“Ascension” Wax pastels and coloured pencils, 36.5 x 36.5 cm. February 2020
Yes, all the complaints are true; tourists, floods, cruise ships, corruption, commercialization – not to mention that Venice is actually sinking. It is mortal, as is everything physical.
But look past all that, to the utter beauty, and the spirit. Her soul soars – as does mine when I am there – embraced by her environment.
Close to Heaven.
“Most Serene” Neocolor 2 wax pastels and Luminance pencils. 33.5 x 48.5 cm. January 2020.
On my final morning in Venice I plan to sleep in, having risen before daybreak for the previous six days in a row.
In our dark bedroom at 5 o clock, a mosquito is sent to wake me up. Eventually this insistent messenger’s whine is enough to toss me out of the room into a cold foggy dawn.
I cross the Accademia bridge without a particular plan. As I wonder which way to go, a vaporetto (little steamer) materializes through the mist. As she glides nearer she brings the scene to life – aglow, awake and at work (as am I) in a still-slumbering city.
Venice – La Serenissima – Most Serene
Postscript: What a funny thing that something as irritating as a mosquito could lead to a serene situation. There must be a moral to this story. Happy endings may come out of perceived misfortune.
Notes on colour-building with Neocolor 2 and Luminance are in my previous post Perfect Partners
Neocolor 2 undercoat
“Wafting” 36 x 28.5 cm. September 2019
During the previous fortnight while I worked on a commission of a Japanese lantern, I reminded myself of the principle of undercover white. What do I mean by this? The same colour (let’s say red) when mixed with white, results in a different pink/light-red depending on whether white is put down underneath the red, or over it. The following diagram illustrates this…
The first swatch in the diagram is Caran d’Ache Permanent Red 061. In the middle swatch I have put down a layer of Holbein Soft White 501 and THEN layered Permanent Red 061 over the top. Notice how soft and glowing the result is – perfect for creating luminosity – as in lanterns. The final swatch is the result of Permanent Red 061 underneath with Soft White on top. This is the SAME red with white, but mixed in reverse order. TOTALLY DIFFERENT!
In the above drawing “Wafting” the entire area of the lantern has Soft White underneath. White acts like a secret agent; Undercover White. This method creates glow.
Four years ago I wrote a post about this use of white (which I taught myself) however after doing the current drawing, it seems like a good idea to repeat the lesson. It is useful knowledge to have up your sleeve.
The delicate-red parasol in “Being There” also employed this technique.
https://juliepodstolski.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/the-power-of-glow/ – the link to the first post on this subject in 2015.
“Good thinking, 99”.
Deep in Castello
“Deep in Castello”
Coloured pencils, 31 x 26 cm. Drawn in August 2019.
As I walk through the narrow maze, I notice a lone figure up ahead. She is momentarily framed by lamp light before she turns right and vanishes into an archway.
In the dim drizzle there is a feeling of being submerged here, as if the sea had already swallowed Venice whole.
Deep in wintry Castello how do I draw the mental line between inspiration and unease, intimate space and claustrophobia?
“Summer Rain 1” coloured pencils, 25 x 19 cm. July 2019
Summer Rain 2, coloured pencils, 25 x 20 cm. September 2019
All the colours run into a kaleidoscopic blur when a thunderstorm strikes Verona. Those with umbrellas exercise their right to dawdle while those without hurry forth. We are objects within a watercolour as forms melt and merge in a gush of summer rain.
The small pair side by side…
“Sunrise Reflected” Coloured pencils, 35 x 35 cm. June 2019
As I walked home with Matthew late on Saturday night I said to him that I would definitely NOT get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday (as I had been doing every day so far in Venice) but I would sleep in. I didn’t want to burn the candle at both ends; I mean, I’m no spring chicken!
“Silent Night” – a drawing from Saturday night when we stayed out late.
