Photography poor. I have had to use my phone as after upgrading, I am having difficulties loading from my camera, as everything is different and I don’t know why. I shall fathom in the end but for the minute I don’t have time
Suffice to say, I have painted the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and put in detail as well as the houses on the opposite side in deep gloom. In reality they are much gloomier. The sunlit rooftops look orange which works, otherwise the detail on the house fronts disappears into the shadows.
Two coats of Phthalo Blue and Cobalt Blue mix on the water gives depth although the original is not quite as deep as this photograph
Still a long way to go as I will put the gondolas in with shadow colour and probably the vaporetto too
looking forward to tackling the bright colours on the foreground buildings and the flags
This is the picture that I am going to work from. I have done this view before, but it is so magnificent that I come back to it every now and then. Incidentally, this is a different take to the one that I did last time, and also I am going to rearrange this photograph. I am going to push back the buildings on the left so that we can see the mouth of the Grand Canal and the horizon beyond. This should hopefully give us a feeling of distance as we look out to sea.
So far I have done the drawing which I will use for painting, and you will be able to see the changes for yourself, and I will show that now, although the lines are faint so may not stand out well
Perhaps not too bad, and perhaps you can see where I have moved the buildings to the left. We can see the mouth of the canal, and the building I believe to be the Customs House, and then out to sea, but that won’t be apparent until after painting
For sky and water I will start with my mix of Cobalt and Phthalo Blue, which I know I have said before is a good Mediterranean colour. I will need to mask off the buildings to the left, including the balconies and awnings which stick out over the water.
They will need to be in yellow and pink, so important to paint on white paper.
The buildings on the right will need a cover of raw sienna as a base coat, before building up with other colours, and before covering with deep shadow.
Coming back to writing this blog, I have now done just that and have detailed the domes, and all I can say is so far so good.
I have been away travelling and sadly haven’t touched any painting or drawing. I would like to mention this wonderful place we visited on our trip round the Northern Isles, which is very much connected to real art.
I had to use a postcard for this shot, as when we were there the building was crowded, so a clear shot of the altar was impossible
The chapel was created by Italian POWS in 1943, who were employed building concrete causeways between the islands, which also acted as sea defences against U-boat infiltration. The Royal navy had already lost HMS Royal Oak with 800 lives to an enemy torpedo whilst apparently safe in Scapa Flow, so this work was of great importance.
The Italians requested a chapel, and two Nissen huts were made available, fixed end to end. A man called Domenico Chiocchetti had already been recognised as an artist, and he led the team of interior decorators. He was assisted by Giuseppi Palumbi , a blacksmith and Domenico Buttapasta, a worker in cement
With no materials other than what they could find, they transformed the interior into this beautiful work of art. They were given access to the wrecks in Scapa Flow, some of which were exposed at low tide, and from these anything useful like brass or other exotic materials were obtained.
In 1944, their work done, the POWS were moved south, not before receoiving an assurance from the authorities in Orkney, that the chapel would be preserved. Domenico Chiocchetti’s home town was Moena, and there are strong links between Orkney and Moena. with visits both ways. In 2014, three stations of the cross were stolen and three replacements were carved in Moena and brought over.
Domenico Chiocchetti came back in 1994, and was involved in some restoration work himself
The chapel is one of Orkney’s most important tourist spots and welcomes 100,000 visitors each year
Finally completed and framed! It seems to have been a long time coming. I have shown it framed as because of its size and shape, I can only offer this painting in a framed condition. That will be fine for a local exhibition, but not sure about sending it, although the shipper I use is very good and is used to packing antiques, so will just have to investigate the cost side of things.
I used one of my own photographs as a reference for this painting. Looking down from one of the old palaces opposite, this view was nicely framed by Gothic windows which I have obviously not included. That could be an entirely different painting at another time.
For now, I will rest this painting in anticipation of the next show, of which there are various coming up
I now have to think of my next subject. The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is in my mind to do, but also is the local church in Shere Village. I will have to think
The painting is finished. All in watercolour, my usual medium. This picture is just a detail, as the complete painting is long, about 50 centimetres , and as the height is only 20 centimetres, is consequently too long for the camera.
I have frames purely for these long panoramics, as I call them. They work well and are popular, and when I have framed this one , will photograph it again, which will show it off to better advantage.
As always, as I finish a painting, I have to start thinking about the next, and trying to decide in my mind what it will be. I think, and especially as I have been there recently, I might well paint something from Barcelona. The obvious candidate is the Basilica of the Sacred Family, which is breath taking. I did bring back some good photographic references, so should be able to do something worthwhile with that subject. I should make a start on that and get it at least part underway, before we undertake our next journey, which will be Rome, and goodness knows what I will bring back from there. Trevi Fountain, St.Peter’s, Spanish Steps, the list goes on and on.
In between doing other things, I have been working on this long painting of the Old Fish Market and neighbouring buildings along the Grand canal.
I started with my favourite Mediterranean sky colour, Phthalo Blue mixed with Cobalt Blue, worked into a mix of Raw Sienna and Naples Yellow as a basis for the buildings and then back into the sky colour for the water.. I have given the water one coat of Phthalo Green, which has had no effect whatsoever, so will have to go over it again. I do want it to look green rather than just a mirror image of the sky
The rest of the painting is mostly painstaking detailing. I have put in some deep shadow in places and have done a few windows, but must summon up the strength to do more. But this where we are for the moment, crossing my fingers that all will be well in the end.
