There is, of course, nowhere quite like Venice and TASIS students were fortunate enough to travel there recently to draw and paint and to discover something of the magic of this city of canals.
Down the centuries Venice has cast a spell on thousands of artists; J.W.M.Turner’s atmospheric and evocative watercolors, the lively studies of canal life by Singer Sargent, the detail and charm of Canaletto and the highly colorful and impressionistic paintings of August Renoir remain some of my favorites. Its ability to inspire has seduced a host of writers, poets, composers and filmmakers, too. Hermann Hess, Goethe, Lord Byron, Vivaldi, Benjamin Britten, Fellini and Woody Allen have all fallen for its charm.
There were an estimated 16 million visitors to Venice last year. Therefore it comes as no surprise to discover that finding a good place to draw in the streets and along the canals has become a challenge. Artists today have to compete with gangs of camera-wielding tourists, bulging café terraces, packed vaporettos and even hordes of pigeons to capture the Venice they have come to see.
It’s not all bad news for the artist, and there are solutions, of course: learning how to sketch quickly, and being really selective are two. Although the resulting artwork may, at first glance, appear to lack sophistication - and may even have glaring errors - a rapid interpretation will often have captured something of the essence of the view far better than a more elaborate and careful one. In this case, less really can become more.
Like so many seemingly simple techniques in art, the reality requires some considerable practice. However, with time, this not only develops the student’s hand-eye coordination it also builds confidence and encourages them to look that much harder.
Look out for more Venice sketches from TASIS students on this website, soon.