Tag Archives: Umbria

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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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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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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

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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.

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Painting Holiday

Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Demonstrating how to paint in the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine

We have just returned from another successful Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy. Six of our guests from our Painting Holiday in 2014 joined us again this year and  all nine guests hope to return in 2016.

The venue this year was the recently restored church Chiesa del Carmine, a building that was in ruins which I first painted on location back in 2004. I never dreamed that one day I would have the privilege of painting in, what is now, beautifully landscaped gardens.

The accommodation itself is stunning and is the perfect place to chill out and relax. There are plenty of subjects to paint in and around the property (which we did) but we also enjoyed a couple of day trips out and about.

The first was the small hilltop town Todi, just south of Perugia. We based ourselves in the piazza and painted the architecture before enjoying a delicious pizza at a nearby restaurant. 

 

Alan Reed Painting

Watercolour Sketchbook Study of Todi, Umbria

 

After lunch we continued painting the town, this time from a vantage point where we could tackle the terracotta roofs and countryside.

The second day trip was to the market at Umbertide where guests enjoyed wandering about in the warm sunshine followed by lunch in Gubbio, a larger town that boasts the remains of a Roman Teatro and a network of typical Umbrian street scenes.

The painting guests tackled a rather challenging stone fountain, appropriately named Fountain of Madness.

I too had a go painting the fountain but also painted a sketchbook watercolour of the nearby street, capturing the contrasts between the sunlit areas and shadows.

The owners of Chiesa del Carmine offered a 250 Euro prize to the best painting of the week that captured the venue. All the painting guests spent considerable time tackling what was a very difficult subject and the results were not easy to judge. We had an informal critique at the end of the week of all the paintings produced where I also announced the winning painting which will go on display in Chiesa del Carmine.

Alan Reed Painting

Sketchbook Watercolour of Street scene in Gubbio

We’ve already booked the same venue our Painting Holiday next May but this time over two weeks as many more folk have expressed an interest in coming. Please contact for further information.

 

 

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Painting Holiday in Umbria

Near Pienza, Evening Sunlight

Near Pienza, Evening Sunlight

There are only 2 double rooms and a single room left on our Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy 9-16th May 2015.

I’m really looking forward to what promises to be a lovely time of painting “en plein air” in and around a beautiful part of Italy.

Guests will have a fabulous opportunity to brush up on their painting skills whilst enjoying a lovely spring break in the glorious Umbrian countryside.

I recently demonstrated to my Friday watercolour class how to paint the Tuscan landscape using a series of simple washes to create depth and mood. This was done over two paintings. One was of Val d’Orcia early morning. The other was a scene near Pienza capturing the early evening sunlight. I’ll be planning similar exercises for the folk coming on the Painting Holiday in Umbria.

Guests will also be able to enjoy 7 Night Luxury 5* accommodation with heated swimming pool at the enchanting Italian hideaway, 5* luxurious Chiesa del Carmine.

We will have the opportunity to explore the surrounding villages and towns, as well as enjoying ample time to capture the stunning scenery surrounding Chiesa del Carmine.

After enjoying a delicious breakfast together at the Villa, a typical day will either be spent visiting one of the nearby towns like Cortona, Assisi, Spello or Perugia, or we will spend the day painting around Chiesa del Carmine or Casa San Gabriel.
Non painting guests are also very welcome and can either join us on days out or explore for themselves the beautiful surroundings. We will endeavour to meet your every requirements.

Antognolla is a championship golf course only 10 mins drive away and golf clubs are available.

Evenings are convivial gatherings, with pre-dinner drinks taken on the terrace, followed by a delicious Italian home cooked evening meal by our own chef either at Chiesa del Carmine or at a nearby restaurant. Breakfast and evening meals are Included in the price.

Guests will need to organize their own flights and car hire. However, it may be possible to share the cost of car hire with other guests.

If you would like to find out more, then please contact Alan or Susan on 01661 871 800  or email.

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Painting Holiday, Italy

Watercolour Sketch

Sketchbook Watercolour of Perugia

There are still a few places available for our Painting Holiday, Italy May 2015. This year we’ve booked the luxurious 5* Chiesa del Carmine set in a picturesque valley in Umbria.

Susan and I first stayed in this stunning valley at  Casa San Gabriel  (which boasts commanding views looking towards Assisi) back in 2004. The owners, David and Chrissie, commissioned me to do a painting of their properties which had been lovingly restored into holiday homes. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we’ve kept coming back ever since!

The dates for this Painting Holiday, Italy are 9th-16th May 2015. Six of the guests from last year have re-booked and this is what one couple had to say about the trip.

“My wife and I decided to go on a painting and sketching holiday last year organized by Alan Reed.

The location was in the Italian region of Umbria. Our expectations were high but were far exceeded by the actual experience.

A combination of beautiful scenery, superb accommodation and professional guidance made it an unforgettable event”.

Thank you Alan. Léon and Linda.

Susan and I will be taking guests out to some of the nearby towns and villages so that the painters can learn how to paint “en plein air”. I’ll be leading by example through my sketchbook watercolours and larger studies painted on Arches Watercolour Blocks.

I’ll also be showing the benefit of sketching in moleskine sketchbooks to improve ones drawing techniques.

Non painting guests will be able to explore the places we visit knowing that Susan will be on hand to translate any Italian if required. There will also be time to chill out in the beautiful grounds of Chiesa del Carmine or go for relaxing walks in the valley. Included in the price is the accommodation, breakfasts and evening meals.

To find out more, please contact Susan or myself.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on either of the links and buy the product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

 

 

 

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