Venice is every artist’s ambition: for the watercolourist, to emulate Sargent’s free-flowing , rapid brushstrokes, drinking in the indolent atmosphere of water gently lapping against the side of a gondola. The thing that strikes one about Sargent’s watercolours of Venice is his low angle, always looking up - so different to the modern viewpoint from a bridge over a canal or the fondamenta alongside, - and the flat unruffled waters. Why? because he was always painting from a gondola. No vaporetti or delivery barges to toss the gondola around, and make it impossible to paint.
I have a friend who is an accomplished Venetian rower, and keeps his own sandolo outside his ground floor studio. He suggested I should use his sandolo as a base to paint from - emulating Sargent. So he tried to teach me Venetian rowing; absolutely impossible, I didn’t have the balance. Anyway next time I went I realised painting from a gondola would be completely impossible - except in Covid days without any motorised boats to rock the boat.
That apart, Venice is a magical place to paint, with painterly views in all directions, incomparable reflections, and magnificent buildings. Architecture is always a favourite subject for me.
As for architecture, where else to paint than Florence? Distant views of the Duomo from Fiesole and San Miniato al Monte, and street views always leading to the Duomo.
For architecture, Sicily is extraordinary: not just Greek temples! For me, much more exciting are the exotic mannerist façades and balconies on palaces built all over south-east Sicily in the late 18th Century, after a massive earthquake had flattened many of the towns, and the Spanish King instructed them to be re-built: really complicated drawing to get the dimensions right! Take a look at Palazzo Beneventano in Scicli…
In this long, thin, coastal country, for me the most interest lies in boats and seascapes (reflections of course!)
This extraordinary circular island was formed by a gigantic submarine volcano eruption in about 1650 BC. What remains is the rim of the volcano, rising vertically over 1000 ft out of the sea, crowned by the striking multi-coloured houses of Oia. See Santorini and die! Not to be missed…