Tag Archives: painting holiday

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Castelluccio and Piano Grande

I was Painting Piano Grande for the first time in September 2004. I’d seen spectacular photographs of colourful flowers growing in this vast plateau in the Sibillini mountains and hoped to capture them in watercolour. Of course it was completely the wrong time of year! I needed to return in late spring, early summer.

In May we decided to see if Piano Grande could be a day trip for our Painting Holiday Guests. We’d booked two nights at Agriturismo “Il Casale degli Amici” just outside of Norcia. We found it was well located, just a few minutes drive from Norcia and 45 minutes drive from Castelluccio.

Norcia, Castelluccio and Piano Grande

Nothing could prepare us for the devastation we saw in Norcia. Susan and I were woken from our sleep when the earthquake struck just after 3:30am on the 24th August 2016. We were staying more than 50 miles away near Chiesa del Carmine. The epicentre was south east of Norcia and left 297 dead from the villages of Accumoli, Amatrice and Arquato del Tronto. We’d heard that Norcia had been hit by another earthquake on the 30th October 2016 and the damage was plain to see.

When we walked into Norcia, renowned for shops selling amazing local produce, we could see many that had closed down. A young man selling wild boar salamis and cheeses welcomed us to try them. They were delicious and a few minutes later we’d made a significant purchase!

It was so sad to see scaffolding surrounding the devastated church and many other buildings effected by the earthquakes. I remember writing about the shop signage below on a previous blog post. Tragically it is now closed.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

A Shop in Norcia

Shop Sign, Norcia, Umbria

Great Signage, Norcia, Umbria

Painting Piano Grande

After an amazing evening meal at “Il Casale degli Amici” and a great nights sleep, we set off for Piano Grande. The drive took us a little longer than usual because of damage to the roads. Several sets of traffic lights where the road was one lane held us up. The drive was spectacular, taking us through the rain clouds into bright sunshine where we were looking down onto the clouds.

We had to wait until noon to actually drive down into Piano Grande and Castelluccio because the road was closed for workmen repairing the road. This was not a problem for me. Painting Piano Grande was on my radar! Even though we’d seen poppies growing around Orvieto and Montefalco on our way, it was still too early here.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Piano Grande

 

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande

I had plenty of time to capture the few patches of snow on the Sibillini Mountains surrounding Piano Grande and the vast plateau where wonderful lentils are grown in the summer. When the road opened we had an hour to drive into Castelluccio which is sadly now a ghost town because of the earthquake. It’s going to take a while for Castelluccio to become inhabited again. It’s such a place of outstanding beauty I pray that it receives all the help it needs become a tourist destination, along with Norcia too.

 

 

 

Comments { 0 }

Painting in Italy

 

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio

 

Our next Painting Holiday at Chiesa del Carmine in Umbria in Italy is just a few weeks away. Once again we are fully booked. For some of our guests it will their fourth and fifth time with us Painting in Italy. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some wonderful trips out. We’ve visited many of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages which are a distinctive of Umbria. It’s described as the Green Heart of Italy.

Susan and I decided that it would be a great idea for us to travel out to do some Painting in Italy earlier this month. Our mission was also to visit a few of the towns that we haven’t been to for many years. We wanted to explore some new places that might be of interest to our guests.

Our time on our flight from Newcastle to Pisa Airport passed quickly. We ended up deep in conversation with a lovely couple who have purchased many of my paintings over the years. After picking up a car we drove to Orvieto, famous for its lovely white wine and magnificent Duomo, to see if our guests would enjoy a visit.

Susan and I were staying at Locanda Rosati, an agriturismo just a few miles from Orvieto. After checking in we still had sufficient time to drive to Orvieto and have a quick exploratory trip before our evening meal. Dinner was a jovial affair as the twenty plus guests from all nationalities including Italy, France, USA, Greece, Australia and Bulgaria were all seated on a long table. Our conversations enabled us to find out more interesting places to visit. One came highly recommended, Civita di Bagnoregio, just twenty minutes drive away.

