Venice: a different treatment of a favourite view

Venice, Early Morning

This is what I meant by an old favourite. The lagoon viewed looking out onto the magnificent church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which I have painted several times before in different lights. I don’t seem to have kept many, so must have been some time ago that I last painted this view, before I started keeping a file of all my pictures. Anyway, this one I was pleased with. The light seemed to work. A misty still morning before the sun broke through, there is very little in the way of colour as yet

I have used mostly just two colours, Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Orange. Here and there they have mixed and produced an interesting grey/green which I rather like and use from time to time. Burnt sienna for the brick buildings in the background, but not much of it

I put this one on social media to get some comments. Someone bought it which is always the ultimate accolade

I am doing a real exhibition this coming Saturday, and it would have been nice to have taken it, but you can only sell a painting once. I am happy with that

A Favourite View of Venice

Gondolas with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

Probably my favourite view of Venice which I have painted several times before, but not with this lovely misty light, which I shall assume to be morning but could be evening. This photograph I owe to Pixabay and am grateful

This is my finished watercolour painting, or my version of the photograph I should say

Painting of Venice in early light

This was a challenging photograph to work from. San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, shrouded in mist. I knew it well and had painted it a few times. This is a lovely building set on an island and reminds you where you are, almost into the mouth of the Grand canal. Gondolas line up like taxis in the foreground. Drawing them is always fun. They seem to have a twist along the length or maybe that is my imagination. An interesting point about gondolas is that they have to be black according to regulations and yet because they are so highly polished, they very often don’t look black, because of the highlights and the reflections

This fills a spot in my collection. I have two exhibitions planned for December, and I never feel complete without a painting of Venice. Unfortunately having been through my own collection of photographic references more than once, I am sometimes puzzled as to what to paint for a change. This view I have painted before but in bright sunshine, so a misty start to the day is a nice change. Initial response to the painting has been encouraging, so I think it could do well, but I have said that before

We shall see. At the moment I am in different stages of two works, not something I like doing but needs must

Roman Sunrise– a recent painting

Roman Sunrise

A well known view although on this occasion I have to thank Pixabay for the reference photo

I was intrigued by this picture, not entirely by the subject matter, although of course the Basilica of St Peter’s in Rome is an inspiring piece of architecture. It was the early morning light that had been captured in the photograph that I liked which gave a misty effect to the background buildings. The trick would be how to capture that light effect in paint.

I used two colours as a base coat, cobalt blue for sky followed by orange for the middle ground covering the buildings especially and then cobalt blue again. The orange running down into the blue created a greenish colour which worked well as the colour of the river water

For detailing I used some burnt sienna for brickwork and a violet/ transparent brown mix for deep shadow. Did I capture the feeling of a city waking up and starting to get ready for the day ahead? Well, I like to think so, but I will let others judge.

This one was fun to do, and relied on a good reference picture which I found on Pixabay. The photographer was David Cattini

My next exhibition is local in the village of Pirbright, and six pictures of mine have been chosen including this one, so the feedback will be interesting.

Cefalu in Sicily

Cefalu in Sicily

I went here many years ago on a trip out from Palermo. Lovely stretch of beach which I have featured although I had to rely on someone else’s photograph for reference. Many thanks to Websi for the use of their photograph

Not only the beach but a lovely town square and a delightful Norman cathedral from the 12th century, which we remember visiting

The brightly coloured fishing boats are fun to paint. I have added a different red to my stock as I have been trying to get away from cadmium red, as I have used it so often. Someone suggested Sennelier Red, and this painting gave me a chance to use it. It really is a magnificent poppy red and I have used it on these boats. Sennelier say that they put honey in their pigment mix, and certainly their paints do go on very smoothly

I put this painting on my online site on Wednesday and it sold yesterday Thursday. Not quite wet from the easel but getting that way. Certainly a record for me, although friends of mine have done that more than once. I think it must be Sicily which is certainly very popular or are we just looking for sun after the winter lockdown

Maybe

Rooftops over Ragusa: the finished painting

Rooftops over Ragusa Finished

This has been an enjoyable journey to use that expression, which does seem appropriate, as I did feel I went back there. I took photographs with a view to paint, but never found the time. One thing about lockdown is that I don’t feel guilty about making more time to paint. There is always something to do in the house but generally house and garden are tidy and the allotment is up-to-date, which is unheard of

Also I am managing to paint in natural light which is a plus. So often painting time comes in the evening and artificial light is a handicap

Colours were enjoyable with the mix of phthalo blue and cobalt for sky and cathedral. Just a tad of grey in the blue for accuracy and to stand against the sky. For all the old houses, different shades of Burnt Sienna and orange, with some blue in the steps to balance the colour scheme

There is a competition coming up for 70+ year olds in lockdown so might put this one in. There will be thousands of entries from across the country, so no hope of winning, but as we say, it’s the taking part that counts

Rooftops over Ragusa: the painting in early stages

Partway through the painting

I have made a start on the actual painting. Quite a lot of drawing work to be done as one might imagine, and working from three photographs, the perspective drawing was interesting to say the least

I do a small amount most days and look at what I have done when the paint has properly dried. The cathedral is virtually finished although I may still go back in with a sharp brush and reinforce some of the finer details.

For some reason the colours in the photograph are more red than in the original painting.

