When faced with such a distractingly complicated scene, I
must first of all choose a typical incident and define my picture
as if I could already see it framed. In this case the most striking
features are the masts with their fluttering multi-coloured banners,
the red, white, and green Italian flag, the dark swaying line
of boats crowded with spectators, and the gondolas like black-and-white
arrows shooting away from the horizon; then at the top of the
picture, the watery horizon the marked target and the islands
in the distant haze.
I would try first to work
out logically the different values, in their nearer or more distant
relationships, according to spatial and aerial perspective.
The lagoon mirrors the sky,
and at the same time acts as a great stage for the boats and
their passengers, the masts, the banners etc. It has its own
particular colour, the nuances it borrows from the sky, the clouds,
from crowds, from objects reflected in the water. There can be
no sharp definition, no linear structure in something that is
all movement; only tonal values, which, if correctly observed
will constitute its true volume, its essential undelying design.
The gondolas, and other boats,
with their generally dark colours and reflections, provide a
base on which to set my watery stage. The figures, seated or
in action, dressed in dark colours, or brilliantly vivid materials,
with their parasols, hankerchiefs, and hats, appear as crenellated
forms of different tonal values, providing the necessary "repoussoir"
(contrast foreground-ed) and defining the specific character
of the areas of water and gondolas that I see through them.
Crowds, rowers, flags, masts
must be sketched in with a mosiac of coloured tones, in an attempt
to convey the fleeting quality of gestures, the fluttering flags,
the swaying masts.
On the horizon, right at the
top, are the islands. There should be no more than a suggestion
of the most distant places, veiled in the subtlest, most accurately
Finally the sky should cover
and envelop the whole scene, like an immense, shinning canopy,
whose light plays over all the figures and objects.