Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Day 13 (Lovely Lucca)

The wide city walls surrounding the Tuscan city of Lucca date to Renaissance times and are one of best reasons to visit. They're perfect for walking a dog, riding a bike, or strolling hand-in-hand.

When Suzy and I arrived in Lucca, it was late afternoon, and as soon as we dropped our bags at our B&B (and ate our daily gelato!) we headed to a local bike rental place to pick up some wheels.

The next two hours were spent moseying along on our two-wheelers atop the city walls at a slow and leisurely pace, stopping occasionally to take in the view of the town on both sides.

This sketch brings it all back to me, the late-day sun slanting through the trees, the Italian families out enjoying the day, and that peaceful, contented feeling I had as I pedaled along. Unforgettable.

Some thoughts about sketchbook page design...

The layout and composition of a sketchbook page can have an impact on the overall feel of the page. Here, the composition is symmetrical, which lends a feeling of calm that suits the subject matter. The soft, muted color scheme also contributes to the mood. Putting myself in the foreground on the bike, riding away, helps to draw the viewer in and leads the eye off into the distance, making us want to follow.

Text plays a big part in the look of the page. The style and color suit the mood of the picture, and, by having the top title line dip down in the center, I've added movement to what could have been a very static composition. 

The border suggests bicycle tire treads and has corner accents of bike wheels, in keeping with the theme of the painting. I like to design borders which echo the theme of a page, rather than always falling back on using a plain single line.

The little picture of the bike at the top of the page is important to the page layout and adds a nice decorative accent.

Page layout, composition, text, and borders, along with your main sketch, all combine to make sketchbook pages which are dynamic, engaging, and visually pleasing.


  1. I love how the writing and tire tracks set off the sketch. Lovely!

  2. I love this little window into another world. Thank you for sharing it and the thoughts behind it.

  3. Thanks for sharing how you composed this page….your artwork is amazing! Love following you on your journey through Italy.

  4. Oh I have such lovely memories of biking the walls in Lucca! How this brought it back! Thank you! Kelly

  5. Leslie, I LOVE this post and your work is wonderful. Lucca is my most favorite place in the world...I have spent a lot of time there and I always dream of sketching and painting, yet I am afraid and I always come home empty handed :-(
    You are an inspiration.


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