Painting of the Week! Campo San Barnaba, Venice

Painting of the Week! Campo San Barnaba, Venice

I wanted to paint something really bright and sunny again this week as our summer is a long time coming. So I’ve revisited an old favourite haunt in Venice, the square dominated by the Church of Saint Barnabas,  which has found fame in popular culture by being used in the film Indiana Jones and the SomethingorOther, you know, the one with Sean Connery as his Dad. Anyway I found enough photos and drawings from old sketchbooks to put this picture together. But before I start I always do a ‘compositional’ pencil sketch to think a few things out in advance.

In this case it helped me sort out the sunshine and shadows and where to perhaps put figures and maybe a gondola on the canal. After finishing the sketch I liked the rythm of the composition, even though the gondolier is too big. (The pencil sketch is only about 4″ wide).

Unusually I have used masking fluid, a sort of rubber solution, to keep the paint off the white facade of the church whilst doing a nice loose wash of blue across the sky.

Masking tends to give a crisp edge which in this case  helps the atmosphere in the painting which is clear and bright.

I started by painting the (slightly leaning) campanile to give me a benchmark of tone which which to compare the strength of tones and shadows to come. Then I continued area by area ensuring the shadows were related in colour and strength, all the time bearing in mind the feeling I was after of midday light in Venice at this time of year which is SUNGLASSES BRIGHT but don’t we love it!

And here I am having just cut a rather indulgent mount with a small gold fillet inserted within. But Venice is indulgent and this painting is one that may make you hum ‘Just one Cornetto’ afterwards.

Am I pleased with it? Well perhaps the drawing and some of the figures are rather ‘static’, but then the atmosphere is supposed to be that time of day where you just feel like wandering slowly and maybe stopping for a cold beer under a cafe umbrella and watching the world go by. So it gives me back the feeling I wanted and that’s the most important thing for me.

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