Civita di Bagnoregio and Lago di Bolsena

Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines in the region of Lazio. I discovered that it only has 1o residents. However it is beginning to thrive as a tourist destination due to an initiative from the Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Any tourists crossing the foot bridge must pay €5 on a Sunday or public holiday and €3 during a weekday. Their ticket system has meant that residents of Civita and Bagnoregio no longer have to pay communal taxes and there is zero unemployment. I found it fascinating that the 850,000 tourists forecast for 2018 has created 400 new jobs for the 200 new businesses that have been birthed in recent years.

When we arrived the following morning thick fog had descended. I was wanting to paint the classic view that I had seen in photographs but it simply didn’t exist!

As it was a Sunday, crowds were already starting to arrive in their droves. We decided on a return visit to Orvieto. Despite the dull, overcast light, I managed a sketchbook watercolour of the Duomo from Via del Duomo. After a lovely lunch I found two great vantage points to paint Orvieto from a distance.  On completion, we set off to a new destination for us, Lago di Bolsena.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Lago di Bolsena

By the time we arrived, the low clouds had lifted and we were able to enjoy shafts of sunlight sparkling on the calm waters. I was able to record the tranquil scene in my trusty sketchbook.

The next morning we headed straight for Civita di Bagnoregio. This time I was able to paint the view that I had been after the previous day. We didn’t make the short walk along the footbridge into what was once Italy’s dying town. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so one day.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio

Our Painting Holiday for June 2018 is fully booked. You can register your interest for the future at art@alanreed.com

For me, Painting in Italy is rewarding experience. Even though this was an exploratory trip, I still came up with some great reference for some future paintings.

 

Comments { 0 }

Spring Exhibition

Alan Reed

North Shields Fish Quay

Our new Spring Exhibition started on 31st March 2018 and continues until 30th April.  I use the word “Spring” lightly as it’s snowing outside as I’m writing this blog post.

Due to the wintery conditions we have been experiencing since 2017 there is a snowy theme going on in this latest body of work. However there are some new cheery paintings on view. Please feel free to call us on 01661 871800 to arrange a viewing in a relaxed atmosphere.

The latest painting off the drawing board is “North Shields Fish Quay”. It’s a scene I first painted in 1985 for a client who commissioned a couple of River Tyne pictures. You can read about the other painting on a recent blog post about the River Tyne Painting.

This new watercolour depicts fishing trawlers bathed in late afternoon sunlight. In the distance you can see the old Port of Tyne buildings, some of which have long since gone. Fluid brush marks for the reflected light in the water and the soft edges for the engine smoke belching out of the trawlers help to keep the overall scene lively and free.

 

Alan Reed

Balevullin Beach, Tiree

Another new painting is Balevullin Beach on the island of Tiree, one of the Inner Hebrides. On a recent blog post you can read about our trip there last May where I painted a number of watercolours on location. This oil has been inspired by those studies, including a small watercolour available online.

Balevullin Beach is popular with surfers who take advantage of the waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. The turquoise sea and dramatic skies are a delight to paint.

We enjoyed mixed weather. Heavy rain followed by bright sunshine and wonderful sunsets was the pattern for each day.

Alan Reed

Todi, Umbria

Todi in Umbria points us towards the finer weather to come and our Painting Holiday in June. You can watch a video on YouTube of how I used a number of sketches painted on location to produce this A4 watercolour painted on hand made paper.

Our Spring Exhibition continues throughout April however there are a few days when we will be closed so it is best to call us on 01661 871 800 to make sure we are open before setting out.

 

Comments { 0 }

Painting of Seaton Sluice

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Watercolour

Earlier this summer I painted a small sketchbook watercolour Painting of Seaton Sluice on location.

As well as being a family day out, it was a typical summers day in the north east, patches of blue sky with sunlight bursting through dark threatening clouds.

I decided to work the sketch up into a larger 14” x 10” studio painting on an Arches Watercolour Block which I made a video of showing the different stages. You can watch the video here on YouTube.

