Tag Archives: watercolour

20th Anniversary

 

20th Anniversary

Bamburgh Castle, Early Morning Walk

April marks the 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com It’s hard for me to believe that my domain name dates back to the 20th Century! I knew very  little about the world wide web in those days but it only took a few weeks for me to realise the value of having a website to promote my business. A client called into the gallery that we had at the time in the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre in Newcastle. He wanted to see a watercolour of Iona which he had noticed on my website. Understandably he wanted to see it for real rather than buying it from a jpeg. Once he saw it, he made the purchase.

This was the start of numerous online sales, commissions and visits to our gallery from clients from all over the world.

Morning Eye, 20th Anniversary

Morning Eye

It never ceases to amaze me how people find my paintings. The client who purchased the original watercolour above titled Morning Eye came across my work whilst working on the Caspian Sea. He turned up at our gallery and ended up making a number of purchases.

An Italian working in Canada came across my original watercolour of the Pantheon whilst searching for paintings of ancient Rome. After making the initial purchase online he went on to commission several large watercolours of Rome including views of aqueducts and the Roman Forum.

20th Anniversary

Sketchbook of Umbria

Posting some of my sketchbook studies of Umbria, Italy on my website back in 2003 resulted in a whole series of fascinating commissions of Italian holiday homes and was also the birth of our Painting Holidays in Italy.

The World Wide Web has opened a door for me into other countries further afield including Oman. Susan and I have fond memories of our visits to Oman for various painting commissions ranging from Arabian Dhows and ancient mountain villages and forts.

Alan Reed 20th Anniversary

Dhows, Sur, Oman

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com being on the World Wide Web we are having an Easter Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 9:30 – 5pm

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Hand Made Card

 

Hand Made Card by Alan Reed

Hand Made Cards

Today is our 26th Wedding Anniversary. Once again my main gift to Susan has been a Hand Made Card painted in watercolour. She now has quite a sizeable collection of cards that every so often we will browse through and reflect on. The card itself will often be of a place that we have visited in the past year and the words inside will pertain to that particular trip.

It’s not just Susan that receives a Hand Made Card by myself. Over the years I’ve given various family members and close friends this kind of gift which I know is really appreciated. Of course, what they are actually receiving is an original watercolour which is worth £300 to £500.

A Hand Made Card that captures a place or moment that is shared by a loved one is a wonderful way of celebrating a special anniversary, birthday or memory. They don’t have to be tucked away in a drawer. Framed up and hung on the wall, the Hand Made Card becomes a valued piece of artwork to cherish forever.

Hand Made Card Alan Reed

Hand Made Card of Venice

Last year my second grandson Harry was born. His Christmas present was a Hand Made Card painted in watercolour of the canal in Venice where his dad dropped his toy cars into the canal when he was a little boy living in Italy. Susan and I went to Venice last year with our son Oliver and his wife Sophie. We went to see the home where they used to live and I did a sketchbook watercolour of the scene. Inside I wrote inside the story which I know Harry will read when he grows up.

Someone once said that “LOVE” is spelt T-I-M-E. Spending time with someone, which is the most precious thing we have, is a wonderful way of expressing love. Commissioning a Hand Made Card or an original painting of a place or person that holds dear memories its another beautiful way of cherishing those times together.

If you would like to commission a small Hand Made Card or a larger original painting then please visit our website or call in to our Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019

Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Lago di Trasimeno

Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019.

Our Painting Holiday for June 2019 is fully booked. We have now booked a second week for another Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019 September 21st – 28th. Already the spaces are filling quickly.

Guests will once again have the opportunity to travel around Italy with Susan and I and learn how to capture in watercolour scenes of this beautiful country. The venue is the stunning Chiesa del Carmine, a delightful, ancient church that has been tastefully restored to the highest standards right in the heart of Umbria.

You will enjoy 5* luxury for 7 nights, where we will take you to picturesque hilltop towns and villages, make pizzas, wine tasting and much more. For some of our guests, 2019 will be their 5th and 6th time with us. Non painters are more than welcome and can join in with everything mentioned above, to walking, swimming in the heated pool or enjoy a round of golf at the championship course Antognolla.

