Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old Gold #3 - Venezia

Le Serenissima. Of all the cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting, arriving by train in Venice has got to rank among the most aesthetically sublime. Approaching Venice over the causeway is visually enticing -- a sneak preview of things to come. The train station is all massive and marble -- perhaps appealing only to those who are fans of Art Deco. But, to exit the station on a sunny day and to be struck by the complementary blues of the Grand Canal and the clear Adriatic sky on the one hand, and the warm earth tone of the Venetian architecture on the other, is to be transfixed.

gondolas (coming and going) near my hotel



And then there are the acoustics. As beautiful as Rome was, the sound level was like that of any modern city anywhere on the planet. After all, street traffic is noisy. In Florence, on the other hand, many of the streets and neighborhoods have been designated pedestrian only, and the only sounds are of voices and the rather soothing rhythmic plink, plink, plinking of masons hammers. But Venice, oh Venice! In Venice there is no vehicle traffic (nor many lanes wide enough to handle vehicles if there were.) The only sounds are those of people and, as you approach the canals, the lapping of water against hulls and the occasional relaxed thump of a slow-turning boat motor.

 a Venetian family "car" 

a peaceful, beautiful backwater 

Granted, there are crowded tourist centers -- historic attractions where visitors frequently outnumber residents. But it is easy to slip away down a narrow calle and spend hours sketching and exploring quiet, but beautiful neighborhoods with their earth-toned houses and small, unassuming churches (frequently housing art treasures that put to shame the collections of many world-class museums.)

 Burano is a delightful riot of pastel colors 



When the heat and the closeness of the alley walls begin to press in on you there are the vaporettos  -- the water busses -- offering a fresh breeze and the open lagoon, making their regular runs to the surrounding islands. Due to the summer heat, I chose to forego a visit to the glass furnaces of Murano and chose, instead, to explore the residential canals of Burano, the Lace Island -- l'isola all'estremit√† dell'arco della pioggia.

The canals are streaked with every color of the rainbow.



And, in the evening, there were quiet promenades with soothing breezes off the Adriatic, Vivaldi concerts performed by female quartets in period costumes playing period instruments in Vivaldi's own Santa Maria della Visitazione (La Pieta), or simply a late night drink at one of Piazza San Marco's sidewalk cafes (now with most of the tourists tucked safely away in their hotel rooms for the night.)





Interestingly, I usually use the same medium and sketchbook structure throughout a given trip. But not so on my last visit to Italy. In Rome I worked primarily in colored pencil and pen & ink. In Florence most of my work was in watercolor. But in Venice and Burano I alternated between line drawings in pen & ink and oil paintings -- the medium of Titian and Giovani Bellini.

sometimes I sketched on postcards


and sometimes on scraps of watercolor paper tucked into my sketchbook

And, as with so many visitors before me, Venice's siren song continued to haunt my creative thoughts long after I returned home -- even showing up in the form of a glimpse of the Grand Canal (lifted from one of my sketches) in a portrait I did of my daughter in her very first formal gown (for our first father-daughter dance.)

Le Serenissima


I hope you have enjoyed our little visit together and that you'll join me again for the next installment of Old Gold -- when we're off to the Lake District.

 

13 comments:

  1. Gorgeous paintings. Sadly I only spent a few hours in Venice.

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    1. Thank you Alena and Yorky. I suspect that, once you have this city in your blood, you can never spend "enough" time in Venice. Fortunately, I had a family who insist that I take them to Italy now. (I guess a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. ;-D)

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  2. I love the serene quality, and I can hear the water lapping.

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    1. Me too. It haunts me (in a very pleasant way. :-D)

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  3. A wonderful compilation of images from Venice! Such wonderfully rendered drawings and watercolors! I was able to spend half a day there last year and your images bring back the wonderful feel of the place.

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  4. Your images are gorgeous, Earnest!

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  5. Superb. This was one of the most interesting blogposts that I have visited recently!

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  6. Earnest these are absolutely stunning!! You are the master of depicting water ... I love your beautiful paintings - remind me somewhat of Annecy in France where I visited this year ... this is gorgeous work!
    We are hoping to travel again so far from Australia to London and then on to Italy in 2013 - and of course Venice is on our list ..

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    1. Sounds like a wonderful itinerary Vicki. I hope you'll share your sketches with us online!

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  7. More lovely sketches and paintings. By the way, ref. something you wrote in an earlier post, how do you use watercolours with a dip pen? Do you have to mix up a potful to the correct cosistancy. I like the idea and would like to try it sometime, I haven't used a dip pen for ages.

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    1. Hi Nina. I use a watercolor brush to mix the color I want as I go . (If you do this you'll experience a certain degree of tonal shift, which I rather enjoy.) I can then use the brush to transfer the "ink" to the pen nib. Oh, if you are working on location, you might try one of the Japanese water brushes (with a water reservoir in the handle) -- no need to carry a separate water container then. :-)

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  8. OH my, Earnest, you portray such an amazing picture of Venice, both in your art and in your words. Just beautiful!!! Btw, a gorgeous painting of your daughter and I loved that you added a touch of Venice too.

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