Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Day 7 (Vicenza - Monte Berico & a new friend)

Here's one final post about our visit to Vicenza. (Even though we were only in the city for eight hours or so, it's taken me two weeks to get the sketches from that day finished!)


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.

There are beautiful lamp posts all over Italy, in an endless variety of ornate styles. Here, I used the ones on the piazza on Mt. Berico to frame the view and offer a vertical contrast to the wide horizontal balustrade in my sketch.


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.

9 comments:

  1. What wonderful sketches. and what a lovely experience with the Italian Artist. How fun he drew something for you. and I still don't see the goof on the light source even after telling us. :) Loving this vacation of yours. :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Well, the shadows are pretty subtle in the townscape part of the picture, but can't you see that some of the buildings have a darker shadow side on the right? And in the foreground the shadows are all on the left side of the balusters.

      Glad you're enjoying the Italy sketches. At the rate I'm going, you'll be enjoying them, one or two at a time, for quite a few weeks to come!

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  2. Your sketches are incredible. What a wonderful way to document your trip. And definitely no one would ever even think that there was anything wrong with your sketches or ask where the light source was coming from. :) A great encounter with the Italian artist. Fun! Best wishes, Tammy

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    1. I appreciate your comments, Tammy. Glad to know my boo-boo isn't too obvious!

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  3. What an absolute delight to see this post tonight. I love your images and also your word pictures of your adventure. What a wonderful combination. Thanks for zooming in on some of the details. It is fascinating to hear how you pulled it together. What a great idea to climb that hill and get that alternate view of the city below. Wonderful!!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that you like seeing the details, Claire. I always enjoy being able to see the brushstrokes and paint colors close up when I'm viewing someone's work, too. It takes extra time to include the close-ups in every post, but I think it's worth it.

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  4. I love love love the idea of sketchbook diary:)
    drawing of italian older man reminds me of picasso sketces like this http://www.artrepublic.com/articles/281-the-line-drawings-of-pablo-picasso.html

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  5. I love the story about the man sketching in your book! That is what travel is about...the experiences that we will never forget. Your sketches are wonderful! I am slowly reading them this morning and feeling like I am back in Italy.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Joan. I've really enjoyed reading all your enthusiastic comments. It's nice to get feedback on my posts.

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