(If you missed the earlier posts, just click on "Italy" in the label list, right, and all the posts and finished sketches will pop up.)
|10" x 7", ink & watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook|
We only had one day in Venice, but what a perfect day it was! It felt like a dream, and all day long I marveled that I was actually walking in the places that I had been seeing all my life in movies, photographs, and paintings.
The most popular tourist destination in Venice is the Piazza San Marco, which has been painted by master artists for centuries. I couldn't wait to pull out my camp stool and sit myself down in the spot where Renoir had set up his easel. My quick little 15-minute ink drawing did more to capture Venice in my heart than all the photos I took that day.
I thought you might enjoy seeing how this image progressed from a simple line drawing to a finished sketchbook page, complete with border and calligraphy. Here's the step-by-step process:
1 - On location in St. Mark's Square, I drew the sketchiest of outlines in pencil first, just to get the composition situated on the page, then began drawing the buildings with a Pigma Micron 01 black pen. I didn't have much time to spend on the drawing, and it's wobbly and inaccurate, but I think I managed to capture the essence of the scene.
2 - Later, back home in my studio, I added the swirly border and lettering.
3 - After all the ink work was finished, I wet the entire sky area with water and dropped in a variety of colors: cerulean blue, cadmium yellow medium, ultramarine blue light, and rose violet. The sky may look a little wild and crazy, but I wanted this sketch to have a "party" feel to it, to convey how lighthearted and happy I felt that day. Using bright colors and the curlicue border were a good way to set the mood.
4 - Next I began to add the first washes of color to St. Mark's Basilica and the surrounding buildings.
I applied colors wet-in-wet in some of these first washes to encourage them to merge and blend.
5 - In the next step I begin to define the architecture more fully with darker tones and shadows. I also painted the people in the mid-ground and added their shadows. Colors used were quinacridone gold, raw sienna, yellow ochre, olive green, ultramarine blue light, cerulean blue, and permanent alizarin crimson.
6 - I decided the brightness of the sky was a distraction to the painting, so I put a pale grey wash over the right part of it, thinking it might make the buildings pop forward. I'm not sure it was the right decision, although it doesn't look as dull in person as it does in these scanned images.
7 - The border and text were filled in with quinacridone gold.
8 - As a final touch of whimsy, I added dots of color at random around the border.
It's finished! My impression of one unforgettable day when I walked in the footsteps of Leonardo, Monet, and Vivaldi in the Piazza San Marco, Venice.