Europe 19: A day trip to Venice

June 21, 2019 | 13 Comments

After the last of my Palladian Odyssey workshops I had a few extra days to myself and on one of these days I went to Venice!

Vicenza is only a short 4o minute train ride away from Venice and the history of the two cities are very intertwined. It was therefore really wonderful to return to Venice armed with all my new knowledge of the culture and history of the Veneto (from the Palladian Odyssey Tours) – it gave me a much richer view of the city.

It was also nice to visit the city of the lagoon without the hassle of luggage!

I arrived at 9.30am and left at 7.30pm and had a clear image of what I wanted to sketch – San Marco, Palladio’s three churches, and Santa Maria della Salute – and I had a defined plan of how I would visit each of these buildings. But as it was my fifth visit to Venice, I didn’t really care if I stuck to my plan and was therefore open to going with whatever I felt like doing.

So I had a plan, but no pressure to do anything!

Below is my (incomplete) map of my day and basically I managed to visit all the main places on the schedule.

What happened in terms of sketching?

Well, it turned out to be my biggest day of sketching ever. I filled 22 pages of my A4 Portrait Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook. What??? That’s insane, even by my standards!

So… let’s get going!

Note. I have included my photos taken at the time and also the final version in my sketchbooks.

I started the day slowly with a simple contour drawing on the train, standing in line to get a vaporetto ride down the grand canal (I decided to walk) and then sheltering from the rain.

St Marks piazza when the rain had stopped and one bay of Sansovino’s Library which is similar but different from Palladio’s Basilica.

Then it was time to get away from the crowds and sketch a Palladio church (paint only) – San Giorgio Maggiore.

I was then on a Baroque mission to sketch Santa Maria della Salute – it’s my favourite building in Venice to sketch. I really love the architecture of Palladio and the challenge of sketching it in a loose way, but over the top Baroque buildings suit my sketching style more.

Here is a quick sketch done on the ferry wharf until my view was blocked by passengers.

Here is the sketch in the context of the sketchbook page with a few more crazy sketches done on the moving boat.

Here is my ‘hero shot’ of my sketch and the grand building behind. I felt a few rain drops so took this photo before adding my finishing touches.

Here is the final version.

I then went inside and did this sketch using up the moisture in my brush and in my palette (ie. I didn’t use my water container).

Sitting in the sun to sketch another Palladio masterpiece – The Redentore.

Here is the finished spread.

A few black and white ink sketches – my view at lunch and then two quick sketches of the Redentore up close.

My third Palladio church – San Francesco della Vigna – in a very quiet local area!

After a gelato I sat in a shady spot to sketch a gothic church – Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

I wanted to try Aquarius’ Caput Mortuum but it wasn’t the right hue for the Venice brickwork.

Here is the final spread of the two sketches.

You can no longer sit on steps in the piazza (wardens constantly on duty to prevent it) so this sketch was also done standing up between two cafes with orchestras playing. However towards of it a nice waiter let me still down at one of the fancy cafes without ordering. Amazing!


Then I did a second version of the arches – standing up in the afternoon sun. It was hot but not unbearable.

Another version of San Marco – I’m obsessed!

It was getting time to head back to the station so I caught the Vaporetto up the Grand Canal – soaking in the beauty of this city (no sketching!)

But I did do one final sketch of San Simeon Piccolo from the steps to the station just before I caught my train back to Vicenza.

What a fantastic day!

Although it seems as if I was going crazy, the pace for the day was quite relaxed. It’s just that I am sketching more quickly these days (paint-only is a big factor) so I’m able to do much more sketching done.

Another reason for my big output was the fact that it was the first totally solo sketching day of my trip. After 6 wonderful weeks of being around people, I just felt fired up with the freedom to do whatever I wanted!

Have you ever had a day like this?



  • Barbara Weeks says:

    You amaze me!

  • Nadja says:

    I understand the freedom you feel. I feel this way when everybody leave the house (which doesn’t happen often). It’s great when you can do what you want, when you want and relax. But I never filled 22 pages in a day, I need at least 22 days for that ?

  • Ankna Parkin says:

    It is so amazing that one person in one day could achieve so much. With that quality, if I could do one at this level I probably be so proud and coo about it for years. Yes, it is insane but healthy. Thank you for sharing and love everyone on this ? ????????????

  • Liesbeth Winther says:

    What an amazing story, day and sketches an achievements! Love the last sketch of San Marco! I’ve been there on my own 5 times, such a wonderful feeling to be there, hop on the vaporetto and go where ever you want! Did you visit the Biennale?

  • Steve Brown says:

    My favorite city! Loved it. Wish I could stay there for a month!

  • Steve Brown says:

    Forgot to say…I love your work! Thank you!

  • Lois Courtright says:

    Gorgeous sketches!

    My favorite is the very simple paint only Santa Maria della Salute.

    Thank you Liz!

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