An alternative view of the Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice from the Rialto Bridge

I am indebted to Pixabay for the use of their photograph. I have stood on this spot a few times and looked down the canal, but this picture was taken with a distant golden evening light which is very attractive. I hope I have done justice to this view. Standing on this spot, reminds me of the many little shops, in one of which I bought a piece of Murano glass, which was over-priced , but difficult to go home without something

I love the feeling of depth. Close to us are the embarkment stations used by passengers boarding the many vaporettos which chug along the canal, going to many destinations. In the far distance you can just see the canal bending out of sight. In between are the old palaces now mostly hotels

The sky was always going to be the biggest challenge. I used some cobalt and phthalo blue mixed, layered in orange for lower sky, and back to blue for the lower picture. I had to repeat this twice to get any sort of brightness to the orange sky. Later when bone dry, I put in some red clouds wisping along the top . The orange worked well as a reflection in the water too. As always the camera has leeched out some of the colour. The painting is so much more vibrant. I wish I could stop this happening

Venice continues to be popular, and I never tire of painting her. Just by way of a change I am trying to put together a composition around a cat in Ephesus. We have been there a couple of times. Very atmospheric treading in the footsteps of St.Paul, also very hot and dusty, but amazing nonetheless. On my last visit and just in front of the Library of Celsius, a cat was sitting motionless on a pedestal. There are always plenty of feral cats living amongst ruins. This one somehow added to the spiritual quality of the scene, not Christian, but more like an object of worship in Egypt. Fanciful I know, but that is how the view struck me. I wonder if I can convey that in a painting

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.

Painting again as means to recovery — finished painting of Bosham Church viewed from the sailing club

Bosham Church from the sailing club

It is now some time since I have posted anything, and it is good to be back. It is also extremely good to be painting again. My life for the past ten weeks, has centred round hospital visits and more recently consultations with the physiotherapist. Today I was discharged from hospital so trying to get back to normal after my accident

I started this painting about two weeks ago. It was to replace a gap in my range. I sold two Bosham paintings at my last exhibition in June, which was held in the gallery at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking. I had a telephone call from a gentleman asking if by chance I had a painting available of Bosham which he wanted as a gift for a friend.. How fortunate. He was prepared to wait and is collecting the finished item tomorrow, so that is good

I have used sunset colours which always work with any subject involving water. The deep reflections are perfect for this size of painting. There are just four colours in the picture, red and cobalt blue, violet and transparent brown

There are more finished paintings to come. Roman Sunrise, which is a splendid early morning view of St Peter’s Basilica, and also the Bridges of Prague, which I am just finishing

Two exhibitions in December coming up so will need plenty. Fingers crossed that strict Covid restrictions aren’t reintroduced of course as they were last year at the last minute. Our infection rate is rising worryingly, with the government trying to avoid taking any action. It is as though they are taking some desperate gamble that herd immunity will kick in which will save them putting any curbs on the economy

Anyway sorry about my long absence. Hopefully I can get back into the swing again.

Painting of Abinger Hammer part finished

Abinger Hammer part finished

This where we are at the moment from the reference photograph published last time. The centre of attraction is the jack or striking clock installed in the c19. The figure of a blacksmith strikes the hour with his hammer, from his perch over the main road between Guildford and Dorking

Abinger Hammer is an idyllic village in the Surrey Hills. It was not always so. The River Tillingbourne runs nearby and was an industrial power source. It drove mills and in the case of Abinger powered a hammer which pounded hot iron into pigs or ingots. The hammer ponds are still there although the iron is gone. Today they grow watercress or have become trout farms. The iron industry moved north and stayed there, when Abraham Darby discovered how to smelt iron using coke instead of charcoal.

So far I have concentrated on the background and underpainting. It looks very soft which is not unattractive although needs to be sharpened up, especially the houses in the foreground. They are tile hung. Terracotta tiles are very much part of the Surrey vernacular, mostly square edged but a good many in beaver tail design. The golden coloured building stone is local sandstone, which is used frequently with bricks on the corners for protection. Always attractive to paint,, good old raw sienna does nicely and burnt sienna works well for terracotta. For additional poke a dilute glaze of permanent rose over the burnt sienna does make it pop as the saying goes.

