watercolors in venice

i’ve been in venice, italy, for six weeks now, and have six more weeks here before going back.  i brought my watercolor paper (3 blocks of cold pressed arches) and most of my pigments (72 of them) plus the gum arabic to mix up watercolors with.  i also brought my old watercolor palette, from when i used to use tube paints, but i find most of them aren’t venetian colors, and i don’t want to use them.

for instance, i have tube blues (ultramarine, cerulean, indigo, idanthrone, prussian) but the water here is cobalt green and mayan blue.  (my friend marie matthews likes to mix up cerulean and yellow ochre.)

anyway, i have the old palette, and the new one, and i mix up what i need for the painting.

i’ve done five paintings so far, and am working on a sixth at the moment.  it’s not very fast work, but i have several excuses – a three year old grandson, and houseguests.   so i’m dancing as fast as i can…

here is what i have done to date.  i’m not very happy with them, because they’re far too tightly painted, and i was hoping for more looseness.  but i’m doing architectural paintings, and they are by nature pretty nit picky.  when i start in with the silk painting, it’ll loosen up.  it has to.  i can’t do tight with silk.  i had hoped to bring my encaustics, because they’re also by nature loose, but you can’t take orange oil on the plane, and i’m not into smuggling, so i just didn’t bother.

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this one is of a building i saw on my first day here.  it’s at the the of a street that leads to via garibaldi, the main shopping street for this part of venice.  there’s a guy walking down it, away from my viewpoint.  the day i took the reference photo, there was a delivery boat.  it must be a quarter of a mile to via garibaldi, but they deliver from this point, at least some of the shops get their deliveries from here.  there is another canal that actually ends at via garibaldi, but it’s not convenient for this shop or delivery boat.  who can tell?  i liked it because the building is so ornate, with a garden on the veranda.  so i painted it.  it’s 11″x14″, and i used the tube colors of my old palette.

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i did this one next.  it’s on a street leading to the island of san pietro,, and i’ve taken the view from campo ruga because i just loved the building on the corner.  it’s on the same sized paper as the last one, and uses the same old palette.

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for a change, i decided to do one of the houses on the grand canal, at one of the extreme high tides we had during the last full moon.  for this one, i had to break out the pigments, because i just didn’t have the blues.

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then i did one of another little alley off of via garibaldi (never straying far from home, so far).  i continue to be entranced by all the laundry people hang out.  in the courtyard of the apartment where we’re staying, the women put out laundry every day, and that seems to be all they do (which isn’t fair, because it’s just all i see…).  i can’t do the same, because i don’t have a clothesline.  i have a folding drying rack that i put next to the radiator, so it dries the clothes actually a bit better than they dry outside (in all kinds of weather), but they don’t smell as nice, and i can’t participate in the ritual.  oh well.  it’s also on the same sized paper, using the tube paints.

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this one is different.  it’s in the same area (when we first got here it was completely blocked by the caterpillar roller coaster ride of the luna park, but now that it’s gone…)  i took the reference shot from the vaporetto, at high tide, and put the painting on clayboard.  i love working with clayboard because it takes the watercolor so well, and you can lift the paint off again.  so the clouds, and the dripping water from the broken wave are all lifted, as is the really too intense yellow ochre i put on the walls of the house.  the clayboard measures 3″x4″, so this is a miniature, and i used my pigments for the first time with this painting.  they are much more true to life than the tube colors on the old palette, so i’m going to continue mixing my own colors while i paint.

that’s all i’ve done so far.  tonight i mixed up my silk dyes, and i’ll start on some lagoon views in a day or two.  i’m not sure if i’m going to attempt to set my paintings here (i had so much trouble getting the volcano paintings to set properly that i’m frankly nervous about doing anything here, so we’ll see.)

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