The painting at the top of the page was one I completed when I got home - it's called "Painting Party at the Pescheria" - based on our trip to the Fish Market on Monday when it rained.
This trip was linked to an advanced course with Paul Riley who is a watercolourist and tutor. You can see details of the regular workshop schedule and painting trips on the website of Coombe Farm Studios.
I've stopped going on painting holidays for the tuition per se and now do pretty much all my work independently rather than with the group - as I did this time. However, I still very much enjoy having people to converse with over breakfast (planning the day) and over the drinks and dinner in the evening (what did we do / would do differently if we did it again ). I'm still not sure about whether or not I've got the nerve to go out to somewhere like Venice and do a whole week on my own - although I've done a few days at a time in different places on a few occasions so far. I've also been known to pick restaurants on my travels for their view as well as their food before now!
What did I learn on this trip? Well how about:
- you can get a big return if you do decent homework / preparation in advance (eg where to go / what to tackle) but aren't limited by what you've found out in advance - there are always going to be surprises
- I can actually get a great deal of work done if I put my mind to it and get up and out early - I probably achieved more on this trip than any other
- there's a lot of places to paint in Venice where you needn't be bothered by crowds - you just need to look
- a good guidebook helps (I used the Dorling Kindersley Venice and the Veneto (Eyewitness Travel Guides S.) - lots of great location maps)
- a guidebook which is annotated (by me following a bit of research) with the location of places where others have painted before me is even more helpful!
- even if you set yourself up in the same spot others have painted from, you can always get a new take (ie mine!) on a popular scene or motif
- a tip I once got from Jackie Simmonds proved jolly useful when I employed it on this holiday. She recommends coming up with a title for a picture after choosing a scene and before committing to paper. It helps to get the focus of the picture sorted straight away - and keeps you focused on it all the way through.
- digital cameras can take an awful lot of photos so long as you have a big enough memory card and remember to carry a spare set of charged batteries on you - I forgot to take a spare set the first morning and had to go haring back to the hotel for the spare pack when I forgot to put a freshly charged set in that morning
- shopping trolleys work well for carrying painting materials around - and help you to stand up on vaporettos! However, they're not so wonderful on some of the little bridges. However the wheels survived my specially devised autodestruct test while bouncing up and down steps!
- don't sit on the windy side of the pescheria when it's raining cats and dogs - those red blinds can flap rain all over your painting! But Art Spectrum Colourfix doesn't mind!
I think I'm going to try and focus on going on painting trips with like-minded friends in future if that's possible and try for the 'modus operandi' in the field of the sort which tends to operate in within groups of people who get to know one another over the internet.
(Note: This commentary on my trip to Venice was written in May 2005. My next trip is to the southwestern USA this month - with friends I've met and got to know over the Internet and who I've not yet met in real life!)
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