Venice Italy on a Short Tether

Venice Italy on a short tether by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 115

Where is Venice? Silly question you might answer. It is in Italy of course. Well, it can be. But I am going to postulate that Venice Italy is mostly in our imaginations. To demonstrate, I am going share my unscientific nine days of observations and reflections. You see, we are under rather peculiar restrictions while in this ancient city of canals. We must, for the most part, avoid frenetic crowds.  To avoid dragging a snarling frothing-at-the-mouth tourist through the narrow complex pathways of Venezia, I must pick our times and our locations with care. The most noted touristy locations and activities are therefore passed over.

Though I did get a nice shot of the Canal Grande from the Ponte dell’Accademia

Canal Grande from the Ponte dell'Accademia 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_04_17 050

and the long view…

Canal Grande from the Ponte dell'Accademia by Terrill Welch 2014_04_17 062

and another Canal Grande from Porte degliScalzi

Canal Grande from Porte degli Scalzi Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 026

Plus, there is the gondalier polishing away while waiting for riders…

gondaliering 6 by Tierrill Welch 2014_04_17 034

and an inspired painting sketch…

Plein air painting along the Grand Canal in Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_17 030

or two

Low Entry Venice Italy 18 x 24 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch linen finish paintblock by Terrill Welch 2014_04_18 060

oh, make that three!

Afternoon canal watch in Venice Italy 18 x 24 cm acrylic painting sketch on linen finished paint block by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 005

and there is the laundry I showed in my last Venice post.

Cannaregio Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 046

There are also the narrow wabi-sabi alleyways…

wabi sabi street in Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 092

So far so good, we might say. It all seems to be just about what one might expect in Venice. But this is where the imagined truth begins to slip and the many faces of Venice start to show themselves in the shadows.

We know that much of Venice was built by the 1500 as it is recorded in a woodcut print by Jacopo de’ Barbari. This aging and declining beauty hosts about 50,000 tourists a day. Finding a narrow calli not streaming with a procession of guests is often a challenge. Still, amidst the frantic excitement, its swaying elegance can still be hunted down to stand alone, quiet and charming in the afternoon sun. Distant clicking of carry-on luggage fades as it is jostle over the masegni then silenced when the owner picks it up to carry it over one of the more than 450 bridges connecting the city of islands. I have two full days left of my nine in Venice. My feelings are mixed. This photograph is the city I imagined. Yet, it is only one, and often seldom seen, expression on a declining, trampled profile of romance, elegance and power. I am not sorry I came. I am not even sorry I stayed long enough to see past the glitter and shiny bobbles. I am however slightly melancholy to visit this elderly lady on her last breath being sustained by tourism, mythology and will.

Let’s take a deeper view, one where I hope to still leave this fading darling of the world with some dignity – yet let the wrinkles of time add to her story.

400 years long by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 100

we are connected

We are connected Venice Italy  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 099

Italia in Venice

Italia in Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 047

or just Italia?

Italia by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 046

1776 someplace in Venice Italy

1776 someplace in Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 070

I smell a  rat nearby

I smell a  rat nearby by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 108

Who broke the nose of Venice?

who broke the nose of Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 154

and then bit off her hand!?

larger than life statue at Canal Grande Hotel by Terrill Welch 2014_04_22 020

Is this where Venice collects herself then?

Reflections in an antique shop window Venice Italy

reflections in an antique shop window Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_16 052

Or is it here in the campo Nazario Sauro?

The many faces of Venice expressed at once by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 125

No, I think possibly the Venice we expect can be most frequently be found on this wall…

within reach of Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 146

Venezia posted by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 140 on the wall in Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 141

Wandering the back alleys in search of Venice Italy, I come across a happenstance poster collage that includes Ruth Orkin’s best know photograph early 1950’s “American Girl in Italy” amongst the mix. I carefully frame the collage within its original context and then edit the photograph to become a new image, a new work of art which emerges as a study of this earlier piece. There are bits of debris, wrinkles and wear showing on the paper. A piece of the brick wall is showing through the plastered images. Nothing is quite straight and true. There is more nostalgia than truth and this is Venice in April 2014.

