San Giorgio Maggiore ~ Exploring Light and Color

This view from San Marco past the gondolas and across the river to the island of San Giorgio is one frequently photographed by tourists and photographers when visiting Venice, Italy.  At first glance my photograph appeared tranquil, with early evening light and colorful reflections.  Once I started painting, I realized that the diminishing light created intense darks in the black gondolas and black reflections.  So strong were the darks that I felt like it might create more of a somber mood than what I wanted to convey.  I switched to an Impressionist palette in which blacks became purples and blues with a tad of Titanium White added to lighten up the darks.  I found myself using colors that would compliment each other in order to create an overall twilight tone.  It became an exercise in color exploration which I found challenging, frustrating and fun.

Sometimes the painting process flows and sometimes it’s experimental and takes longer.  The latter is the case with this painting.  A couple of times I thought I was close to finishing and the next thing I knew I was almost starting over.  Finally, I felt like I was onto something and progressed to where I could sign my name.

The bright white church on San Giorgio, along with the bold surrounding architecture, I felt deserved to be in focus even though the distance could have easily muted any definition.  Being a maritime artist, of course the colorful, reflective water and gondolas captured my eye from first glance. 

Art is not a science but an inexact science in which exploration of light, color, composition, brushwork, etc… is necessary in order to create something new and different.  I’d love to hear from you artists out there, or those interested in art, what you think of my San Giorgio painting.