Tag Archives: watercolour

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

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Christmas Exhibition

Alan Reed

Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Our Christmas Exhibition starts on the weekend of the 4th and 5th November 2017. The scene above of Grey Street on a bleak winter’s day in Newcastle is this years Christmas Card and is also available as an original watercolour.

The Christmas Exhibition also includes many new original watercolours and oil paintings which I’ve been working on over the last 12 months in between painting commissions. Local scenes are featured together with works inspired by our Painting Holidays in Italy. Tranquil olive groves and picturesque hilltop towns are always a delight to capture on location in my sketchbook. Then it’s a trip down memory lane in the studio as I reflect on the holiday and develop these studies into more finished paintings.

I’ve also managed to squeeze in some new cityscapes of London and and beach scenes on the island of Tiree in Scotland.

There are a number of new limited edition prints also being showcased for the first time so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Our Christmas Exhibition will continue until Saturday 23rd December 2017.

 

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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.

 

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Painting of Seaton Sluice

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Watercolour

Earlier this summer I painted a small sketchbook watercolour Painting of Seaton Sluice on location.

As well as being a family day out, it was a typical summers day in the north east, patches of blue sky with sunlight bursting through dark threatening clouds.

I decided to work the sketch up into a larger 14” x 10” studio painting on an Arches Watercolour Block which I made a video of showing the different stages. You can watch the video here on YouTube.

Alan Reed

Seaton Sluice Sketchbook Watercolour

As in the sketchbook watercolour I decided to keep the rooftops of some of the buildings white to indicate bright sunlight striking the surface. I could have used masking fluid but instead carefully painted around them using just clean water.

The water allows the first wash of Cadmium Lemon to flow quite freely around the areas I wanted to keep white so that the application of colour looks fresh and lively.

Whilst the yellow was still wet, I introduced some Raw Sienna to the party accompanied by the delightful Rose Madder for the sandy beach colours.

Again, I left a few areas of white for the waves and the sunlight dancing off the surface of the pools of water. The rough surface of the paper helped to suggest the highlights.

Using Manganese Blue, the next step was to paint in the transitory patches of blue sky that appear behind the darker clouds.

Once again, I’ve wet appropriate parts of the paper to create some soft edges to the blue and to allow this colour to flow with ease.

Whilst this was still wet, next another touch of Rose Madder to create a gentle purple just above the rooftops. Let it dry.

Now for the dangerous part! Using some purple and a mix of Paynes Grey and Lamp Black it was time to create some drama.

I wet the paper where I want the dark clouds to flow then dropped in this dark mix, pushing it about, catching the rough surface in places where the paper is dry to emphasis the cloud edges. Initially it looked really dark, but I knew it would dry lighter.

A touch of French Ultramarine helped to add further interest to the clouds. More clean water added variation to the density of the sky.

You will notice also on the video that I don’t paint over the areas of colour once I’ve applied them. Doing so tends to kill the translucency of the pigment and the wash looses its freshness. It’s best to live with the shapes you initially make rather than trying to go over them to try and improve what you’ve already done……..you probably won’t.

Back to the darker colour for the higher clouds for a greater sense of ariel perspective. You will notice that I’m also varying the angle of the brush to produce more interesting marks.

When the sky is totally dry, it was time to define the buildings perched on the horizon, a distinctive feature in a Painting of Seaton Sluice. I carefully picked out the main details like the windows and chimneys. This took a while.

Having reviewed the sky, I wasn’t totally happy with a slight cauliflower effect. I lifted it out by applying some clean water then just disturbing the surface of the paint, dabbing it off with a tissue.

The sea is a mix of French Ultramarine and turquoise, moving the brush horizontally and allowing some of the white of the paper to show through for the waves.

I was careful to get the shapes right without getting too niggely or too tight. Then introduced some purple for the shallower pools of water.

