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Recently Sold: Venetian Italy Painting

Venetian Alley original painting by Artist Rachael Grad

Original Painting of Venice, Italy Alley

My large original painting of 5 cats and 5 figures in Venice, Italy recently sold. Painted with acrylic paint on stretched canvas measuring 36 x 22" (91.44 cm x 60.96 cm), this artwork was created in 2020. For this painting, I built a diorama scenes using my original travel photographs and paintings in the background, walls and floor. I attached some photographs to movable toys and pieces. Then I painted by observing the diorama scene and my cut-up, moveable paintings and sketches. The diorama in different stages is shown below. 

I slowly built up thin layers of paint in the traditional Venetian colors of earthy Indian reds, yellow ochres, umbres, black, and white. During lockdowns in 2020, I revisited my travel photography, drawings and paintings and used them to create new artwork at home. While studying art in Venice, Italy many years ago, I was fascinated by the house cats and dogs that roam free and off leash throughout the city. 

Diorama of Venice Italy alley by Artist Rachael Grad

Living in Venice, Italy as Painting Inspiration

In this Venetian Alley painting, I tried to capture the feeling of wandering around Venice. The sensation of something new and exciting to be discovered “just around a corner” is for what I was aiming, similar to how it feels wandering the streets, alleys and canals of Venice. My memories of Venice include dreamy street scenes, happy dogs and cats, confused tourists, and annoyed Italian locals.

This painting shows my strong nostalgia for travel, discovery, lightheartedness, and adventure in my life before having children. In Venice, I was fascinated by the experience of living in a different culture and city that’s both ancient and contemporary at the same time. In La Serenissa (the nickname for Venice, Italy), with no cars and safe streets, humans interact, exist, and share common space with animals in a city. 

My goal in this painting was to capture the light and atmosphere of a specific dead-end alley (named a “calle” in Venetian dialect) in the height of summer heat and humidity. The humans and animals (house cats and dogs) moved more slowly and lazily in the stifling height of a summer heat wave. The painting plays with the scale and placement of the figures in different views of the Venetian alley. In this space, I got to know a friendly neighbourhood orange tabby cat. I nicknamed the marmalade pet “calls cat.”

Venice Italy alley Diorama by Canadian Artist Rachael Grad

I have hundreds of photos, sketches and paintings of this specific orange cat and the many happy, off-leash animals in Venice, Italy. This original painting contains 5 different views of the same marmalade cat, along with 5 human figures. One figure is a self-portrait of myself taking photographs in a historic Venetian window. I also included two stylish Italian men dressed in black pants and white collared shirts, and two elderly women with bright white hair and colorful dresses, and carrying shopping bags.

This Painting Shows How My Art Changed in the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Once lockdown began in Toronto, my art practice was forced to change. Initially in March 2020, I started drawing my kids and their toys again. Then in late spring and early summer of that year, I became nostalgic for travel and life before lockdowns, quarantines, and the current pandemic.

Venetian Alley Painting by Artist Rachael Grad in Toronto home

Re-examining my own travel paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, and photographs provided inspiration for new paintings and drawings while stuck at home. The various dioramas that  I set up were made of cardboard, studio scraps (old palette paper), crafts, toys, and my own art. Because I created my own miniature scenes, I have not been able to reuse or part with these dioramas, which are now crowding my art studio. In lockdown I escaped by painting the dioramas from observation to create new painted worlds of memory. 

Thank you to the Toronto art collectors who bought my painting "Venetian Alley"

Venetian street scene painting by Canadian Artist Rachael Grad

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