available as a limited edition print.
My Christmas Exhibition Preview weekend 9-11th November was very well attended with plenty of sales. Star of the show was “Grey Street, Snow Shower” which received a good number of print orders. Despite the rising cost of stamps, there were still plenty of folk buying my new Christmas cards too.
My new range of Magnetic Bookmarks also proved to be popular, with customers buying them as stocking fillers. Images include scenes of Newcastle, Italy, Bath and Oman.
Locally produced hand made glass was another hit as well. The exhibition continues at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-5pm until Christmas Eve so there’s still plenty of time to pop in for a browse and a cup of fresh coffee.
Paintings of the Tyne Bridges always strike a cord with folk from the North East. The charity The Cyrenians based in Newcastle work with vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless people. earlier this year Sian Thomas, their marketing administrator, asked if they could use some of my paintings as Christmas Cards to help raise money for the charity which has been going for over 40 years.
This original watercolour of Newcastle’s bridges and quayside caught in a snow shower is the third painting which about to be scanned, ready to be reproduced as a charity Christmas card. All three paintings, including this one of the Tyne Bridges, can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland from next week.
Art For Sale Online – Alan Reed Limited Edition Prints
Purchase limited edition art prints from my online art store.
Original Art For Sale Online – Alan Reed Original Prints
Purchase original art from my online art store.
From the Alan Reed Blog
- 30th Anniversary
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- Italy Prints and Originals
- Kuwait Paintings
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- Oil Painting
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- Original Watercolours
- Painting Holiday
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