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Sketchbook Watercolour

As in the sketchbook watercolour I decided to keep the rooftops of some of the buildings white to indicate bright sunlight striking the surface. I could have used masking fluid but instead carefully painted around them using just clean water.

The water allows the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to flow quite freely around the areas I wanted to keep white so that the application of colour looks fresh and lively.

Whilst the yellow was still wet, I introduced some Raw Sienna to the party accompanied by the delightful Rose Madder for the sandy beach colours.

Again, I left a few areas of white for the waves and the sunlight dancing off the surface of the pools of water. The rough surface of the paper helped to suggest the highlights.

Using Manganese Blue, the next step was to paint in the transitory patches of blue sky that appear behind the darker clouds.

Once again, I’ve wet appropriate parts of the paper to create some soft edges to the blue and to allow this colour to flow with ease.

Whilst this was still wet, next another touch of Rose Madder to create a gentle purple just above the rooftops. Let it dry.

Now for the dangerous part! Using some purple and a mix of Paynes Grey and Lamp Black it was time to create some drama.

I wet the paper where I want the dark clouds to flow then dropped in this dark mix, pushing it about, catching the rough surface in places where the paper is dry to emphasis the cloud edges. Initially it looked really dark, but I knew it would dry lighter.

A touch of French Ultramarine helped to add further interest to the clouds. More clean water added variation to the density of the sky.

You will notice also on the video that I don’t paint over the areas of colour once I’ve applied them. Doing so tends to kill the translucency of the pigment and the wash looses its freshness. It’s best to live with the shapes you initially make rather than trying to go over them to try and improve what you’ve already done……..you probably won’t.

Back to the darker colour for the higher clouds for a greater sense of ariel perspective. You will notice that I’m also varying the angle of the brush to produce more interesting marks.

When the sky is totally dry, it was time to define the buildings perched on the horizon, a distinctive feature in a Painting of Seaton Sluice. I carefully picked out the main details like the windows and chimneys. This took a while.

Having reviewed the sky, I wasn’t totally happy with a slight cauliflower effect. I lifted it out by applying some clean water then just disturbing the surface of the paint, dabbing it off with a tissue.

The sea is a mix of French Ultramarine and turquoise, moving the brush horizontally and allowing some of the white of the paper to show through for the waves.

I was careful to get the shapes right without getting too niggely or too tight. Then introduced some purple for the shallower pools of water.

Unlike the sketch, I decided to introduce a strong foreground shadow produced by a passing cloud to keep the interest in the middle distance. I used a much more intense purple colour. I also wetted the paint beforehand to let the colour flow and to create a gentle, soft edge where the dark shadow meets the sunlit sand.

Finally, I scratched out a few further highlights of sun on the surface of the pools of water with a scalpel.

So there you have it. A small sketchbook watercolour painted on the beach inspiring this larger studio Painting of Seaton Sluice.

Comments { 0 }

Painting Holidays in Italy

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine watercolour

We have just returned from another wonderful week in Umbria where we ran another Painting Holiday. Once again Chiesa del Carmine was the venue. For some of the guests it was their 3rd and 4th Painting Holiday in Italy with us and they have already re-booked for 2018 along with some our new guests this year.

This time we decided to make the holiday even more relaxing by hiring a luxury coach to enable stress free transfers for guests travelling from Newcastle Airport and for our day trips out to the hilltop towns of Assisi, Cortona, Todi and Perugia.

We added wine tasting and a fun trip around the nearby vineyards to our itinery which everyone loved.

The painters responded well to the challenge of painting “en plein air” throughout the week and were pleased with their results. It was a delight to see them develop their skills and grow in their understanding of drawing and painting.

As usual, I would often paint alongside the painters to aid tuition. Sometimes I would do a simple pen drawing in my sketchbook to help resolve the composition.

Alan Reed

Pen & Ink drawing of a vineyard near Chiesa del Carmine

Alan Reed

Sketch book pen drawing of Todi, Umbria

On other occasions I would either paint a sketchbook watercolour on hand made watercolour paper in the new batch of leather bound sketchbooks I had made myself at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle. It’s so rewarding painting in a sketchbook you have made yourself.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of a vineyard

Or I would produce a larger painting on an Arches Watercolour Block. Sometimes I would do all three!

