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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

A Different View of Venice

Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. The first time I went to Venice I stayed an entire month so that I could paint scenes like this along with the typical paintings of Saint Marks Square and the views from the Rialto Bridge. This boatman had just dropped off his produce at the local open air market and was heading to the outskirts of the city. I assumed only the gondolier's who catered to the tourists wore these straw hats with the red ribbons so it was interesting to discover that they were also worn by the workmen.

Venice is such an enchanting city with things to paint around every corner. I discovered bookstores, artists studios, charming little restaurants and mask shops where you could watch the artisans at their craft. For this painting, I chose watercolor paper with lots of texture so that I could get the dry brush effects that you can see on the distant bridge and along the colors on the boat. This technique allows bits of white paper to remain unpainted as the brush moves across the rough surface. It also worked well on the wall where you can see all the subtle colors that have been exposed by the weather.

The water in the Venice canals is never just one color and here I used different grays along with mixtures of olive green, cerulean blue and ultramarine blue. The crates in the boat are two different values of cerulean blue and the front cover is actually venetian red. I left unpainted white paper for the mans shirt and the choppy water from the motor. Capturing an interesting scene like this on a little piece of white paper is a challenge and what you leave out is often as important as what you include. You can see that the distant building with the bridge and two figures has far less detail and more soft edges than the foreground and middle ground where you find the focal point.

Right now because of the pandemic and absence of tourists, Venice is probably the cleanest it has been in my lifetime and I understand there are actually fish swimming in the canals. I can hardly wait to visit the city again and connect with some old friends when travel is safer and we all feel a wonderful sense of freedom. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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