Tag Archives: Umbria

Paintings of Umbria

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Via dell’Orso

When producing Paintings of Umbria I always try to articulate in paint the distinctive characteristics of this fascinating region in Italy which my wife and I have been visiting since 2002. We’ve grown to love and appreciate Umbria’s wonderful hilltop towns, its food and wine. Through our reedartholidays we’ve been able to share our knowledge with many others who regularly join us. Our trip in June 2018 is already fully booked so we are taking expressions of interest for a possible trip in September 2018.

On a recent Painting Holiday to Italy we took our guests to Perugia, a large town in Umbria which has lots of narrow streets winding their way to the top. I noticed this particular street which was mainly in shadow apart from a shaft of sunlight breaking out to catch different aspects of the architecture in the distance.

I quickly whipped out my sketchbook and did this small watercolour making sure that I captured not only the sunlight and shadows but also the figure to provide a sense of scale and interest. By the time I had finished there was another strong shaft of midday sunlight hitting the top of the archway I was under on the right hand side.

I was recently doing a watercolour demonstration for a North East Club and decided to do a much larger watercolour inspired by the sketchbook study. In the demonstration I only got as far as the first two washes. The first was a mix of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. Once that dried I went over parts of that first wash with some Rose Madder.

For the benefit of those attending the demonstration I decided to video me finishing off the rest of the Painting of Umbria which you can watch on YouTube. Most of the video is a time lapse and it doesn’t include all the painting work I did but it does give you an idea of how I tackled the main areas and some of the important details.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Via dell”Orso, Umbria

You can see in the video that I’ve been very direct with the brush marks to keep them lively and fresh. I’ve also dropped in some more Rose Madder to capture parts of the stone work being warmed by the sunlight.

Once the shadow areas have dried you can see how there is some lovely granulation of the pigment which provides some interesting texture to the stonework.

I used a much smaller brush to start adding in a few areas of detail like the windows, stonework and bricks. I kept the original sketchbook study close at hand to make sure I didn’t fall in to the trap of just copying the reference photograph which I use for accuracy.

I always let the shadow areas dry before going in with the details like the dark doorways and I like leave some of the first washes to show through to bring some light and sparkle to parts of the painting which could otherwise become lifeless.

The bottom of the street is sunlit and this became the focal point of the painting, not just because of the warmer, lighter colours but also because of the figure making its way down the steep hill.

I went into the shadows with some even darker tones for further detail and depth. And it was back to using the big brush to avoid going to fiddly. You can also see in the video that I’m not just using the tip of the brush but also its side, using it to catch the very rough texture of the paper, which is Fabriano Esporzione, a beautiful handmade paper.

A few more details were added before making the decision to lift out some of the colour where the sun is just above the tops of the buildings. This emphasised the sense of sunlight breaking out to create the shaft of light cutting through the dark, slightly foreboding shadows.

So there you have it. A large watercolour of Via Dell “Orso in Perugia, Umbria available from www.alanreed.com and from our Gallery in Ponteland.

You can see more watercolour Paintings of Umbria and painting videos on alanreed.com

Comments { 0 }

Painting of Todi

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Todi, Umbria

On our painting holidays in Italy we take our guests to the various hilltop towns that are a feature of Umbria. This sketchbook watercolour was painted on location in a picturesque town called Todi which we have been to on a number of occasions.

Using a combination of the sketchbook watercolour, this simple pen drawing and photographs I decided to paint the scene as a larger A4 Watercolour Painting of Todi on hand made deckled edged paper for one of my painting videos.

Alan Reed

Sketch book pen drawing of Todi, Umbria

I like the colours of this watercolour sketch of Colle di Val d’Elsa in Tuscany which are more autumnal so I  intensified the colours from the sketchbook watercolour. I remembered the time when we visited Todi in the autumn one year.

Alan Reed

Watercolour of Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany

The first step after drawing out the scene in pencil was to wet the paper and get down a quick wash of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow. This set the tone and mood for all the other colours. I kept the yellow light in the sky so that when I added the blue, it didn’t end up looking green. However, it is distinctly more intense over the buildings.

Next wash was Rose Madder. Again, I wet the sky to avoid hard edges and to create some lighter patches for the clouds. However the area where the buildings are was dry because I wanted a few areas of yellow to come through in places to create interest and variation.

I recently purchased some new brushes from Rosemary & Co so I used a size 14 Series 344 to apply some clean water up to the edges of the buildings so that when I painted the sky, the colour flowed freely up to the rooftops without me having to paint round them and run the risk of the paint drying to quickly and end up with streaky brush marks.

So using the same brush I painted in some French Ultramarine over different parts of the sky, allowing some of the Rose Madder to show through to represent cloud shapes.

As I was painting nearer the buildings, I switched blues to Manganese Blue which added further interest, fusing into the French Ultramarine. A tad more Rose Madder helped the whole blending process.

The same Rosemary & Co brush is great for this type of painting. I just worked my way around the different buildings, catching the surface of the paper at times so that the painting retained the fluidity of the sketchbook study. The darker Rose Madder colour that I painted at the start, suddenly didn’t look to dark when  up against the darker shadow colour.

This is where the brush came into its own, large enough to cover the bigger areas but having a fine enough point for detail.

A number 4 Rosemary & Co brush from the same series was required for some of the smaller shadow areas.

When the shadows areas dried, I started to work on even finer detail, picking out all the windows with a very dark mix of purple, Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey.