Although there is always lots to paint around Chiesa del Carmine, when you are running Painting Holidays in Italy, it’s always fun to break up the weeks activities by visiting other nearby places. The hilltop town of Todi has easy access for the guests who are less mobile. Park at the bottom of the town and take the funicular to the top where you can get terrific views of  the town which are fascinating to paint.

Several of the guests had a go at painting the scene below. What could have been quite a daunting cityscape for many was simplified by breaking down the complex array of gable ends, eaves and rooftops into more manageable horizontal and vertical shapes. A light wash of Lemon Yellow and Rose Madder for the sunlit areas and a gentle purple mix for the shadows helped to capture the higgledy piggledy nature of the Medieval town without resorting to lots of fussy detail.

Alan Reed

Todi, Umbria

It was a very satisfying trip on so many levels, summed up beautifully by the lovely testimonial below from one of our new guests who has already re- booked for 2018.

 

“Of all the many and varied holidays I’ve had this was one of the very best.  So many aspects of it will stay with me:  the beauty, tranquility, flora and fauna of the valley; the superb reverentially restored church and farmhouse; the attention to detail and comfort (who would have thought of building a fridge and glasses cupboard into an ancient wall surrounding the swimming pool?); the wonderfully talented chefs and friendly staff; the lovely and unspoiled local towns and cities and, most importantly of all, the thought and care that goes into combining all of these into a perfectly balanced week with something for everyone and lots of choice.
 
What about the painting? you’ll be thinking. This was a very personal experience for each of us. As someone with a love of art and no experience of creating any I learned something very important. How to look and how to see. I love Alan’s style and very much enjoy the paintings of his I own. A treasured possessions is one of his exquisite notebooks.
 
He is a sensitive, encouraging teacher at the same time as being an honest and helpful critic (not an easy balance to achieve). I confess to being frustrated by my own crass attempts at producing an actual painting of something recognisable but was not discouraged. I learned about mixing colours, appropriate brushes and something about the techniques I’d be so proud to master. I do have a drawing of an olive tree I’m quite happy with.
 
It was an absolute joy to watch those more skilled (and dedicated!) on site, in cafes, churches and viewpoints learning, sketching and painting. The finished works are more than inspiring.
 
I’m much better at shopping.  And Susan is a highly skilled mentor and adviser in this respect. Local knowledge and networking is something else that is a huge bonus in so many aspects of this holiday.
 
Good conversation, laughter and fun were in abundance last week. I’m missing that already – and the sun. Did I mention the sun? It shone all the time and sometimes with a gentle cooling breeze. Perfect. Everything was, actually, perfect.
 
 Thank you Susan and Alan so, so much”.
Maggie C

We have already set one of the dates for our Painting Holidays in Italy for 2018, 2nd – 9th June. There is now only one double room available.

Due to growing interest, we are considering running another one of our Painting Holidays in Italy in either September or October 2017. You can register your interest for 2018 at reedartholidays.com or alanreed.com

 

 

Comments { 0 }

Painting Holiday

   Saturday 3rd – 10th June 2107  (Fully booked)
To find out more about Painting Holidays in Italy visit reedartholidays.com

 

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine

We have just returned from our Painting Holiday in Italy. This year we did 2 weeks, one in May and one in June. Once again, it was a huge success with our guests, many of whom have now been on 3 painting holidays with us.

The setting was the beautifully restored Chiesa del Carmine, a 13th century church in the tranquile Valenzino valley in Umbria. We were fortunate with the weather and enjoyed sketching some of the nearby hill top towns and villages like Corciano, Anghiari, Montone and Arezzo.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Corciano, Umbria

The guests are equally as happy to paint the interior of Chiesa del Carmine and its delightful gardens, full of olive trees, fragrant bushes and very paintable terracotta pots.

Alan Reed

Terracotta Pots

Our guests have been very enthusiastic about the whole experience which has been nicely summed up with this testimonial.

