Watercolor painting: Venice Storm Clouds

This is a recent class watercolor painting I did with my Saturday students. It was inspired by a photo I took when I was in Venice, Italy, a few years ago on a painting holiday. I knew a real storm was brewing when all the concession holders along the foreshore were rushing to close up shop and cover their goods. The gondolas also looked like they were propelled by outboard motors as the gondoliers hurried back to shore with their clients. Sure enough a few minutes after I took this photo the storm hit with full force and I was glad to be under some shelter.

Anyway it made for a wonderful scene which I felt would be great as a watercolor painting. You can see the photo I took below.

Venice storm clouds watercolor painting reference

Venice storm clouds watercolor painting reference

I chose this reference for one of my weekly watercolor classes as I felt it would make a great lesson on how to paint big cloud scenes with water color. I also liked the contrast of calm blue sky against the big storm that was on its way up the Venetian lagoon.

The image in the photo required very little change so I basically draw it up as is on my quarter sheet of 300 gsm Arches cold press paper.

After the drawing was completed I started with the sky which I primarily painted with the side of a large round watercolor brush. I wanted the sky to be dramatic as it is the key feature of this painting.

After completing the sky I painted the island and the buildings on it. For the boats along the shore I basically used lots of small squiggle shapes leaving white paper as little highlights.

The next step was to paint the water.  When I first painted this I made the water was too green and too strong in tone so I had to  wash it off and then repaint it. This time I added a hint of the cloud reflections and toned the green down. To clean the old paint off I use some very soft sponges called “Chux magic erasers.” They are sold in the cleaning section of local supermarkets.  They may have different names in other countries but will probably still be there. This washing of watercolor  technique works very well on cold press watercolor paper but not as well on rough paper. You have to be very gentle when you do this or you will damage your paper surface and will not be able to properly lay another watercolor wash over it.

Notice how the ripples in the water are larger and further apart in the foreground but are smaller and closer together in the distance. This is an important part of perspective when painting water scenes.

This watercolor painting was completed with the addition of a few buoys in the water and pigeons in the sky and above the water.

Watercolor painting of Venetian Storm Clouds

Venice Storm Clouds over San Giorgio Maggiore watercolor painting

Venice Storm Clouds over San Giorgio Maggiore watercolor painting

This painting will be produced as a full watercolor painting demonstration in the future.

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