Tag Archives: sketchbooks

Paintings of olive trees

Alan Reed

Olive Grove, Spring Light

I’ve been painting “en plein air” in Italy since 1991 when Susan took me to Venice. I fell in love with its architecture, the light, atmosphere and culture. However, it was not until our first visit to Umbria in March 2002 that I started to make sketchbook studies of olive trees.

We were staying in the Relais il Canalicchio hotel, perched on a hill commanding stunning views of the Umbrian countryside. During the first night of our stay, having enjoyed a fabulous meal at their restaurant, there was a heavy fall of snow. We awoke to complete silence and total white out. We were literally snowed in until the following day. Once the snow had cleared we began to explore Umbria in earnest, taking in hilltop towns like Orvieto, Todi, Perugia, Assisi and Norcia.

On one occasion we drove to the Fabriano paper factory and I purchased several leather bound sketchbooks containing their wonderful hand made watercolour paper that is so lovely to paint on. On our return to the Relais il Canalicchio I wasted no time in testing the first sketchbook by painting the view from our room as the sun was going down.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour from the Relais il Canalicchio

It was during this period that I began to develop a sketchbook painting style in watercolour where I would deliberately avoid drawing out beforehand the scene in pencil. This meant that the brush marks became more considered, fluid and direct.

I also began to make sketchbook studies of the olive trees that surrounded the tiny hill top town of Canalicchio. These became the inspiration for a number of studio paintings including the one below of the Relais il Canalicchio available as a limited edition print.

Painting of Relais il Canalicchio

Relais il Canalicchio

On our reedart painting holidays in Umbria we stay at Chiesa del Carmine. The gardens have plenty of olive trees for the guests to paint. They have fun painting and drawing their twisted branches and beautifully shaped leaves. I also join in the fun with my own sketchbook watercolours. These days I make my own sketchbooks using paper from Khadi Papers and leather from a local supplier.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Olive trees

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Time Lapse Portrait Sketches

Alan Reed

Charcoal Pencil Sketch

There are no short cuts to achieving sound drawing skills. Regular practise at drawing from observation will pay off in most visual disciplines in art, whether it’s painting, sculpture, graphic design or even photography. Before working on a commission or a painting for exhibition I will often warm up for 10 to 20 minutes with a charcoal pencil sketch of a John Singer Sargent portrait. I’ve drawn dozens over the last few years, particularly as I’ve been receiving more portrait commissions.

I’ve recently started to make time lapse videos of my portrait sketches so that one can see the process on how I draw a face from the start. If you watch the video which is only 24 seconds long, you will see that I draw a faint outline for the shape of the face.

I then make a mark halfway down to indicate where the eyes are to go. I then make another mark in between the eye line and the chin for the tip of the nose. Finally I do one last guideline for the mouth, usually slightly higher than halfway between the tip of the nose and the chin.

Once these are in place, I then start to draw in with greater care the details for the eyes, working my way down the face for all the other features. After that, it’s simply a matter of shading in the hair and drawing in the neck and shoulders. You will see that I’m drawing with a charcoal pencil which gives you a lovely dark, rich tone. I’m  also a big fan of the Moleskine sketchbooks which come in a good range of sizes.

Time lapse videos are quite easy to do and it’s a great way to show folk the drawing process without it taking up too much time.

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Sketchbooks

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Mont Blanc from Chamonix

I’m often asked “which is my own favourite painting?” It’s a question which I find so difficult to answer. Over the years I’ve painted many different scenes which I’m really pleased with and on so many different levels.

In more recent years I’ve been painting portraits of people, which again, I’ve become attached to. However, if I had to choose examples of my work to ponder over and reflect on, it would have to be my ever growing collection of hand made leather bound sketchbooks that I take with me on our travels.

Alan Reed

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

Although I’ve been painting on location in watercolour “en plein air” for almost 30 years it was not until a painting trip to Umbria, Italy in 2002 that I began to paint “on the spot” in these precious sketchbooks. My wife and I visited the Fabriano Paper Factory in the Marches region and I fell in love with the small leather bound books containing their lovely paper that they were selling in the factory shop. I purchased several.

