Tag Archives: Oman

Paintings – Dhows Oman

Dhows, Sur, Oman

Dhows, Sur

It’s almost 5 years since I first visited Sur in Oman. It had been badly hit by Cyclone Gonu a few months previously and there was still much evidence of the damage caused. Sur has been associated with ship building for centuries and today there is a Dhow Maritime Museum dedicated to Oman’s history of sea trade.

I had been asked to do some paintings of Omani doors as well as dhows so I spent a few hours wandering around getting reference and making sketchbook studies of these Arabian vessels. I’ve published a number of my paintings of Dhows as limited edition prints since then which have proved to be popular. Some of the sketchbook studies have also been published in my signed limited edition Sketchbook of Oman.

The watercolour above is one of several new paintings to be exhibited at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland as part of my Christmas Exhibition starting 9th November.

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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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Alan Reed, A Personal Story

Painting of Barka, Oman

Barka, Oman

Heart Attack 

When I (Alan Reed) was four years old, I remember seeing my grandfather lying in bed, several days after suffering a heart attack. He showed me a picture he had just painted of the great love in his life, Jesus Christ. A few days later my grandfather died. It wasn’t the best painting in the world, but it was the one which has made the greatest impression on my life. It has always struck me that out of all the things in his life that were dear to him, he chose Jesus to paint.

Rejected

As a child, I said my prayers most nights, worried that if I ignored and rejected God, then God would reject me. When I reached my teenage years I decided that I wanted to “have fun” and did things I knew were wrong. I still kept my options open with God by saying my prayers and going to church with my family, but my thoughts and desires were not towards God. In my pursuit of happiness I did have times of pleasure and enjoyment, but there was no lasting fulfilment or satisfaction. I only had a sense of bitterness and guilt from the way I was living my life. There always seemed to be something missing.

Challenge

1988 brought me to a point where I was not happy with my life. Circumstances took me to a different church where the pastor really challenged me about the way I was living my life. He asked me if I knew if I was going to Heaven or Hell. I wasn’t sure. I told him that I knew I was a sinner, doing many things that were wrong in God’s eyes that I had repented of and that Jesus Christ, God’s Son had taken the punishment that I deserved on the cross 2000 years ago. He told me that if I believed this to be true, then I would be saved from the reality of everlasting separation from God and would live for eternity in Heaven with God and all other believers when I died. That night I asked Jesus into my heart, asked Him to take control of my life and help me to turn away from my sins.

Freedom

Since then I have come to know Jesus more as He has changed me and given me the power and strength to deal with life’s trials and tests. I’ve realised too that going to Heaven isn’t about trying to live by a set of standards that are impossible to keep. You can’t earn your way into Heaven either, by doing good deeds. The only way is to ask Jesus to take control of your life and you will experience the freedom and happiness that living under God’s grace brings.

To find out more why not go on an Alpha Course?

My wife Susan and I go to City Church which meets at the CastleGate in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The painting of Barka, Oman can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. I chose it for this post as it’s a scene that looks like a throwback to Biblical times.

 

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Magnetic Bookmarks

Bookmarks Photo

Magnetic Bookmarks, Scenes of Newcastle

Magnetic Bookmarks are not wildly available even though they are very practical. How many of us use bookmarks made from bus tickets, business cards or scraps of paper which easily fall out. Magnetic Bookmarks are much more practical as they clip onto the page you are up to without there being any danger of slipping out.

I’ve decided to do my own range of Magnetic Bookmarks which are now available in selected outlets in Newcastle upon Tyne and online at www.alanreed.com A range of seven classic scenes of Newcastle taken from my original watercolours.

More countries and places are being added to the range including Italy and Oman.

Each magnetic bookmark is museum quality, printed in full colour on the front and reverse and comes individually wrapped. The folded size is 105 mm x 45 mm.

The images are, from left to right,  Tyne Bridge, Early Morning,  Theatre Royal,  High Level Bridge,  High Bridge Street,  Central Arcade,  Emerson Chambers and The Lit and Phil Library. Each painting is also available as a limited edition print.

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Oman Watercolour Sketchbook

Sketchbook Oman Sphinx

Sphinx Sunrise

Painting a sunrise on location like this Oman Watercolour is one of the hardest challenges as a watercolourist. The main problem is that the colours change so quickly, so by the time you have laid your first wash and waited for it to dry, the rising sun will have brought a complete change to the scenario before your eyes. One can quicken the process by working on a paper which you have already tinted. This will allow you to skip a step and crack on with the next wash.

