Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Day 12 (Siena & Casale Virgili)

Casale Virgili was the perfect place to use as a home base to explore Tuscany. The B & B owner, Roberto, was a sweetheart. He spoke English, gave us great advice on restaurants and sites to see, and even fixed my hair dryer for me!

The seventeenth-century farmhouse and outbuildings were beautifully maintained and made great subjects for sketching. It's close to Siena, but felt like it was a world away. 

10" x 7", ink & watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook

It was quiet and peaceful, and the early spring sunshine warmed me as I sat and sketched the stairs that led to my room in the old farmhouse. It's hard to explain the contentment and happiness I felt, like there was nothing else I'd rather be doing at that moment than painting the shadows falling on those old terra cotta floor tiles.

I might have forgotten almost everything about that place and that morning if I hadn't stopped awhile, just to be still and really see it.

The cherry tree in the yard was blooming, and I made a rough pencil sketch of it. When I painted it later at home, I spattered masking fluid on first to preserve the white of the blossoms.

10" x 7" ink, watercolor, and watercolor pencil

The tree received a light spattering of opaque white at the end for good measure. It gave the blossoms a bit of dimension and made them pop against the blue sky.

I added a blue-grey watercolor shadow to the inked title, which helped to tie it in with the rest of the page. It had looked too plain and lonely without it.


The ancient outdoor oven building was rustic and worn, yet so lovingly cared for. That's one thing that really impressed me during my time in Italy, the way they appreciate, use, maintain, and treasure their old buildings.

Sketched with brown watercolor pencil, then painted with watercolor

No computerized swipe cards at this hotel - we had good old-fashioned keys! It almost seemed like we were visiting friends.


On our last morning, Roberto gave us a tour of the wine cellar that his family had built under the house and told us a little about their history. I bought a bottle of chianti (made from grapes grown in their family vineyard) to take home to my husband. It made it to Pennsylvania safe and sound in my checked luggage, and Fred was very happy about that!

The two-page spread in my sketchbook


  1. Your beautiful sketches are a wonderful visual description of your sketching holiday in Italy, better than any photo album. I've loved the extra little things you slip in, especially the keys. I really like the writing style for the title pages, do you use a pen ?

  2. The title on this page was done with a Noodler's Creaper Flex pen. I have several with different types and colors of ink in them. If you press down firmly on your downstroke, you'll get a slightly thicker line. They're only $14.00 from Goulet Pens. You can even adjust the nib to give you more or less flex.

  3. More lovely sketches. what a wonderful place to stay and that staircase to your I would never have wanted to leave. I think I would remember the place better by sketching as you did too.

  4. All those fabulous sketches... love them, Leslie! Just trying to learn a little bit.

  5. Leslie, what a treat to see the name of this B & B where you stayed - Larry is related to some of the Virgili family here in Greene County, so it was great to suddenly see the name on this place!

  6. Beautiful sketches. I love the texture in the Tuscan buildings and your sketches of the countryside.

  7. Thank you so much for your amazing sketches. They are better than photos!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...