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!
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’.
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.
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’!