Still a long way to go yet

Rooftops over Ragusa

View of the rooftops of Ragusa in Sicily

We spent a lovely holiday in Sicily a few years back. One of the many towns we visited was Ragusa, built on two hills as I remember, certainly high up.

We were given a walking tour by a local guide, a young man who was fit and agile. Members of our party were mostly not, some had sticks and needed time. He took us to the vantage point in the picture, behind the cathedral. We were faced with what looked like hundreds of steps and very steep at that. Our guide skipped up them like a young goat. We climbed slowly pausing for breath. We caught him up at the very top. He looked impatient. He gave us a matter of minutes to take photographs, and gather our strength , then trotted down at a speed which we could not match

I remember thinking ” One day, young man, you’ll be like us”

At the top I took pictures from the hip. It was quite a view and needed more time. I remember thinking ” I’ll paint this one day”. That was a few years back, and now thanks to isolation I have finally found time and I have made a start. So far so good but nothing worth showing yet

I will just finish with a view of the steps which might give an idea of the ascent

Those steps

I still remember that feeling of vertigo when I looked back down

It should make for an interesting composition if I get it right

Painting in someone else’s style completed

Corner of Venice

So this is my version of the original photograph, something I took some while ago, and frankly was something of a muddle. It lent itself to the “less is more” concept, if anything did. I am not saying this is a masterpiece by any means but does improve on the photograph.

The corner of the Doge’s Palace has been detailed although not heavily so and so has the street lamp. The rest has been trailed out, although you can just make out what it is. As I remember the shot in the background forms part of the Basilica of St.Mark, but not enough showing to be recognisable, so not really missed when phased out

I haven’t found someone else’s style easy, as one’s own creeps back, but I have been as disciplined as I could. Nice to draw in ink again, too. I had forgotten the satisfaction that brings. I tend to draw in ink over my pencil lines and then erase the pencil. My pencil lines rarely go in the right place and need a few more tries. When inking over you can pick the line you like and then erase the rest. Ink or ball point, both work well with watercolour

Looking back I can see that I didn’t attach the original photo which I will do now

The original photo

This was the original photograph that I worked from, which is as you can see something of a muddle. A good candidate for “less is more” !

One corner of the Doge’s Palace and behind the street lamp, unrecognisable bits of the Basilica. I took this years ago. I don’t remember why, but it served its purpose with this exercise

Painting in someone else’s style

An example of someone else’s work

This isn’t something that I usually try. The example above is one of many hundreds of images by celebrated watercolour artist Judi Whitton. She starts with a line drawing in ink, and then uses watercolour. It would never have occured to me to imitate this style, had I not read her article in one of the recent painting magazines in which she outlined her method. It seemed like an invitation

The point that she was illustrating was what to leave out, as much as what to put in. In other words ” less is more”

That would be a useful lesson for me, as I never know when to stop, which is a common fault, so it might be worth me trying this exercise to see what I can learn. More importantly what will I remember for the future

Likewise, and this is something I have always tried to do, is the power of suggestion, rather than painting in every detail. If that comes out of this exercise, even better

For now I have done a line drawing from one of my old photographs of Venice. Quite a lot of her work is architectural, and she has written a book about Venice. In case anyone finds architectural work daunting, her method can be used on a variety of subjects. Probably best to look at her website.

My scene from Venice

I have used an old photograph from one of my visits, which looks like a corner of the Doge’s palace, and have drastically reduced the detail

I will see what I can do with this

A Street in Florence–the finished painting

A Street in Florence–latest version

So here it is, the recent version, which I had attempted in a different style, but despite which turned out much the same as my version of four years ago.

As a group we were trying to produce something in the style of Tom Haugamat, the illustrator. Not someone I knew but impressed with his work when I looked him up. Most of our group were working on ipads and produced some very credible if not impressive work.

Mine veered off course as my own style crept back in. I still kept the painting simpler, that is less detailed, than my norm, and I fancied started to have a cubist feel. I thought that maybe that is how cubism started to evolve. Not that I would have been clever enough to develop a major movement like cubism, but I might recognise it happening

Anyway, this is how it turned out, and others can judge, as always

The streets are deserted today in our local neighbourhood despite the warm weather. We are becoming more disciplined in our efforts to check this pandemic. I took a short walk this afternoon, which we are still allowed to do, for exercise, just one walk.

It was very eerie out there. I took some pictures for a possible painting. I don’t usually do social commentary, but maybe something as a record would be of interest one day. I have lived for nearly eighty years, and never experienced anything like this. I wonder how many people are thinking the same

There was something very like this happening in 1665, when the bubonic plague travelled from London to a village in Derbyshire called Eyam, in a bolt of cloth which had been ordered by a cloth finisher in the village

When the cloth was unrolled the infection spread to the cloth finisher and he died within three days. The infection spread quickly, people died and survivors buried them, in gardens and in fields. The village elders closed the road in and out of the village, total lockdown. People left food and supplies outside of the village

Gradually the plague burned itself out. Not everyone died because they never do in an epidemic, hence this dreadful expression herd immunity. One woman, a farmer’s wife buried her husband and three sons in a field. She survived and went to live afterwards with her sister in Sheffield.

Today Eyam is known as The Plague Village and is a tourist attraction.