Unlike the sketch, I decided to introduce a strong foreground shadow produced by a passing cloud to keep the interest in the middle distance. I used a much more intense purple colour. I also wetted the paint beforehand to let the colour flow and to create a gentle, soft edge where the dark shadow meets the sunlit sand.

Finally, I scratched out a few further highlights of sun on the surface of the pools of water with a scalpel.

So there you have it. A small sketchbook watercolour painted on the beach inspiring this larger studio Painting of Seaton Sluice.

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Hawker Sea Fury

Alan Reed

Hawker Sea Fury

I was recently asked if I had ever painted aircraft. Two commissions from the 1980’s sprung to mind. One was from a friend who’s father was part of a Halifax Bomber crew during WW2. He was shot down and spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war.

The other commission was of a Hawker Sea Fury,  the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built. The painting was for a gentleman who’s father served on HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier from which the aircraft flew from.

These commissions were before the age of the internet, so there were very few photographs to work from that were easily accessible. In the case of the Halifax Bomber, I purchased an Airfix model, assembled it and photographed it from the angle I wanted. When it came to the finished painting I was able to add in the relevant squadron numbers to personalise the painting. My friend’s father passed away over 10 years ago but I know that he was very fond of the painting. It was proudly hung in his living room.

When it came to painting the Hawker Sea Fury I managed to find an old black and white photograph of HMS Illustrious, a number of drawings and photographs of the aircraft in various positions and some photographs of interesting cloud formations from the air. After experimenting with different compositions I decided that because the main subject was being viewed from the air, I would emphasis the airborne aspect of the Hawker Sea Fury by putting the horizon at a 45 degree angle.

Once again, I personalised the painting by giving the Hawker Sea Fury the appropriate markings. The client was delighted with his aviation painting and later commissioned another watercolour, this time a seascape depicting the Battle of Trafalgar.

If you have an idea for a painting commission then please visit our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland or website alanreed.com.

 

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Painting of Piccadilly

Alan Reed

Piccadilly, London

In 2016 I was working on a number of painting projects in London. As I was walking along Piccadilly, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight I was struck by the wonderful contrast between the warm rays of sunlight catching the opposite side of the street, the cool shadows and the way the two were being connected by shoppers darting in and out of the sun.

I had some time to spare so I dashed off a quick sketchbook watercolour knowing that it was warm enough for the paint to dry in time for my next appointment. Over the years I’ve developed a shorthand technique of rendering buildings and figures in a way which provides sufficient information to inspire me for any future studio paintings.

Once I’d knocked in the people (some of which were literally blobs of colour) I knew that this was going to work as a larger watercolour Painting of Piccadilly.

Because the main palette was Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Rose Madder and Manganese Blue, applied over a series of simple washes and non detailed shapes, I also felt that this Painting of Piccadilly would also work as a short video that might be helpful for any budding watercolourist.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Piccadilly

Obviously a few other colours have been introduced for the figures and the telephone box but essentially, like most of my paintings, I’ve kept it simple.

The Studio watercolour was painted on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Watercolour Block which is ideal for painting smaller watercolours as there is no need to stretch the paper.

The video Painting of Piccadilly shot on my iphone in my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland can now be seen on YouTube so I hope you find it helpful.

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Painting of the Angel

Alan Reed

The Angel of the North in Progress

Earlier this year I received a request to do an oil Painting of the Angel of the North. Although I have painted several paintings of the Angel since it was first erected in April 1998 the client had very specific ideas about the size, colours and view point which were completely different from my other paintings of the Angel.

All my previous works of the Angel had been in watercolour so I was excited about tackling it in oils. I suggested to the client that the painting could have more visual impact with some gold leaf on the wings. Over the years I’ve painted a number of different subjects using gold leaf and the effects can be pretty amazing. A more recent example is the scene below of Buckingham Palace from Green Park.

Oil Painting by Alan Reed

Original Fine Art Painting of Buckingham Palace from Green Park painted in oils on Gold Leaf.

I made several trips to see the Angel to get fresh reference and to remind myself just how iconic the Angel has become.

