Friday, 23 October 2015

Venice - Final 2 days

Wednesday 14 October was our wettest day.  David Pilgrim and I dutifully trogged off to the fish market and searched for a subject.  Out of sheer frustraion more than anything else I sat down under an arch and tried a pastel of the market:
By The Fish Market - pastel
We decided to go back to Ken's via Campo Santa Maria Formosa and by the time we got there the rain had eased so we had a go at the corner of the square:

Corner of Campo S Maria Formosa 10x12
The rain set in again and we made for a favourite bolt hole in Campo SS Giovanni i Paolo (it has a loo!) where David filmed me underneath the leaking awning, enjoying the beverage and bun he had bought me.  After a rather depressing stay in the square we made the brave decision to run for cover and paint at Ken's.  David painted me working at Ken's big table and I hope he won't mind me borrowing an image of the work from his Facebook page:
 Painting At Ken's by David Pilgrim ROI
Karl and Tony left on Wednesday afternoon so there were just 3 of us living at Ken's.  Thursday promised to be a better day so we started early for St Mark's square.  Another aqua alta was due later so we made the most of the absence of tourists and water:

A deserted Piazetta
Soon, people started to arrive and before long the place was a sea of umbrellas.  I tried a 11x14 using a compositional idea that had worked well for Paul and Karl:

Wet Day In San Marco Piazza 11x14

We went back to Ken's for a break and a sort-out of kit before walking to Campo San Giovanni i Paolo.  The weather was still dull and I started a study of one of the well heads near the Colleoni monument but then at last the sun came out and changed everything.  The most sensible thing to do was what David did - wipe the painting and go somewhere else.  I stayed and lived to regret my persistence.  The finished painting was a waste of time.

I wended my way to Campo S Maria Formosa to find David there painting the south east corner with green awnings out and people sitting around and saw that he was making an excellent job of it.  Here he is in action:

I started the same view and he moved on.
Afternoon in Campo Santa Maria Formosa

David Bachmann then caught me up and we walked through the city up to the Arsenale for our final pitch of the day.  David P caught us up having knocked off another gem and the three of us prepared for sunset over the Salute from the Riva opposite the Arsenale entrance.  I decided to use pastels - for speed and convenience.

I managed three in the next 90 minutes so these images reflect the passage of time from near sunset to after sunset:
San Giorgio from the Arsenale - late afternoon - pastel
San Giorgio from the Arsenale Riva - near sunset - pastel
San Giorgio - Dusk.  Pastel
I also had another go later at the Salute sunset of 11 October in pastel:

The Salute - Sunset (pastel)
All in all it was another great trip, made so (despite the weather) by my painting friends who always  inspire and encourage me and are enormous fun to be with.

We never got to paint the Colleoni Monument again - maybe next time.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Venice Days 2 and 3

Monday 12 October was reasonably bright so we headed out to the Rialto and weaved through Santa Croce to the Scuola San Rocco where there was a good deal of debate about what to paint.  Eventually David Pilgrim and I settled for a canal view.  Behind us Paul Rafferty was painting the arches of the Scuola and the other three were trying different things nearby.

This one turned into what David calls 'a jigsaw puzzle' - narrow canal, reflections, just what you would expect and all that.  I must admit I found it hard to breathe something different into it.  Later I added the washing (that I had seen in the Via Garibaldi area) but it still looks rather twee to me:

By the Scuola San Rocco - morning
David and I wandered through Dorsoduro, past the San Barnaba square and on to the last remaining gondola squero in Venice.  We found our friend Robbie painting it but it looked a bit too much for us and we moved on to the Zatterre where we tried a view of the San Giorgio across the Giudecca canal:
San Giorgio Maggiore from the Zatterre
So far we had worked hard but not really 'nailed' anything.  We walked out to the point of the Dogana, round to the Salute vaporetto stop and took a boat to the Molo so that we could paint in St Mark's Square:

Late Afternoon - San Marco Piazza
David's one of this view was full of light and knowing that there was no time for anything else we took a 5.2 round the city to the Fondamente Nove and home.

