Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Bits & Pieces

Shutters, flowers, balconies, iron gates...interesting and beautiful little scenes were everywhere in Italy.  It was a feast for my eyes and spirit.
10" x 7", pencil & watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook. Each small sketch is 1-1/2"x 1-1/2".

I pretty much walked around in a constant state of wonder while I was there. I can't even begin to count the number of times I said to my traveling companion, Suzie, "Oh! Look at that! It's so-o-o-o beautiful!!!!" Finally, I decided to make a page in my journal that would feature a few of these little vignettes. I marked off 1-1/2" squares in pencil, and began filling them in one-by-one as we traveled. Since the squares were so small, I didn't use ink lines, as I thought they would overwhelm the tiny pictures. Just a few lines in pencil were enough to remember the essentials of a scene, then I painted them back home in my studio.

Here's what I included on the page:
- simple white curtains and dark green shutters against warm stucco walls
- a hand-painted shrine to the Virgin Mary on the exterior wall of a home

- beautiful windows, doors, and moldings
- balconies of stone and wrought iron

- flowers in window boxes
- creative iron work
- chimneys that looked like little houses

- louvered shutters, arched shutters, and the simplest of plain wood shutters
- freshly painted shutters and ones weathered by centuries of use
- shutters with bright, shiny hinges, and ones with rusted metal and handmade nails
- wrought iron curlicues on balconies and doors
- hand-painted flowers on varnished wood shutters

We found beauty in the most unlikely of places, like the scene above. Someone took the time to tie bundles of twigs with colored twine, twist tissue paper around a few primrose plants, tie them with ribbons, and place the arrangements on each windowsill of an ancient house in a small out-of-the-way village. Was it for the tourists? For the neighbors? For people driving or walking by? Or did she do it just for herself, for the love of seeing something beautiful at every window in her home? An Italian everyday artist!


  1. Great idea! Love them all. Smart way to capture a lot.

  2. Oh I love seeing your posts. Looks like you had a fabulous trip and it is wonderful how you are capturing bits and pieces in your sketchbook!

  3. I love the idea of the tiny little sketches!!!

  4. What a clever idea. Love it. you have a head for design.. its wonderful.

  5. Leslie,
    I love your Italy sketches and watercolors. In 2010 I went to Italy with my teenage son and we spent everyday sketching, but as you say in your recent post about the market in Venice, it's hard to get enough time to capture everything. You are an inspiration to me. I now want to go back and finish my Italy sketchbook. I took lots of photos of street scenes, food, etc. and want to fill up the remainder of the book with drawings and watercolors to "relive" the moment as you have. The reason I like this page so much is that I was entranced with the doors, window, balconies, and beautiful colors of the homes. I took lots of photos. Those parts of narrow streets were just eye candy to me. Thanks for posting all of your lovely pages.

    1. How wonderful to be able to share that with your son! I hope you will go back and finish up some of those pages you started. It's so much fun to relive it when you're painting those scenes that you sketched. But I'm warning you, it'll make you want to return to Italy! :)


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