Canals of Venice: the finished painting

Canals of Venice

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.

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Canals of Venice: the Painting Partway

Canals of Venice partway

The story so far

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!

Canals of Venice

Venice Drawing

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

Venice Painting Completed

Venice Painting Completed

The finished painting with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, which I enjoyed doing, although trying to hit the right colours was testing to say the least

I have already mentioned the mooring posts. In the photograph they looked red in the evening light. This turned into a glazing exercise, wet on dry, although nothing like as tricky as the hull of the gondola which I will come to in a minute

For the posts I started with a Burnt Sienna wash which is pretty safe. When the paint had dried, the pigment had disappeared. I applied another coat of the same colour, followed by a coat of Permanent Rose which should have given these posts a nice evening red glow, but still pasty. I had been waiting to use quinacridone red, of which I have a fairly limited experience, so perhaps risky. The colour worked well, I thought, giving me what I wanted. I used Indigo for the strips of bark hanging onto the wood. Indigo makes an alternative to black which I avoid if I can

Now the real challenge, to use that overworked word, was how to treat the hull of the gondola. I may have said before that gondolas are black by regulation. The finish is of a very high gloss, the sort one sometimes gets on pianos, in fact it used to be called piano finish. I think polyurethane was involved which may have been universally banned by now because of health risks.

Black gloss in certain lights obviously won’t look black, because of the other bright colours it picks up in this mirror like shine. If you remember the original photograph that I worked from, the vessel looked a sort of bright copper colour.

Again this was a long and drawn out glazing exercise. At least five coats as I remember and twenty four hours natural drying in between each coat. I used Quinacradone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Transparent Brown and Permanent Rose

I looked at it in the morning from a distance. I think it worked but I will have to put it away and get it out again another time, before I can make an objective view

As always comments are welcome

Venice Painting so far

Venice painting to date

 

Not the best of photographs I am afraid

The sky is much pinker than the picture shows but try as I might, I can’t stop the camera leeching out the background colour. Also too much camera distortion making the posts lean inwards which I will try to correct on the finished version

What I did to colour match the original photograph, in which the sky and most of the water is a deep salmon pink, was to brush all over first with a red-orange mix, which did dry quite pale. I then built up with dilute coats of alizarin crimson until I reached the depths of colour that I wanted.

When that was hard-dried, I started on the background buildings, the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, always a favourite. Being in deep shadow I gave all the buildings a wash of French Ultramarine, and then another one. When that was really dry, I painted the rooftops and brickwork in Burnt Sienna.

The mooring posts I started with Burnt Sienna, but I wanted them to be more red than that. I glazed them with Permanent Rose. They were still too brown, so went over them again with quinacrodone red ( it doesn’t matter which way I spell that word, it always seems to be wrong). This was getting nearer the shade

I now had the colour relationship between the foreground posts and the background church. I felt the church could go darker still, with another coat of Ultramarine, and this time bring the wash down a little way over the water, to cast a shadow. There is one small building in front of the church, which I think is the customs house, which in reality stands well out on a promontory coming towards us. I missed this out with the last coat so that it didn’t disappear altogether

That is as far as I have gone as yet. I still have to darken the posts and finish the gondola, probably with some indigo on the seating. How I tackle the hull, I still have to work out, so we shall see.

Venice Tonal Sketch

Venice Tonal Sketch

The exhibition at the Guildford Institute has been running for a working week now. There have been a crop of complimentary comments, otherwise fairly quiet. Not unexpected ,as although the Institute is a delightful venue, it is not a very busy place, and I tend to get more publicity than sales there. Having said that, I usually sell something even if it is after the show

Now is the time I have to think about my next solo show which will be at the Royal Surrey Hospital in July.  This is held in the Peter Thompson Gallery, which is quite a busy place. Taking the worst case scenario and assuming I sold no paintings whatsoever at the Institute, I still wouldn’t take the same collection to the hospital. I will take some but also freshen the gallery with some new stuff which I will work on between now and July. This sounds a long way off but there are holidays in between, so I cannot slacken the pace

I need a couple of Venice pictures which are always popular, so I am working on the view above.  The lovely church of San Giorgio Maggiore near the mouth of the Grand Canal is always a favourite, and I have painted it several times before, but not this particular shot. It always sold in the past, which I know is no guarantee for the future.  Everyone wants the same view so the test is to provide the same image, yet giving it some twist that stretches the artist at the same time.

I am going to give this painting some different colours which will make me think. This will be an evening scene, so a reddish sky which will reflect on the water. The church will fade into the background, and the foreground will be taken up with this solitary gondola. Gondolas are traditionally black. I think there is a regulation which says that they have to be. But it won’t have to look black. The high gloss finish will reflect the colour of the water and the shadows on the water, and also include the dancing highlights

This will certainly test me, and I am not at all sure that I can pull this one off. However it will be interesting to say the very least, and an experience I shall learn something from

As always I will post my progress stage by stage

 

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Salt Mills of Trapani: the finished painting

dscf3567

The painting finished, and that now completes my quota for the exhibition coming up at the Guildford Institute on the 13th. Something of a relief that I am in time, and only have some framing left to do.

For the conical roofs on the mills, I used a different red. Quinacridone Red which I haven’t used before, makes a nice deep pinky red and was virtually an exact colour match to the photograph. Indian Red is not dissimilar but I remembered buying the quinacridone some while ago for some purpose or other, so thought I would trial it. I quite like it by way of a change

I then went on to run a dilute shade of the same colour down the sides of the mills themselves which again brought the masonry colour closer to the original in the photograph.

