Monday, 31 December 2012

Venice - Day 5 & 6

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time. Here my last post about my recent trip to Venice with six paintings done in my last two days. (Click here if you have missed my first post and second post). 


The fog was still there so we made the most of the magical touch it brought to Venice. In the morning, Haidee and I decided to tackle the Salute from the Accademia Bridge. Here is the result:

Salute Maria della Salute from the Accademia bridge in the fog     16"x9"  oil on board

Here is my set up just as I was about to start:

As I was painting, I saw someone waving at me from the waterbus; it was fellow painter Tim King who was about to join us on the bridge to paint.


The painting at the end of the session

Afterwards, Haidee and I decided to head to San Barnaba which offered many painting opportunities. Here is the little painting I did on the spot. I loved painting the gondola and observing people in the square:

View from the Ponte dei Pugni   10"x8"   oil on board

For this painting we set up again on a bridge, much smaller than the Accademia Bridge so we tried to take as little space as possible and not disturb people. It seemed locals tend to use the right side of the bridge to go one way and the left to go the other way, just like a two ways road. I remember an old lady crossing the bridge that looked at us with complete indignation as she realised she had to change her usual route and cross the bridge on the left side instead as we were on her way. I think she was literally about to call the police! 

Haidee and I in action


My painting towards the end

After a delicious hot chocolate at the café next door, Haidee and I set up for a last painting on an other bridge just around the corner. I know, 3 bridges set up a day seems like a lot but really we just couldn't get enough of disturbing people by standing in the way!

What caught our eyes was the amazing light of the vibrant Venetian red buildings creating great reflections in the water. Here is the result:

Bridge near Campo San Barnaba   10"x7"  oil on board

The original picture below doesn't truly show the beautiful light as it was taken when the sun had gone:

As we were painting, a tourist shouted at his friend "Look! Picasso painting!". Then he came closer to have a better look at the paintings and turned around with a disappointed look on his face to rectify to his friend "No Picasso". It would be rude if it wasn't so funny...


The painting towards the end 


On the last painting day, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise and the view towards the Piazetta was the perfect spot to capture this magical moment. Here is my little study of the place: 

Piazzetta in the morning 2   10"x7"   oil on board

The painting towards the end

Haidee and I were standing on those tables already set up for the high tide. As we were painting the water started to cover the low parts of San Marco Piazza but didn't quite reach us. Still, the excitement was enough to make us feel like we were courageously braving the elements for the sake of our Art!


Afterwards, to reward ourselves for our efforts, Haidee and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice cup of hot chocolate at the famous Café Florian on San Marco Piazza. I know we had many hot chocolates during this trip, but this was something special... I can't stop thinking about it!

After the luxurious Café break, we went for a hard transition for our next painting with the smelly fish market! I had been meaning to paint there all week so this was our last chance. Unfortunately we arrived a bit late as they started packing up when I was just starting to paint. I decided to give it a go anyway and managed to do a little study in less than an hour:

Fish Market, Venice   12"x9"   oil on board

Below you can see my set up amongst the buckets of seafood. My feet were swimming in a pond of smelly fishy water. I had to bin my lucky painting cloth after it fell on the floor - no washing machine would have got that smell off! Still, this was worth it, this place is so vibrant and full of life - a real treat to paint!

This was really a race against time but it was really fun and I think this rush probably pushed me to keep things fresh and spontaneous. 


After this I had time only for one last painting before the light had gone so I headed back to San Marco with fellow painter Stuart Fullerton. It was raining so we took shelter underneath the alcoves at the end of the square. The rain made lovely reflections on the pavement and the people with umbrellas brought colours and movement to the scene.

San Marco Basilica in the rain, late afternoon   12"x9"   oil on board

This was the scene as we arrived:

But the light was disappearing fast and half way through the painting I had to put my fashionable head torch on to complete my silly hat look.

The rain became stronger and was now reaching my painting so what started as an oil painting turned out to be more like a watercolour! It became very dark quite soon so I had to call it a day.


The day after we were on our way back to the airport - here is a picture of the four of us posing in San Marco Piazza before heading back. It was high tide so the whole Piazza was flooded.

Tim King, David Pilgrim, Haidee Jo Summers and myself

What a great trip it was. I hope I'll be there soon to paint again. I wish you all a fantastic year 2013! 