 Painters from absolute beginners to advanced will have specialist tuition from myself where I draw on my 34 years professional teaching experience. Places like Perugia, Cortona, Gubbio, Lake Trasimeno, Montepulciano, Assisi, Spello, Montone and Todi are a delight to visit and to have a go at painting. Not only that, the grounds of Chiesa del Carmine and the Carmine estate offers plenty of inspiration with it’s vineyards and olive trees for those relaxing days painting in the warmth and tranquility of the countryside.
Alan Reed Painting Holiday

Sketchbook Watercolour of Montepulciano

Evenings are convivial gatherings, with pre-dinner drinks taken on the terrace, followed by a delicious gourmet Italian evening meal lovingly prepared by our own Italian chefs.
In 2017 we received this lovely review about the wine tasting from one of our guests who came again this year and booked up for 2019 as soon as she returned home. To find out more about our Painting Holiday, New Dates for 2019 September 21st – 28th please contact myself or Susan on 01661 871 800 or art@alanreed.com

This was our first Watercolour Painting Holiday, but not our first wine-tasting! This time, however, it was a very different experience. The invitation to accept this late addition to our itinerary for the week was inspired. What a wonderful way to begin the week after an easy day’s travelling. Instantly, Chiesa del Carmine became more than an exquisite place to stay. The wine-tasting experience, delivered on the terrace by a well-informed Isabella, transformed the venue into a living, organic establishment where the surrounding vines and olive groves were testament to produce of the highest quality. It felt as though we were enjoying a most intimate insight into the workings of a vineyard. Isabella made it so interesting and entertaining. She was charming and welcoming, keen to answer questions, and informed in her knowledge of the intricacies of the wines we tasted. A light buffet of Italian cheeses and meats complemented the occasion, and this was one which we would happily repeat should we be privileged to visit Chiesa de Carmine a second time.

 

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Painting an Olive Tree

Painting an Olive Tree

Sketchbook Watercolour Painted in Umbria

One of the subjects I often get our guests on our Painting Holidays to have a go at is Painting an Olive Tree.

The grounds of Chiesa del Carmine are full of them. They are not too difficult to draw compared to other subjects so it’s relatively easy for the guests to spend a couple hours sketching to come up with a result they are pleased with.

On our last Painting Holiday in June this year I made a video of me Painting an Olive Tree. It was a small sketchbook watercolour painted in one of the leather bound sketchbooks that I’ve made containing some quite heavily textured watercolour paper.

Over the years I’ve often worked my sketchbook watercolours of olive trees into larger Studio paintings, making sure that I retain the spontaneity of the original study.

My interest in olive trees began when we first visited Umbria, Italy in 2002. I’d purchased some delightful leather bound sketchbooks from the Fabriano Paper Factory in the Marche region of Italy. I couldn’t wait to christen them with some watercolours and began by painting various scenes around the hotel we were staying. This was the start of a new creative process for me, painting directly with a brush onto hand made watercolour paper with no preparatory drawing in pencil.  Of course I’d painted on location in watercolour many times before, but it had always been on watercolour blocks. Also this was the first time I had not drawn out the scene before hand in pencil. I now have numerous leather-bound sketchbooks containing a wonderful record of our travels both here in the UK and overseas.

Throughout the months of July and August I am displaying my sketchbooks at our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. Recently a couple of our guests who had been on two Painting Holidays with us, commissioned a watercolour inspired by one of my sketchbook studies. The subject was Perugia, one of the places we had taken them to. They wanted a painting to remind them of the lovely holidays they had been on. They have also re-booked for 2019 which means that our week in June 2019 is fully booked.

Please feel free to visit our gallery to look through my sketchbooks to see if there is something I’ve painted that reminds you of that special place that you have fond memories of. Best to telephone 01661 871 800 first to make sure we’re open.

 

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Great North Exhibition 2018

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Grey’s Monument, Newcastle

 

The Great North Exhibition 2018 started at Newcastle’s spectacular quayside on the evening of Friday 22nd June. It heralded the start of 80 days of brilliant events, activities, performances and exhibitions celebrating art, design and innovation. I was unable to attend the launch however when I turned up to the Junction 42 offices this morning in Newcastle I couldn’t help but notice the brightly coloured banners bathed in early morning sunshine that were wrapped around Greys Monument.

The banners contain declarations like “no starving children” and “abolition of privilege”.

Great North Exhibition 2018 is a celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit which has three starting points, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, the Sage Gateshead and the Great North Museum. These starting points also include the Get North Water Sculpture and the Discovery Museum which has Stephenson’s Rocket.

Starting on 30th June at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, I will be embracing the Great North Exhibition 2018 theme of celebrating art, design and design by exhibiting some of my finest paintings.  I will also be describing to visitors my creative process which will include a tactile display of my leather bound hand made sketchbooks.

 

Great North Exhibition 2018

Leather Bound Sketchbooks

 

The pages of the sketchbooks record many of my painting travels, not just around the region but overseas in countries like Italy and Oman. Without doubt, these “en plein air” studies in watercolour are amongst my most precious possessions and are the catalyst for many of my studio paintings. Just last week a couple who have been on two of our painting holidays in Italy commissioned a watercolour of Perugia from one of my sketchbook watercolours of the Umbrian town.

