Sunday, 9 December 2012

Venice - Day 1 & 2

After a week back at work, I finally managed to take the pictures of my paintings from the Venice trip. I stayed with 3 other painters (Haidee-Jo SummersDavid Pilgrim  and Tim King) and we shared an apartment near the Rialto Bridge. Although it wasn't a proper "organised trip", there were several other painters in various accommodations including Karl Terry, David Bachman, Chris Daynes, Tony Dakin, Stuart Fullerton, Roy Connelly, Mike Richardson, Sidney Cardew and Eric Davies. It was fun to keep bumping into each other during the trip.


Here are my paintings from my first two days in Venice. On the first day Haidee and myself set up on the Piazzetta to catch the beautiful morning sky:

Piazzetta in the morning   12"x9"  oil on board

Piazzetta, San Marco


We set up on the top of those "tables" laid out for the high water. It gave us a great perspective and kept us out of reach from the tourists:

Haidee and I

You can see who is the lazy one sitting down :-)

My painting at the end of the session

In the afternoon, after trying those delicious italian sandwiches I tackled the unavoidable Basilica San Marco. No wonders it's such an popular subject; it's simply magnificent! 

Piazza San Marco between the clouds  12"x10"  oil on board


It was quite a challenge to paint, without mentioning the fact that I was standing right in the middle of the square attracting masses of curious tourists. I must say most of them were lovely and gave me nice words of encouragement to keep me going... Someone even gave me two roses!

A local photographer (Luca Girardini) took these two pictures while I was painting and kindly sent them to me:

© Luca Girardini 

© Luca Girardini 

The picture below was kindly taken by fellow painter David Pilgrim and shows the kind of crowd we sometimes have to cope with when painting in public places! I must admit I felt a bit the pressure as it seems every brushstroke I made was carefully inspected by the onlookers!

DAY 2:

On the second day, first thing in the morning we tackled the Salute from the other side of the Grand Canal. The light coming from behind the Salute was just fantastic and gave a lovely contre jour effect: 

Salute Maria della Salute - early morning  12"x10" oil on board

We actually managed to find the exact same spot where Ken Howard - the master of Venice paintings - stands on his Venice oil DVD. I realise it must sounds sadly geeky! I just wish I produced the same painting as him! I almost wiped mine of frustration but manage to "save" it after all.

My easel in the foreground and David Pilgrim and Tim King in the distance

We then crossed the water and Haidee and I painted near the Salute looking across the canal towards San Marco. What caught our eyes was the lovely sunlight on the buildings contrasting with the dark blue gondolas in the foreground. The is the result of my efforts:

View accross the Canal from Fondamenta Dogana alla Salute  10"x8"  oil on board


Haidee and I in action, blissfully unaware that two minutes later
I smashed my turp glass bottle in pieces in the floor!

After this, most of us then started wandering in the little streets around the Accademia looking for inspiration and the reflections of the sunny buildings on the water caught my eyes so I went for a little study of the scene:

Reflections - Fondamenta Venier Sebastiano   10"x8"  oil on board

At the beginning


At the end of the session, the light reflections on the water had completely gone so I was mainly painting from memory.

At the end

Haidee, Roy and I finally went for a quick "nocturne" painting just alongside the canal. I planned to catch the sunset but by the time I got my painting material ready it was completely dark! We all felt pretty hardcore painting at what felt like 11 at night but in fact it was only 4 in the afternoon! Despite my pretty cool head torch light, I couldn't really see what I was doing but at the same time it probably gave a feel of spontaneity and urgency to the painting which I quite like:

The Accademia bridge at night  10"x7"  oil on board

The view as we started
Haidee and I painting with Roy's easel in the foreground- thanks Roy for the pic!

My painting towards the end


I will post soon more paintings from Day 3 and 4 so watch this space!

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


  1. GReat set of pictures reflecting what must have been wonderful experience. It's a tribute to your stamina that you got so many pieces done.

    1. Thanks for the comment Mick! It was hard work to paint non stop indeed but it's all fun after all so won't complain!

  2. These are superb Valerie!! The zoom/detail shots would work well as paintings in themselves, testament to your lovely brush strokes. I really like the way you've used the poles on the Fondamenta Dogana. They have a great rhythmic energy. Very cleverly done :) I really do love the light effect you've created in that first one....perfectly captured the moment!

    1. Thanks David! Fondamenta Dogana is one of my favourite so glad you like it. I agree with the zoom comment, quite often I wish I went for that format instead. Maybe I should try to experiment more with very small studies in the future for fun. I'll try to photograph my other paintings this week end. Still 11 more!

  3. The blog we have been waiting for has arrived! Great stuff Valerie and you must be pleased with your work because it has a wonderful vitality despite having to work in some difficult conditions. I am glad someone captured the San Marco crowds around you - and your patience with the Santa Maria Formosa kids. Thanks so much for the calendar - Maddy loves it. Pete Brown's will have to go in the loo now!