Tag Archives: commissions

Painting of the Grand Canal, Venice

Last night Susan and I watched the  BBC 2 programme Shakespeare in Italy narrated by Francesco da Mosto. Part of the programme was set in Venice, a city which was Susan’s home for 5 years and a place which has been a content source of inspiration for my paintings of Italy collection. One of my favourite views is taken from the Accademia Bridge, looking at the Santa Marie della Salute. I’ve painted it several times on location and using the sketches, I have produced a number of studio watercolours which have included commissions. On one particular painting, I decided to photograph the painting of the Grand Canal, Venice in stages so that one can see the progression and development of the painting, from the initial pencil drawing through the sequence of washes, to the build up of detail.

After stretching a sheet of hand made Italian watercolour paper on to the drawing board, the first stage was to draw out the main elements of the composition with a B pencil. I like to paint a lot of the detail from observation with my brush, so there isn’t a huge amount of detail in the pencil drawing.

Next, I covered the whole sheet with a wash of clean water then ran in a gentle wash of Winsor and Newton Cadmium Lemon from about a third of the way from the top of the board. This helps to take away the starkness of the white and set the tone and mood for the rest of the painting.

One the yellow had dried I repeated the process of laying a wash of clean water except once it hit the architecture, I began to be more random with the wash leaving some of the paper untouched by water. I quickly ran in a wash of Rose Madder into the water but left some of the yellow showing through as pure yellow.

Before starting the sky, I masked off some of the detailed areas in the water like the poles and boats so that I wasn’t having to paint around them with the blue. I started off the sky with quite an intense wash of French Ultramarine and Manganese Blue, fading it out slightly as the sky came closer to the horizon and then painting around the architecture.

Once it had dried, I deepened the blue for the foreground part of the Grand Canal I then started on the buildings on the right hand side. The detailed photograph shows how some of the blue in the sky and water was used as shadow areas for the buildings.

I finished the right hand side before commencing on the left so that I could use slightly more stronger colours to give the impression of the left hand side being closer.

When I rubbed off the masking fluid, it meant that the colour underneath remained as a base for the poles and boats. Strong, dark refections on the left provided further depth to the painting and once I had added the smaller areas of detail to the architecture and boats, the painting was completed. I have two paintings of the Grand Canal, Venice available as limited edition prints available online or from my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland. I also have an original watercolour available of the Grand Canal, Venice which I painted using the same process described.

 

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North Shields Fish Quay

North Shields Fish Quay Original Watercolour

North Shields Fish Quay

One of the first commissions I received when I went self employed back in 1984 was to do two original watercolours of the Tyne near the North Shields Fish Quay area for a leading North East businessman. Over the years I’ve kept going back to the reference material I gathered back then to do fresh interpretations of the same scenes. My watercolour style and technique has changed over the years but it still ends up being a joy to tackle paintings of the Tyne which capture a bygone era.

This particular watercolour depicts fishing trawlers berthed at the North Shields Fish Quay. It’s winter time, so the sun is low over the River Tyne and its dying rays are casting a warm glow over the battered hulls of the boats and the architecture. Further mood and atmosphere has been created by lifting out a little of the colour over some of the boats to give the effect of smoke rising from their engines. The use of counterchange for the masts, highlighted against the darker buildings, then dark against the wintery sky gives further added interest. The odd dot of red for the buoys brings extra sparkle to the painting. Achieving the orange and yellow clouds in a cool blue sky is always a challenge in watercolour as it’s easy for the colours to merge and become a dirty green, however I managed to pull it off. The original painting is currently on show at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Paintings of Italy

Over the last few years I’ve received a number of commissions from clients who have a home in Italy and who have wanted a painting of their property. Each building has been quite different in terms of size and location but they have all had their own distinct charm and appeal.

In 2007 I was commissioned by an English couple to do a painting of their home near a small, compact Umbrian village called Panicale, which overlooks Lake Trasimeno. We stayed in an old Villa called Villa Le Mura which was being restored by its owners. In the evening we met up with our clients that evening for a lovely meal at Masolino Albergo Ristorante which served us authentic Umbrian cuisine.

The following morning I woke up before 7am and drove straight to the property to catch the early morning light. I was just in time. I found a suitable vantage point in between some olive trees which gave a delightful aspect of the house nestling in its own little valley. Initially it was shrouded by a shadow being cast by the hill behind me but as soon as the sun rose above the horizon it was bathed in a warm golden hue.

I quickly embarked on a small sketchbook study in a tiny leather bound book purchased direct from the Fabriano Factory in Le Marches from a previous trip and whilst the paint was drying I took a number of photographs of the rapidly changing early morning light. The owners served me a very welcome and much appreciated coffee before I crashed on with another watercolour study, this time of the olive grove which surrounded their home.

I returned to capture the evening light but we decided that the mornings work was going to be sufficient to enable me to do the finished painting, a 21″ x 14″ watercolour which the client was delighted with.

Susan and I will be returning to Italy in September for a painting project in Florence and will be happy to meet up with anyone wishing to discuss any possible commissions of properties, holiday homes or favourite views, places to paint in Italy.

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