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Reflections on Venice

Paintings and musings by Laurie and Blair Pessemier With Architectural Notes by Blair Pessemier

Copyright 2015 lfpessemier@gmail.com www.paintfox.com


For several years, Blair and I have been talking about a trip to Venice. We’d been there 42 and 38 years ago, respectively. It isn’t an easy “get to” for us, with tons of art supplies and a dog. So we took the slow approach, via Cervo, Italy, and then a convoluted train ride to our destination.


As we took the Vaporetto (which had changed much over the last 40 years) down the Grand Canal to Accademia, where we were staying, we both knew we had made the right choice.


We read the wonderful John Ruskin book, “Stones of Venice” just before we arrived. It said it all – and was as timely and clever as if it were written at the turn of the current century, rather than in the 1850s.


We walk to the market to buy food for dinner – each little bridge and byway eliciting a new round of ooohs and aaahs. And no cars. NO CARS at all in Venice. In fact, I noticed the “ambulanza” plying the waters today, with its flashing light.


Five middle-aged men in a gondola ply the rio not far from the Piazzo San Marco. All but one is holding an Ipad, cover dangling like the seat of their skivvies, looking AT the screen rather than at their fantastic surroundings.


Nearly everywhere I go here, people are looking at screens rather than the view. The most hawked item here on the street is the “selfie stick”, so you can hold your Iphone three feet away from your face to get a good picture. It’s so much better to be the picture, smell the water, feel the moist air, BE IN VENICE.


The essence of Venice is to be lost. It is unlike any other place in Italy. It is a city of juxtapositions: east meets west; byzantine meets gothic meets renaissance. Arabesque provides some humor to the sober Renaissance, not every window is symmetrically placed.


The colors of Venice are so different than any place I have ever been. The water, in January at least, was inherently turquoise; the atmosphere was “touchable�; the sky color changed throughout the day, from pinks and yellows to blues and greys to purples and corals. When you look through a passageway, a little vignette of color emerges at the end.


“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.” ― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice


Laurie Fox Pessemier Venice Vaporetto

7 x 15.5" 18 x 39 cm

Blair Pessemier

Gondolier Ca d’Oro

21.5 x 18 56 x 46 cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Confetti Morning

12 x 16" 30 x 40cm

Blair Pessemier

San Fantin

18 x 15" 46 x 38 cm

Blair Pessemier

Rio Grassi

16 x 12 " 40 x 30 cm

Blair Pessemier

Mooring

16 x 16 40 x 40cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Cold Morning

12 x 16 30 x 40cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Passageway

9.5 x 12 24 x 30 cm

Blair Pessemier

Blue Boat

12 x 16” 30 x 40cm

Blair Pessemier

Camp San Vio

16 x 12” 40 x 30 cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

End of The Island

16 x 32” 30 x 80cm

Blair Pessemier

The Square

16 x 12" 40 x 30 cm

Blair Pessemier

Steps San Salute

16 x 24” 40 x 60cm

Blair Pessemier

8 x 12 20 x 30cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

From Santa Maria/Salute

9.5 x 12 24 x 30 cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Bridge by Guggenhei m Near Bridge Accademia

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Dawn Light On Water

16 x 12" 40 x 30cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Toward Guidecca

9 x 16" 23 x 41 cm

Blair Pessemier

High Water

16 x 12" 40 x 30cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Traghetti

12 x 8" 30 x 20 cm

Blair Pessemier

Fishman

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Alilaguna

9.5 x 12” 24 x 30 cm

Blair Pessemier

Salute/ Canal

21.5 x 15” 54 x 39 cm 12 x 16” 30 x 40cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Tree with Church

12 x 16” 30 x 40cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Bridge High water

15 x 7.5" 39 x 19 cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Doorway To Canal

12 x 8” 30 x 20cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Grand Canal

12 x 16” 30 x 40cm

Blair Pessemier

Reflection Windows

21.5 x 18 56 x 46 cm

Blair Pessemier

Gondola Station

18 x 21.5 46 x 55cm

Blair Pessemier

Our street

16 x 12” 30 x 40cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Gondola Repair

12 x 16” 30 x 40cm

Blair Pessemier

Waterway

15 x 18" 38 x 46 cm

Blair Pessemier

Goldolas at Rialto

9.5 x 12 24 x 30 cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

San Marco

12 x 8" 30 x 20cm

Blair Pessemier

View from Accademia

15 x 21.5 38 x 55 cm

Blair Pessemier

Grand Canal Dusk

15 x 22" 38 x 55cm

Laurie Fox Pessemier

Gondola in Fog

9.5 x 12 24 x 30 cm

All Paintings Acrylic/canvas

16 x 12" 40 x 30cm


Architectural Notes by Blair Pessemier

Venice was one of the most romantic places we’ve been. As an architect, I found myself asking why, delving further for answers.

