Un cappucci per favore – one morning in Venice
A guest article by Alexa Dilla
Who actually is painting the pictures for Hahnemühle’s Watercolour Postcard Box? For the jubilee edition, the 10th edition of the small metal boxes with the watercolour postcards, we asked Alexa Dilla. With her fresh, urban picture ‘La dolce vita’ in Venice she inspires travel lust and the passion for creativity. And here, in our blog, she reveals how the picture for the limited box was created. Be fast if you want to secure one of the boxes. The 20,000 promotional items will be sold all over the world.
I have to admit it: I don’t succeed every day in going to the café and sip my first cup of ‘Cappucci’ before 09:00hrs. On this morning, however I was richly rewarded for having got up early. In my pocket I had – as always – my paintbrushes, the watercolours and different Hahnemühle sketchbooks and Leporellos – homemade from Hahnemühle paper.
These are the most beautiful days: no appointments and I can promenade across the city to see, hear, feel and – of course – taste. Vivid cities such as Venice, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Nice or Barcelona often are overcrowded by tourists even in early summer and it is difficult to find some peace for feeling the heart of the city. During my trips as onboard-painter on cruise liners I had a lot of time for discover the beautiful places by painting. More often than not I visited a place – other than the passengers – again and again what allowed me to get to know it better.
A wonderful plus when it comes to painting and drawing outdoors – particularly in cities – are the encounters with the locals. In Ajaccio on Corsica, for instance, I received the most tasty fruits as a gift as the market-woman was of the opinion that I had painted her particularly well. Espresso in Catania, Café con leche in Barcelona and yoghurt ice on Corfu, coconuts on St Maarten and mango on Bali – sometimes it nearly felt like being at home. In English, French or with hands and feet I do chit-chat with people who admire my plein-air painting. And if I need my peace I just put my earphones into my ears.
On days like the one in Venice it can happen that I’m filled by a wonderful peace. If this happens I become totally transparent and blend in with the environment – like a chameleon. Then, all my senses are sharpened and the impressions flow right into my pen or paintbrush. It feels as if the environment is sucked in by my colours and the paintbrush and the pictures are virtually painted automatically. A state I’m not thinking in but just am. Wonderful. No thoughts about perspective, light or shadow, no self-doubts, no assessment – just being there to paint. A big present. Sometimes, however, nothing works and then I move to another place, just walk on until the next subject smiles at me, or I try another technique or stick a ticket on it. Therefore, the pages of my sketchbooks usually don’t look like printed. There are those that continuously feature quite a lot of rather nice sketches and pictures but in others you find just two or three complete pictures, with the rest of the book being filled with notes, colour samples or just unfinished sketches.
Apropos: beautiful sketches… What exactly is beautiful? And what is a subject? Topics that have plaguing me particularly since I have seen so many countries, cities and places of interest as on-board painter on a cruise ship in such a short time – now about three years. Postcard subjects galore. I regard Venice as particularly challenging when it comes to finding fresh subjects. Do I really also have to paint the Rialto Bridge? Or the gondolas? Yes, I have to – no matter how many artists have painted these subjects over the century. After all, I haven’t. Or I have, in the meantime – but in the style I paint them. And that’s why I like this Venice subject for Hahnemühle´s Watercolour Postcardbox at the Campo Santa Maria Nova so much.
When looking at the picture I still can taste the ‘Cappucci’, recall the cool conditions and that is was so quiet that you heard everybody talking and the old man on the bench vis-à-vis who also told me about his painting sister. The beginning of a day I promenaded across Venice on – and in the evening I painted the Salute from the Guidecca in dreamy sunset light. Just a perfect day and this day now will accompany all the Hahnemühle fans that will purchase a sample of the 10th edition of the Watercolour Postcard Box. My picture on 20,000 boxes that are sold all over the world. A great feeling!
You can find Alexa Dilla with her pictures, workshops and tutorials at numerous channels: