Tag Archives: plein air

Beadnell Harbour

Beadnell Harbour-Watercolour Painting

Beadnell Harbour-Painted on Location

On Friday evening Susan and I set off for a weekend break with two of our grandchildren at Breakwater Cottage in Seahouses. The weather was fantastic the whole time and I was able to snatch a couple of hours painting on location at Beadnell Harbour. What made the experience of painting “plein air” even more pleasurable was seeing a shoal of dolphins feeding remarkably close to the shoreline.

I had already primed a 14″ x 10″ watercolour block with a wash of cadmium lemon before arriving to the scene which saved me a good thirty minutes of drying time. This enabled me to crash on with the sky and sea as the sun was starting to set quite quickly. Once that had dried I could knock in the boats and the harbour wall just before the sun went down. I returned the following evening to add a few more extra details to the wall and boats. This study will prove to be an excellent source of inspiration for future paintings I may tackle of Beadnell Harbour.

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Longsands Beach, Tynemouth

Watercolour of Longsands Beach, Tynemouth Sketch

Longsands Beach, Tynemouth Sketchbook Study 1

I recently heard from one of my clients that a North East artist has been spreading false rumours that I never paint on location. Here is a blog post to put that nonsense to rest. I often paint “en plein air” and have lots of sketchbooks filled with watercolours painted on the spot. Above is one of two sketchbook watercolour studies painted on location Longsands Beach at Tynemouth, Monday 3rd September.

On my website you can watch a video of me painting Dunstanburgh Castle on location. There is also a video on youtube of me painting the Launceston Place Restaurant on location too. Of course I do paint in my studio and will use my own reference material which will sometimes include photographs, but for over twenty years I have sold lots of watercolours which have been painted from start to finish “plein air”.

 

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Longsands Beach, Tynemouth

Longsands Beach, Tynemouth Sketchbook Study on Location

Longsands Beach, Tynemouth Sketchbook Study

On Monday I sold one of my original watercolours painted on location of a beach scene. It was a timely reminder of how much I do enjoy painting “plein air” and the fun I have capturing the natural elements of sky, sea and land. Longsands Beach, Tynemouth provides great subject matter to paint on the spot.

Monday the 3rd September 2012 was a glorious day so we decided to spend the day at Longsands Beach at Tynemouth with the family. Inspired by the earlier sale of the beach scene, I decided to take my watercolours and made a couple of sketchbook studies of folk enjoying the weather which I may well work up into larger paintings.

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Painting of the Pantheon, Rome

Painting of the Pantheon

The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rome and was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa about the time of the Bible’s Book of Acts. Agrippa’s inscription can be seen on the portico which always reminds me of Acts chapters 25-26 where the Apostle Paul is brought before King Agrippa to be tried. So convincing was Paul’s witness of Jesus Christ that even Agrippa said to Paul “You almost persuade me to become Christian”. Chapter 26 verse 28.

I’ve been to Rome a couple of times since my first visit back in 1998 as part of the process of getting reference for my paintings of Italy. Each time I’ve managed to paint a number of watercolours on location. Earlier this year I painted a 14″ x 10″ watercolour of the Pantheon based on my location studies which was the inspiration to do this large painting. In both watercolours I’ve tried to retain the freshness of those painted plein air, keeping the brush marks direct and relatively loose compared to my usual studio paintings.

The painting of The Pantheon, Rome began as a watercolour demonstration for a couple of art groups who had asked me to show the students how to tackle cityscapes, in particular the challenge of painting figures in the context of a city scene. It’s been painted on an expensive sheet of rough Fabriano hand made watercolour paper.

The students seemed to appreciate the various techniques and methods I was demonstrating so I hope they enjoy seeing the finished painting of The Pantheon, Rome which is currently at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland and will soon be available as a limited edition print.

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Painting of the Pantheon

Painting of the Pantheon

Watercolour of the Pantheon

This new original watercolour of the Pantheon in Rome forms part of my forthcoming exhibition at the Lit and Phil Library starting 6th July. The Pantheon is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rome and was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa about the time of the Bible’s Book of Acts. Agrippa’s inscription can be seen on the portico which always reminds me of Acts chapters 25-26 where the Apostle Paul is brought before King Agrippa to be tried. So convincing was Paul’s witness of Jesus Christ that even Agrippa said to Paul “You almost persuade me to become Christian”. Chapter 26 verse 28.

I’ve been to Rome a couple of times since my first visit back in 1998 as part of the process of getting reference for my paintings of Italy. Each time I’ve managed to paint a number of watercolours on location. In this particular 14″ x 10″ I’ve tried to retain the freshness of those painted plein air, keeping the brush marks direct and relatively loose compared to my usual studio paintings.

