Tag Archives: Venice

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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The Artist

Painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Original Watercolour of Jebel Akhdar, Oman

In 2013 I won “The Artist Prize” in the Royal Watercolour Society competition with my painting of Jebel Akhdar, Oman. The prize was a 3 page feature in “The Artist” Magazine where the writer Susie Hodge interviewed me.

I’m regularly asked questions by art students about my working methods and how I started off as an artist so I thought it may be helpful for me to post some of my answers. Here are the first 10 answers.

  1. Although I had seen my father use watercolours and I had always admired Rowland Hilder’s paintings featured in the Artist’s Britain Calendars in the 1970’s it wasn’t until the age of 15 that I first tried them out at school through my art teacher. I immediately fell in love with the way one could achieve different colours by laying one wash on top of another. I enjoyed art at school, particularly when I came second in an art competition at the age of 9. With the prize money I purchased some poster paints which I then used to win first prize in another art competition the following year with a painting of Bamburgh Castle.
  2. There was never really any doubt in my mind that I wanted to become an artist, particularly with my father Ken Reed) being an artist and seeing my grandfather paint too.

    Alan Reed

    Winter Landscape after Rowland Hilder

  3. I left school at 16 and went to art college in Newcastle upon Tyne studying Graphic Design and illustration. At college we were introduced to lots of different mediums. None of the lecturers showed me how to use watercolour though. I recall starting to teach myself one summer holiday by studying Rowland Hilder’s paintings. I showed my efforts to my lecturers the following term and they were very encouraging. Some of them actually bought my paintings. I had my first exhibition as an art student in our local library and sold all 12 paintings exhibited. I started to receive commissions from the exhibition.
  4. A couple of years after leaving college I decided to go self employed as a full time artist at the age of 22 using the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. To be eligible you had to be unemployed for several weeks then open up a business account with £1000 in. The government would then pay you £40 a week for a year. I guess 99% of the businesses would have failed but it was a great help to me. I also did a couple of days part time lecturing in art and design around the North East which was an additional income. I gave up the lecturing around 2004 although I still do 3 or 4 watercolour demonstrations to various art clubs around the North East.
  5. The time I spend on doing a painting varies. If I’m painting “plein air” it will take an hour or two. I might spend a little time in the studio to finish it off if required. Studio paintings will generally take a day to two weeks depending on the size, subject matter and interruptions!

    Alan Reed

    Sketchbook Watercolour of the Arch of Titus

  6. If I’m painting a landscape or cityscape in watercolour I will use a combination of sketchbook studies painted on location and my own photographs. I sometimes have to work off the clients photographs on some commissioned work. If I’m painting a portrait in oils, then I much prefer painting from life over a period of 4-6 sittings rather than photographs.
  7. Choice of scenes will depend on if it’s a commission or for an exhibition. The client will often be guided by my own thoughts and ideas. I usually get an idea straight away of what’s going to work. When painting a landscape or cityscape, I’m wanting the viewer to feel as though they are a part of the scene before them, so creating mood, emotion and atmosphere are very much a part of my design.
  8. I will use artist’s license whenever necessary, sometimes leaving out cars, road signs and certain figures in a cityscape or adding in figures. I’ll often change the sky or add foreground shadows to create drama in a landscape.

    San Gimignano

    San Gimignano, Evening Sunlight

  9. I love to capture the hustle and bustle of city life with interesting architecture, particularly cities like Edinburgh, Bath, Newcastle, Florence and Venice. Coastal scenes like the West Coast of Scotland and Norfolk are also a favourite. I’m enjoying portraiture at the moment too.

10. Capturing mood and atmosphere, the fleeting moment of light striking a building or the first rays of sunlight in a Tuscan landscape really appeals to me.

Also trying to describe someone’s personality and psychology in a portrait is a really enjoyable challenge.

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Faded Prints

Alan Reed

Correct colours against a faded print

I have been having my original paintings published as limited edition prints since 1993. Initially it was through a publisher that was based in Edinburgh called Di Rollo Ltd. The publisher would organise the printing and ensure that the colours were as close to the original watercolour as possible. I would make the final approval then sign and number each print.

I also began to publish some of my work too and would over see the whole process. In the 1990’s all my prints were printed through a 4 colour lithographic process. In the last 15 years or so, the giclee method of printing has become much more popular with artists. The popularity with publishers and artists has grown for several reasons:

  1. The set up costs are not as high as the lithographic prints.
  2. Although the unit cost per print through giclee is significantly more than a lithographic print, publishers don’t have to print the whole edition in one go, so they don’t have to carry huge amounts of stock.
  3. Publishers can test the market with just one or two prints rather than being left with hundreds of prints if the image is not as popular as expected.
  4. The quality of the inks is far superior through the giclee process than with the lithographic prints so you are less likely to get faded prints.

Today I still sell both lithographic prints and giclee prints, however all my new prints are giclee because of the reasons outlined above.

