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 valpirlot1@hotmail.com


  1. Great post, lots of insight into your experiences as well as the production of an admirable collection of paintings.

  2. Great post Valerie! Some of your comments made me chuckle :) You've really captured the atmosphere that was there and made the most of all those greys with some really subtle colour harmonies. Love the cool/warm contrast in the shops at Piazza St Marco. Look forward to the final installment and the festive break beckons! Have a great Christmas.

    1. Thanks David! This trip was indeed a good practice for mastering the greys! I need to photograph a couple of paintings tomorrow and then should be ready for the last post before the end of the year. Looking forward to do some new paintings next year! Have a great Xmas David!

    2. I am so jealous of your trip. What a great excursion to make with your fellow artists. On your earlier post I'm not sure how you were able to see to paint anything other than the coats of the people you were surrounded by. I really think you came up with some very original compositions. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year with many more painting trips.

    3. Thanks Doug for the lovely comment! It was a great trip indeed and I know how lucky I was to be able to go there. I hope 2013 will hold other great trips and adventures for all of us!

  3. Lovely to see how our painting came to life, we love it, lovely to have met you at he weekend!

    1. Lovely to see you too and great to hear you like your little painting. It was done during a magical stay in Venice and I keep great memories from that trip. Good luck with your plein air adventures!

  4. Looking back at some of your posts - they are very informative and inspiring! You and Haidee made a really good job of the Colleoni monument - nice angle, which catches the swaggering pose of both horse and man

  5. Thank you Tim! That is pure dedication from you to dig into some old posts! Good to hear you find it interesting!