Even though we've been back from Venice for nearly a week now, I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out everything that happened.
Going into it, I was looking forward to all of the freedom I was being granted. Besides having to return to Aix with between fifteen and twenty paintings (a goal that proved lofty, but not entirely daunting), no other directions were given. It was a weeklong free-for-all in Venice; an artist's dream come true.
Soon after arriving at our hotel behind the Accademia Bridge, the entire class took an evening paseo along the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, followed by a few courses of delicious Italian cuisine for dinner (I promise I'm not embellishing any details).
However, after eating I was still hungry for something else. I was eager to start painting. So eager that I got up at 4:30am the next morning to catch the sunrise and start drawing potential motifs in the dawn light. This is how most of my days would begin for the rest of that week. I would get up to paint during sunrise, then eat some breakfast, head back out to work until a late lunch, take a short nap, and then go out again to paint some more before dinner if I was feeling up to it.
With such momentum, it wasn't long before I noticed something changing in the way I painted. I was concerned at first because I was unfamiliar with my new approach. I felt less self-assured in the way I was painting, but Alan told us before we left to not judge our paintings while we were in Venice. So with that, I crushed the anxious voice inside of me and took the artistic growth spurt as something exhilarating. Hell, what am I talking about...the entire trip was exhilarating.
It was a full week, complete with gelato, Peroni, hailstorms, acqua alta, and fortuitiously-timed cruise ships passing between you and your motif. Some students went on painting binges throughout the week, punctuated by bouts of "deep depression" as Alan calls it; while others adopted a slower and steadier pace. Some students set up in Piazza San Marco, unfazed by the hordes of tourists; while others embarked on missions to find just the right intimate canal to spend an afternoon with. Either way, each student was able to find a rhythm that best suited him or her.
I think it's safe to say that the Venice trip this year had a profound artistic impact on all of the students. When it was time to leave we shared heavy hearts, complete visual satiation, and a hefty collection of 300 paintings!
Already looking forward to next year!
-Nick Velleman, Alumni Fellow