Saturday, April 26, 2014

Venice: Canal Side

"Campo Santa Maria del Giglio: Venice/NoPicnic," oil, 12"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2014
Ciao Florence; Buongiorno Venice!
Florence wasn't the end to our Italy trip. As we bid "Ciao" to Firenze, Randy and I boarded the train, happily, on our way to Venezia for a few days.

Such a great and easy train trip! There is something about this city. Just approaching it is exciting. I was snapping photos every inch progressing into the station.

Sore Feet, Sore Shoulders
We did make one big mistake -- that meant I was zonked for the first day. Instead of getting our vaporetto passes right there at the station, I wanted to walk to our hotel -- figuring -- how bad can it be? Then, we'd figure out what pass was the right one later.

Ouch. Even though Randy had the brunt of carrying the two huge suitcases -- my littler one and laptop bag became massive burdens when every few feet brought a new bridge with steps to get to the other side. And, GPS has no idea where you are here. I'd about lost hope when the familiar sight of our hotel loomed like a mirage, finally, ahead.

The painful walk, though, DID give us an insider's glimpse of the city immediately and I did photograph and watch a Venetian cat hunting pigeon from its second story window that WILL make it into a painting -- for sure.

A nap and finally a vaporetto ride round the whole canal made me come to my senses. Wow. The sights, sounds, beauty of canals and alleyways, gondolas, vaporettos and water taxis crossing every which way ... ancient buildings, flowers and gardens makes you feel like you're stuck in a movie set.

It wasn't until day two that I brought out my paints.

(There are sounds of an accordian and gondoliers below my window as I type this. Tough.)

My first set-up was right in the hotel square ... painting the gondolier station.

Post Rest: Day #2
Painting in the middle of the action lets you be a cross between fly on the wall and street entertainer. Clearly, being dressed up in an old-fashioned smock set up at your easel grabs the attention of many, but here I am in a city where masks sell in every third shop and costumed actors promote the shows at the theatres.  Eventually, the regulars get used to me and I get to watch everyday life unfold.  My first painting's focus was the gondolier station here at Campo Santa Maria del Giglio. I will paint in the gondoliers resting/waiting in their striped red/white or black/white shirts and matching hats. But here was the perfect, well-used picnic spot with a big sign "No Picnic" in the background. I didn't paint it, but I did notice. Clearly, in Italy, "no photo" and  "no picnic" are temporary admonitions to be readily, steadily ignored.

"Punta della Dogana, Venice," oil,  12"h x 16"w, copyright Jill Banks 2014
Late, late afternoon -- I set up near San Marco, painting -- what I now know as the Punta della Dogana, right near the Santa Maria della Salute, as the sun slowly retired. That spot was idyllic for me and the mosquitos. Funny that one or two or three of them followed a straight path down my cheekbone.

My first pass at this painting left me unimpressed. Sometimes, you can enjoy the process but not the results. I returned to the subject on Day #3 after finding inspiration and tutelage from stellar artists of the past. Nothing like the right museum to help out.

We're heading home tomorrow. There will be at least two more posts to follow, maybe three, of our adventures here in Italy -- so check back. Next week is full. Classes are back in session and I've been thinking about still life setups (inspired by Morandi seen at a museum today) and spots for my plein air landscape class (want to meet here?). Plus, I'll be getting ready for my first two-day outdoor arts festival being held next Saturday and Sunday, May 3 & May 4 in Fairfax Corners (the Fairfax Fine Arts Festival in Fairfax, VA). See my web site for more details.

That sounds so businesslike. Although I have been working hard, I've been soaking up all there is to see and enjoy these past two weeks. I've loved the classy, tough as nails older women who gather and converse, traverse mountains like there's no tomorrow. I've loved the troupes of Italian boys who possess all the confidence in the world coming up to me with a a big "Buongiorno!!!!" I've loved seeing families, on travel or at home here -- on picnics, holiday or working together.

There's so much more ... and it will come. What a treasure these days have been.

And, there's more Art News ... but dinner and perhaps some painting awaits.

Ciao and thank you for reading!

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May 3 & 4: Fairfax Fine Art Festival  I'll be under a tent in Fairfax Corners ... surrounded by artwork. Come visit/shop for original art. More details to come on my web site's Events page.

May 27-May 31: Mountain Maryland Plein Air I join 29 other artists juried from around the country to capture Cumberland MD and surrounding areas in this plein air competition and exhibition. Second time around.

May 31 & June 1: Great Falls Studios Spring Outdoor Art Festival  Two days with my work under a tent in the Great Falls Village Centre, corner of Georgetown Pike and Walker Road,  Great Falls, VA. Husband Randy will hold down “the Fort” on Saturday while I finish up at Mountain Maryland and then I hope to see you on Sunday, June 1!
March 5 - December: Richeson75 Still Life and Floral 2014  Two of my paintings: "Honey Bunny" and "Garden Girl" were chosen as finalists in this online competition and exhibition. 75 total works were selected for this exhibition from entries/artists worldwide. See the exhibit at

Paint with Me in Italy: August 3 to 10, 2014. For more info, itinerary and links to register, see the classes page on my web site. Great folks are signing up to join me on this wonderful adventure. I hope you can, too!

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