Dearest Susan and Alan

Where to start! Well, what a wonderful experience. Heather and I really did not want to leave. Not only because of the beautiful setting and sheer luxury combined with being pampered and being served exquisite food along with the days visiting beautiful places. But most all, and the icing on the cake, was being able to be there with you. A time to share, reflect and be thankful for all that we have. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for memories made possible and which will remain for some time to come. Much love and blessing.

Bob and Heather. Xxxx

Comments { 0 }

Painting Holiday

Alan Reed

Spello, Umbria

It’s only a few days now until our first Painting Holiday in Italy for 2016. All of the guests from our trip in 2015 have re-booked for another week in the 5 star luxury accomodation Chiesa del Carmine a beautifully restored ancient 13th century church.

Due to the popularity of the Painting Holiday, we have hired Chiesa del Carmine for a second week 4th – 11th June and we do have late availability.

Guests will be able to receive instruction on how to paint “en plein air” in watercolour, taking in the stunning views around the valley. We will also be going out for day trips to some of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages like Spello seen in the sketchbook watercolour above.

There are non painting guests too who are happy to enjoy relaxing in the fabulous grounds, the day trips and a round of golf at the nearby championship golf course Antognolla.

Alan Reed

Chiesa del Carmine

Bed, breakfast and evening meals are included in the price of the Painting Holiday. To find out more visit reedartholidays.com or to see a brochure click on this link.

Comments { 0 }

Commission a Portrait

Alan Reed

Portrait of Arthur

On our Painting Holiday in Italy in May 2015, one of the guests asked me to paint a portrait of her husband Arthur for his birthday present in August. It was to be a surprise so she asked if I could work from photographs. I said that I could, but if possible I would prefer to try and do a sketch of him and take my own photographs.

I devised a cunning plan. On the last evening of the holiday, I began to sketch various guests in my Moleskine Sketchbook after dinner as we were all relaxing in the living room of Chiesa del Carmine.

Eventually it was Arthur’s turn and he willingly obliged to sit without suspecting that my humble charcoal sketch would develop into a 20″ x 16″ portrait in oils!

I took inspiration from the new John Singer Sargent Book “Portraits of Artists and Friends” which accompanied the stunning exhibition of Sargent’s Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London earlier this year. In the excellent book are some very fresh, informal portraits of Sargent’s artist friends, singers and writers. I tried to keep Arthur’s portrait very simple and relaxed and was thrilled to receive this lovely testimonial from Arthur himself just after he received his present.

“We came home last night from Portugal, where we had been celebrating my birthday on Tuesday with the children and grandchildren. Now, I am the ever so proud and thrilled owner of the most marvellous portrait of me. I have felt both ecstatic and overwhelmed. Diana had erected it suitably on her easel.

When she called me up to see my present from her, and I saw my portrait, (actually I was wearing the same jumper), I just started shaking with excitement. Unusually for me, I was struck dumb, and did not know what to say.

Now a little recovered, I can tell you directly how thrilled I am. It seems a bit self centered to say so, but I think it captures the very essence of me. Just perfect. Thank you so much for taking so much effort to capture the very being of me. I am thrilled.

Please give my very best wishes to Sue, too. We both enjoyed both our original Easter visit to your home, and our wonderful week with you in the summer, and hence we are both equally looking forward to next year.

You cannot imagine how happy you have made my celebration week, for my larger birthday number than I really like to think about.

With all very best wishes”.

Arthur

If you would like to discuss having a portrait painted of a family member or friend, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland without any obligation or watch the Commissions video on my website to find out more.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links including the book “Sargent, Portraits of Artists and Friends” available from Amazon. If you click on the links and buy the books then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

Comments { 1 }

Worship

Watercolour by Alan Reed

Worship

I’m currently reading Andrew Graham Dixon‘s excellent, well researched book “Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane”. I recall being totally enthralled and inspired by the stunning exhibition of Caravaggio’s paintings at the National Gallery in London back in 2005 and wished that I’d had a deeper understanding of the Christian symbolism that is at the core of his paintings.