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Pump Room in the Snow

Pump Room in the Snow, Bath

Pump room in the Snow, Bath

“Pump Room in the Snow” is a large studio watercolour based on studies I’ve made on location in Bath. Over the last two years I’ve entered the Bath Prize, a painting competition  held annually in Bath where contestants are given a specific location in Bath to paint “plein air”. Once they have painted their allocated scene before the competition deadline, they can enter other paintings they may have done of Bath.

In 2010 I came runner up with my painting of the Royal Crescent and in 2011 I won first prize for the best painting of the Circus in Bath. In 2011 Kingsmeade Square was the place I was given to paint on location. On the day I went to Bath to paint there was heavy rain, however I was able to turn the elements to my advantage by using some of my studies of figures holding umbrellas in this painting of the Pump Room in the snow.

Over the years, I have often painted snow scenes, so I drew on my experience to render the snow falling from the heavy clouds to create wet reflections in the pavements. By keeping the palette quite monochromatic, I was able to make the whole cityscape feel cold and moody. The little girl dressed in a bright red coat (my eldest granddaughter Emily) added an important focal point to the composition. The original watercolour can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Alan Reed Winner of the Circus Prize 2011

The Circus, Bath, Early Morning

The Circus, Bath, Early Morning

Early this morning I received an email to say I had won the category for the best painting of the Circus in the Bath Prize 2011. In 2010 I came 1st runner up in the Bath Painting Prize with my watercolour of The Royal Crescent. Spurred on by this success, I decided to enter the competition again this year which had several new categories for artists to paint, one of which was the best painting of the Circus. To enter, one had to paint a scene “plein air” of a specific location in Bath given to each artist by the organisers. My location to paint was Kingsmead Square, so in August, Susan and I went to Bath for a couple of days for me to paint on location and to get reference of the other scenes I wanted to paint. Unfortunately it rained for much of the time, so my plein air painting was executed under the shelter of an umbrella, however on the morning of our departure, the bad weather lifted and I was able to spend some time to get the reference I needed to do the winning painting of the Circus.

I decided to do this scene in the same landscape format as last years painting of the Royal Crescent to emphasise the curve of the architecture. After drawing the main composition in pencil, I put down some base washes of yellow and rose madder to set the tone for the distinctive honey colouring of the stonework and sky. Like the Royal Crescent, The Circus is constructed from Bath stone, a Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate.

As one is painting, a deeper appreciation of the thinking behind the classic Georgian architecture is formed. Wood’s inspiration was in fact the Roman Colosseum, another great piece of architecture I have painted, both from the inside and out. The Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, whereas the Circus faces inwardly. Work began in 1754 and completed in 1768. Sadly, Wood died less than 3 months after the first stone was laid. His son, John Wood the Younger completed the scheme to his father’s design.

Next came the time consuming task of painting the windows and columns. The Circus (Latin for ring, oval or circle) consists of 3 storey townhouses with a mansard roof. Three classical orders are used, Greek Doric, Roman/Composit and Corinthian, one on top of the other.

The danger when doing detail of this nature is to make it too tight and photographic. A camera can do a better job than the artist of capturing detail. I wanted to retain the freshness of the location sketchbook watercolours I had painted of the Circus, so I kept my leather bound sketchbook open in front of me at all times as a constant reminder. The result was a winning painting, an original watercolour capturing the early morning summer sunlight warming up the classical Georgian architecture.

The paintings entered for the competition can be seen at the Octagon, Milsom Place, Bath from 21st -27th October 10am-5pm (Sunday 12noon-4pm). An auction sale of Bath Prize paintings will take place at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath on Friday 28th October, starting at 7pm.

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John Singer Sargent

Cafe on the Riva degli Schiavoni by John Singer Sargent

Cafe on the Riva degli Schiavoni by John Singer Sargent

In May 2007 I spent several days painting in Venice and was fortunate enough to take in a superb exhibition of paintings of Venice by one of my favourite artists John Singer Sargent held at the Museo Correr in St Mark’s Square.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is said to be the most important of American Impressionists. He was born in Florence (another one of my favourite cities) and spent most of his life in Europe, studying in Paris under Carolus-Duran and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began his career as a portrait painter producing outstanding portraits of the rich and famous of his day including two American Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

He was a friend of Monet and  began to experiment painting plein air undertaking a number of study trips which included over 10 trips to Venice from 1870 to 1913. The exhibition at The Museo Correr consisted of 54 of these works loaned not only from European and American museums but also private collections. Subjects included famous land marks such as the scene above titled Cafe on the Riva degli Schiavoni, canals viewed from gondola rides, palaces, churches and daily life in Venice.

As I was doing this particular post, I couldn’t resist thumbing through my own “plein air” sketchbook watercolours of Venice and selecting a few in homage to Sargent. May he continue being an inspiration to many.

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