If you have never been on a painting holiday and wondered what went on, Brian has contributed the following diary from his most recent foray to Venice with a bunch of eager painters. The words and pictures are from Brian himself.
Daubing in Dorsoduro by Brian Ryder
The weeks forecast was not too good, as twelve eager and non too eager attendees, having heard of my reputation on tuition, waited at Gatwick for our flight and a week of painting in Venice.
At least I knew quite a few of the group, but two ladies from Singapore threw me somewhat. One called Florence spoke fair English but the other with an unpronouncable name did not. I decided to refer to her as" Rome". Arrived late afternoon to sunshine and except for one rainy day, there it stayed all week. The Italians said "the weather forecast, it will be good, itza no problemo". The first day day after our arrival we stopped at the Giardini area for the morning to get their eye in and so I could assess the level of their work. Off to Ca Rezzonica and St Barnaba for the afternoon for a demo, cappuchinos and perspective tuition. All great so far.
Day 2. I was up early drawing from the cafe opposite the hotel before going for breakfast. Today we are off to Sant Angelo for the morning tuition and then to Santo Stephano after lunch. Most of the group working in pen and wash which is my preferred medium, if I have not the time to paint in oils. We now started with colour, having become more acclimatised to the surroundings and by mid afternoon I led my group past another art group onto The Accademia Bridge overlooking "the view" of the Grand Canal. "Ok find a space along the bridge and you have twenty minutes to draw "the view"....no time for detail....just go for it! I have done this before with students and the results are interesting to see what is actually achievable, no time for detail ... once the "you must be joking" reaction is forgotten.
I promised to do the same later after they had returned to the Hotel as I wanted an hour or two drawing /painting on my own before the evening meal. After a drawing of the Gondola repair yard I went back to the Accademia for my "twenty minutes". After ten minutes drawing a man nudged me... "Youre Brian Ryder arent You" I tried to pass myself off as Hazel Soan ...but that didnt work. " Iv'e got your DVDs". He then proceeded to talk about what he had been doing in Venice and his art career. I stopped the clock.... "I am just an amateur he said but I know or have been with many lesser known artists like Peter Wileman, Ken Howard, Trevor Chamberlain David Curtis etc, etc". I explained what I was doing with my group and he eventually wandered off enabling me to finish my drawing before meeting up for dinner.
Day 3. Up early again drawing well before 7am. Off to the Gondola repair yard for the morning tuition and a demo of the old mill on the Giudecca. After lunch went along the Zattere stopping for a drawing and painting finishing at The Dogana "Custom House" before the journey back to base.
Day 4. My Half day for tuition. We started on the Lido for morning session giving the group time for shopping or painting on their own before meeting up in the evening at San Marco. I took the opportunity to return to The Dogana to do my view from" Harrys bar to Doges Palace", a 300 metre strech of the San Marco waterfront. It was warm and sunny so stopping off for a coffee having met some of the group I had a quick g and t before metting two more of the group who dragged me off for another g and t before meeting at the restaurant for our evening meal. One of our most sedate ladies , I think it may have been the drinks earlier, much to the astonishment of the group, threw her dry bread roll over her shoulder into the hundreds walking down the narrow street behind her. This was returned some 10 minutes later..."Is this yours?. A choppy waterbus journey back late in the evening....weather on the change ?
Day 5. Today the rain came. Went to Pescheria "Fish Market". Being a Sunday we could get undercover as there were no stalls erected. I decided, after initial tuition to do a quick pen and wash with non waterproof ink to try to get some effect onto the sketch. A passerby commented how "nice" one of the groups work was, looked at me with a "never mind" look as I was just proceeding to hold my work out in the rain to get some effect! We adjourned for coffee and crit in the rear of a cafe before finishing the morning and a pizza in the nearest cafe. On to San Marco for afternoon....still raining so group split up and I "sketched" with ideas for an oil or two back home of the large crowd still waiting to get into San Marco Basilica.
Day 6. Last full painting day and off to Camo Nuovo and S. Miracoli in the morning, a favourite spot of mine for last round of tuition, and to Santi Giovanni e Paolo after lunch before wandering back through Venice to San Marco and Waterbus. I am always surprised how much work people actually do as I believe it should not all be too serious and time out is a must in Venice. Observation, not always with painting , to pull in the atmoshere of the place is essential if you want to work on the drawings and paintings with an oil or two back at home. Memories of a good time and getting the feel and atmosphere of the location as well as photographic back ups is essential.
Day 7. The water taxi to the airport was not till mid afternoon so many of us, not a tuition day, either went shopping or back into Venice for last minute drawings and photos. I ended up at Giardini for photos of the residential area....with washing... and walked all the way back to San Marco taking photos I wanted, perhaps using these on some oils in the future. Then its home arriving before midnight.
Another great trip. I managed to get up early every morning to draw something as I dont have much time otherwise. Its probably nearing ten visits I have now had to Venice. I never tire of the place, but the beauty is that although many of the locations, if not all, have been painted many times by far better artists than I will ever be, the magic is still there. If you ever want to paint at one place in your life.....Venice it has to be. Don’t worry it’s been done before...it will be done many times again....but you have been and painted it !
Post note. Unlike previous trips abroad with me all the group got home safely.....without injuries !.... and thanks to everyone in the group in making it a week to remember.
A very entertainting piece from Brian - thanks Brian - who I can vouch for as a brilliant teacher. Find out more about Brian on his excellent web site: http://www.brianryder.org/
Here's Brian out and about in our DVD Watercolour Sketchbook