However, despite sensible intentions to rest, I flung myself out of bed and out of the apartment before sunrise. I dashed across the ponte dell’ Accademia and straight onto a southbound vaporetto (water bus). Just as the boat glided away from the stop and into the Grand Canal the sun was rising. There before my eyes were the palazzos (and the vaporetto stop) madly reflecting back the sunlight. It was a dawn chorus of light, a visual symphony on that Sunday morning.
After I took a whirlwind of photos an inspector came to check that I had a valid ticket. I did. We exchanged big smiles. And all was brilliant with the world.
coloured pencils, 32.5 x 29 cm. May 2019
Late on Saturday night there are people partying in Venice. We walk past a hot-spot where there is a silent disco on the campo. (Silent? Yes, the dancers are all wearing headphones – a surreal sight.)
We continue on our journey, navigating ourselves deep into the peace of Dorsoduro.
No cars, not even the hum of far-away traffic. It is a profound silence, broken only by the soft thuds of shoes on stone and perhaps a voice carried on the breeze.
And shortly after this, we find ourselves lost once again. But we don’t mind.
The Remains of the Day
“The Remains of the Day”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 36.5 x 30.8 cm. February 2019.
Venice: November 2018. It is nearly 4 pm and the sun is already inclining westwards. I am going west as well, back towards my apartment, plodding along happily worn out. But then…a light bulb moment…
‘I know – what if I point my lens into the sun?’ It is poised above Punta della Dogana and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, shining directly into my eyes. (I raise the camera, quickly compose and then close my eyes as I click, click, click.) Voilà!
The air is all haze and halo, evaporating some objects while solidifying others (including people) into dark abstractions. Sea mirrors sky; blazing here, sparkling there. A seagull has swooped into my view. Perfect.
There are probably only 90 minutes of daylight left. I will be back sitting on my bed by 5 pm scrolling through photographic images. ‘Here’s a good one.’
The two drawings from this day are bookends – starting with “Early One Morning” (07:50) and finishing with “The Remains of the Day” (15:50). Matthew (husband) came up with the titles – the first being a Celtic folk song and the second, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Early One Morning
“The Remains of the Day”
A Room with a View
“A Room with a View” – coloured pencils, 31.5 x 28 cm. January 2019
We have a room with a view!
On our first night in Venice I sit at the open window – looking, listening, still. And then I reach for my camera. Perhaps this view (this sentiment) can be captured in a drawing. Shutter clicks follow.
Sounds of lapping water drift upward. Distant voices from figures on the bridge float on the air, echoing between stone. It has been raining; maybe it still is – [I can’t remember]. The buildings are lace silhouettes, their white lights reflect on black water.
(“E.M Forster, I’m borrowing your novel title for my drawing. Is that OK with you?”)
The following three nights I hardly glance outwards as I flit about the room. I am already used to the view – desensitized. Isn’t that a peculiar thing about human nature…
The Artist’s Way
“The Artist’s Way” Coloured pencils October 2018
The artist’s way is a journey where sometimes one feels certain about the path ahead only to become thoroughly lost at the next turn.
When I visited rue Quincampoix that night in October 2016 I was in familiar territory and was delighted to see it illuminated so vibrantly. I took photos and walked in a happy daze. Continuing home (so I thought) I turned up one street, thinking it was another, and led myself into an unfamiliar area. Alone. At night. Lost in Paris. After some hasty and intimate time spent with my map, I righted my wrong and got home.
Similarly I went into my most recent exhibition full of certainty. But over the two weeks in the public gaze I lost my bearings. Certainty dissolved into a state of trepidation as I experienced the full spectrum of reactions; from praise, through indifference to actual hostility. (Only one person was truly hostile.)
To be lost, found, and lost again in an endless cycle throughout a life, questioning one’s art and one’s very existence, is the artist’s way.
In the end the thing that you feel is your undoing is also your way back to sanity – art.
Another drawing from the same photo-shoot is “Guiding Lights”, drawn in 2016.
The drawing below shows the way I drew this street back in 2012.
“Conversations at Dusk” 2012