My paintings are available for sale directly from me or through a gallery and can be shipped worldwide. Prices depends on size and subject and generally range from £100 to £500. Please email me to check prices and availability at

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Venice - Day 3 & 4

Here are four more paintings produced during my recent trip in Venice. After two days of sunshine (see my previous post here), Venice suddenly got wrapped in a very thick fog that made everything look mysterious and magical. The downside is that sometimes you just can't see any further than 5 meters away! A lot of white paint used during those few days!


My first painting on Day3 is a detail of the Basilica on San Marco Piazza:

Detail of San Marco Basilica   10"x8"  oil on board

I set up quite close to be able to see something - any further and the basilica would have vanished completely:

Nobody is allowed to make fun of my hat by the way

I liked the way the fog was literally eating up the basilica on the edges of the building and towers:


At that time we met by chance other painters and at some point around 10 of us were painting on the Piazza. Some tourists made the most of the welcoming entertainment on this foggy day and decided to stop at each painter to have a look, just like you would on your local village Arts Trail...

David Bachmann inspired by the fog... (thanks David Pilgrim for the picture)

San Marco Piazza in the fog

Most of us decided to stay on the Piazza for a second painting and I did a little study of the lovely shops  in the Arcades around San Marco Piazza:

Shops at Piazza San Marco   10"x12"  oil on board

I was inspired by the beautiful architecture of the arches and the warm welcoming lights coming from the luxury jewellery shops. I did finish this one at home as I ran out of time to paint it all on the spot and decided to add the figure to bring life to the painting. 


My set up on the day

As I was setting up for this painting, two utterly cute children came to talk to me and have a look at my painting. I hadn't started yet but let them put the first few brushstrokes and filling the background on the canvas (not even ashamed to have child labour doing the job for me!). They both kept coming every 5 minutes or so giving me endless encouragement (doesn't matter how bad your painting is going, kids will always find it fantastic!). A local photographer (Fabio Thian) took a series of pictures of the moment and kindly sent them to me:

(check out his blog here to view all his superb photographs)

© Fabio Thian

© Fabio Thian

© Fabio Thian

After this painting, Haidee, Tim and I headed for the lovely square at Campo Santa Maria Formosa. It was ridiculously foggy at that time and we were all rather tired and grumpy (well, I was!). I struggled with my painting as instead of being a lovely colourful study, it was more like Venice in 50 tints of Grey! But again, some kids playing football on the square kept me entertained, so much that I ended up putting them in the painting (and the babysitter too) and giving them the painting for them to take home. They happily posed for me in front of the little painting:

Lucrenia, Daniela and Carlo Maria

The youngest boy seemed to be the most interested in the painting process so I let him have a try. This little Picasso ended up painting for half an hour, I simply couldn't stop him! There seems to be a pattern here about me relaxing and the kids doing the hard work!

Meanwhile, a few meters away, Haidee and Tim were producing little masterpieces of their own:


The next day, in spite of our prayers, voodoo sessions, and witchcraft spells, the fog was still there. We did a first painting at the Rialto Bridge but I was not pleased with it so it currently stands on the "will probably go to the bin" pile. Afterwards, Haidee and I headed for the Ospedale. I had to have a go at the famous sculpture in the middle of square:

Verrocchio - Bartolomeo Colleoni, Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo  9"x12"   oil on board

I chose a composition which had plenty of lines and structures to keep it interesting.

Haidee and I in action

My painting towards the end


Finally, I made the most of the last hour of daylight to do a quick study of the bridge standing just behind me so I turned around and stood alongside the water and did this little study in about 35 minutes:

Bridge at Santi Giovanni e Paolo   5"x7"  oil on board

Local people kept waving at me trying to warn me of the danger of standing on slippery seaweed just on the edge of the water. I wanted to explain that artists like to live dangerously for their Art but my italian didn't quite stretch that far so I just waved back at them.


Check my blog next week for the final post with my remaining paintings of the trip... That is, of course if we all survive the end of the world on Friday the 21st of December!
Meanwhile, I already wish you all a wonderful Christmas time!

My paintings are available for sale directly from me or through a gallery and can be shipped worldwide. Prices depends on size and subject and generally range from £100 to £500. Please email me to check prices and availability at