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Venice Doorway Sketch
Watercolor Sketching Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
I love sketching Venice! The time I was there, I did some of my best sketches and took thousands of photos. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go through my notebooks from that trip without wondering why I haven’t painted that sketch into a painting yet. Right now, I’m not travelling or painting outside much. I’m recovering from a badly broken ankle. With the marvels of modern surgery, I can bear weight on it after a few weeks, but it’s really not happy about that. So I’m sitting more than I’ve ever sat in my life since my school days. It’s driving me nuts! While I haven’t been painting as much, I have been sketching little sketches or sorting through journals. Getting ideas. One project I’ve put off way too long is a small series on Venice doorways. I’ve been wanting to do a series of little sketches of them since I went!

So this quick journal sketch is me thinking about sketching Venice doorways.
Venice Doorway Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Sketching Tutorial Level


Skill Building


Art Supplies


(M. Graham transparent watercolors)

Azo Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Quinacridone Red
Cadmium Red
Quinacridone Gold
Pthalo Green
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Teal
Burnt Sienna
White Gouache

Painting Demonstration 1

Venice Doorway Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I have a tiny bit of wax crayon in extreme whites. Stairs and inside the doorway. Remember, wax doesn’t come off watercolor paper! If in doubt, don’t use it! I start in with the warm peaches since that color is repeated throughout the painting. Always start with a warm color that’s fairly light and repeated.

Painting Demonstration 3

Venice Doorway Sketch Painting Tutorial 3

I go in the doorway and add some detail.

I dash some reflections on the water. Reflections really do seem more on the surface in Venice canals. The chalky green tones dulls the reflections and keeps them separate. A few more darks and peaches in the moss.

Artist's Tips

Shadows are not just gray, but the colors of the surface they're on and reflecting light. Change up your shadow colors to show what's really there!

Painting Demonstration 4

Venice Doorway Sketch Painting Tutorial 4

A little more texture on the stucco walls, a few touches of white gouache on highlights, some stronger shadows and a few more water squiggles!

Ah, sketching Venice! True armchair travel!

Venice Doorway Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Final Watercolor Sketch!

Happy Painting! Jennifer Branch

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