The stones along the walkway between the salt pans, were quite bright in the sunlight, so I used quinacridone gold instead of raw sienna

There was little else to do. I deepened the blue in the foreground. Sadly little or nothing to put there, so I have made the reflections more pronounced in order to break up the expanse of blue water  I could use red for my signature. I will think about that

But life does not stop here. I have another exhibition coming up in July at the Royal Surrey Hospital, which is another favourite venue. This time I shall be sharing the space with my colleague, Elaine. She does more abstract and adventurous stuff than me, so our paintings seem to compliment one another

Taking a pessimistic view, with no sales at the Institute, I shall just move these paintings to the next exhibition. However there would be one or two changes that I would like to make anyway, and I would like to include some more paintings of Venice which are always popular. I have come across a very good source of photographs that I can work from and leave the next one with you

venice-san-giorgio-maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore, an old favourite which I have painted before but the light and colours on this shot are delightful

We will see what I make of it. Suggestions by the way, are always welcome

The Finished Venice Painting

Peaceful Reflections of Venice

This is the completed version. I call it Peaceful Reflections of Venice, because that is what these quiet corners of Venice are, very peaceful. The city can be busy, but then turn off into one of the side canals, and you are alone with your thoughts.

This should give me enough now for both exhibitions, I hope. The first I may have mentioned already starts on May 3rd, so some framing and stuff to do now, and then hopefully I should be ready. Guildford Institute is a lovely, friendly venue to show at and always attracts good publicity. Sales are never high there but as I say, the coverage is good, so I still like to do it

Following on, on 27th May I am at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, in the Peter Thompson gallery. Sales are usually good there as the place is so busy. Having built up this stock, I am looking for sales now of framed pictures, just to give myself space to carry on painting.

Quite a few lovely people from around the world have written in to say how much they enjoy watching the painting come together in stages, starting with the drawing and ending with the finished picture. Thank you for that feedback. That is so helpful. Sometimes I think I sound like a teacher, which I am not.  I have no teaching qualifications, but I am happy for anyone to watch me paint, and if that helps, that is fine.

Some useful reaction to the website over the last few months. Three sales and two very interesting commissions. The most recent which I shall start first because of the deadline, is from a national charity, for a painting of a local high street in snow, to be, hopefully used as a Christmas card. I shall donate the work, of course, but nevertheless, the publicity will be valuable

This will take me a little while to work out but I will post in stages as time goes by.

Venice Painting: Halfway Through

Venice Painting Halfway

About halfway through the painting, and if I were smart I would wait for the painting to be finished completely, before showing it. However there are things to be talked about before they are covered by further work.

We left the picture as a drawing with some items masked out, namely the washing on the line. The sky in my usual mix of phthalo blue and cobalt blue, I washed down through the bridge and used for the water. I scrubbed out the distant buildings and painted them in with their reflections.  The tricky bit was the shadows which I had worked out with the sketch. I painted them in twice to get some depth whilst still allowing some transparency and continued into the reflections in the water.

In the photograph you may remember the building at the end was red. I have painted that in using Venetian Red appropriately enough, and have taken that through the reflections.

Venetian Red goes back to the days of the Renaissance. It is a warm red earth colour derived from Ferric Oxide, which always sounds like rust to me. It was used by Renaissance painters mixed with white to make skin tones. It was also called Sinopia, because the best quality pigment came from Sinop in Northern Turkey

It was expensive. If your house was painted in this colour, then you were a man of some means.

Francesco da Mosta in his lovely book, Francesco’s Venice tells us that the art of mixing pigments in Venice was something akin to alchemy. The secrets were closely guarded. Venice was a city of painters, who demanded the best

Still some shadow to be deepened, as well as detailing to be done. I need to work out a green for the shutters, which should also work with the red buildings. So more to do!

Someone phoned with a commission today which is always welcome. Someone who has bought my paintings before wants me to paint somewhere memorable, so something to look forward to.

Venice Painting: the Final prepared Drawing

Another Venice Painting Masked out drawing

The masked out drawing

This follows on from the last post that I wrote, hoping to include one more Venice painting in my exhibition starting 3rd May. It was a while ago that I started this, and progress has been slow I am afraid.

It is that stage which I  find the most tedious, after making an initial sketch working out the composition, as well as the tonal values, which is interesting, you then have to transfer the whole thing onto watercolour paper. A very important task, obviously, but a mechanical one which is time-consuming

However, it is done and we are pretty well ready to lay on the first wash. I am sorry by the way, for the alarming camera distortion. Those walls do not lean in to that degree, or anything like on the original drawing. I shall have to do better than that when I photograph the finished painting!

As you can see, I have masked out some items, namely the washing on the line, the street lamp and one or two flecks on the water. Not just that but I have also painted in the tarpaulins on the boats with waterproof ink colour Cyan, as well as one of the garments on the line. I can now just sweep down with the initial wash without hindrance

One of the reasons that I didn’t start painting today, was because I wanted the masking and the ink to be rock hard before I did so. The shadows have been worked out already with the sketch, so tomorrow hopefully I will at least be able to lay on the first wash, and then we shall be underway.

An interesting bit of news that has come up. I was approached at the end of last week by a national charity which is interested in getting me to design a Christmas card for their fundraising effort. They have seen some of my street scenes on the web site, which is the sort of thing they want with obvious modification. I have a meeting with them next Monday, and if that goes ahead, could be an interesting project. I have my fingers crossed on that one!