When we returned to the Relais il Canalicchio where we were staying I tentatively decided to put brush to paper and painted the view out of our window. You can see my first watercolour of an Umbrian sunset in the image below.

Sketchbook watercolour

View from the Relais il Canalicchio

Unusually for me, I decided not to do any preparatory pencil drawing, choosing to “draw” with the brush, painting directly onto the beautifully textured paper. It’s a discipline that I’ve continued with ever since. It’s not something that I would advocate for a beginner if I was teaching them on our painting holidays in Italy but it is a discipline that a more experienced water-colourist would find both challenging and rewarding.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Aiguille du Midi

When we took our daughter and grandchildren to Chamonix in France in July 2015 and the grandchildren watched me paint Aiguille du Midi (above) and Mont Blanc, the value of my sketchbooks became apparent, even to the grandchildren. They could see how I was recording in paint some of the special aspects of our holiday in a way that photography cannot. They even started asking me if they could have certain sketchbooks when I die!

I now have an ever growing collection of sketchbooks which document our travels to countries like Italy, Oman, Kuwait, USA and of course throughout the UK. I’ve even started to make them myself which is even more rewarding.

The guests on our painting holidays to Italy are encouraged to paint both on watercolour blocks or pads of watercolour paper but also in sketchbooks so that they too can have a record of their travels.

If you would like to find out more about working in sketchbooks “en plein air” or coming on a reedart painting holiday then please contact me.

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Portraits in Charcoal

Charcoal Portrait of Emanuela

Portrait of Emanuela

Drawing Portraits in Charcoal can be a very rewarding experience, especially when you are working from life. When I have a portrait commission, especially if it’s a child, I find it helpful to do a quick study in one of my moleskine sketchbooks.

Usually children these days don’t like to sit still for even just a few minutes so it’s nigh on impossible to do an oil painting from life of a child. One has to rely on photographs but there is a real benefit in having a couple of sketches to refer to as well.

This study in charcoal pencil of Emanuela is based on a much longer drawing made from life over three short afternoon sittings. It is currently on view as part of my 30th Anniversary Christmas exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. Another is for some charcoal pencils. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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The Art Tour

Logo for Art Tour 2014

The Art Tour 2014

Network Artist Alan Reed Studio

Artist Alan Reed in Studio

Selection of Alan Reed Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks painted on location

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. 

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Cox & Kings Painting Competition

Watercolour Painting of Marrakech

Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech

You may recall a blog post several weeks ago where I had been chosen as one of six artists to enter a painting competition organised by Cox & Kings to win one of Cox and Kings’ Morocco Tours.

The competition has been organised by Cox & Kings, the oldest travel company in the world, established in 1758.

This is the finished painting I have produced from the photograph of Djemma El Fna Square in Marrakech.

I deliberately decided to change the format from landscape to portrait to prevent the viewers eyes from drifting off the edge of the composition and also to make sure I didn’t end up with a slavish copy of the photograph.

When I paint on location, I usually work on deckled edged hand made watercolour paper in leather-bound sketchbooks so I chose a similar looking paper to achieve a travel journal feel to the painting.

Painting artificial light in watercolour is never easy, but by laying a wash of yellow over the paper it has helped to create a brighter, higher key to the scene, giving the effect of light under the stalls being thrown around the market.

The winning artist will receive a two night stay at the Hotel Palais Aziza & Spa.

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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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Paintings of Umbria

Painting of Relais il Canalicchio

Relais il Canalicchio

I first started doing Paintings of Umbria back in 2002. Tomorrow (27th June) marks the 11th Anniversary of the kidney transplant Susan and I had in 2001 when I gave my wife one of my kidneys. The image of the Hotel Relais il Canalicchio in Umbria brings back memories of the transplant because it was where we stayed for the first overseas trip we were able to make after the operation.

