Monday, 19 December 2011


I've recently returned from a fabulous few days painting with friends in Venice. We were there for 5 nights and there were 11 of us hitting the streets. It's an amazing city and I very much hope to return for some more easel action. To be honest, almost everywhere you look there's amazing subject matter. The architecture, light, water and general atmosphere....all incredible!

We were quite lucky with the weather. A bit of rain here and there but not too bad considering it's December. It seems a good time of year to visit because there are less tourists. In the hot summer months with crowded streets and bridges I can imagine it would be much more difficult to find a painting pitch. You soon get used to the idea of using boats and footpaths to get around. In fact, it's suprising how normal it feels after a few days. Certianly didn't miss the presence of the motor night there's a blissful silence in the air...just the sound of lapping water! Speaking of the water, it has a unique milky green colour (as described by fellow painting friend Tim King). Even on grey days it veers towards this green. Lovely!

Anyway, here are some of the studies I made. I'll call them studies because some appear quite sketchy. With the weather, light and crowds there's not much scope for doing anything too detailed. I was more interested in trying to get the basic tones and colours to work rather than getting hooked up on architectural detail (much easier said than done!). That said, the architecture does demand a lot of focused attention and subjects like the Basilca (St Mark's church) are a real challenge at 8am in the morning! I found my new Open Box M kit very easy to use and it's very lightweight for carrying on the plane (we had a 20kg weight limit to hit). I had some hassle at airport security getting my paints through the hand luggage checkpoint, despite having a letter of clearance to do so from Easyjet. After a rather heated exchange with the airline my paints were eventually checked into the hold, along with the rest of my hand luggage. Lesson learned.....never take paints in the hand luggage...whatever the airline tells you!

I'll post a few more paintings and action shots from the trip in the near future. I did 14 panels in total. Some need a bit of tidying up but I don't like to fiddle with them too much in the studio. I'd rather start a new study and use the original as reference.

San Giorgio chuch from Dogana

St Mark's in the rain

St Mark's, cloudy early morning

La Salute, across the Grand Canal from the Gondala station

Colleoni's statue, against teh light

La Salute from the foot of the Accademia bridge

La Salute, from the Accademia bridge

Grand Canal, from the foot of the Rialto (where Sargent stood!)

San Giorgio and Doge's palace, rainy morning

Painting on the Accademia bridge

Sporting a Scott of the Antarctic look in St Mark's Square


  1. I've never been to Venice, but this is definetely a "must see" destination - I'd love to be there right now, especially after seeing your paintings! (I still can't believe that the water is green.)

    I'm impressed that people manage to spend their holidays or even short brakes painting, I'm afraid I'd want to see everything and would rush rush rush running around and taking photographs (a journey with time spent painting would be a dream come true though). Well, I hope that you had a good time and are satisfied with all 14 of your studies.

  2. Thanks decorartuk! You should definitely go. You won't be disappointed! I did take a few photos for backup reference but painting on the spot works best for me. I'd struggle to get the subtleties of tone and colour from a photo. Take a strong blue or green for the water if the sun is shining!

  3. Waw David, what a trip, what a great body of work you produced! Indeed your work looks more "sketchy", "unfinished" than usual but you know that coming from me, it's a compliment! You really managed to convey the mood of the scenes in a few brushstrokes; I specially like the way you depicted the people and the softness of the water. My favourite is "La Salute, across the Grand Canal from the Gondala station" where your values are just spot on and with a lovely golden light. Next time I'll come with you! I'm so jealous!

  4. David, you must be over your illness judging by your recent accomplishments, and I'm very glad of that. I have missed seeing your work on your blog for the last several weeks. How did the ROI go? I tried to look it up but could not find any images of the show. As for the Venice paintings, wow! These are great. I think you captured just what you need in these paintings. I like all of them, I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Each one stands on its own but as a group they are really impressive. I love how you handled the architecture as well as the water. The painting with the equestrian statue is very appealing also. I look forward to seeing more of the paintings from your trip. Have a Merry Christmas and many more painting adventuresin 2012.

  5. I don't really see why you are concerned about these - my dear chap, they are terrific. Less is more and you have captured in a few brushstrokes what it took me 10 times as many not to say! Also the sense of light is palpable - you can almost feel the moisture affecting everything. This is particularly evident in the GC from Rialto painting and the Salute from Accademia. Must see the others when you are ready.

  6. Thanks for the comments Valerie, Douglas and Tim! Your kind words are much appreciated :) Looking back on the paintings I think I've learnt a few lessons for next time, particularly in terms of tackling subjects that are contre jour. There's such a fine line when judging the tones and colours and a small misjudgement can ruin the whole effect. Some seemed to work better than others but I guess it's all about getting stuck in, learning something from the experience and enjoying it :o)

    I did my best to avoid the dreaded 'veil of drabness' and realised that smaller seems better with these subjects for some reason. There's so much to get down in such a short amount of time and having a larger panel just makes it all too rushed. Some were certainly less finished than I would like but there were several occasions when the conditions totally changed and there seemed no point continuing (for fear of painting 2 pictures in 1 and spoiling what was already there). Then there's the issue of touching them up in the studio and the risk of further ruination. It's a tricky balancing act, for sure!

    The equestrian statue was really tricky to paint (Tim will no doubt agree!). I've done a closer view which I'll post up once it's had a tidy up. Doug, I'll post on the ROI in the near future. It went very well thanks :o)