hello from venice, italy

I have taken my wife and grandson to Venice, Italy, for three months, and we are approaching the halfway point, which has arrived much faster than we had expected. Nevertheless, I am working at my usual rate, and have produced several pastel paintings in that time. Before I left my home in Atlanta, I made a lot of handmade paper, as well as a whole range of pastels to supplement the spotty offerings available commercially, and I brought them all with me.  So I am working on paper I have pulled myself, with some of the pastels I made myself.  None of them are framed; they’ll all be going home with me in a box, and I’ll mount and frame them when I get back to Atlanta.

Here are the ones I have finished so far.  I hope you like them.

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This is the first one I painted.  It’s about 8″x10″, and it’s of the little bridge that crosses over into the island where we are staying.  I walk across this bridge once or twice a day, at least.  You might not notice how raggedy the edges are, because these pictures were taken with the paintings resting on our back steps, and the color of the marble is similar to the base color of the paper.

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This next one is of the Salute church, across the Grand Canal.  It’s about 9″x12″.  I was standing in a station for gondolas when I looked up and down the Grand Canal, and this was the view down to my left, toward the Giudecca Canal.  I also have some material for another painting with the view to the right, which is quite different.  But that hasn’t happened yet.

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I did this one next, of the water at high tide, flooding the steps down to the canal along the Biennale walkway.  This is one of those little scenes of water and marble that no-one would notice, looking at the beautiful scenes of Venice.  It’s just a common little waterway next to a vaporetto dock.  But I liked it a lot.  In fact, as well as anything I’ve done here.

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This is a little bridge that I also cross every day, between the Giardini and the Riva de Siette Martiri.  It has four angels carved on the side, but I’m going to have to do a bigger painting of it to show the angels.  (Incidently, it’s the bridge my wife painted for her first Venice painting.)

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Then I did this one, from the Rialto market.  There are so many wonderful scenes to paint; I can’t get them all.  But I’m going to try, even if I have to keep painting for two years after I get home.

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Next I tried something on a half sheet of Fabriano paper I brought with me in case I wanted to do something larger.  It’s about 8″x20″.  I did several preliminary pastels to collect the material as the costume regatta was passing us on opening day of Carnival.  (That’s me in the red cape, by the way.)  There were hundreds of people standing all around us, and on top of the next bridge, and I was delighted to leave them all out.  Carnival would be a great event to attend if only all the tourists would stay away, because they keep getting in the way of my camera.  There were about about 150 boats in the regatta, but the one with the black figures in the white masks was my favorite.

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After messing with the regatta painting for about a week, I wanted to do something really quiet, so this is what came out.  A quiet little canal, with three little gondolas passing by.  They would be coming under me as I was standing on the bridge to view this. Once again, the reflections in the water was one of my main interests in this painting.  Also, the tone of the painting allowed for a great deal of the untouched paper to show thru.  About 8.5″x11″.

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This costumed carnival figure is seen at the front door of her rented apartment as she is coming home with her friends, all of whom we photographed earlier at San Marco, posing for the cameras at dawn.  She and her friends are teachers in Germany, and they come to Carnival every year and rent this same apartment (the owners of which didn’t want to rent to us next year, because there are only 3 of us, and it’s a 5 bedroom apartment).  They came back to the apartment after a tiring morning posing, were going to have a nap, and then get dressed and go back out for the evening session on San Giorgio Maggiore, after which there was undoubtedly a ball or two to attend.  This is done on the largest paper I made, which is 11″x17″.

I’m going to begin studies for another, larger painting of these ladies this afternoon, posed in front of their apartment, which is in the same campo as the Contarini del Bovolo staircase (the famous spiral one).

I’ll have more soon.  Please let me know what you think.

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