My Summer Exhibition also includes recent oil paintings of the Angel of the North and the Tyne Bridge which have been embellished with 22 ct gold leaf and take on a different look and feel depending on the light.

If you would like to come and see the exhibition and look at the sketchbooks then it is best to contact first to make sure we are open.

 

 

 

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Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Castelluccio and Piano Grande

I was Painting Piano Grande for the first time in September 2004. I’d seen spectacular photographs of colourful flowers growing in this vast plateau in the Sibillini mountains and hoped to capture them in watercolour. Of course it was completely the wrong time of year! I needed to return in late spring, early summer.

In May we decided to see if Piano Grande could be a day trip for our Painting Holiday Guests. We’d booked two nights at Agriturismo “Il Casale degli Amici” just outside of Norcia. We found it was well located, just a few minutes drive from Norcia and 45 minutes drive from Castelluccio.

Norcia, Castelluccio and Piano Grande

Nothing could prepare us for the devastation we saw in Norcia. Susan and I were woken from our sleep when the earthquake struck just after 3:30am on the 24th August 2016. We were staying more than 50 miles away near Chiesa del Carmine. The epicentre was south east of Norcia and left 297 dead from the villages of Accumoli, Amatrice and Arquato del Tronto. We’d heard that Norcia had been hit by another earthquake on the 30th October 2016 and the damage was plain to see.

When we walked into Norcia, renowned for shops selling amazing local produce, we could see many that had closed down. A young man selling wild boar salamis and cheeses welcomed us to try them. They were delicious and a few minutes later we’d made a significant purchase!

It was so sad to see scaffolding surrounding the devastated church and many other buildings effected by the earthquakes. I remember writing about the shop signage below on a previous blog post. Tragically it is now closed.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

A Shop in Norcia

Shop Sign, Norcia, Umbria

Great Signage, Norcia, Umbria

Painting Piano Grande

After an amazing evening meal at “Il Casale degli Amici” and a great nights sleep, we set off for Piano Grande. The drive took us a little longer than usual because of damage to the roads. Several sets of traffic lights where the road was one lane held us up. The drive was spectacular, taking us through the rain clouds into bright sunshine where we were looking down onto the clouds.

We had to wait until noon to actually drive down into Piano Grande and Castelluccio because the road was closed for workmen repairing the road. This was not a problem for me. Painting Piano Grande was on my radar! Even though we’d seen poppies growing around Orvieto and Montefalco on our way, it was still too early here.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Piano Grande

 

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande

I had plenty of time to capture the few patches of snow on the Sibillini Mountains surrounding Piano Grande and the vast plateau where wonderful lentils are grown in the summer. When the road opened we had an hour to drive into Castelluccio which is sadly now a ghost town because of the earthquake. It’s going to take a while for Castelluccio to become inhabited again. It’s such a place of outstanding beauty I pray that it receives all the help it needs become a tourist destination, along with Norcia too.

 

 

 

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Painting in Italy

 

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio

 

Our next Painting Holiday at Chiesa del Carmine in Umbria in Italy is just a few weeks away. Once again we are fully booked. For some of our guests it will their fourth and fifth time with us Painting in Italy. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some wonderful trips out. We’ve visited many of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages which are a distinctive of Umbria. It’s described as the Green Heart of Italy.

Susan and I decided that it would be a great idea for us to travel out to do some Painting in Italy earlier this month. Our mission was also to visit a few of the towns that we haven’t been to for many years. We wanted to explore some new places that might be of interest to our guests.

Our time on our flight from Newcastle to Pisa Airport passed quickly. We ended up deep in conversation with a lovely couple who have purchased many of my paintings over the years. After picking up a car we drove to Orvieto, famous for its lovely white wine and magnificent Duomo, to see if our guests would enjoy a visit.

Susan and I were staying at Locanda Rosati, an agriturismo just a few miles from Orvieto. After checking in we still had sufficient time to drive to Orvieto and have a quick exploratory trip before our evening meal. Dinner was a jovial affair as the twenty plus guests from all nationalities including Italy, France, USA, Greece, Australia and Bulgaria were all seated on a long table. Our conversations enabled us to find out more interesting places to visit. One came highly recommended, Civita di Bagnoregio, just twenty minutes drive away.

