Tag Archives: studio

A Room with a View

Looking towards Prestwick

View from my Studio Window

For most of my career as an artist I’ve had quite small cramped studios to paint in. In 2006 we decided to look into the possibility of building a Studio in the loft space of our home in Ponteland. The plans were passed in 2007 and building commenced later that year. In July 2008 we were finally able to re-located our Studio & Gallery from Ponteland village to our home at 17 Cheviot View. This has provided me with a Room with a View.

The main benefit of this working space is the consistent north light I have over my drawing board but I also have some stunning views from one of the other windows looking north west towards Prestwick Hall, a lovely Georgian building designed by North East Architect John Dobson. I was actually commissioned to do a painting of it a number of years ago by the owners.

Of course much of my painting work these days is on location both in the UK and overseas so I’m able to enjoy the best of both enviroments.

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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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Rialto Bridge Venice

Rialto Bridge Print

Rialto Bridge, Venice

Paintings of Venice are always popular with folk who have been fortunate enough to visit the city of romance. I recall one of my painting trips in March 2000 when the weather was quite mixed. I arose early one morning to do some painting to be faced with a heavy fog. We were staying close to the Rialto Bridge, so I made myself as comfortable as possible on one of the vaporetto stops just below the bridge and began to paint the scene before me. I could just make out the distinctive shape of the famous bridge through the fog as I worked “wet on wet” on rough watercolour paper.

My efforts were punctuated every few minutes by a vaporetto crashing into the boarding platform where I was situated which made my work even more challenging! Gradually the fog began to lift and I was able to gather sufficient information to produce the studio watercolour of Rialto Bridge which has been reproduced as a limited edition print.

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Painting of the Grand Canal, Venice

Last night Susan and I watched the  BBC 2 programme Shakespeare in Italy narrated by Francesco da Mosto. Part of the programme was set in Venice, a city which was Susan’s home for 5 years and a place which has been a content source of inspiration for my paintings of Italy collection. One of my favourite views is taken from the Accademia Bridge, looking at the Santa Marie della Salute. I’ve painted it several times on location and using the sketches, I have produced a number of studio watercolours which have included commissions. On one particular painting, I decided to photograph the painting of the Grand Canal, Venice in stages so that one can see the progression and development of the painting, from the initial pencil drawing through the sequence of washes, to the build up of detail.

After stretching a sheet of hand made Italian watercolour paper on to the drawing board, the first stage was to draw out the main elements of the composition with a B pencil. I like to paint a lot of the detail from observation with my brush, so there isn’t a huge amount of detail in the pencil drawing.

Next, I covered the whole sheet with a wash of clean water then ran in a gentle wash of Winsor and Newton Cadmium Lemon from about a third of the way from the top of the board. This helps to take away the starkness of the white and set the tone and mood for the rest of the painting.

One the yellow had dried I repeated the process of laying a wash of clean water except once it hit the architecture, I began to be more random with the wash leaving some of the paper untouched by water. I quickly ran in a wash of Rose Madder into the water but left some of the yellow showing through as pure yellow.

Before starting the sky, I masked off some of the detailed areas in the water like the poles and boats so that I wasn’t having to paint around them with the blue. I started off the sky with quite an intense wash of French Ultramarine and Manganese Blue, fading it out slightly as the sky came closer to the horizon and then painting around the architecture.

Once it had dried, I deepened the blue for the foreground part of the Grand Canal I then started on the buildings on the right hand side. The detailed photograph shows how some of the blue in the sky and water was used as shadow areas for the buildings.

I finished the right hand side before commencing on the left so that I could use slightly more stronger colours to give the impression of the left hand side being closer.

When I rubbed off the masking fluid, it meant that the colour underneath remained as a base for the poles and boats. Strong, dark refections on the left provided further depth to the painting and once I had added the smaller areas of detail to the architecture and boats, the painting was completed. I have two paintings of the Grand Canal, Venice available as limited edition prints available online or from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. I also have an original watercolour available of the Grand Canal, Venice which I painted using the same process described.

 

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Dunstanburgh Castle, November afternoon

Dunstanburgh Castle, November Afternoon

Dunstanburgh Castle, November Afternoon

In November 2009 my birthday fell on our day off, a Monday, so Susan and I decided to celebrate by driving up the Northumbrian coast to Newton by the Sea to have lunch in The Ship Inn. After feasting on crab sandwiches and some local ale we walked along the beach towards Dunstanburgh Castle. I stopped to do a small sketchbook watercolour (yes even on my birthday) to capture the striking low light.

