Pensioner who never painted before recreates Canaletto masterpiece

March 13th, 20188:35 pm @

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A pensioner has recreated a remarkable Canaletto masterpiece despite never picking up a paintbrush before, saying he ‘thought he could do a better job’ than the famous Italian painter.

Ken Small, 84, who lives near Darlington in County Durham, worked as a mechanic until he retired aged 65, at which point he realised his true talent was in art.

The granddad-of-five decided to paint his own life-size version of ‘Venice’ by 18th Century Italian artist Canaletto after a visit to an art exhibition in 2014.  

Ken Small, 84, who lives near Darlington in County Durham, worked as a mechanic until he retired aged 65, at which point he realised his true talent was in art

Ken Small, 84, who lives near Darlington in County Durham, worked as a mechanic until he retired aged 65, at which point he realised his true talent was in art

The granddad-of-five decided to paint his own life-size version of 'Venice' by 18th Century Italian artist Canaletto (above) after a visit to an art exhibition in 2014

The granddad-of-five decided to paint his own life-size version of ‘Venice’ by 18th Century Italian artist Canaletto (above) after a visit to an art exhibition in 2014

He thought he could do a better job than the acclaimed painter and started work on his version, adding in birds, more depth and richer colours

He thought he could do a better job than the acclaimed painter and started work on his version, adding in birds, more depth and richer colours

He thought he could do a better job than the acclaimed painter and started work on his version, adding in birds, more depth and richer colours.

His jaw-dropping creation – which he has christened ‘The Kenny-lleto’ – took him three years to complete with a modern form of oil paint called Alkyd.

Dad-of-three Ken said he once wanted to give up on the project because it involved such a lot of work.

But his passion for drawing and painting carried him to the finish line. 

He has also painted a portrait of the Queen after seeking special copyright permission, as well as Robert De Niro and even Meghan Markel and Prince Harry

He has also painted a portrait of the Queen after seeking special copyright permission, as well as Robert De Niro and even Meghan Markel and Prince Harry

Ken, who was previously married for 17 years but is now single, says while he is fit and able he’s going to carry on painting – because ‘I love it.’

He has also painted a portrait of the Queen after seeking special copyright permission, Robert De Niro and even Meghan Markel and Prince Harry.

His next goal is to open an exhibition to showcase his work, but for the moment he says none of his art is for sale.

‘You just need to keep at it [painting] – and I knew this was my time to shine,’ said Ken.

‘I paint because I enjoy it and I don’t feel lonely and depressed – I am very pleased that I have followed my passion into my later life.

‘I was always drawing and was fascinated with art when I was younger – but never picked up a brush until I was 65.

‘I painted the Canaletto when it took my fancy because there is so much going on in the painting.

‘I’ve made it my own and I am really proud of what I have accomplished.

‘I used to be shy about my work and not feel confidence but now I’m happy to share.’

His next goal is to open an exhibition to showcase his work, but for the moment he says none of his art is for sale

His next goal is to open an exhibition to showcase his work, but for the moment he says none of his art is for sale

He added: ‘I really wanted to do a big canvas painting and thought I could do a better job on Venice than the real thing – without been cheeky.

‘My version is better in my opinion because it is fuller, and has a lot more gold in it.

‘I’ve added birds, and a dog barking at a bird, and I’ve built the painting up and up.

‘My son Stephen kept coming round, because he visits me every week, and he kept saying ‘where is this going dad?’

‘But I kept painting in my spare time – it makes me happy because being alone can depress you.’  

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