Painting on a bridge in Venice

Freda Surgenor

Caringbah, Australia

  • Artist
  • Comments 14

Artist's Description

Venice Day One

Here I am on Venice, starting my very first Plein air painting for 25 years.

I decided not to go too far from out hotel on our first day. Its very easy to get lost here as the streets are like a maze. Dave came with me to help me set up and give a bit of support on this adventure. Then he went off exploring with the camera.

I had decided to sit on a bridge and face down the canal as these are the views I like the best, also I was in nice shade.

I started to draw, thanking my lucky stars that I have had at least 12 twelve years experience of life drawing under my belt. This gave me confidence to start. Then, when the drawing was finished to my satisfaction, I started to paint. This was done in watercolour as, to me, it’s the best medium for this kind of outdoor work.
I started with the sky and suddenly, to my horror, the sun moved on to my painting. I couldn’t move because the whole bridge was in brilliant sunshine and there was nowhere to go. The sky went on all blotchy because the warmth from the sun dried the paint almost instantly and I couldn’t make the wash blend properly. Also I couldn’t see the scene in front of me properly because the glare off the paper was closing my pupils so when I looked up, everything looked dark and the shadows had no detail in them.

By this time I had collected an ever changing large audience. So I simply soldiered on, thinking that there was always tomorrow to have another go! As I worked on getting my main shadow areas in, the sun obligingly moved on and I was in shade again. What a relief, I could now see the details in the shadows and was able to make progress. Also I realised that no one was going to stand behind me and count how many windows I was putting in and whether the wrought iron was there or not. I could use my artist’s licence and simplify wherever I wanted to. I also realised that I was doing field work, it was a sketch, and not meant to be highly finished like my studio work.

It took four hours to go from start to finish. At home a painting like this would take about a week. I am glad I decided to try this out. It’s a lovely way to paint. I remember a friend oncel said to me how she loved to do plein air as a change from studio painting, she said that it made her eyes hungry and I certainly understood what she meant.


plein air

Artwork Comments

  • Sally Griffin
  • Freda Surgenor
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