There are some subjects that just seem to attract watercolour artists, and I think the fish market in Venice is one of them.

Off the top of my head I can vividly recall paintings set here by Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Keiko Tanabe and Gary Tucker to name only a few.

Often, if you’re anything like I am, when you can picture so clearly how great painters have tackled a scene, it can be quite intimidating. I’ve been put off tackling subjects on many occasions because I know that I can’t do them as well as I’ve seen others paint them.

I’m not sure quite what happened on this occasion, however I finally managed to push through this barrier – regardless of the what the outcome might be!

Venice Fish Market, take 1
Venice Fish Market – take 2
Venice Fish Market – take 3

As is so often the case, each time I finished a painting I couldn’t help thinking that I could do it better. So before I really knew it, I’d done three of them!

Of the three – while there are elements in each that I prefer over others – I think that take 2 is probably preferred version. I think it’s the most complete / satisfying overall and there’s something about the light on the floor that I think helps to balance the painting out a little.

Even after three – I had to hold myself back from starting a fourth one. I just couldn’t quite seem to iron out all of the creases in this one and it really bothered me! Sometimes though, you just have to walk away (perhaps to return another day!)

After completing this hat-trick of remarkably (some might even say disappointingly) similar paintings, I found myself doing some doodling whilst looking at Trevor Waugh’s short guide to ‘People in Watercolour’.

Trevor Waugh, People in Watercolour

It’s surprisingly rich in information for such a short book and I return to it every now and then and always take away something new each time.

The doodles below aren’t actually based on much from the book but I thought I’d share them anyway!

If you’d like to see Trevor demonstrating his approach to figures, you can see more in the YouTube film below.

Also, should anyone be interested I have a YouTube playlist of other figure painting videos that I’ve come across and found helpful.

If you have any videos that you think I should add to this little list, please do let me know – it’s nice to have some of this type of reference material all in one place.

One of the illustrations in the ‘People in Watercolour’ book shows one of Trevor’s sketches of St Mark’s Basilica, Venice.

It somehow seemed so apt after I’d just painted the Fish Market that, without really thinking about it, I did this little A5 sketch.

St Mark’s Basilica Venice sketch after Trevor Waugh

The caption alongside the illustration read:

“I painted my people in first and then concentrated on the background, bringing St Mark’s Basilica forward by using a wash of Cobalt Blue in the sky.”

I painted this in a similar manner. I also painted it directly – without any preliminary pencil sketches.

It took hardly any time at all to do compared to my more laboured fish market paintings but it has a freshness about it that I really like.

There’s probably a moral or saying to be taken from this comparison of time and effort v result but at the moment the only word that springs to mind is ‘typical’!

8 thoughts on “Venice fish market watercolour, in triplicate

  1. I agree with you John take 2 is my favorite. I really like the zing of the red but what I really appreciate is the design factor and that red really plays a strong role in that. Boy it’s quiet in here! Where is everyone? I always enjoy hearing their perspective. Times are crazy right now so perhaps that is a deterrent. Happy painting!

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    1. Hi Margaret and thanks for this – much appreciated. I think that I may return to this view again in the future – maybe using that painting number 2 as my starting point.
      You’re right about how quiet it is at the moment! I’ve been noticing it drop off over the past few weeks. I’m hoping that it’s because people have got other things/worries/priorities on their mind at the moment rather than it being anything I’ve said that’s caused offence! Take care Margaret

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      1. I think that you are right, so much going on. I am so happy that I have my own little world in the country, I can’t imagine being in a city with all this craziness going on. Haha I doubt it was something you said. Until next time, cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I envy you your little world in the country Margaret! These are indeed crazy times! In some ways it makes me question the point of me painting – and in other ways it makes me realise the importance (to me at least!) of me painting! Take care and keep painting!

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  2. Where are all the fish? I visit 2 big fish markets when in their vicinity and can’t help but comment on the lack of FISH here anywhere but a LOT of RED. Alvaro RED. This scene could be a bar for all it says! But then I’d rather do close-ups than distant scenes and that’s just one of our differences!

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    1. Fair point about the fish Margery although in my defence, I don’t think it’s ever been the fish that has made this such an appealing subject to paint! As for the red, i think the red awnings that make this such an iconic location probably pre-date Alvaro Castagnet’s use of red – but your comment highlights exactly the dilemma of tackling well known scenes that have been done by other artists – your association just with a single colour brought to mind an eminent artist!

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