I was so looking forward to it, but once we arrived, I think we were all overwhelmed by the beauty and complexity of Venice; one of the biggest challenges for us was what to focus on in this magical city. We were a loosely organised group, completely free to go off and do our own thing.
On Day 1 I started by trying to 'sketch myself in'. I sat down next to a canal near where we were staying (in the Dorsoduro) and made a start. I caught sight of a view along a small canal with a rather quirky and intriguing building in the distance - a bit of a focal point - with the context of the canal and a bridge in the composition.
I found it interesting to be away from the main tourist hot-spots. It made me think about who lives in Venice and trying to find the 'real' Venice as a sketching subject. But Venice looks like such a confection, I think this makes it unlike any other city I've been to. While it's not a film-set, there are very few parts of the city which are not full of amazing beauty and therefore of interest to visitors. Another thought going through my head was that so many artists have drawn and painted Venetian scenes, it was hard not to think that 'It's all been done before and by much better artists'. So all these thoughts led to a feeling of uncertainty about what to sketch.
So here I was in a very urban place where I could hardly see a tree or even the sky, and there was not a hill in sight.....what was I to sketch? There were only buildings....and water. Perhaps a bit of my planning background reasserted itself, a throwback from student days. I tried a variety of subjects - single doors, like this.....
On our second day we went off to Canareggio, via the station. My initial impression was that it was a bit dark and oppressive, but I soon found a bit of colour. Actually, I really loved the Canareggio area, and I can't believe that I forgot to visit Tintoretto's house which is located there. I think this old rusting watergate was quite close to it.
On Day 3, we went to the island of Burano. Suddenly there was a big sky, and trees. The buildings were not so tall and it felt much more open. I did a few sketches there
The next day, I thought I must have an attempt at drawing a couple of old palace buildings. I used ink in order to get the details of the window shapes - so vitally important to the character of the building. I found a quiet viewpoint across the Grand Canal from a rather drab but lovely palace, so I focused on drawing and restrained the amount of colour.
In my next blog I hope to have a few emerging paintings.