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Venice is one of Italy's top travel cities and a beautiful, romantic destination. Its small, traffic-free streets along the winding canals make for great walking. You'll find many magnificent churches and palaces, lively squares, and interesting shops.

No city in the world is as dazzlingly different as Venice, a seaport built on more than 100 islands. In this magnificent Renaissance realm of canals, bridges and merchants on the Adriatic, gondoliers stand up to sing while they row. 

When I was looking through photos the other day, I realized that I've always wanted to do a painting of Venice. Touristy as it was, Judith and I loved the gondola ride and singing in the canals. So I naturally chose a photo of a gondolier on a canal as my subject.

One thing about the photo that I immediately wanted to change for the painting was the light. I really liked the canals when they were dark and I could look out at the light at the end. I next realized that I wanted a different perspective, too. So I scanned the picture into Photoshop and cropped it and altered the perspective (see above).

Oh, that slippery slope. Now, I hated the gondolier, gondola, and tourists in MY CANAL! I wanted to pretend I was in a gondola floating on the canal. I just wanted to see the canal and buildings and water (see above).

So, I butchered the photo in Photoshop. I removed the gondola, divided the picture into thirds (vertically) and mapped out a color scheme. I left the right buildings red and used the blue boat to transition to the green water. On the left side, I toned down the reds and greens toward brown. I played with mauve and yellow as well as blue ad orange in the center.

OK, I was ready to paint on a canvas. My first layout was a color test as well as a content check. Let's see - The clouds and blue sky I remembered, the balconies, the bridges connecting the walkways, the boats parked outside the homes - how's it looking? See above pic.

Well, the colors are a little intense. I always use full color for the first application, then add thin layers of complementary colors on top. for instance, adding green over the reds will "gray" it down and make it less saturated. Blue on top of orange will tone it down, as well as mauve (purple) over yellow.

Above - the final painting. 

In the original photo and my memory, Venice canals were dark, buildings showed hundreds of years of repairs, and features were crisp and choppy. I wanted a painting that was more romantic. Keeping the colors generally light gave me the results I wanted.

Above - Close-up of the bridge and buildings in the background

Above - Close-up of the water reflections

Above - Close-up of the light from upper right through the buildings

Above - Close-up of the water in light and in shadow. I decided on a ripple in the water at the bottom of the painting to add a little interest.

Below - Zoom-in of the water reflections to show paint strokes