Civita di Bagnoregio and Lago di Bolsena

Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines in the region of Lazio. I discovered that it only has 1o residents. However it is beginning to thrive as a tourist destination due to an initiative from the Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Any tourists crossing the foot bridge must pay €5 on a Sunday or public holiday and €3 during a weekday. Their ticket system has meant that residents of Civita and Bagnoregio no longer have to pay communal taxes and there is zero unemployment. I found it fascinating that the 850,000 tourists forecast for 2018 has created 400 new jobs for the 200 new businesses that have been birthed in recent years.

When we arrived the following morning thick fog had descended. I was wanting to paint the classic view that I had seen in photographs but it simply didn’t exist!

As it was a Sunday, crowds were already starting to arrive in their droves. We decided on a return visit to Orvieto. Despite the dull, overcast light, I managed a sketchbook watercolour of the Duomo from Via del Duomo. After a lovely lunch I found two great vantage points to paint Orvieto from a distance.  On completion, we set off to a new destination for us, Lago di Bolsena.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Lago di Bolsena

By the time we arrived, the low clouds had lifted and we were able to enjoy shafts of sunlight sparkling on the calm waters. I was able to record the tranquil scene in my trusty sketchbook.

The next morning we headed straight for Civita di Bagnoregio. This time I was able to paint the view that I had been after the previous day. We didn’t make the short walk along the footbridge into what was once Italy’s dying town. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so one day.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio

Our Painting Holiday for June 2018 is fully booked. You can register your interest for the future at art@alanreed.com

For me, Painting in Italy is rewarding experience. Even though this was an exploratory trip, I still came up with some great reference for some future paintings.

 

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Spring Exhibition

Alan Reed

North Shields Fish Quay

Our new Spring Exhibition started on 31st March 2018 and continues until 30th April.  I use the word “Spring” lightly as it’s snowing outside as I’m writing this blog post.

Due to the wintery conditions we have been experiencing since 2017 there is a snowy theme going on in this latest body of work. However there are some new cheery paintings on view. Please feel free to call us on 01661 871800 to arrange a viewing in a relaxed atmosphere.

The latest painting off the drawing board is “North Shields Fish Quay”. It’s a scene I first painted in 1985 for a client who commissioned a couple of River Tyne pictures. You can read about the other painting on a recent blog post about the River Tyne Painting.

This new watercolour depicts fishing trawlers bathed in late afternoon sunlight. In the distance you can see the old Port of Tyne buildings, some of which have long since gone. Fluid brush marks for the reflected light in the water and the soft edges for the engine smoke belching out of the trawlers help to keep the overall scene lively and free.

 

Alan Reed

Balevullin Beach, Tiree

Another new painting is Balevullin Beach on the island of Tiree, one of the Inner Hebrides. On a recent blog post you can read about our trip there last May where I painted a number of watercolours on location. This oil has been inspired by those studies, including a small watercolour available online.

Balevullin Beach is popular with surfers who take advantage of the waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. The turquoise sea and dramatic skies are a delight to paint.

We enjoyed mixed weather. Heavy rain followed by bright sunshine and wonderful sunsets was the pattern for each day.

Alan Reed

Todi, Umbria

Todi in Umbria points us towards the finer weather to come and our Painting Holiday in June. You can watch a video on YouTube of how I used a number of sketches painted on location to produce this A4 watercolour painted on hand made paper.

Our Spring Exhibition continues throughout April however there are a few days when we will be closed so it is best to call us on 01661 871 800 to make sure we are open before setting out.

 

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Scarinish, Tiree

Scarinish, Tiree

Scarinish Harbour, Tiree

In May 2017 Susan and I flew to the island of Tiree, one of the Inner Hebrides in a Sea Otter. We were greeted by our friends who were staying in a family holiday home called An Caladh.

First port of call was Scarinish, Tiree, a tiny village which has the only bank on the island, a grocery store, one hotel and a Post Office. There is also a ferry service to Oban on the Scottish mainland.

Whilst the others went to buy food for our stay, I painted a quick watercolour of the harbour in my hand made, leather bound sketchbook. The little red boat is apparently the most painted vessel on the island.

Scarinish, Tiree by Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree

When painting in the comfort of the Studio, it’s easy to forget the mood and atmosphere that painting “en plein air” provides. Supplementary photographs are helpful for topographical accuracy, however they can sometimes be a little cold and sterile. There really is no substitute for having your own interpretation of the scene that was crafted in paint on the spot. As I’m writing this post with the very same sketchbook in front of me, I’m reminded of the heavy rain clouds departing over the sea whilst trying to balance my tiny box of watercolours on a fence post along with my sketchbook.

I’m also reminded of the fish van behind me selling fresh lobster and langoustines that we were to enjoy later in the evening.