Since my first paintings were published, I’ve been able to monitor the light fastness of the prints as I’ve seen them hanging on the walls of family, friends and clients. I can conclude that if the prints are hung away from sunlight, the colours remain strong. My sister in law has at least six of my prints which I see on a regular basis. She has been careful to hang them away from strong light. Only one has faded which was close to a large window.

Over the last few years, several clients have brought to me faded prints which they have hung in direct sunlight. The most recent is this lithographic print of the Grand Canal, Venice. I’ve recently replaced it with a giclee print for the client. Indeed, the lithographic version is no longer available, only the giclee.

Even though it is the full responsibility of the client to ensure that ALL their artwork is hung away from strong light, I like to show goodwill with any customer who has a faded print of one of my paintings, even if it is not one that I actually published.

I can replace faded prints at a trade price with a giclee print and I will sign and number it the same as the faded one. I can also put the new print in the frame for a small charge of £20- £30 depending on the size of the frame.

If you feel as though one of your Alan Reed prints has faded, please contact me on 01661 871 800 or email art@alanreed.com

 

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Frank Henry Mason

Frank Henry Mason

Pyramids at Gizza, Cairo

I’ve been a long admirer of the Marine Painter and Poster Artist Frank Henry Mason. Over the years one of my clients has collected Frank Henry Mason’s work and I’ve had the privilage of organising new conservation mounts for the paintings to go into.

In a blog post from 2012 I wrote about Frank Henry Mason which was picked up by a gentleman called Edward Yardley. “Ed” had written about Frank Henry Mason back in 1996 and to cut a long story short, I was able to introduce him to my client. The result of their meeting is a lovely new book about Frank Mason by Edward Yardley and a series of major exhibitions of Frank Henry Mason’s art over the next few months.

The first exhibition opened last night at Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square. It opens to the public Saturday 21st March and runs until the 30th May 2015. I went to the preview evening and I have to say, it’s probably the finest exhibition I’ve seen in the North East since the Winslow Homer Exhibition in 1988 at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Sunderland.

Frank Henry Mason’s varied artistic skills are clearly evident in his delightful watercolours of sailing ships, fishing vessels, places like Venice, Portugal and the North East Coast. There are also dramatic seascapes depicting World War 1 & 2 navel conflicts, his carefully considered etchings and of course his stunning railway posters.

One of my favourites is this beautifully executed watercolour and gouache painting of Pyramids at Gizza seen in what looks like early evening light. The limited palate has been tastefully chosen to render the fading light. Flicks of red, ultramarine and pink add subtle sparkle to the scene. The crescent moon hanging off centre in the sky, just above the towering palm trees is a small but crisp contrast to the smooth, skilfully rendered washes for the sky.

Make no mistake, Frank Henry Mason was a very fine painter. This exhibition is an absolute must. If that wasn’t enough, another exhibition opens Saturday 21st March at Darlington Railway Museum of Railway Posters and Carriage Prints by Frank Henry Mason. Both exhibitions run until 30th May.

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Susan in St Mark’s Church

Susan Reed, Portrait in Oils

Susan in St Mark’s Church, Venice

In September 2012 Susan and I travelled to Venice to work on a number of painting projects, one of which was this oil painting of Susan in the Basilica San Marco. On the 7th April 1985 Susan experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity on her own as she cried out to God in the famous church in St Mark’s Square. The painting depicts Susan quietly giving thanks to God for His goodness towards her since that day in St Mark’s Church.

Susan and I spent time together in St Mark’s Church so that I could do a small sketchbook watercolour to capture the colours and mood of the interior which you can see in a previous blog post. I returned the following day to do some detailed studies of some the architectural elements of the interior so I could refer to them in the finished painting. Back in my studio Susan assumed the same pose so that I could paint her from life in oils.

The original painting can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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The Girl in the Red Coat

Granddaughter Emily

The Girl in the Red Coat, Venice

Although we did see some rain when we were in Venice in September 2012, it was nothing compared to the extraordinary flooding St Mark’s Square has seen in recent months. I was able to get the perfect reference for this new limited edition print titled “The Girl in the Red Coat, Venice”. It features my eldest granddaughter Emily dashing through the elements holding her grandmother’s hand.

The new print can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland and is available in three sizes.

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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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Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Paintings of Italy have always proved popular with those folk who love all things Italian. My limited edition prints of Tuscany, Venice and Umbria continue to sell consistently well with folk buying online and from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

Around 1998 I decided to add Rome to my collection of Italian cities and visited several times to produce a range of on the spot watercolours from which to work from. One such scene was the picturesque Spanish Steps. At about 9:30am I found a suitable fountain from which to rest my watercolour block on and began to paint the steps which were virtually deserted. By the time I had finished the painting, you could hardly see the steps for the people sitting on them, enjoying the warm October sun.

The scene above is the studio painting which I’ve since reproduced as a limited edition print. The location study can also be seen at my Studio & Gallery. Please contact for further information.

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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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