The forecast for Tuesday was rain and a moderate aqua alta.  We walked to St Mark's hoping to get one in before the crowds and the water appeared.  In the event we had both to contend with.  Paul and I pitched straight away in the corner uner the clock tower, using the arcade as shelter from the drizzle.

We had done one by the time the water started creeping out of the holes in the Piazza and Paul had almost finished another when Karl joined us and we all bashed on regardless of the water creeping around our ankles.

This is my first one and I might post the other one if I can 'tidy' it a bit:

Rain In The Piazetta 12x10
Paul took us for a hot drink and a bun before the three of us trogged off to the Rialto where we found Tony and both Davids struggling manfully with the fould weather.

Paul pitched in the corner of the San Giacomo di Rialto square looking out towards the Grand Canal along an arcade.  Showing my customary lack of initiative i pitched behind him and painted the same scene but not nearly so quickly or well:

Arches near San Giacomo di Rialto
This is David P later and you can see how dark the scene is - which means that one tends to paint in a higher key (not necessarily a bad thing).

David Pilgrim - Rialto
We were all pretty hacked off with the weather but I stayed for a pastel.  I had always wanted to paint the San Giacomo facade so gave it a go in pastel.  Sitting next to me was a gent painting a lovely watercolour of it.

San Giacomo di Rialto - Pastel
I overdid the reflections but enjoyed the exercise.  Back home we all went out for a delicious and inexpensive meal in Castello as it was Paul's, Tony's and Karl's last full day.  The restaurant is on the salizada that runs off the SS Giovani i Paulo square and  I must get the details because it was such a great experience eating there.  The final two days in the next post!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Venice 1

Wet, wet, wet!  Torrential rain and three aqua altas made this a challenging 6 days.  Self, David Pilgrim, David Bachmann, Karl Terry and Tony Dakin staying in Ken and Dora Howard's spacious apartment near the Fondamente Nove and Paul Rafferty and others staying nearby.

We arrived in gloomy weather but the next day was not too bad so we headed out.  This is us in the Campo Santa Maria Formosa - one of my favourite squares.

Heading Out - 11 October 2015
We pitched at the Straw Bridge for our first attempt.  OK at first but very crowded later with tourists taking photos of the Bridge of Sighs and going to and fro along the Riva.

Molo and Piazetta From the Straw Bridge 10x14
I was rather slow with this one and the others left to start another one.  I thought they had gone along the Riva towards the Pieta church but having wandered all the way to the Arsenale I realised I had lost them.  I decided to try out my pastels - a real experiment as I rarely take them out of the studio and never abroad until now.

San Giorgio and Salute frome the Arsenale bridge area - pastel
I wandered down Via Garibaldi, bought some lunch and sat in the little park that commemorates all 'stateless, anonymous persons' and ate it.  Wandering through the park brought me to the municipal gardens and back on the Riva where I tackled another pastel:
San Giorgio and Salute from the Giardini- pastel
At this point the two churches are almost 'in conjunction' and I reckon that from this spot the sun will set between them.

I took a vaporetto back to the San Zaccharia area but found that the crowds were obscuring so much that there was no point in staying.  I then took a '2' vaporetto over to San Giorgio Maggiore island to see what sort of a view it would give of the Salute.  It was now late afternoon so I had to hurry because I also wanted to do a quick pastel as the sun set.

Santa Maria della Salute from Isla San Giorgio Maggiore
The pastel was done in about 8 minutes and it shows!  I wanted to record where the sun set as much as anything.  I now knew that if I came back on a good day I could paint the sun setting almost behind the Salute from a point far up the Riva - maybe as far as the Biennale site.

Quick pastel of the sunset and the Salute
It was now late and I guessed that the others would be heading back to Ken's so I took a 4.2 going towards the Ferrovia.  I knew that this would eventually head up the Canareggio canal and turn along the Fondamente Nove.  It would then be a short walk.  Unfortunately I had not banked on there being so many stops along the Giudecca and on the main island so it was rather late when I eventually turned up.  All in all we were lucky with the first day but it was not to last.  More in the next post.

