Tag Archives: studio

Grand Canal Painting

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks finishing off a number of watercolours which will be on show at the NewcastleGateshead Art Fair 30th September-2nd October. The latest one to be completed is this one of the Grand Canal in Venice. It’s a scene I’ve painted several times before, both on location and in the studio.

The painting was inspired by my own studies painted from the Accademia Bridge and a number of different photographs taken by myself during my trips to Venezia. You can also see on the drawing board the limited edition print I have published of the Grand Canal which I kept referring to throughout the painting process. For other limited edition prints of Venice and Italy, go to my website www.alanreed.com

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Manchester in the Snow

Manchester in the Snow

Manchester in the Snow

In 2009 I was exhibiting at Manchester’s Buy Art Fair. I decided to do an original watercolour of one of Manchester’s famous architectural landmarks, the Printworks that overlooked the venue of the Art Fair that year, the Urbis building. A number of weeks before the fair I spent a weekend in Manchester when it rained for much of the time. I managed to do a very “wet on wet” study of the Printworks which helped to capture something of the mood and atmosphere of the city. Along with the reference photographs, I was able to start on the studio painting.

Before embalming on the finished painting, I did an A5 study of one of the figures I planned to place in the painting, a rather portly gentleman sheltering under an umbrella. To make sure the painting was going to work, I then did an A4 watercolour on hand made paper with a deckled edge which I used to refer to for colour and composition.

You will notice of the photograph of what’s on my drawing board, a book on Adolphe Valette, a French Impressionist who lived in Manchester for several years and is best known as L.S. Lowry’s tutor. I went to see some of his stunning paintings at the Manchester Art Gallery which I have to say were a real inspiration. The moody, foggy scenes that Valette painted helped me to decide the palate which I ended up using which involved a greater use of Lamp Black than usual.

The small painting of the large man sold almost straight away when on display at the Buy Art Fair and a few weeks later I sold the large studio watercolour to a customer in Manchester which is also available as a limited edition print. The A4 original watercolour study, however is available online.

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Show me the Monet

You may recall a blog post earlier in the year where I wrote about being filmed for a BBC Series titled “Show me the Monet. Well, the 10 episode series begins on Monday 9th May on BBC 2 weekdays 5:15-6:00pm. I have been told that I am appearing in the program on Wednesday 18th with my painting of Grey Street viewed from Emerson Chambers.

“The series following the fortunes of amateur and professional artists from all over the United Kingdom, as they battle it out for a spot at the Show Me the Monet grand exhibition and sale at the Royal College of Art in London, where members of the public and the art world alike will bid to buy the best of the art work on show.

Contenders could stand to make some serious cash, but first they need the seal of approval from three of the art world’s toughest critics. To win a spot at the exhibition and the chance to sell and make some money from their work, hopeful artists must first face the Hanging Committee, where their hopes and dreams could be made or dashed.” Quote taken from the BBC Website.

The painting I submitted actually began with me doing a sketchbook study in watercolour on location as preparation for a painting demonstration I was doing at Waterstones the book shop one Saturday morning last September.

Using the sketch and some reference photographs, I drew the basic shape of the buildings and figures in readiness for the demonstration. I was able to work quite quickly on this particular painting and as you can see form the photograph, I managed to complete most of the building on the right hand side of the painting. I was able to finish off the rest of the scene in my studio.

The filming of my appearance on the program was an enjoyable but slightly disappointing experience for me as my work was not selected for the Royal College of Art, but I’d much rather try something and fail than not try at all. I’m looking forward to finding out what artwork the judges did pick in the end.

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Drawing People

TIP 10 Study People

In my first tip I talked about drawing from observation. Drawing people isn’t easy, particularly if they are not deliberately posing for you, but the results can be rewarding if you stick at it.

A useful tip is to draw people walking about without actually looking at the paper. These can be described as “gesture” drawings. You are capturing the movement and gesture of the person more than anything else.  These will take seconds to do. You can quickly fill a page in your sketchbook with lots of small studies, some of which will probably look rubbish, but others will capture something of the person you were observing. Use a biro, or if you are feeling confident, try watercolour and draw with your brush. I’ve posted some examples from some of my sketchbooks for you to see.

The first 3 images are the gesture drawings I have described, one in pen, the other two with a brush. The important thing is to capture the movement of the people passing by.

The next three are of figures which are more static, so I have the luxury of being able to have a few more glances at the paper.

