Friday, October 19, 2012

SNEAK PEEK: An Artist in Venice

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We here at David R. Godine, Publisher, have been excited about our upcoming memoir An Artist in Venice by Adam Van Doren for a while now. In the book, Van Doren, grandson of the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Mark Van Doren, details his love of Venice and the time he spent exploring and painting in the city. Interspersed throughout the pages are 21 full-color drawings by the author/artist himself.

We haven't been able to share much about this charming memoir - until now. When we recently received proofs of the gorgeous images in the books, we realized we had to share a few with our friends and followers - it would be selfish of us not to!

So, for your viewing pleasure, here is a sneak peek of a few of the paintings from An Artist in Venice. And if that's not enough for you, Adam Van Doren has also written an exclusive short piece, just for this blog, about his artistic process amongst the beauty of Venice. Enjoy!


San Giorgio, 2009
As an artist who works mostly outdoors, en plein air, it is hard to imagine a better subject to render than Venice. Though the city is often choked with tourists, there are many areas off the beaten track that are remarkably tranquil and conducive to painting. For me, those areas are on the outermost fringes of Venice, by the edge of the Laguna Veneta. Over the years, I have grown familiar with these quiet corners by the water’s edge, and once I’ve discovered these hidden spots I seldom forget them (though it can take me awhile to find them again on the map).

Riva Schiavoni, 2010
Carrying my portfolio and folding stool in one hand and a rucksack of art supplies in the other, I trudge through the labyrinthine calles, or alleys, squeezing my way towards a glimpse of daylight. Here, along the borders of the city, I can simultaneously experience the life of the streets and the life of the lagoon. The Zattere, which faces the Giudecca Island, and the Fondamenta Nuove, which faces San Michele cemetery, are two such remote areas. Looking outward, the shimmering turquoise water fills the scene, and the salty ocean air is a welcome respite from the putrid odor of the interior canals.  The passing boats offer a pleasant distraction, and the broad expanse of uninterrupted sunlight creates long and arresting shadows. The vistas are impressive: I can see churches off in the distance, like the Redentore, which commands a noble presence on the horizon. I pull out my brushes and move quickly to capture the moment on canvas.

Il Redentore, 2010
The ultimate vantage point to see La Serenissima (another name for the city) is from the eastern tip of the Dorsoduro, a section of Venice just below the old Customs House which faces San Marco on one side, and San Giorgio Maggiore on the other. It is the gateway to the Grand Canal, and a popular destination for visitors. I must start early in the morning if I want to work in peace and get any painting done, but it is worth the effort. The waves lap up right next to where I am sitting, and I feel as if I am on the bow of a ship, heading back in time. The onion domes of San Marco rise above the city, just beyond the Ducal Palace. All I have to do now is bring the scene to life.


An Artist in Venice will be available in December 2012.

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