Love, love, love Venice!

Words and photos cannot do Venice justice.  It is magical, ancient and charming. I would love to be able to do an art residency here. Imagine that!!! For me, that would bring the saying “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven” to reality.

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Venice, Grand Canal

At every turn, when meandering through Venice, there’s a building or scene that I would LOVE to paint.

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Scuola Grande Di San Rocco, Venice
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My drawing of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

During our wanders, a set of magnets caught my eye. The shopkeeper asked if I spoke French?  I said, “yes” and we then conversed in French because French is easier than English for her because French and Italian languages are like cousins she explained.

Magnets by Amarnata De Francisci

There was a “no China” sign in the shop.  She explained that most magnets sold in Venice are made in China but these are Italian, painted by the Italian artist Amaranta De Francisci. That’s what attracted me to these magnets. I could see that they were not made in China. I love this Italian artist’s work and I also came to the realisation that I love speaking my first language, French.   The past few years, I’ve been semi-regularly practising my French by Googling sites that list common French phrases. It has helped rejuvenate my French, that, and my quite regular conversations with French speaking tourists at Salamanca Market, and now, in Italy.

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one of the many gorgeous handbags

There are beautiful shops with quality craftsmen here. I saw a pair of exquisitely crafted, ankle height, red leather boots to die for. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop to shop. When I went back the next day, there was a thick metal shutter hiding them out of sight. 😞😞 I wanted to at least get a photo of them. There are so many amazing leather goods, clothing, masks, quills and ink nib pens, and food, and prices are better than in Tasmania, Australia. Tasmania is an expensive island to live on.

I loved everything about Venice, even the chorus of suitcases rattling over the cobblestones, which usually started at 3 am in the morning.  Venice, I hope I will be back again to spend more time with you. 💙💜💚💛


Ideal working conditions – not

Today was our second day in Venice, Italy, and words or photographs cannot do it justice.  It is just stunning here.

Annette and I hit the cobblestones early this morning, with our art gear and set ourselves up in front of the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco.  This building is massive, intricate and complex.  The man sitting at the front, helps in showing how big this building is.



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Scuola Grande Di San Rocco in Venice, Italy
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Side view of the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco showing how much the columns protrude from the building
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Ornate columns of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

One of the things that makes urban sketching so challenging is the working conditions are usually less than ideal. You are outdoors, contending with heat or wind and insects, you’re not sitting comfortably if you’re sitting, often you’re standing, you’re balancing a sketch pad, trying to draw straightish lines without having your arm on a surface and usually you have a short period of time to capture the scene on paper. But it is these difficulties which help to create loose and lively artwork.  The charm of an urban sketch is its wonkiness, looseness and liveliness.

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Sketched in plein air with a blue watercolour pencil

At the hotel, I used an Artline 0.1 pen to add outlines and then applied watercolour. From the photo I couldn’t see what colours the square, circle and rectangular shapes were, nor could I remember. So, back I went wandering through the streets of Venice (such a hardship! -not!!!) and took note of the colours and also noticed the pattern in front of the door that I had not seen earlier.

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I added outlines with an Artline pen and then painted with watercolours

Tomorrow we’re jumping on a train to Vicenza, Italy to attend the Meet ‘n Greet start of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching workshop. Woo-hoo!

Elegant Venice

Despite Annette and I somewhat struggling with jetlag, we hit the cobblestones determined to do some urban sketching. We weren’t quite brave enough to bring our stools out and set ourselves up in the midst of the crowds but we did some sketching standing up. I actually did three and will try to finish them off.  This is the first drawing that I’ve finished. It is a scene I came across in my wanders in absolutely stunning Venice. The back of these buildings were very close to the Grand Canal.  I used a Lami Fountain pen.  When I applied watercolour, the ink ran and I lost some of my detail work. 😞


Note to Self: Do not ink the whole drawing when using a Lami Fountain Ink Pen because the ink bleeds way too much!!!  Ink the windows, under side of eaves and  so on, but not areas where I want light and clean colours. For example, the dome and the patterned eaves. The dome ended up being much darker then intended and I lost the beautiful patterning of the eaves. The top of the dome was virtually a silvery, tinged with turquoise colour.  Next time, note-to-self-person, paint the dome and eaves first, then apply the ink. Got it, hope I remember.

The back of buildings near the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy 

When we were leaning against the wall, sketching, a man set up his easel and a lady sat herself on a stool behind us and started sketching. Before we left, I introduced myself and found that the couple knew very little English.  Actually the woman knew no English and the gentleman very little. He told me that they were from Belgium but now living in Montreal, Canada. We then had a quite pleasant conversation in French and exchanged our emigration stories.

Hopefully Annette and I sleep well tonight so that we can make an early urban sketching start tomorrow with our urban sketching stools.