I was sitting in a cafe in Newcastle when I did the series of studies of the two elderly ladies chatting away. In this drawing , I fixed my eyes on a point on their hair line and looked along the profile of their face, at the same time, moving the pen the same direction over the surface of the paper. The result is almost a caricature of the women.

Painting outside the entrance of the Mubarakiyya souk in Kuwait was great fun. I did several studies (using a combination of all the techniques mentioned above) which were the inspiration for a studio painting which I have since reproduced as a limited edition print.

I hope these tips are an encouragement for you to pick up a pen and sketchbook and have some fun drawing people. My sketchbook studies of Oman have now been published as a limited edition facsimile sketchbook. I have copies in my studio & gallery in Ponteland.

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Watercolour Paint

TIP 8 Don’t use too many colours!

Alan Reed's watercolor paints

Alan Reed’s Watercolour Paints

There are at least 96 colours in Winsor and Newton’s Artists’ watercolour range. I use about a dozen regularly which is enough for me. Spend some time finding out which ones you really like and experiment.

The arrangement of different paints you can see on my drawing board is fairly typical  for me when working in the studio. I often squeeze colour from large tubes (which are better value than the smaller ones) into saucers which I then use for mixing colours. I find the large ceramic pans are also handy but then I also dip in to my two metal painting boxes which I use mainly on location.  The smaller of the two is great for carrying about as it’s small, you can mix colours in the inside part of the lid and it has it’s own water reservoir.

These are the colours I tend to use the most and which I carry on location: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Scarlet Lake, Rose Madder, Ultramarine Violet, French Ultramarine, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Windsor Green, Burnt Umber, Vandyke Brown, Payne’s Grey, Lamp Black and Chinese White.

Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Winsor Yellow and Cadmium Orange are also colours which I might also use when working in the studio. Remember, you can mix colours, either in your mixing palettes or through laying one wash of colour on top of another when it’s dry. I hope this is of some help. Have fun experimenting folks.

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The Needle’s Eye Painting

A few weeks ago I was asked by one of my clients to paint a specific view of the Needle’s Eye which is situated at the south part of the beach at Newbiggen by the Sea on the Northumbrian coast. He provided me with several photographs of the view he had in mind, however they were taken on a dull day and were not really suitable to paint from. In any case, I much prefer to paint on location and use my own photographs if necessary.

I went to find the spot that the client had in mind of the Needle’s Eye but I’d didn’t check the tides before setting off. It was high tide when I arrived, so it was not possible to paint from the view which the client had in mind. I decided to take advantage of the good weather and after exploring the area, I did a sketch book study from some rocks on the other side. I had to finish the study in my studio as waves were starting to land on my paint box!

Two days later, the weather was perfect, so after checking when low tide was, I arrived at 1:30 pm and found a suitable rock from which to paint from which gave me a great composition of the Needle’s Eye with foreground rocks and water. In typical fashion, I did two studies, one in my leather bound sketch book, the other on a 12″ x 9″ Arches watercolour block of rough paper.

The tide was starting to come in and the paint was taking too long to dry, so I had to finish the larger painting from the warmth of my studio, however I did manage to complete the sketch book study in situ. I showed the client the finished study and he was delighted. I’m going to frame it to match the other paintings he has purchased from me.

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Painting on Location

One of the most satisfying and rewarding disciplines I do as a painter is getting up early to capture the early morning light in watercolour. Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to spend a week in Norfolk over the summer with my family, following in the footsteps of some of my watercolour heros, particularly Edward Seago.
12" x 9" watercolour study of Burnham Overy Staithe

12″ x 9″ watercolour study of Burnham Overy Staithe

Burnham Overy Staithe is a painters paradise. The low lying land means you get the extremes of either low or high tide and of course the dramatic big skies which are always a challenge to paint. This particular scene was commenced about 6am at low tide with the sun attempting to break through the grey clouds which were scurrying across the sky.
As usual, I tackled two paintings, one in my sketch book, the other on a 12″ x 9″ Arches watercolour block of rough paper. The advantage of doing this is that whilst one is drying, you can crack on recording the ever changing scene with the other painting. One can keep alternating between the two, so the whole process is a very intense painting period. The sketch book study is always the more simple study, mainly because it is smaller, therefore one does not have as much space to fit in detail. There is no pencil work in either study as I prefer to “draw” with the brush directly on to the paper. This means you get a very expressive free brush stroke which brings a freshness to the work.
What I have ended up with is two, quite different renditions of the same scene which I hope to work up into a much larger painting at some point in the future. The photograph provides some valuable topographical information to supplement the watercolour studies. The challenge with the studio painting will be to retain the spontaneity of the location paintings.
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