Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tuscany Sketches + Video!

I've been working on painting some of the unfinished sketches from my teaching trip to Tuscany last fall, and I'll be sharing them with you as they're completed. It's getting me in the mood to go to Italy again!

This page was drawn during a day trip to the tiny hilltop village of Certaldo Alto, which is just a few miles from the villa where we stayed.

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

Clockwise, from top left, the sketches show...
  • a sidewalk cafe in a vine-covered brick building with Larry, one of my students, walking down the street toward me
  • two of my students (Rebecca and her sister, Debbie) sketching at the same sidewalk cafe
  • a distant view of Certaldo Alto
  • my mother, Saundra, standing in front of a beautiful doorway surrounded by flowers
  • and, in the ellipse, the ancient well in the center of town
I used a Patinum Carbon fountain pen filled with waterproof Platinum Carbon black ink to draw some of the sketches onsite. Others were added later at home, drawn from photo references.

Here's the video I recorded while I was painting:

I have to apologize for the streaky lighting in the video. I think it has something to do with the fluorescent lights in my studio. I thought you might like to see it anyway. :)

Our day in Certaldo Alto was about as perfect as a vacation day can be. We had time to wander through the ancient streets, taking in all the details that I love seeing when I'm in Italy - old wooden doors with chunky door knockers, wrought iron grill work, colorful flower boxes, worn stone steps, layers of handmade brick and stucco, lace curtains, red tile roofs, and so much more. We ate lunch outdoors at a little cafe. There was time to sketch and look at the views from the old city walls. And a few of us even managed to find some gelato before heading back to Villa Bacio.

Here's another page of sketches I did that day...

This one shows a pretty pink stucco house with hand-painted wall decorations, a jumble of old buildings, and an elegant shrine that I spied high up on a wall.

I'll be back in Italy again this fall, introducing another group of sketchers to the beauty of Certaldo Alto and the surrounding countryside, and I'd love for you to join me! There are still a few spaces available for the week of October 1-8, 2016. Get all the details here.


  1. Wow, that was fascinating to watch you move around the page. What a beautiful journal composition. Will you be compiling any more of your travel sketches into a book like you did for Ireland and a previous trip to Italy? I'd love to see more!

    1. I don't think I have enough for a book with just what I did on this trip. When I'm teaching, I don't have as much time for sketching as when I'm just vacationing, but I think if I can combine the sketches from my 2015 and 2016 trips, I just might have enough to put together another book. We'll see...

  2. It's fun to see the fast action painting and the slow buildup of details and darks. Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much for showing us the video of you painting - I learned a lot from watching it!


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