The Worried Venus

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This image captivated me. What is she looking at in that thoughtful rather wary way, eyes looking inward at the same time?  And that little angel clinging to her head looks worried too. Later I saw that she was Venus and the little angel is Cupid. The photo I saw her in is very mysterious as there’s a partial painted wall in front of the fresco of Venus looking out the door. There doesn’t appear to be any space between the two. Had Venus been painted over and then discovered? These images were my inspiration….what to do with this intriguing combination.

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Day 1

I started with a 5′ high piece of watercolor paper and and painted it with a dark gray gesso, my preferred background color. It is very liberating to draw big, to stand close to the easel and not even see the edges of the paper. Below is day 1. I incorporated other images…the floating legs and and angel and the small vase with fruit.




Day 2

The legs bothered me, and so I wiped them out and replaced them with another angel. And on the right side I added a female figure with a platter on her head.


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The woman with the platter on her head looked too specific so I partially rubbed her out, for a ghostly more mysterious presence. And I rubbed Venus’s face out and made her a bit smaller. I also put in the sphinx fountains on the wall panels near the door, but they too disappeared as I felt they were too attention grabbing.


Day 3

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And on Day 3 I also felt the angel on the right, who I loved as a drawing, was also too attention grabbing so she went the way of the feet! I added a simpler angel. I had fun adding images from my collection of fresco photos, and I loved the freedom of taking the rough side of a sponge and wiping the drawing away. Meanwhile  I still was  not happy with Venus and Cupid….and I needed to work on the architectural forms at the top of the drawing, though they are no fully longer visible in the fresco

Day 4

Venus fresco day 4.jpg

I am now happy with the architectural aspect of the drawing, though it still needs a bit of work, but I still need to get the images of Venus and Cupid as I’d like them. I find pastels wonderfully forgiving in how easy it is to draw over or rub out, or erase down to the original gray. The drawing has slowed down now as I work on the texture and I’m awaiting a day when I feel gutsy and on my toes to draw Venus and Cupid. I hope it will be tomorrow!



Days 1-3 in a row so you can better see the changes

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5 thoughts on “The Worried Venus

  1. joan wentworth

    How wonderful, Scotty! And so timely really—a worried Venus. I love your emotional and technical process. Did you find her in Italy? a Fresco? Absolutely thrilling! ________________________________

    1. Joan hi. Thanks! It is fun to utterly change! Though still get grabbed by some landscape…but I went to Italy in the spring and Palazzo Massimo’s frescoes got me.This figure though is from a photo…I’ve got quite a collection of ones the intrigue me. I was hoping to go back to photograph soon, but it will probably be in the spring. Can’t wait to go to the museum in Naples too. I’ve got a studio visit video which shows a few more…check it out on and click posts…it’s public, not requiring you be a patron. Am starting on Patreon to try and finance this madness of mine! Hope you’re well. XXXX

  2. Greer Chesher

    Fascinating! When you see a completed painting you never know how much change it’s gone through. It just seems perfect in the final rendering. Just like a piece of writing, one never knows how much editing has gone into the work. Thanks for sharing this process.

  3. Richard Clegg

    This seems to be an entirely different artistic world for you, Scotty. Equally as captivating as your past pastel landscapes I’ve loved for as long as I’ve been familiar with your work. Captivating! Reminds me of some of the frescoes I saw at Pompeii. Marvelous. I’m a fan.

    1. Thank you Richard! it is fun to depart so utterly from what I’ve been doing for decades. can’t wait to go to Pompeii and the Museum in Naples….My FB page (Scotty Mitchell’s art page) has some other of the new work and there’s a video on (the studio visit is public, doesn’t require being a patron). Cheers,Scotty

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