It’s these visual aids that activate memories that you can bring to your studio work so that you end up with a painting that others can identify with and relate to.

You can read more about our trip to Tiree and see some of my other sketchbook studies from our trip on my blog post Paintings of Tiree.

This watercolour of Scarinish, Tiree is available online and from our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

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Paintings of Venice

Alan Reed

Handmade Sketchbooks

I’ve been fortunate to paint on location in Venice many times since my first visit in 1991. A small box of watercolour paints, travelling brush and a hand made sketchbook is all you need to capture its wonderful light, mood and atmosphere. Many of my studio Paintings of Venice started off as either small watercolours on blocks or sketchbook watercolours.

On our last trip there in 2012 I recall taking the vaporetto across the dark waters of the lagoon to St Marks Square. I managed to take a few photographs of San Marco before reaching the stop. The sketchbook watercolours and photographs became the inspiration for a small watercolour “Venezia di Notte”. I decided to make a video of the main aspects of how I painted this scene which you can see on YouTube.

For those of you who are interested in painting in watercolour I’ve added the script for the video which gives you the names of some of the colours I’ve used which you may find helpful.

“I’ve sketched the main elements in pencil so the first step is to get some colour down. After wetting the paper I’m using my usual mix of Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow to provide the base colour for the artificial light that illuminates the magnificent architecture that attracts so many tourists.

This first wash covers the top half of the paper but for the bottom half I’m being more selective, leaving some of the white of the paper to indicate the lights around the buildings and their light reflecting in the water. Whist the paint is still wet, I’m dropping in some more intense colour to add variation.

Now for some Rose Madder to add depth to the night sky and warmth to the architecture. As with the first wash of yellow, I’ve wet the paper to help the colour spread easily without leaving any steaks. However I’ve left the paper is dry where the buildings are so I can paint hard edges to define them.

This colour is also being reflected in the water. You’ll see that I’m having to be more precise with the brush marks even though I am wanting the overall scene to look lively and loose. The texture of the watercolour paper helps the brush marks to retain a sense of spontaneity.

This next wash is a mix of purple with a touch of turquoise which I’m going to be using throughout the painting, not just for the sky but also for some of the architectural details. Again, I wet the paper with clean water before adding this wash. Just softening the edge of the wash with some clean water before tackling the windows with a much smaller brush. It’s worth saying that this video only represents a fraction of the time I’ve spent painting the details.

Now it’s time to use a colour which appears as black but it’s actually a mix of Paynes Grey, Purple and Lamp Black. This time it’s wet on dry. Again, I’m using a small brush to pick my way around the distinctive architecture.

Alan Reed

The Original Watercolour “Venezia di Notte”

I’m continuing to take my time rendering the different features of the Doges Palace. You will notice that the preceding colours of yellow and Rose Madder loose their dominance when the much darker colours are placed alongside.

These finer details are very small, occupying an area of just a few centimetres so I’m taking a little bit more time to paint them in. Having a contrast of larger, looser, bolder brush marks up against finer, more precise strokes creates further interest in the painting.

Once again, I’m taking my time, working carefully on the different elements of the painting so that they look convincing and credible when there is so much going on. Each arch is painted differently.

You will also notice a few little blobs of slightly darker yellow. This is masking fluid for the white lamps which I will rub off at the end when the paint is dry. A touch of Rose Madder to the turquoise grey adds further interest to these dark arches.

Back to the big brush and the black mix for the night sky. I’m working rapidly wet on dry to avoid streaks. Care is needed here because I’m also having to define the the left hand side of the bell tower and the tops of the buildings. Even though the brush has a decent point I have to switch brushes for the finer details.

Now a rusty red mix for the campanile, St Marks Bell Tower. First painting around the windows then working my way down the tower.

The base colours of yellow and Rose Madder are giving the effect of light as I’m picking out its features. The same rusty red colour is used again for the reflection in the water. I can afford to be more expressive with my brush strokes.

More reflections with the dark turquoise grey wash, being conscious that the water is constantly moving so the brush strokes that I’m making need to be communicating movement.

There are lots of gondolas berthed at the waters edge so these are painted using the black mix, together with their mooring poles and other details. Again small brush is required. It’s these contrasting tones, light and dark that are doing all the work.

The same colour is used for further reflections so that the water really does start looking dark and mysterious, particularly up against the light that is now starting to sparkle in the water. I’m using the side of the brush with horizontal strokes. Once again, it’s another contrast to the vertical brush strokes I made earlier.

So there you have it, Venice at night, as seen from a vaporetto”.

My Paintings of Venice continue to be very popular with my customers. Susan and I are looking forward to returning to Venice later on in 2018.

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