I’m always observing interesting skies and whenever possible I’ll either paint them on the spot or photograph them. In the case of sunrises and sunsets, they are more challenging to paint on location because the colours change so quickly. I searched through my library of photos and found a suitable sky for inspiration.

Alan Reed

Sunset Sky

Producing a Painting of the Angel with gold leaf involved some experimentation with the base colour of the wings so that the gold leaf had maximum impact. I decided that using the same red as the sky would work best. It would provide the right visual connection between the sky and the Angel.

Adding gold leaf demands patience and care but it’s very satisfying when you see the finished result. It’s even more satisfying when the client sees the painting for the first time and loves it!

I’ve had the Painting of the Angel hanging in our kitchen for the last few days. It’s great to see the effects of gold leaf at various times of the day under different lighting conditions. It’s a painting which is quite different from anything else I’ve painted.

I’ve now published this painting of the Angel as a  limited edition giclee print, available on paper and also hand embellished with gold leaf.

A smaller oil painting of the Angel from a different angle is now complete and is available to view at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

Alan Reed

Painting of the Angel

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Paintings of Tiree

Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree

2017 has been a very busy year for Susan and I both with business and family. Our son was married 13th May so as a way to relax after the build up to the wedding we planned a painting trip to a Scottish Island called Tiree. Some friends of ours bought a holiday cottage there called An Caladh ( meaning rest place by the sea ) so we arranged a three night stay and hoped that the weather would be favourable and that its name would live up to expectations.

As we left from Glasgow Airport in a Twin Otter we hit thick cloud so it wasn’t until we descended below cloud level that we caught our first view of this small island, only about 8 miles long. We landed on the tiny airstrip that was once used by Coastal Command during WW2 to be greeted by our friends.

First port of call was Scarinish Harbour to purchase lobsters, crabs, fresh langoustines and local steaks for our evening meals which were exquisitely prepared by Susan. Whilst these were being discussed at the local fish van I launched into my first sketchbook watercolour of the picturesque harbour set against the backdrop of an ominous sky.

Alan Reed

Tiree Lobster & Crab

 

Alan Reed

Langoustines from Tiree

Fortunately the ominous sky was more of a show than a shower so after lunch we were able to enjoy a sunlit walk along Balephil Bay where I painted the beautiful white sands. This just whetted my appetite for more beach paintings so before our evening meal I went down to Balevullin Beach only 5 minutes walk from An Caladh.

The beach is a favourite haunt for surfers and I could see why as the waves rushed in. I found a suitable vantage point and tackled two watercolours of the beach, one in my sketchbook, the other on a 12″ x 9″ Arches Block.

Alan Reed

The beach at Balevullin, high tide

The next day I returned to do another sketchbook watercolour, this time changing the format of the composition to include the foreground rocks. Due to the strong sunlight and low tide, the sea became more turquoise in colour which made for a completely different painting. I was already starting to build up a mini collection of Paintings of Tiree to be developed into more finished pieces.

Alan Reed

The beach at Balevullin, Tiree

The pattern for the weather was rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon and great sunsets in the evening so on the Monday morning I was confined to painting a view from one of the windows of An Caladh. The distant white houses highlighted against the threatening sky and the palm tree made for an interesting composition.

Alan Reed

View from a window, An Caladh, Tiree

Producing Paintings of Tiree is just one of the many activities I enjoyed during our three days on the island.

Did I mention the bike rides, watching thirty seals playing very close to the shore of Balephetrish Beach, wonderful walks and spotting very large hares, feasting on local produce, bird watching and a visit to the museum about Skerryvore Lighthouse?

As we took off, the skies were clear so we were able to enjoy stunning views of the inner Hebrides including Staffa, Mull and Iona, a reminder of some of the paintings I have produced in the past of these islands.

Visit alanreed.com to get updates on new Paintings of Tiree.

Alan Reed

Tiree Sunset

 

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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

 

 

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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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