Updated: Jul 15, 2022
March 23, 2020. The first lockdown kicked in - just for six weeks. By this stage the pandemic had arrived in Europe, starting with Northern Italy. In the previous September, I'd enjoyed learning new skills at Easel&Lens in Chuisi, Tuscany, where Julian Hyzler conducts live-in painting sojourns at this studio between April and October. Needless to say, with the pandemic rampaging through Italy and international travel smashed, by April his commercial season had to be destroyed. The COVID-App of the Moment, ZOOM, provided a means of recovering some income, with the launch of Julian's 'Virtual Studio' private lessons. Signing up gave me a perfect antidote to COVID-isolation in Melbourne, brushes and oils at the ready.
Venice is one of my favourite cities, having visited there eight time in the past twenty years. I particularly love its soft play of watery light and Eastern and Moorish-influenced architectural beauty. The previous October, Karen and I had enjoyed a few days based in Cannareggio, hence a couple of suitably distressed canal-side buildings were my first subject:
- "Santa Maria Formosa" Oil of canvas 24"x24".
In May, there was a respite from lockdown, providing an interlude to briefly enjoy urban life. Then community transmission in Melbourne exploded and the city of 5million went into total lockdown. Curfew 8PM-6AM. Work from home mandatory. No household visitation. All restaurants, bars, hotels, theatres, sporting events shut down - initially for all of winter (June 1-August 31) but.....
My studio became my isolation haven and painting my sanity saver. And best of all, I didn't have to wear a mask during ZOOM lessons and could interact with Julian's community across the rest of the world (either in private lessons, or group virtual 'sketching tours'.
Venice's charm kindled the next project - a canal-scape a quick stroll from San Marco. Gondolas couldn't be too difficult, could they? Yes. Add the requirement to master weird shadows and reflections and a desire for brave coloration, and the result is "Rio San Moise" Oil on Canvas 20"x20"
It was a long winter, but fortunately my studio is heated. By July, my cats (Tinker and Perry) had become accustomed to my solo routine of heading up to the studio in the morning, and were by now standing at the ready to charge out into the garden and up the stairs to supervise the action (or procrastination).
I like things to be in odd numbers, so for my third Venetian project I headed for the Grand Canal and the beautiful Palazzo Santo Sofia (aka Ca d'Oro - i.e. 'Golden House' due to the gilt and polychrome that if originally featured).
And just to make life more difficult for myself, I painted the view from within building, hence "Ca d'Oro Colonnade" - oil on canvas 18"x24".