For this particular scene in Oman, I went out with a friend who took me out to a remote spot to walk his dogs early in the morning whilst it was still dark. Before the sun rose, I anticipated what the initial colours were going to be and started painting in semi darkness. It was very hot, temperatures already in the high twenties, so the paint dried quickly. Just before the sun came up over the sea, it was already starting to tint the sky a fugitive pink which I was able to lay in along with the gentlest touch of Winsor and Newton Manganese Blue for the sea. I allowed parts of the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to show through which helped to create further mood and atmosphere.

Oman has some very distinctive rock formations throughout it’s stunning coastline. The rock on the top right of the page reminded me of the profile of the Egyptian Sphinx, hence the title Sphinx towards Muttrah. This is one of 40 paintings which feature in my signed limited edition Sketchbook of Oman which is available online or at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Oman Paintings, Jebel Akhdar

Jebel Akhdar

Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Jebel Akhdar, (Green Mountain) is part of the Al Hajar Mountain range in Oman. It is the highest point in the whole of Oman and eastern Arabia. The area is over 2 hours drive from Muscat and one must drive through a passport control point in a 4 x 4 if one wishes to explore the fascinating villages dotted around the area. The locals grow pomegranates, apricots, peaches and walnuts on the ancient terraces which are irrigated by an equally old but sophisticated irrigation system called falaj. The area is also famous for rose water extraction.

I’ve painted a number of commissioned watercolours over the last few years of various views of Jebel Akhdar and over the last few years I’ve been a couple of times to paint on location. It’s noticeably cooler than sea level which is why many folk living in Oman often take the journey up the mountains in the scorching temperatures of summer. The new Sahab hotel situated on the plateaux at the summit boasts fine views over the surrounding mountains. It was from their grounds that I did a small sketchbook watercolour and took the photographs necessary to do this large watercolour titled Jebel Akhdar.

 

 

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Oman Paintings, Bald Sayt

Bilad Sayt

Bilad Sayt

Oman is full of remote villages, forts and towers. During the current 41 year renaissance period of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, many of these ancient dwellings have become much more accessible through modern roads, but up until now, the mountain village of Bilad Seet is not one of them. There is a single track that takes you there from the main road towards Al Rustaq but 17 km of of that journey requires a 4 x4 and it cannot be rushed, which is just as well. As a passenger you can enjoy some breathtaking views of some of the mountainous regions of Oman.

I had painted this picturesque village a couple of time for clients using photographs they supplied but I wanted to see it for myself and make my own studies. A friend of mine, Mike Harrison, used to be a school inspector in Oman and Balt Sayt was one of the schools he used to travel to. At the time, the school was in a tent, but now they have their own building. I was in Oman in March, 2011 at the same time as Mike and he kindly offered to drive me there for the day in his 4 x 4.

Mike has a vast repertoire of stories from his time in Oman and other Arab countries. He has even written a book titled From Tagine to Masala which contains a collection of recepies gathered from Arabian trade routes. By the time we arrived in Balad Seet, had a wander around, chatted to some locals and I did a sketchbook watercolour, even Mike was ready for the humble tuna fish sandwiches I’d made. Some local goats wanted to join in the picnic but were told where to go.

The driving in the mountain regions of Oman is very dangerous. Flash floods can come at a moments notice and sweep down the mountain sides. One needs to check the weather forecast before setting out and keep an eye on the sky for rain clouds. We picked up a puncture on the rough terrain but fortunately it was a slow one and we were able to make it home.

One of my watercolours of Bilad Seet can be seen in my Sketchbook of Oman. The painting above of Bald Sayt can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. You may have noticed 4 different spellings of Bilad Seet, Bald Sayt, Bilat Sayt and Balad Seet. I’ve seen all of these spellings in various books and on road signs. Anybody out there seen any other spellings?

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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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The Jewel of Muscat

The Jewel of Muscat

The Jewel of Muscat

The wreck of a 9th century dhow was discovered by local fishermen off the island of Belitung. In 1998 a German company was given permission to excavate the wreck where they discovered 60,000 pieces of rare Chinese porcelain.

From the remains, a reconstruction of the sailing ship was made using original materials, including coconut fibre to sew together the hull, with the aim to sail the ship along an old trade route from Oman to Singapore.

In May 2009 I saw the Jewel of Muscat being constructed at Qantab in Oman.I was amazed to see that it was sewn together, following the construction techniques used in the wrecked ship, rather than the using more traditional methods of pegs or nails. In October 2009 I saw it in Oman’s mariner where I did a couple of sketchbook watercolours of the dhow at rest in the water without it’s masts.

After sea trials, the Jewel of Muscat set sail in February 2010 for Singapore using ancient navigation methods. I was able to track its progress through the tweets of Oman Sail. I completed this watercolour depicting the vessel sailing past a well known rock formation near Muscat, Oman. Since then I have painted many more paintings of dhows which can be seen on my website.

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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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