It was in Umbria that Susan really began to appreciate the benefits of a healthy kidney as she was able to walk up and down the various hill top villages we visited around Umbria. Before the transplant she would quickly get out of breath and become exhausted if she walked any distance.

We both really appreciated the benefits of staying at a wonderful hotel with commanding views over the Umbrian countryside, peace and quiet and fantastic food and wine. I purchased some leather bound hand made sketchbooks on this trip, so I was able to some small watercolour Paintings of Umbria. The hotel purchased a watercolour sketch I did of their building and from the studies I painted the scene above which has been reproduced as a limited edition print. It has to be one of my favourite paintings of Italy which forms part of my growing Italian collection.

 

 

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Kidney Transplant

Millennium Bridge, Rain's Past

Millennium Bridge, Rain's Past

In the autumn of 2006 Susan and I were filmed by the BBC for Songs of Praise to be shown on bonfire night. The programme was being broadcast from the CastleGate, the home of City Church Newcastle which Susan and I have strong links with. Songs of Praise wanted to interview several people from the church who had interesting life changing stories and they asked if we would share our story about how I gave one of my kidneys to Susan back in 2001. Susan had been going into renal failure through polycystic kidney disease. I was tested along with Susan’s mother,to see if either one of our kidneys would be a match, and remarkably mine was. Usually live donors are family members and because of Susan’s tissue type, the chances of receiving a kidney from a dead donor in the UK would have only been about 3%. A husband/wife donation is much more unusual. The operation took place on 27th June 2001 and has been a total success without any rejection. I commented on the programme the words of Jesus Christ on marriage and what I had said to the surgeon after the operation:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”? “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate”. Matthew 19:5-6

I said to the surgeon who had operated on me that the kidney would not reject because it became “one flesh” with Susan when we married each other.

Part of the filming took place on Newcastle’s Quayside and they asked me to do some painting on location. I decided to do this view of the Millennium Bridge which I tackled in one of my sketchbooks. The result was quite pleasing so I decided to do this larger 16″ x 12″ studio watercolour which depicts the bridge highlighted against the backdrop of a sky heavy laden with rain clouds. I think we were spared a heavy downpour during the filming, hence the title “Rain’s Past”!

The original watercolour can be seen  at my Spring Exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Sketchbook of Oman

Since my first visit to Oman in 2007 I have always taken my hand made sketchbooks to paint on location. Whenever I’ve shown these studies to various folk, they have always commented on the tactile beauty of these small watercolour paintings that are held together as a mini art collection. The plan for several years has been to find a method of reproducing them so that they are available for people to buy, but at the same time retaining the hand made quality of the original sketches so that they actually look like an original sketchbook.

In the spring of 2010 I had the first copies printed and bound to show potential buyers. The response was great and so we went into producing a limited edition run of 250 Sketchbook of Oman in November 2010. Her Majesty the Queen was visiting Oman in November to celebrate Oman’s 40th anniversary of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and she was presented with 1/250 of the sketchbook. A lovely article was written in the Oman Observer by Maurice Gent about Her Majesty the Queen also being presented with one of my paintings too.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the sketchbooks is going to 40/40 which is a scholarship scheme for 40 Omanis, to undertake Undergraduate Degrees at Universities in Oman, ideally with those with links to British Universities was established.  These scholarships would target poorer Omanis who could not otherwise afford tuition fees.  A key partner in this would be the Ministry of Higher Education who would help identify suitable candidates for the scholarships.  The candidates have been selected and the scheme is now well underway although raising money to fund the students is an on-going project.  Purchasing “Sketchbook of Oman” is one great way to contribute to this scholarship.

I have some of the Sketch Books of Oman on display in my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and you can also buy online at www.alanreed.com and through Al Manahil books in Oman.

Above are a few examples of some of the 40 images which make up the book, 27 of which have been painted on location, the other 13 are studio paintings like the Grand Mosque at Night which were inspired by the location studies.

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