In search of Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 131

More about “American Girl in Italy” can be found on a post written by her daughter at Ruth Orkin’s Archives:

Such a small cup Venice!

such a small cup Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_16 020

Yet, siblings can be seen looking at something from a bridge in Venice just above the daily beer delivery.

siblings looking at something from the bridge in Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_16 088

Canals are as much for heading to work in Venice
heading to work Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_16 042

as they are for gondaliering.

gondaliering 4 painterly by Terrill Welch 2014_04_17 098

Such gondola pride…

gondola pride 2 by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 104

as they pass the open storage door.

storage Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_22 036

and the practical posts at the edge of the canals.

practical posts at the edge of the canal by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 040

The fancy ones are over in the Cannaregio district where the streets are wider, quieter and maybe not so interesting…

Cannaregio Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_20 017

It is where Venetians live. It is where your coffee is only drank with milk before 11:00 am and the restaurants are mostly closed from 3:00 in the afternoon to 6:30 in the evening. It is where the boat with fresh fish makes a special stop before going to the larger open market over by the Rialto Bridge. It is where a small boy can through a plastic pop bottle in the canal and no one takes any notice. Still, just like the rest of Venice, the sorted refuse and recyclables will be hung out between six and eight in the morning where they will be picked up and trudged to the edge of the canals to be hauled away before the tourist day begins.

Who is this Venice with such a notorious reputation for love, superb expresso and fish that can sold in a restaurant for 13 euros a 100 grams – with the head still attached?

Who is this Venice behind these many masks?

Venezia masks by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 045

Shuttered more often than not, she gives few clues…

shuttered in Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 032

As I make my way up and down the old marble stairs of our apartment again and again in the Santa Croce district,

old marble stairs in our apartment building  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_22 011

as I reach for one old door handle after another,

door handle in Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 007

and the city’s church bells swing a resistant ring against the graffiti walls…

Graffiti of Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_19 019

I ask – where is Venice?

Then it rains. Sidewalks pool with water.

rain on the sidewalk of Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 003

Canals welcome droplets as if being caressed awake from a deep sleep.

rainy day in Venice by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 050

The passageways empty and leave the heavy light to a photographer on her knees. He brushes the red clay that is caked to the shoulder of her shirt where she leaned steady against the wall.

per Rialto by Terrill Welch 2014_04_21 015

Darkness comes and still they walk – umbrella to umbrella, touching lightly on the delicate underbelly of  exposed skin that is Venice. He asks what she is doing. She says she would like to frame those lights there, the ones dancing on the water. But she doesn’t. Instead, they keep walking, passed where the hustlers have packed up their purses and glow sticks, and passed where the usual sound of rolling carry-on luggage is louder than laughter and past where a couple is having difficulty deciding which restaurant they should go to for dinner.

Damp and satisfied, she leads them past the couple, and  up the three flights of stairs to their apartment, opens a bottle of cheap red wine and makes sandwiches on white buns with local cheese for a late supper.

Early the next morning, there is Venice, waiting on the street for the garbage to be collected. A Venice that knows she can order a standing up espresso for a euro at the bakery where she will buy only what bread is needed for breakfast. About then – the light is just so! The masks fall from her imaginary vision and she says…

suggested Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_22 040

I am ready to say good morning to you Venice. I am willing to say I am in love with your many faces.

morning by a Venice canal by Terrill Welch 2014_04_22 069

Only now, it is time to say good-bye – a long goodbye like that of Katharine Hepburn in Summertime (1955)

Venice, I think you will surprise me again.

Tomorrow,  I shall be packed. It will be time for this humble artist to stow away her work and leave only her impressions behind.


Where is YOUR Venice? What one of her many faces do you love most?


Note: The painting sketches and some of these photographs are now available for purchase at my Redbubble Storefront.


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

Is it Venezia or Venice to you?

We traveled by train from Basel Switzerland through Austria and down the northeast part of Italy to Venezia or Venice. Being an English speaking Canadian I think of Venice rather than Venezia but the later sounds so pretty it seems a shame not to use it. I do have a blog post in the wings for Basel Switzerland. However, we are taking a short introductory walk around the Cannaregio area of Venice late this morning so I thought I would take you with us.