I wasn’t being too fiddly with these details, just sufficient accuracy to represent the windows, eaves and chimneys.
Once I completed all these finer details, which took more than an hour, I brought the painting to conclusion by painting in the foliage to break up the interlocking shapes of all the buildings.

I mixed a nice green made up of Cadmium Lemon, Paynes Grey with possibly the smallest touch of Winsor Green.

Alan Reed

Watercolour Painting of Todi, Umbria

I was back to the size 14 again, this time using mainly the side of the brush rather than the point to represent lots of branches. I used a wet on dry technique, flicking the brush over the surface of the paper to create the effect of lots of foliage.

For the smaller areas of foliage I used the size 4 brush again, going in with a much deeper green, probably more Paynes Grey than green for the shadows. I used the same technique of dragging the brush to create texture.

If you would like to learn more about how to produce a Painting of Todi or similar, why not join us on one of our Painting Holidays in Umbria, Italy.

Watch the Video Painting of Todi here.

Visit www.alanreed.com or www.reedartholidays.com to find out more.

 

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 }

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

Comments { 0 }

Paintings of Umbria

Alan Reed

Via Roma, Montone

It’s the time of year when I’m busy working on commissions and fitting in time to paint new works for my Christmas exhibition. One of my latest works is this street scene of Via Roma in Montone, Umbria available as a limited edition print.

When we were taking our guests on the Painting Holidays in Italy this year, we spent an afternoon in the delightful hilltop town, Montone. It’s a lovely place with plenty of subject matter to paint. I did a couple of watercolours “en plein air” which were the inspiration for this A4 painting on deckled edged paper.

Over the years, my Paintings of Umbria have resonated with many customers, particularly those who have properties there. I’ve been very fortunate to have received a number of commissions to go out and paint original paintings of clients homes throughout this beautiful region, described as the “Green Heart of Italy”.

Often with my Paintings of Umbria, I deliberately choose to use a limited palatte to create mood and atmosphere. I will refer back to my studies painted on location to ensure that I retain the lively brush marks and looseness of the original sketch. This studio painting of Via Roma follows that pattern. There’s a strong feeling of light and movement running throughout the painting, even in the shadow areas.

This is one of several Paintings of Umbria that will go on display for my Christmas Exhibition later on this year. Please sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on new paintings and events.

 

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 }

Learn to paint

Alan Reed

Watercolour, View from San Gimignano

The guests that come on our painting holidays in Italy learn to paint, mainly in watercolour. I’ve been teaching various aspects of art and design for over 30 years. Throughout this time I’ve learnt that there are no real short cuts to getting good at painting, however there are various things you can do to speed up the learning process.

On our last painting holiday in Umbria, I was impressed by the piano playing of one of our guests who would entertain us on the grand piano at Chiesa del Carmine. I found myself saying, not for the first time, “I wish I could play the piano”. However, on this occasion, I decided to do something about it.

Watercolour by Alan Reed

Leon Playing the Grand Piano at Chiesa del Carmine

When we returned, I went to J.C. Windows in the Central Arcade in Newcastle and purchased a digital piano. I had no previous experience of playing a musical instrument other than playing about on the old piano at my grandmother’s house when I was child, so I knew that if I was going to take this seriously, I would need to get lessons and to practise on a daily basis.

Since the summer of 2015 I’ve been taking lessons once a week and have tried to practise for about an hour a day. When you are a complete beginner in any new skill, you really do benefit from receiving instruction from an expert. Within 6 months of purchasing the piano I had learnt a number of pieces and I’m starting to sight read music. It’s like learning a new language, very difficult at first, but gradually you start to understand what you are meant to be doing.

If you want to learn to paint, then you will benefit from taking lessons from an expert who is good at teaching, however you must also practise on a regular basis. I’m always impressed at how quickly my students have improved when they have attended one of my 6 week watercolour classes, or even on a one week painting holiday. I know that further improvement will happen if they are sketching regularly. You’re better off drawing or painting every day for thirty minutes to an hour than once a week for several hours if you really want to learn to paint.

We still have spaces on week two of our painting holiday in Umbria, Italy 4th – 11th June 2016. Please contact reedartholidays for details.

Comments { 0 }

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.

Comments { 1 }

Sketchbook Painting

Sketchbook watercolour

View from the Relais il Canalicchio

Our first trip to to the region Umbria in Italy was in the spring of 2002. We stayed at the Relais il Canalicchio which boasts commanding views over the Umbrian countryside. In fact the owners of the hotel commissioned me to do a painting of the Relais which is available as a limited edition print.

On one of our trips out to explore the region we ventured further afield and visited the Fabriano paper factory in Le Marche. I couldn’t resist purchasing several leather bound sketchbooks containing their beautiful hand made paper. It’s a delight to paint on.  You initially feel a little scared to paint in these books in case you mess up!

I did pluck up the courage though and one evening I painted the view from out window, a simple composition of a small farm building silhouetted against the warmth of the spring evening light.

These are the kind of subjects that I would be encouraging guests on our painting holidays in Italy to paint. I would be leading by example but also overseeing their work, deciding on the right composition, advising on choice of colours, sequence of washes and of course making sure that they don’t spoil the painting by overworking it.

Nowadays there are some excellent sketchbooks available in the UK and online containing good quality paper to paint on. I also recommend the Arches watercolour blocks for slightly larger paintings. A 14″ x 10″ or 12″ x 9″ containing rough paper which is small enough to pop into a bag with the rest of your painting gear.

I usually have a range of materials available from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland. To find out more about our painting holidays in Italy visit reedartholidays.com

Comments { 0 }

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 }