More On Waterloo

I am giving a talk on Waterloo in our village this Thursday, with one of Lord Hill's descendants, Nick Crowley  (Lord Hill commanded the Allied 2nd Corps at the battle of Waterloo).  I have dug out the paintings I did in June to refresh my memory and here are some of them.

I tried to paint at all the significant sites, especially on those of the 4 main battles:Ligny, Quatre Bras, Wavre and Waterloo.

On the 16th June 1815 the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras were fought - Ligny between Napoleon and the Prussians under Blucher and Quatre Bras between the British and Allies under the Prince of Orange/Wellington and the French under Marshal Ney.  This is a view from the French side at Quatre Bras looking towards the monument to the Duke of Brunswick who fell here leading his own troops:

Quatre Bras and the Brunswick Monument 16 June 2015

At Ligny I painted an old chateau in the village, reputedly used by French officers as a billet after the battle.  I also sketched Ferme d'en Haut where General Gerard set up his Corps HQ after the battle, having driven out the Prussians.
Sketchbook page showing th Ferme d'en Haut, Ligny on 16 June 2015

Chateau In Ligny Centre 16 June 2015
Wavre was too built up to see anything of the original and like Ligny it was mainly fought inside the town anyway, so I concentrated on Waterloo.

Here is a view from near the old Frischermont monastery at the eastern edge of the battle field.  It is the view towards Plancenoit village that Brigades from General Bulow's 4th Prussian Corps would have had before they swept down to engage the French right wing at the end of the battle:

Track to Plancenoit from Bois de Paris 17 June 2015
 This view (still covered in flies from painting it!) shows what the French on the right flank of Napoleon's army would have seen, with Bulow's Prussian troops pouring down from the skyline to attack the French right rear and General von Ziethen's 1st Prussian Corps also attacking from the left edge of the view:
Frischermont heights from the track to Papelotte from La Belle Alliance, 19 June 2015
Another view I painted was from the Frischermont heights across to the Butte de Lion (Lion Mound), which marks the rough centre of the Allied line.  The Allied left wing stretched to the right edge of the picture and beyond.  I think the white patch near the Mound must be the farm of La Haye Sainte - another key feature of the battle .

Lion Mound from Frischermont Heights 17 June 2015
On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo I painted at Hougoumont, the Allied bastion that all day resisted ever more frantic attempts by the French to capture it.  Today all is peace and quiet but 200 years ago it was carnage, with the buildings on fire, wounded men and horse being burnt to death, cannon fire raining down and desperate hand-to-hand fighting within and outside the courtyards of the farm and chateau.  This is a view of the South Gate today:

Hougoumont South Gate 18 June 2015
I made 15 oil paintings and filled a sketchbook.  Visiting the battlefields and painting on them gave me a unique insight into the ground over which the Waterloo battles were fought.  I was also very lucky to go to the re-enactments and get a feel for what it was like - especially all the white smoke that really does make you undetstand the phrase 'the fog of war'.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Hougoumont Appeal At The Mall Galleries

This is just by way of a 'diary entry' to record the display I set up in the North Gallery during the Armed Forces Art Society's show, which ends today at the Mall Galleries.

The twin cabinets

The Waterloo Side

Quatre Bras, Ligny and Hougoumont

I was pleased with the way this panned out as I think it added extra interest to the art show and may generate more donations to the restoration work.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

May in Cornwall

I have recently returned from a great week with David Pilgrim, Michael Richardson and Michael Worthington in Sennen.  We stayed at Atlantic Lodge, our usual place, and the companionship, locations and atmosphere were as brilliant as ever.

We drove down on the 15th and just had time for a little evening study before drifting into The Old Success for our first pint.

Rocks and Waves, Sennen 10x8
On the 16th we took some time to 'bed in' and I felt particularly rusty.  After two early morning studies I clambered down the descent gully of Pedn Men Du at low tide so that I could catch a profile of the Irish Lady rock in front of Land's End.