The background is in shade except for the gaps where the trees can be seen in the background. I used quinacridone gold with some violet on the trees, by way of a change and it gave a nice effect

Still some work but mostly detailing. Hoping to use the finished result in my next real exhibition later this month which will be at Denbies Winery near Dorking, but gotta finish this first

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

Tower Bridge, London in early light

Tower Bridge in early light

The original is actually brighter than this photograph. Annoyingly I couldn’t get the reproduction any lighter which is a pity

Tower Bridge is always a good subject. It stands across the river as an entrance to the Pool of London. It doesn’t seem so long ago that cargo ships docked here and loaded or discharged their cargo. The bridge became an icon of its time, when London was a hub of international trade. In my lifetime, with the advent of containerisation, traffic moved downriver to Tilbury, and the London docklands wound down as far as shipping was concerned. It became a financial centre instead, important obviously but perhaps not quite so stirring as shipping

I am grateful to Fietz Fotos for their permission to use their reference photograph. It really was a study in orange and blue. I have painted Tower bridge several times over the years, but not in these colours, so it was still challenging enough and seemed to take me quite a long time

There still is a real exhibition planned which I have entered. This will be at Denbies Winery near Dorking and starts on June 21st. If it isn’t cancelled at last minute, as it was at Christmas, this will be my first real show since lockdown 1. Online sales have been good and one must be grateful, but there is something of a buzz about a real exhibition.

We will keep fingers crossed

Horses in the Mist

Horses with acknowledgements to Image by Artower from Pixabay

I am grateful for the loan of this image provided by the royalty free website Pixabay. I thought that painting my own version in watercolour would provide me with quite a challenge. The horse that worried me most was the chestnut mare in the centre. How to get the colour that vibrant was a question I couldn’t answer. Obviously a glazing exercise, but where to start. I consulted the mighty Google and looked at various options. One was interesting, starting with an under painting of dilute sap green, but I drew back from that and went for something safer

I decided to do two trials, and start with drawings in coloured pencil. I have never done that before and it seemed so obvious, after it was pointed out. One I drew in terracotta and the other in golden brown. I washed in the coloured lines so that it started looking like a painting. I then gave both a coat of Cadmium Orange and I photographed them both for the record.

Drawing with terracotta pencil and orange wash
Drawn with the golden brown pencil and washed in with orange

There isn’t much between them, although I quietly favour the golden brown

These can harden overnight, and I will start tomorrow on successive coats. Burnt Sienna with a dash of red. Shadows in burnt umber with a dash of indigo. That should give quite a sharp finish, I hope but we shall see. The whole thing is like nothing I have attempted before

If I haven’t mentioned before, my own website davidharmerwatercolour.co.uk was completely redesigned recently. It is now set out better, in subject headings, so that things are easier to find, and is working well

Wisley Gardens–latest painting

The last painting from Wisley Gardens

This was the last painting of Wisley, which I did about two years or more ago. I was pleased with this one, especially the long shadows. It sold at a local exhibition fairly soon after I painted it.

Wisley is the main national garden of the Royal Horticultural Society. I forget the acreage but is big. This particular shot is of the canal and the laboratory, a fine modern but Tudor styled building, which works well with the plants.

Unlike previous lockdowns, gardens including Wisley are open, but with strict control of numbers. We went in December, one of those fine winter days that makes walking around pleasant. I thought I would try another painting, something like this one but with changes

This is the main composition. I am further away from the main building with some figures in the foreground. I am being more selective in the way I paint this one, just for a change. Usually I wash straight across and wait for that to dry, and then paint onto a coloured background. Just for the moment I have put the shadows in before painting, although they may need reinforcing later

the drawing

It will be interesting working out the sequence. Sky first or bushes first?

I’ll come back to it later