We are staying on quiet calla Gallion not far from the first bridge near the train station. In retracing our steps back towards the station, there is a chance for us to take in that postcard view of Canal Grande from Porte degli Scalzi.

Canal Grande from Porte degli Scalzi Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 026

Stepping down off the bridge we will turn away from the train station and take the Rio Tera Lista Di Spagna and have a look along the Canal Cannaregio.

Canal Cannaregio Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 028

Yes, this part is still fairly busy but it quickly becomes quiet as we wander into the Cannaregio area. I lose interest in canals for more mundane observations. I love laundry hanging on lines. Laundry in canals.

Cannaregio Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 046

Laundry with a view.

Secchiere Venezia Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 061

Laundry with a colour theme.

Shades of red Venice Italy by Terrill Welch 2014_04_14 088

Well, that is about it. The sun is too high for good viewing and it is time to return to our rooftop apartment for a wee snack and a nap.


Oh! Is it Venezia or Venice to you?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

How do you pack for three months travel to London, Paris, Dijon, Basel, Venice, Florence, Nice and Barcelona?

The short answer never changes when packing for a trip does it? Let’s say it all together…


But what does as little as possible look like?

Here are three clues:

1. If you need to sit on a suitcase that is as up to your waist and wider than the bathroom door in order to close it, you are not there yet.

2. If you don’t think you can carry your luggage and pull out your passport from your safety wallet at the same time, you still have some work to do.

3. If you are wondering if you are going to be able to hire someone to carry your belongings or you can’t imagine carrying it up four flights of stairs all by yourself, it is time to reassess.

When David and I traveled in Peru for a month we only had one small backpack of carry-on luggage each. When we came home we had one extra small bag to check that contained a few gifts. At the time I wasn’t painting and only had my much smaller film 35 mm film camera. There were no iPads and we didn’t even consider taking a laptop because Peru had lots of internet cafe locations. This time we have much more gear to pack and we are going for a longer stretch of time. Because of this and because we will be in such diverse climates we decided that one piece of carry-on each wasn’t going to work. We purchased one narrow medium-sized, hard-shell bottomed suitcase that expands into two separate pieces if we need it. We will have one carry-on each containing mostly camera equipment, laptop, ipads and toothbrushes… and this one suitcase will be checked.

For clothes think comfortable, versatile, happy being crumpled, easy to wash and layers. Bring only the clothes for what you are going to be doing and half as many as you think you need.

Take as little as possible by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 070

We are not night club people. We have no wedding to attend. So dress clothes and dress shoes are just not needed. If we change our mind later, then it looks like I get to buy a new pair of shoes 😉 But I won’t pack these things with me. I do have a simple skirt and top that can go anywhere for a nice dinner. That is it. But the skirt and top is also equally suitable for a day traveling on the train or a morning walking along the beach or strolling an art gallery. I don’t wear make up, use face or hand cream and I don’t take any medications or supplements so this helps keep things simple.

However, there are a few don’t-leave-home-without items that I do include in my packing:

Travel things by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 074

1. a small bottle of liquid hand cleanser. This was so handy on our trip to Peru that I seldom have been without it since.

2. safety money belt with RFID blocker which means only a small amount of cash for daily purchases is ever readily accessible. Extra tip – when choosing your clothes make sure you do not have to strip or risk getting charged with indecent exposure to get at your passport, train pass and credit card and bank cards in the money belt. Hence, I packed a skirt and top not a dress.

3. since we will be checking one suitcase I have included a sewing kit with scissor and fingernail clippers. If you are traveling with only carry-on leave these restricted items at home and purchase them when you get where you are going. Note: dental floss is crazy useful as a thread if you remember to bring a needle big enough to use it this way.

4. electrical adapters if they are needed. This didn’t used to be such a big deal but we have too many electronic toys to leave home without them anymore.

