Our first visit to Umbria was March 2002. It was a much appreciated break away from running an art gallery in Newcastle’s city centre. It was also an opportunity to spend time reflecting on what had been anxious year in 2001. Susan and I had major surgery together when I donated one of my kidneys to Susan. The operation was carried out at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
It was lovely to be able to travel around this stunning region. We spent time exploring various hilltop towns and villages and were able to enjoy simple yet delicious local cuisine together.
On one particular day we decided to go further afield into the Marche region. We visited Fabriano, famous for their hand made paper. I was immediately attracted to their tiny leather bound sketchbooks containing wonderful hand made watercolour paper. I decided to purchase a couple.
When we returned to our hotel, the Relais il Canaliccio I made the decision to try them out. I started by tackling the view out of our window, the sun disappearing behind a farm building, seen below. I also made the unusual decision not to do any preliminary pencil work. Instead I began “drawing” with the brush and paint.
From that point on, almost all my watercolour sketchbook work has been carried out in this way. Only a handful of slightly more complex subjects have some rudimentary pencil drawing to act as a guide for the brush work.
I now have a significant collection of leather-bound Sketchbooks. They contain memories and studies painted around Italy, the UK, Oman, the USA and other countries. One of my goals for the year is to make some short videos of some of these books which you can see on my YouTube Channel.
These days I make my own Sketchbooks rather than visit Fabriano which is a very rewarding experience. You can see some of my Sketchbooks at our 20th Anniversary of alanreed.com Exhibition at our Studio & Gallery in Ponteland starting on the 20th April 2019.