I quite enjoyed putting in the red and green blinds on the market building. They were part of the attraction of the scene. But as I always say, the painting must be finished before a judgement can be made
My very bad photograph can act as a reminder of the scene that I am trying to capture in paint.
Whilst writing, I extend deepest sympathy to the people of France for the fire at Notre Dame de Paris. Very sad moment. It will be rebuilt and be glorious again but upsetting for now
Just occasionally, and by way of a change, I quite like to paint a vignette of something, something small which lends itself to that style of finished painting. It is more immediate, rather like making a sketch, and it can look like that, but if successful, can work as a framed painting too.
They are quick which is what I like about them. I draw direct onto the watercolour paper which saves me so much work in the planning stage. Invariably the subject matter doesn’t need too much drawing, like these windmills, although having said that the sails were tricky
The painting itself didn’t involve wetting the paper, as there was very little sky or any other underpainting involved. Mostly the work was small brush detail, and put sky and water in afterwards. I am not going to pretend this result is brilliant but the image is charming and usable either as a reference for a larger work, or framed in itself as a finished piece.
They can too, be framed without mounting because of the white surround. Not sure whether I would do that but I have seen that done
I am still drawing paintings together for updating my website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk which should be done soon. There are some vignettes on that, some sold and some still available.
Also pulling paintings together for my next solo show in April which is being held at the Guildford Institute.
The finished painting which I have just framed, which will go in “The Railings” exhibition on Saturday, where I hope it may bring me more luck than those in the Royal Surrey Hospital have done. This exhibition has been deathly quiet so far. Hard to explain this, as exhibitions at RSCH have always been so busy. Still there is yet time
The railings exhibition is a local show held at Pirbright in Surrey under the auspices of the Pirbright Art Club, with whom I paint. The exhibition is outdoor, so we pray for dry weather, and held outside the Pirbright Village Hall, which is a lovely Victorian building with beautiful iron railings. We hang our paintings on the railings, hence the name. It makes for a colourful and impressive display, and we hope for sales.
I enjoyed doing this painting as I always enjoy painting Venice. I sometimes wish I could get away from it but am always pulled back. There was considerable work in the underpainting on this one which can be tedious, so I took advice from a colleague, who advised finishing one detail, he said, which gives you that necessary boost to carry on. I finished the Gothic window in the middle of the picture, before I did anything else which I do think gave me encouragement to carry on.
When my grandchildren get back from their holiday late this week, we have a painting day lined up so I might try out the Little Green Frog which could amuse us all.
I have been concentrating on the building opposite with all that orange rendering and patchy paintwork. The walls took me quite a while, as I used several undercoats starting with my favourite raw sienna and Naples yellow mix, which gives it some backlighting. It took several coats of dilute orange before it started to look orange, and finally I scrubbed orange pigment straight from the tube to get that patchy, water-damaged effect
I decided to finish detail the Gothic window. I do that sometimes so that I can look at something which encourages me to go on. I was pleased with it, once I had finished, says he who shouldn’t. I think I colour matched correctly the timber screen or whatever it is in the window. That took several coats of cadmium red over Burnt Sienna, which surprised me as that red is so strong. The texture looked like dry, flaky varnish so I hope I got that right. I used some blue in the windows which gave a pleasant relief to all that orange
Once I had put the brown shadow in, the window suddenly came to life. The carvings stood out, and the window under the screen took on some depth. So far so good
I then detailed the two windows on the ground floor, including the one with a rusty iron grille, which seemed to work quite well
I ploughed some cadmium red into the far left building which started to look authentic Venetian. I shall probably lose that when I mount the picture. How often does that happen
There is still plenty of detailing to do, which becomes tiring after a while which is why I have stopped to write this. I would like to finish and frame this for The Railings exhibition in Pirbright, as all my other work is at the Royal Surrey. May do possibly
Still no news from the Royal Surrey, but one of my paintings has been put on reserve on my Artfinder site, which indicates interest at least. I think one sale would be like a starting pistol for this year to finally get going.
I must not moan. I love painting and would continue to do it even if I never sold another picture, although what I would do with them I do not know!
Today my colleague in paint, Elaine and I set up our joint exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford. I have to say that it did look good. It will be on for four weeks, and now one has to forget about it, which is never easy, as it is so tempting to check one’s emails
Having said that my exhibition work is over for a while, I am reminded that on the 29th July, our local club, the Pirbright Art Club are holding their summer exhibition. We call it the “Railings” as we hang our paintings from the iron railings around the old village hall. It does look quite effective
However all my best stuff is at the hospital and will be until mid August, so a bit of a problem
There was a Venice picture which I wanted to do, and I have attached the photograph as well as my line drawing version of it. I am going to try and complete this by the 25th when we have our “auditions” for this exhibition, so at least it will look as though I am trying to support our local show.
The photograph, I found startling, with the brightness of the colours and the deep shadows, both complimentary and both fascinating to attempt. Some lovely deep oranges and some texture work with these bright colours, should be very satisfying to do. There are too some really good architectural shapes, such as the Gothic window which I hope to give more prominence. I have omitted the window next to it, shown in the photograph. The architectural iron work of he balconies is a study in itself
Anyway that is my next task, which promises to be fun