Land's End From Irish Lady 10x12

While I was there several groups of climbers came down the gully and seemed surprised to find me at the bottom of the cliff.  I was tempted to join them for a route on Pedn Men Du as I had my boots, harness and helmet to hand but the pull of the Irish Lady was too great.

Our last painting of the day caught the atmosphere near the stone jetty.

Crashing Waves, Sennen 10x12

On the 17th we decided to venture further afield, starting at Mousehole. This is one of three studies I did in the morning:

Three Boats, Mousehole 10x12
 After a final session trying to capture St Michael's Mount in poor light at Perranuthnoe we headed home.

On the 18th the wind began to rise and gales were forecast.  However the weather was fine so we ventured over to Porthchapel where I did two more paintings:

Porthchapel from the Eastern Cliff 10x14
PorthchapelFromTheChapel 8x10
The wind was still rising as we returned home but David and I decided to brave the weather at the stone jetty in Sennen and try to capture something of the gale.  We stood behind the harbour-front wall, tied or stuck everything together and painted with spray misting our glasses and waves crashing over the jetty below us.  It was an exhilarating experience and both of us had that feeling of 'flow' when you are in the moment trying desperately to nail the scene despite the ridiculously difficult conditions.  
Gale Force, Sennen 10x14
The wind was still blowing hard from the North the next day (19th) so we decided to head for the South side of the West Penwith peninsula.  Michael W and I parked at Treen and walked down to Penberth cove through a delightful wood full of Spring flowers.  As we had hoped the wind was not so strong on this side and when Mike R joined us we had a good day's painting there,  I tried a little contre jour view looking out from the cove first:
View From Penberth 10x8
That was OK but I then got more into the groove looking from cliffs high up on the East side towards Logan's Rock:
Towards Logan's Rock, Penberth 12x10
Finally I tried a quickie from the other side of the cove:
Eastern Rocks, Penberth 10x8
The wind was still howling when we got back to Sennen and David and tried a reprise of our experience the previous evening.  We were a little later starting so I tried a 8x14 'letterbox' of the waves, with the jetty just showing on the right:
The Waves, Sennen Cove 8x14
There was still just about time to get in a 5th painting and I had another go at the jetty:
Force 7 Sennen Cove 10x14
By the next morning (20th)  the wind had died and we headed out to the North side, first to the valley that runs from Kenidjack to the sea.  From here you get a lovely view of Cape Cornwall:

Cape Cornwall 11x15
We then went to Pendeen with the idea of a view to Levant with the Enys rock in it but everything seemed very grey as the view towards Levant and Botallack was directly contre jour .  Mike R went down to the cove on the other side, I wandered round the lighthouse area, Mike W tried a study above the cove and David found a very windy spot above the zawn that separated the Watch from the Enys. The others settled but I was still without a subject.  In desperation I decided to flop down, look out to sea and just paint whatever was in front of me:
From Pendeen Watch 14x10
After lunch we headed down to the cove again for yet another wave study - this time with a rising tide:
 Incoming Tide Sennen 10x12
A quick sunset sketch and then we dived into that wonderful refuge, the Old Success.

Our final day started mild and fine.  I walked down a little way from the Lodge and painted the seaside cottages above Sennen beach:

Seaside Cottages Sennen 11x14
Then I moved further back and nearer the lodge for this view:
Sennen Cove From Sunny Corner 11x14
David and I then went to Mousehole again for a final boat study but mine was a 'wiper' and even when we returned I could not manage more than a small study of the beach and tide.  So, after 25 paintings in 6 days I was more or less 'painted out' and ready for our final evening meal in the Old Success.  

I would recommend Atlantic Lodge.  We cook for each other, play art DVDs on the non-pub evenings, use the utility room for 'gungy' jobs and store our wet panels temporarily in the outhouse round the back. I think it now has 4 'bits', the oldest being 'Victoria' where we stay.  I guess that Tracy will be giving 'Victoria' a makeover at the end of this year or in 2016 because although everything works it is a little dated compared to the other properties.  I love the fact that you can hire more than one 'bit'and make them interconnected. Anyway all the details are on the web site.  If I had the time I would go again tomorrow.

On the 18th the wind rose sharply and