Andrew’s carefully thought out book which beautifully dovetails the relevant passages of scripture to each painting described, certainly enlightens the viewer to both the meaning of each masterpiece and provides a helpful insight to the Word of God that Caravaggio’s work aimed to bring to life in his generation as a catalyst to worship.

Over the years I have painted a number of watercolours which do contain symbolism and meaning beyond the surface depiction of a specific place or person, however I’ve always allowed the viewer to come to their own conclusion of any significance. On our recent Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy I began to see another painting develop from a single sketchbook watercolour that I decided to paint for my own meditation and reflection.

One of our guests on the Painting Holiday is a talented pianist and a committed christian. Every day he would spend time playing the grand piano that sits in the beautifully restored church Chiesa del Carmine where we stay. In the evenings after our evening meal he would entertain us with some delightful rendition of “As time goes by” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. The symbolism in the painting is not too difficult to see as the scene portrayed is in a building that once was a dwelling place for believers as they gathered to worship. There are plenty of objects in the room setting that one can meditate on and use to bring scripture to mind to reflect on like the terracotta lion, the crucifix, the incense burner, the candle stands, the light streaming through the window and of course the piano itself being played by the believer. There are others which I will leave to the viewer to ponder and look for.

Back in 2004 we were staying at the nearby Casa San Gabriel and we took the scenic walk around the undulating valley. I stopped to do a small sketchbook water-colour of the old church, then in ruins, overgrown and looking totally dilapidated. I remember thinking at the time it would be great to take this ruined structure and restore it, however I never envisioned that I would actually be staying there and painting it with a group of guests!

The actual quality of the restoration is of the highest standard, right down to the smallest details. Chiesa del Carmine has a fully fitted kitchen, dinning room, living room and toilet and is the perfect place to relax, read, listen to music or even play music. The villa next door has also been restored to the same high standard and can accommodate 14.

Our week in May 2016 is now fully booked up. There is availability for the week in June 2016 and we may do a week in September 2016 too. Please contact us if you would like to receive further details.

Comments { 0 }

Painting Holiday

Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Demonstrating how to paint in the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine

We have just returned from another successful Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy. Six of our guests from our Painting Holiday in 2014 joined us again this year and  all nine guests hope to return in 2016.

The venue this year was the recently restored church Chiesa del Carmine, a building that was in ruins which I first painted on location back in 2004. I never dreamed that one day I would have the privilege of painting in, what is now, beautifully landscaped gardens.

The accommodation itself is stunning and is the perfect place to chill out and relax. There are plenty of subjects to paint in and around the property (which we did) but we also enjoyed a couple of day trips out and about.

The first was the small hilltop town Todi, just south of Perugia. We based ourselves in the piazza and painted the architecture before enjoying a delicious pizza at a nearby restaurant. 

 

Alan Reed Painting

Watercolour Sketchbook Study of Todi, Umbria

 

After lunch we continued painting the town, this time from a vantage point where we could tackle the terracotta roofs and countryside.

The second day trip was to the market at Umbertide where guests enjoyed wandering about in the warm sunshine followed by lunch in Gubbio, a larger town that boasts the remains of a Roman Teatro and a network of typical Umbrian street scenes.

The painting guests tackled a rather challenging stone fountain, appropriately named Fountain of Madness.

I too had a go painting the fountain but also painted a sketchbook watercolour of the nearby street, capturing the contrasts between the sunlit areas and shadows.

The owners of Chiesa del Carmine offered a 250 Euro prize to the best painting of the week that captured the venue. All the painting guests spent considerable time tackling what was a very difficult subject and the results were not easy to judge. We had an informal critique at the end of the week of all the paintings produced where I also announced the winning painting which will go on display in Chiesa del Carmine.

Alan Reed Painting

Sketchbook Watercolour of Street scene in Gubbio

We’ve already booked the same venue our Painting Holiday next May but this time over two weeks as many more folk have expressed an interest in coming. Please contact for further information.

 

 

Comments { 0 }