Tag Archives: Newcastle

Sketchbooks

Our first visit to Umbria was March 2002. It was a much appreciated break away from running an art gallery in Newcastle’s city centre and an opportunity to spend time reflecting on what had been anxious year in 2001 when Susan and I had major surgery together. I had donated one of my kidneys to Susan in June 2001 in an operation carried out at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

It was lovely to be able to travel around this stunning region, exploring various hilltop towns and villages and being able to enjoy simple yet delicious local cuisine together.

On one particular day we decided to go further afield into the Marche region and visited Fabriano, famous for their hand made paper. I was immediately attracted to their tiny leather bound sketchbooks containing wonderful hand made watercolour paper and purchased a couple.

When we returned to our hotel, the Relais il Canaliccio I decided to make a start tackling the view out of our window of the sun disappearing behind a farm building, seen below. I also made the unusual decision not to do any preliminary pencil work, instead “drawing” with the brush and paint.

Sketchbooks Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour from the Relais il Canalicchio

From that point on, almost all my watercolour sketchbook work has been carried out in this way. Only a handful of slightly more complex subjects have some rudimentary pencil drawing to act as a guide for the brush work.

I now have a significant collection of leather-bound Sketchbooks containing studies painted around Italy, the UK, Oman, the USA and other countries. One of my goals for the year is to make some short videos of some of these books which you can see on my YouTube Channel.

These days I make my own Sketchbooks rather than visit Fabriano which is a very rewarding experience. You can see some of my Sketchbooks at our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 2019.

Sketchbooks Great North Exhibition 2018

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

 

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20th Anniversary

 

20th Anniversary

Bamburgh Castle, Early Morning Walk

April marks the 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com It’s hard for me to believe that my domain name dates back to the 20th Century! I knew very  little about the world wide web in those days but it only took a few weeks for me to realise the value of having a website to promote my business. A client called into the gallery that we had at the time in the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre in Newcastle. He wanted to see a watercolour of Iona which he had noticed on my website. Understandably he wanted to see it for real rather than buying it from a jpeg. Once he saw it, he made the purchase.

This was the start of numerous online sales, commissions and visits to our gallery from clients from all over the world.

Morning Eye, 20th Anniversary

Morning Eye

It never ceases to amaze me how people find my paintings. The client who purchased the original watercolour above titled Morning Eye came across my work whilst working on the Caspian Sea. He turned up at our gallery and ended up making a number of purchases.

An Italian working in Canada came across my original watercolour of the Pantheon whilst searching for paintings of ancient Rome. After making the initial purchase online he went on to commission several large watercolours of Rome including views of aqueducts and the Roman Forum.

20th Anniversary

Sketchbook of Umbria

Posting some of my sketchbook studies of Umbria, Italy on my website back in 2003 resulted in a whole series of fascinating commissions of Italian holiday homes and was also the birth of our Painting Holidays in Italy.

The World Wide Web has opened a door for me into other countries further afield including Oman. Susan and I have fond memories of our visits to Oman for various painting commissions ranging from Arabian Dhows and ancient mountain villages and forts.

Alan Reed 20th Anniversary

Dhows, Sur, Oman

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com being on the World Wide Web we are having an Easter Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 9:30 – 5pm

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Great North Exhibition 2018

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Grey’s Monument, Newcastle

 

The Great North Exhibition 2018 started at Newcastle’s spectacular quayside on the evening of Friday 22nd June. It heralded the start of 80 days of brilliant events, activities, performances and exhibitions celebrating art, design and innovation. I was unable to attend the launch however when I turned up to the Junction 42 offices this morning in Newcastle I couldn’t help but notice the brightly coloured banners bathed in early morning sunshine that were wrapped around Greys Monument.

The banners contain declarations like “no starving children” and “abolition of privilege”.

Great North Exhibition 2018 is a celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit which has three starting points, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, the Sage Gateshead and the Great North Museum. These starting points also include the Get North Water Sculpture and the Discovery Museum which has Stephenson’s Rocket.

Starting on 30th June at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, I will be embracing the Great North Exhibition 2018 theme of celebrating art, design and design by exhibiting some of my finest paintings.  I will also be describing to visitors my creative process which will include a tactile display of my leather bound hand made sketchbooks.

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

 

The pages of the sketchbooks record many of my painting travels, not just around the region but overseas in countries like Italy and Oman. Without doubt, these “en plein air” studies in watercolour are amongst my most precious possessions and are the catalyst for many of my studio paintings. Just last week a couple who have been on two of our painting holidays in Italy commissioned a watercolour of Perugia from one of my sketchbook watercolours of the Umbrian town.

My Summer Exhibition also includes recent oil paintings of the Angel of the North and the Tyne Bridge which have been embellished with 22 ct gold leaf and take on a different look and feel depending on the light.

If you would like to come and see the exhibition and look at the sketchbooks then it is best to contact first to make sure we are open.

 

 

 

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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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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 the Angel

Alan Reed

Angel Sunrise

In a previous blog post I described a recent painting commission where I was asked to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. As part of the project I decided to do a smaller study to try out some ideas with colours and cloud shapes.

This new Painting of the Angel can now be seen at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. As you will see, it is quite different from the larger commission and different in style from all my other paintings. The wings are made up of 22 carat gold leaf. This can cause the painting to look quite different depending on the lighting conditions of the room, whether the room is in natural light or gentle artificial light.

Whilst doing this painting I’ve been asked several times how to paint a straight line. The answer is quite simple, I use a ruler. The find out how you can watch a short video.

On this particular Painting of the Angel I decided to add a solitary figure to provide a sense of scale and heightened drama to the scene.

Although it wasn’t deliberate on my part, these recent works of the Gateshead Angel have reminded me of the stunning painting of the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by north east painter John Martin which can be seen at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. If you are in Newcastle and you have some spare time, the Laing Art Gallery is well worth a visit.

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Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards available to purchase online www.alanreed.com or from Alan Reed Studio and Gallery in Ponteland

Our Christmas Exhibition is now on where you can visit us and see a large collection of Paintings, Prints, Christmas Cards and Gifts.

Grey Street in the Snow

Christmas Cards

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The Artist

Painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Original Watercolour of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    Alan Reed

    Winter Landscape after Rowland Hilder

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

    Alan Reed

    Sketchbook Watercolour of the Arch of Titus

  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

    San Gimignano

    San Gimignano, Evening Sunlight

  9. 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.

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Painting Grey Street

Alan Reed

Shoppers, Grey Street

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.

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Springtime

Alan Reed

Bamburgh Castle Watercolour

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.

Other subjects include some classic views of Newcastle’s Grey Street, the Roman Forum in Italy both of which have been captured in springtime. I also have some figurative paintings on display too.

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.

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