From above, the appears to

plan of the main parts of Venice resemble clasped hands.


The Grand Canal runs in between, left. Shortly after arriving, I viewed ply those waters reflecting that same curves. The gondola itself is

Inspecting the palazzos Canal, on one side were details that didn’t match bottom. Exteriors with the Hotel Danelli, looked ground floor where the off to one side.

enclosing views while twisting right to the oarlocks of gondolas (forcola) that off-center delight in unsymmetrical unbalanced from port to starboard.

fronting the Grand oriental arches and side to side or top to pointed arches, like symmetrical until the monumental entry is


Those that seemed were not. Gardens on or in front of palazzos, with bigger buildings. is the punctuated appreciates so much, mixed in.

staid, when measured the Grand Canal, next to shouldered side by side Then I thought, perhaps it qualities that one the little bits of decoration


One wouldn’t listen to a symphony without mood or rhythm or quiet areas to let your mind rest then crescendo of sounds. I found that the Venetian architecture that inspired me was like a great piece of music or artwork. Some parts were emphasized, or echoed again, others were slightly modified, and the play of light and detail bought the eye around the façade. For example, Piazzo San Marco is really two trapezoid shaped spaces separated by the major campanile.

Small bridges over little canals are often off center on your path terminating with a third of the walkway landing into the corner of a building opposite.

Where descend a wrought sometimes (near a low bordering then turned terminate at cast iron

steps into a canal, iron handrail started high wall the canal) down to a decorative newel.


One sees a similar treatment in the gilded figure above the dome on the point of Dorsoduro facing the Doges Palace. Standing on one leg, he is holding the top a three sided sail in one hand, and with his other arm a rope is bent just as it leaves his hand then taut to the bottom of the sail.

Next to major churches are small chapels, or domes of varying sizes, or off-centered towers and campaniles. Bits of medieval relief sculpture are woven into the covering of facades. There is a tactile decoration from door pulls to column capitals to small mosaics that invites the eye and hand.


Even the Doge’s Palace viewed from the water is not symmetrical. The last two windows on the right differ from the others. You could chalk it up to changes and modifications as they were constructed over generations, but I like to think it wouldn’t have been as interesting all the same. Inside the courtyard of the same Palace, look at the visual diversity.


Campos and Piazzas I viewed were irregularly shaped. Sometimes, little streets opened to the Grand Canal. Other times, they wound, then bridged canals only to dead end. There is magic in walking small alleys to see where they go, and what little courtyards expand off of them. Because of the organic growth of Venice, very little is at right angles. Most structures have several walls at odd angles. Within more important buildings, like Accademia, coffered ceilings trick the eye to give a sense the room is rectangular, when in fact, it has a trapezoidal shape.

All of this becomes drama and theatre- that interaction between the viewer and the built environment. What is love without some response in return?


Blair Laurie and Harika on the beach in Cervo, Italy

Blair and Laurie Pessemier are American painters living and painting in Europe since the 1990s. Blair is an architect by training and Laurie, an artist and art historian. The paintings in this publication were created by both of them – Blair’s work is slightly more precise, Laurie’s more lyrical. To see the more work, look at their website, www.paintfox.com or send them an email. Blair and Laurie make their home in Paris, where they offer painting workshops in the steps of the Impressionists. To join them for a painting foray on the banks of the Seine, or to buy one of the original paintings in this book, please contact them at lfpessemier@gmail.com

Reflections on Venice  

Paintings and musings by Laurie and Blair Pessemier with Architectural Notes by Blair Pessemier

Reflections on Venice  

Paintings and musings by Laurie and Blair Pessemier with Architectural Notes by Blair Pessemier

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