5. your sense of humour! Never, ever go on a trip without it. Ever. There will be times when you will be so tired you want to cry. There will be times that everything will seemingly go wrong no matter what you do. This is when you pull out your rather squished, rumpled sense of humour – give it a good shake, dust it off and put it work – and always remember where you packed it where it is easily accessible.

Now for my nice-to-have items:

Travel essentials by Terrill Welch 2014_03_23 068

1. one quick-dry compact towel shown on the right in the photograph above. This item went with us to Peru and was mostly used to dry my long mop of hair but also can be used to lay food out on and as a blanket when cold or to cover your head when you don’t want to see anyone… particularly the person you are traveling with – I am teasing but you get the idea.

2. a pocket raincoat that is tough and durable. I like my hands free and holding an umbrella is just a pain. Besides I am short so an umbrella is actually a dangerous weapon to be welding on a busy street.

3. a pocket day-pack for maps, hairbrush and food – NOT for money, credit cards, bank cards, passport, camera or iPad or anything else valuable. If the pack is lifted you want to be able to shout after the person…. have a nice lunch!… then be on able to move on with the rest of your day.

4. an inflatable head and chin support. This is something new we are trying but we have one overnight flight and some long day trips on the train. I will report back after the trip to let you know how well it works.

5. maps… if you like maps that is. I will spend a good amount of time looking at maps before and during a trip to familiarize myself with the lay of the land so to speak. I like to be able to imagine how various places relate to other places even before I arrive. This keeps the anxiety down once I am on the ground. It is not a necessity because tourist centers have maps and if you are taking a smart phone then paper maps might even be easy to skip. But physically looking at maps is just something I deeply enjoy and it will keep me occupied for hours of traveling time.

6. one hard copy book for when the iPad or kindle is packed away or the battery has run down.

Then, there are just a few things that MUST be left behind:

1. your travel plan and essential information with your emergency contact person.

2. any sense of entitlement or ethnocentric righteousness. Different doesn’t mean wrong. It only means different.

Now we are all packed and ready to have fun! Yippee! Eight more sleeps 🙂 Oh! Did we forget anything?


What is one little-thought-about item on your essential packing list for three months or more travel?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

A Brush with Europe – an artist’s rendering coming soon

Merci, grazie, gracias, Thank you! A Brush with Europe blogging category begins for this artist who has planned a three month trip by not planning much at all. Right now the best indicator of what is going on inside my head looks something like this…

A Brush with Europe by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 108

There is a poem in Leonard Cohen Book of Longing p. 46 that adequatly captures my misgivings and doubts.

The Moon

The moon is outside

I saw the great uncomplicated thing

when I went to take a like just now.

I should have looked at it longer.

I am a poor lover of the moon.

I see it all at once and that’s it

for me and the moon.

My fear is that I don’t want to be a poor lover of Paris, Venice, Florence and Barcelona. But right now three months in Europe seems too short to accomplish anything more. I am reading, watching videos, talking to people and learning as much as I can in advance. However, this just seems to increase my doubts rather than relieve them. What to do?

Well, anytime I feel like I am in over my head, which I am confident is a reasonable description of my current situation, I slow down and eat some greens.

Winter Salad by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 054

Winter in a northern climate is not the easiest time to create a summer like salad but it can be done. Then with the addition of a good handful of pecans and a couple of warm hard-boiled eggs I a ready to go to work.

Salad with pecans and eggs by Terrill Welch 2014_02_03 081

First things first – revise the travel planning list. Ah yes – return tickets from Vancouver to London and medical insurance, suitcase, RFID blocker money belt, and plugin adapters are purchased. Next, sign up for AirBnB and arrange for a caretaker house sitter. See? Not so hard. Non capisco? Mi dispiace…

What is your first response when you are in over your head?

Note: I will be starting a new blogging category for this trip called “A Brush with Europe.” I thought about setting up a separate blog but that just seemed more trouble than it was worth. Since I will be doing painting sketches, photography and writing as we travel by train from London to Venice then on to Florence, the Cote D’ Azur and Barcelona (beginning in April until near the end of June) this in-progress blog should work just fine. Besides you all know how to find me here and this way I won’t be lonely 🙂


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to