Archive for category Subject: Venice

Venice: a watercolour journey || P L Hobbs

Venice is one of the most visited, photographed and painted places in the world. This, however, is a bit more than just another tourist souvenir.

Phil Hobbs has been visiting the city for over twenty years and paints not just the grand vistas, but also the forgotten corners and the people who live there, as well as those who come to stand and stare. The result is a vibrant portrait of a living entity that captures the sense of place to perfection. Anecdotes and historical snippets add to the life and vibrancy that leap off the pages.

Phil’s style is fairly conventional loose(ish) watercolour, but he also varies it subtly so that there are more washes when atmosphere is key and it becomes a little tighter when detail is important. People are identifiable as individuals rather than simple place-holding blobs.

If you’re a lover of watercolour and of Venice, this is a book you’ll really want. It’s almost a visit in itself.

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Painting Venice || Judi Whitton

It’s a brave artist who self-publishes. Quite apart from the technical expertise required and the expense, you still need a good designer and it’s easy to think you can manage without an editor (you can’t!).

This, though, looks and feels entirely professional and you might not even know it wasn’t a commercial product if I hadn’t told you. The format is a little larger than we’re sometimes used to, but not so big that it’s hard to handle. It’s also square, which provides flexibility in layout and doesn’t favour either vertical or horizontal illustrations.

The idea of the book isn’t to be a guide to Venice, or a guide to painting Venice, but rather some ideas for the travelling painter who might be going anywhere. That could be as far as the end of the road – it doesn’t have to involve air fares and passports.

There’s an excellent variety of subject material: buildings, water, people and boats, all presented in Judi’s pleasantly loose style that creates an impression rather than a defining image. As well as completed images and stages of completion (they’re mostly not exactly step-by-steps or demonstrations), there are photographs and sketches. The text covers a great deal of practical matter: technical in relation to things like washes as well as getting about and the need to have somewhere to shelter in the inevitable rain. It all has the feel of a pleasant evening spent with an old hand before making your own first foray.

There are many reasons why you should buy this book and the fact that it’s about Venice is arguably the least of them!

Painting Venice

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Venice in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Joe Francis Dowden

Whether to publish a series of books on painting in specific places has been the subject of often quite anguished discussions over the years. On the one hand, people go on holiday and the idea of a guide to where to look, what to paint and what materials to take looks like the proverbial no-brainer. On the other hand, books on painting on holiday sell like stale cakes.

So it’s quite amusing to find that the Ready to Paint series has developed a branch that takes this idea one step further, with its pre-printed tracings of classic subjects in a variety of cities. But then again, with all that done for you, do you really need to spring for the air ticket as well? The real purpose here, it seems to me, is that you can paint the Grand Canal at sunset in the comfort of your own living room, and get make a decent fist of it at the same time. I mean, what’s not to like? (That was a rhetorical question, please don’t write in.)

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Venice in Acrylics: Ready to Paint || Wendy Jelbert

OK, now I’m beginning to get scared. This series has turned out much better than I’d expected and has gone down very well with painters in general. Much of its appeal lies in the excellent execution – done badly it would have been barely more than a glorified painting-by-numbers game, but the idea of being freed from the tyranny of the initial drawing has worked and that’s good. But tracings of a real place? Isn’t that cheating?

Well, maybe, but Venice is the Mecca for the artist and not everyone can get there, so the idea of an armchair guide does make sense. How you explain the resulting artwork on your wall is up to you; Wendy’s keeping schtum on that one.

The five demonstrations will give you a good selection of the classic Venice scenes, including the Rialto bridge, the Grand Canal and the inevitable gondola. If you want to paint Venice and your travelling is all done firmly from your armchair, look no further, the world is coming to you. If I have a quibble, it’s that the finished results look, frankly, a bit amateurish and not totally up to Wendy’s usual standard, which is a shame, because there’s a market for the definitive Venice book and I’m just not sure this is it. Pity.

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