Tag Archives: Umbrian

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 Italy

Over the last few years I’ve received a number of commissions from clients who have a home in Italy and who have wanted a painting of their property. Each building has been quite different in terms of size and location but they have all had their own distinct charm and appeal.

In 2007 I was commissioned by an English couple to do a painting of their home near a small, compact Umbrian village called Panicale, which overlooks Lake Trasimeno. We stayed in an old Villa called Villa Le Mura which was being restored by its owners. In the evening we met up with our clients that evening for a lovely meal at Masolino Albergo Ristorante which served us authentic Umbrian cuisine.

The following morning I woke up before 7am and drove straight to the property to catch the early morning light. I was just in time. I found a suitable vantage point in between some olive trees which gave a delightful aspect of the house nestling in its own little valley. Initially it was shrouded by a shadow being cast by the hill behind me but as soon as the sun rose above the horizon it was bathed in a warm golden hue.

I quickly embarked on a small sketchbook study in a tiny leather bound book purchased direct from the Fabriano Factory in Le Marches from a previous trip and whilst the paint was drying I took a number of photographs of the rapidly changing early morning light. The owners served me a very welcome and much appreciated coffee before I crashed on with another watercolour study, this time of the olive grove which surrounded their home.

I returned to capture the evening light but we decided that the mornings work was going to be sufficient to enable me to do the finished painting, a 21″ x 14″ watercolour which the client was delighted with.

Susan and I will be returning to Italy in September for a painting project in Florence and will be happy to meet up with anyone wishing to discuss any possible commissions of properties, holiday homes or favourite views, places to paint in Italy.

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