There was no wind and the sea was like a mill pond. I took some photographs and wasted little time in the studio to set about producing this watercolour which sold last year from a charity exhibition at the CastleGate in Newcastle in 2011. I did reproduce it as a limited edition print and sold another copy this afternoon to a couple purchasing it as a 40th birthday present for their daughter. There are only 25 copies in the edition which can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

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Grainger Street

Grainger Street

Grainger Street

The popularity of my limited edition prints is partially down to the fact that I usually include figures in the paintings which bring the painting to life. Over the years I spent considerable time observing people going about their daily business in cities like Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Venice, Florence and New York. I’ve developed a kind of shorthand for drawing them on the move in my sketchbook which I can refer to when I come to do a studio painting. I will of course take photographs as it’s impossible to draw people in detail walking about the streets unless they are deliberately modelling for you.

It’s the figures in this painting which are the dominant point of interest. Folk have often commented that they love the old man shuffling along with his newspaper sticking out of his back pocket, the two old ladies nattering away with their shopping bags and the road sweeper who has stopped to light up a fag. The original painting sold many years ago but the limited edition print titled Grainger Street is still available online or from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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St Mark’s Square, Afternoon Sunlight

St Mark's Square, Afternoon Sunlight, Venice

St Mark

St Mark’s Square in Venice holds very special memories for my wife and I as it was in the Basilica that Susan gave her life to God over 25 years ago. She had a dramatic conversion to Christianity which transformed her life from one of hopelessness and despair to one of peace, joy and faith in Jesus Christ. Whenever we go to Venice, we like to reflect on that pivotal point in Susan’s life and reflect on the amazing things that God has done in our lives since that day of new birth.

So it goes without saying that I’ve painted St Mark’s Square on more than one occasion, both on location and in my studio. This particular scene is an A4 studio painting based on a smaller sketchbook watercolour which I’ve published as a limited edition print with only 45 in the edition. The original was given to my youngest granddaughter Anya when she was first born, “my first watercolour”.

Other paintings of Italy can be seen in my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and on my website www.alanreed.com

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Mubarakiyya Souk, Kuwait

In 2009 I spent a couple of weeks painting on location in Kuwait. Several different subjects attracted my attention and demanded to be painted. One was the entranceway to the Mubarakiyya Souk in Kuwait City.

I found a suitable place to sit outside the entranceway in the warmth of the January sunlight and peering into the darkness, I was able to pick out the architectural details and the movement of the locals wearing their Abayas and Dishdashas. Working directly onto the handmade watercolour paper in my sketchbook with paint, I was able to capture the flowing fabrics of the clothing and the rich rusty reds of the interior of the souk.

My activities attracted some attention from the locals who were both curious and friendly. These studies later became the catalyst for two studio paintings, one A4, the other a 21” x 14” watercolour which has also become a popular limited edition giclee print. I made a conscious effort to retain the fluidity of the sketchbook studies in the studio paintings, the smallest of the two already being sold.

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Ponte Vecchio, Firenze

You never quite know who you are going to see whilst painting on location. I was crossing Ponte Vecchio when working in Florence recently and noticed BBC’s Fiona Bruce being filmed by a camera crew. I’m not sure for what programme, perhaps another series of Fake or Fortune? 

I’ve painted several watercolours on location of Ponte Vecchio, usually from Piazza Michelangelo, however on this occasion, I decided to do one standing next to the window of a rather expensive ice cream shop at the end of the bridge on the other side of the road. After being charged €6 for the smallest tub of ice cream available, I embarked on a small sketchbook study of the bridge bathed in the late afternoon sunlight.

The Duomo in the distance was both my starting point and focal point of interest with the strong angles from the foreground buildings taking the viewers eyes towards the main part of the subject, the bridge itself with its shoppers and colourful flags. Using this simple study and some of the reference photographs I took, I hope to work this up into a larger original watercolour in my Studio.

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North Shields, Fishing

North Shields, Fishing

North Shields, Fishing

A few weeks ago I was doing a watercolour demonstration for a class in Rothbury. As part of the lesson, I was showing the students how to begin a painting, in particular the sky. This is often the most difficult part of painting a landscape or seascape and can be quite daunting for the inexperienced. I was working on several paintings that day, one of which was this 12″ x 9″ watercolour of some lads fishing off the Fish Quay at North Shields.

I was working off two photographs, one for the sky, the other for the figures and River Tyne reference. It was a scene I had painted on location about 10 years ago, so I was well familiar with the view. I began by laying a very pale yellow wash over the whole paper which I intensified at the point of the horizon. When that dried, I went over parts of the wash with some Rose Madder which you can see, particularly in the water. Once dry, I began to pick out some of the blue in the sky with some touches of Manganese Blue. Finally, after mixing the colour for the darker clouds with Rose Madder, Manganese Blue and Paynes Grey, I painted in the dramatic, carefully positioned clouds to bring a strong sense of mood and atmosphere to the composition.

I completed the painting in my studio in Ponteland which will form part of my Christmas Exhibition starting in November which will include other paintings of the North East, Italy and the Middle East too.

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