Saturday, 28 April 2012

Break in Venice - Part 1

As reported a couple of weeks ago I had managed to organise a break in the beautiful city of Venice with the express purpose of working on my painting and it turned out to be a fascinating experience and instructive as far as my painting pretensions go.

The planning for the trip involved a week of anticipation while I worked out how to transport all of the gear that would allow me to paint in oils and watercolour, not an easy task given the restrictions on luggage. I think at this stage I should say that my aspirations for the trip were just a bit over ambitious, hoping to make pictures in both mediums and in significant numbers. More of that later.

I arrived in Venice at lunchtime last Thursday and found my way to my lodging for the week. These were  a five minute walk from Piazzale Roma and very easy to find. The accommodation was beautiful and I have to thank artist Michael Richardson for alerting me to the existence of this establishment. The house is owned by an English expatriate, Nicholas Blair-Fish, and he provides a bed and breakfast service in his lovely home. After emptying the luggage I headed out to get a feel for the city that I hadn't visited for about four years in the hope of clarifying my mind about possible painting venues. In Venice that's an almost impossible task as it's actually harder to find things that are not worth painting. Every corner presents a new view that entrances. Therein lies the first difficulty, making decisions about venues. Almost inevitably one gets drawn to some of the well known spots and views. That can be a mixed blessing as I hope to explain.

My first picture here was the view from my bedroom window, sketched on a day when the changeable weather was giving us a mix of rain and sunshine.

 Fondamenta Gaffaro - Watercolour on Not paper

I was keen to attempt some oil painting on my trip and headed out after a night's sleep to try my hand at translating my plein air experience at home into a means of rendering the city. As part of my preparation for the trip I'd spent some time watching videos of Ken Howard at work in Venice. The facility with which he goes about his business is deceptive and maybe persuaded me that I might at least work as quickly. I was to be mistaken, my rate of paint application cannot live up to the standards of speed exhibited by some never mind being able to emulate the accuracy of line and value of the best.

The next two pictures are oil sketches, not completed, one made at one of the more famous views and the other a detail from somewhere less celebrated. The view of the Salute was my first effort and it was not sensible to make that the first picture of the trip. The subject is difficult and would have been better left until I'd got my eye in. Consequently my over enthusiasm in attempting this subject early resulted in a poorly drawn and executed image. A bump to the confidence that gave me food for thought. It did in fact result in me trying a less daunting view when I took out the oils on the following day.

Campo Santa Margherita - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Santa Maria della Salute - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

The experiences of my first two days made me reassess my objectives for the week and I'll return to that issue in my next post.


Life of Brian said...

Enjoyed your blog. Would love to go to Venice some day.

Mick Carney said...

Brian - Thanks for stopping by and all I can say is take advantage of the cheap flights while they're still available. Venice is a not to missed experience.

Peter Ward said...

I must admit I'm pretty hopeless at sketching so your efforts are pretty good. Oil or watercolour?

Mick Carney said...

Peter - You can't be hopeless at sketching given your ability to put down sound drawings as a basis for your paintings. I know from experience that you also work quickly enough to complete finished paintings in the time that many would take over a loose outdoor sketch.

Peter Pascal said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is
also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,

The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.