After touring the city proper, we climbed the 235 stone steps to the top of Monte Berico, where we rested in the peace and quiet splendor of the 15th century Basilica of St. Mary.
|10" x 7", ink & watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook|
The panoramic view from the esplanade in front of the church showed us Vicenza from another perspective. It was fun seeing where we had walked and the places we had seen earlier in the day.
I masked off the balusters using masking fluid, then painted the greenery and the city. After everything dried, I removed the masking and added a glaze of yellow ochre mixed with burnt sienna to the balusters, to hint at the warm color of the marble. Grey-blue shadows finish things off.
As I'm writing this, I realize that I made a mistake on this sketch. Can you see it? I have two different light sources! In the foreground, the sun is shining from the right, and in the city it's from the left. That's what happens when I dash into my studio and paint for a few minutes, then have to run off and do something else - I lose my focus. (Would you have noticed, if I hadn't pointed it out?) Oh well, it's just a sketch!
Just down the street from the cathedral, I spied this simple, yet beautiful, old water fountain, one of many I saw around the city.
You might wonder at the change of style on this next page...
The text I added in red tells the story. Suzie and I had the most pleasant conversation, if you can call it that, with this sweet older man near the main square in Vicenza, where we sat sketching. He spoke only Italian, and we spoke only English, but do you think he let that stop him? No way! He smiled and gestured, to let us know he liked our sketches. We smiled back, trying very hard to understand the torrent of Italian coming at us, but I'm afraid we weren't too successful. Undaunted, he then offered to draw something for us in our sketchbooks, first a rooster, then a rather scraggly apple. He proudly signed his name with a flourish. Oh, that I had that kind of confidence!
|Me with my new artist friend in Vicenza|
It was a wonderful encounter, one of those unexpected gifts that come when you open yourself up to adventure. When I went on this trip, I made up my mind that I was going to experience as much as I could, even if I sometimes felt embarrassed or self-conscious. I had to step outside my comfort zone every day. If I wasn't willing to do that, I might as well stay home.
So, I sketched in public (even when it made me uncomfortable), tried new foods (even though the sight of octopus on my plate was a little frightening!), "talked" to Italians, both friendly and not (even though I could barely manage more than grazie & ciao), and somehow muddled my way through. Travel can be stressful, but it's oh, so worth it, and the things that challenge us end up being the most lasting, and sometimes the sweetest, memories.