Monday, September 04, 2006

My Venice 2

Gondola Dreaming, watercolor, 8 1/2" x6 1/2"
I found my "gondola period" lurking on a closet shelf.
For a while I was obsessed with painting gondeliers and spent hours searching for them on google...
Here's the thing. While you're actually on vacation, you're walking around like a human sponge trying to absorb everything in sight and generally wearing yourself out in the process. But joyously, so it's OK.

Once you're home you have the leisure and the photos to focus on your trip. Plus you're usually not that thrilled to be home, so any distraction that takes you back to your vacation is like eating chocolate- a welcome relief.
Your friends will soon be bored stiff hearing how GREAT your trip was, so it's best to keep it to yourself and your computer. Often you'll have more intense experiences gazing endlessly at Google images then you had on the spot.

                                 Three Gondoliers, watercolor, 9" x 5 1/2"
These blobby sketches are done the same way as the big blobs. First you draw doodles with just clear water on your brush. Then drop in some color.
Tilt the paper gently to move the paint around, et voilà. It helps if you use warm and a cool colors for contrast to liven things up.
 Gondolas became an obsession after my Venice trip.
I didn't even consider riding in a gondola while in Venice. It's prohibitively expensive to ride around in one of these - $100 for an hour is it? And snobbism gets the better of you, since you don't want to do what "the tourists" are doing.

You can take a gondola traghetti for small change. It's used to ferry passengers directly across the grand canal (carrying up to 15 people all standing, some reading newspapers!). I tried this and was terrified the whole 3 minutes it took to get across. I rode in a gondola on my 1st "Grand Tour" of Europe when I was 18, but who remembers any of that.
There were 7-8 countries on the agenda and God knows how many cities and musuems and churches to investigate. BTW John Singer Sargent painted many of his watercolors while sitting in a gondola. How else could he have painted the views he did of the palazzos and bridges?
These watercolors (one is after a Sargent painting) are sitting on top of the best Turner in Venice book out there - VENISE, Aquarelles de Turner. Published by the Bibliothèque de l'Image in 1995, you can still find it on Amazon or in Paris book shops.
Turner's very small watercolors are blown up to 9" x 11 1/2", so you see the detail better than viewing the originals.
I took a magnifying glass to the exhibit at the Museo Correr, but the crowds made it difficult...They even offered a class in how to paint like Turner, but I was too late to get in.
An American, Tom Price in Cannaregio, got it into his head he wanted to learn how to make the traditional gondola, a dying art. He began his apprenticeship in 1996. When he arrived, Thom knew no Italian, had no place to live and had no idea who would teach him.
But the terms of his travel fellowship, required him to build and complete a gondola within 12 months. Tom is still in Venice 10 years later producing authentic gondolas.
Gondola Dreams, watercolor, 6 1/2" x 3 1/4"
If you happen to live in Newport Beach, California you can take a gondola ride in Newport harbor. This may be carrying gondola obsession to extremes or you can just waste time hanging out at or
They've got everything and anything you could possibly want to know about Venice and gondolas. Charley Parker has a wonderful quote on his excellent site,
I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen. - Frederick Franck
This holds true for gondolas.


  1. Anonymous8:53 AM

    I am speechless. This took me directly back to wonderful, perfect days in Venice.
    Are any of your watercolours for sale????? I want to buy one, two, three...... And I look forward to your blog every single day :-)

  2. Britt - Now I'm speechless! All the watercolors here are for sale. I'll email you tout suite :)

  3. Anonymous10:58 AM

    WOW - again :-) I look forward to your e-mail.....

  4. Anonymous12:44 PM

    It's my turn to be jealous (again) because I've never been to Venice - those painting are so dreamy and evocative! I want to go now!

  5. Beautiful watercolors!!! I love that technique and I surely love Venice! Haven't you thought about doing some Venice masks carnival paintings?
    Greetings from Chile

  6. Carol, you are making a book of these and selling them right? When did you say the book will be published?

  7. Anonymous5:11 PM

    So watery and evanescent, just as they should be! Great work there, Mz PB.

  8. Anonymous8:12 PM

    lovely as always.

  9. Anonymous9:36 PM

    AHaaaaaa carol! a book!! Masks!
    Your fans have some very GOOD ideas
    that you should seriously consider doing! I think this second Venice posting is one of your very BEST!!!
    It's so..."lyrical."
    S.Jersey Boy

  10. Very nice work and it is wonderful to visit your blog. Judith

  11. Thanks for the trip. I'm going to play Italian mandolin music allday now.
    I love the "Three Gondoliers"' That one is a treasure. I can't stop looking at it.

    Thanks again for cleaning out your closets. I hope you have more hidden in there.

  12. You truly are a very gifted woman...I have always loved the smeary, watery look of water colored art...yours are some of the best.

  13. Anonymous12:09 PM

    I am obsessed with all things Venice, but especially the gondolas. When I was there (for the first time, for sure not the last) it was the end of November and very cold. Not conducive to painting or even sketching on the spot, and most of my photos came out dim. The two Sargent links are luscious.

    I too am interested in purchasing a Venice watercolor. Will you mail me prices and what hasn't already been snapped up? :)

  14. Thank goodness, I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to draw when in europe! I take all my supplies but can't seem to draw anything as I'm running from one thing to the next. And now with my digital camera, I can take 1000s of resource pictures... To sketch from at home!

  15. Anonymous10:29 PM

    These are incredible. Just incredible!


    (I need to go to Venice!)

  16. Anonymous8:27 AM

    oh boy!
    you know, I'm Italian, actually I will go to live in Venice in a week to start University (in Italy there aren't colleges, so you have to take a flat with other students: I will live in Campo San Polo, next to Rialto Bridge).
    I'm really breathless thinking that I will go to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! and I can understand you when you say that Venice is hipnotising. Even if I go there lots of times, I can't never find words to describe its beauty.
    You know, I once took a gondola traghetto, and I was terrified too! :D I also risked to fall in the Canal Grande... I don't think I will do it again! :)
    Thank you for this drawings, they are wonderful and can express a lot of Venetian spirit!


  17. do you know thom personally? I wanted to drop by the squero to meet him but didn't get a chance to. I'll be back soon enough (tix are pretty cheap from paris) and will have to see him then...

  18. I'm just in love with your blog!

    Just discovered this post, and am so excited... we are off to Venice in december. Now i can get some great tips & hints ready for my trip, and for all the hours of fun I'll have painting when i get back :-) thanks!

  19. gondola rides in venice are the awesome. Whenever I go to venice, I go there everytime.


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