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Can’t Be There? Sketch It Anyway!

According to my itinerary, I’m supposed to be in Tuscany right now on a bit of a sabbatical. The plan was to take some time in my favourite travel destination this summer to sketch, do some writing, and see what comes about.

This sabbatical was a year in the planning, and as the Covid days dragged on, I knew it would likely not happen… at least for this year. I was so prepared to go. I had new writing journals, had fashioned a portable easel for outdoor sketching, and my husband had gifted me with new watercolour sketchbooks to take along. I couldn’t wait to dig into my new books and fill them with all kinds of thoughts, doodles, good sketches, bad sketches or who knows what. But instead, all these goodies sat in a pile in my studio, waiting.

On the day I finally cancelled our flights, I couldn’t take the sadness nor the temptation of those new books sitting untouched. I grabbed one of the sketchbooks and tore off the wrapper because I was going to sketch our itinerary’s first stop anyway – Pitigliano, Tuscany. This town would definitely have been the first sketch in the book, and likely my first blog post from the trip, too.

We had visited Pitigliano in 2011, and had vowed to return. It’s a fascinating medieval town in southern Tuscany, built on top of and into limestone tufa-rock cliffs. You can visit homes and shops that were dug into the rock, complete with tiny windows overlooking the green valley below. We had a lovely dinner in a restaurant completely carved into the tufa cliff! Besides the interesting history, cuisine and the refreshing local white wine, the town is friendly, walkable and not overly busy. I was so excited to return almost 10 years later to draw it and was so disappointed to cancel our Pitigliano reservation.

But surprisingly, once I started drawing it from one of my photos at home I immediately began to feel better – maybe because in a roundabout way, I had started on the trip anyway. And after the painting part was done, I was delighted that my new sketchbook had been initiated with a full robust sketch, and was now ready to welcome more.

Pitigliano – drawing, using Copic 0.03 pen in an Indigo Handmade watercolour sketchbook 6″ x 9″


Pitigliano – painted on handmade 100% cotton paper; softer and rougher than I’m used to but has lots of character

The new plan is to take the 2020 trip in 2021, if all goes right with the world. If not, I may have to jump into the sketchbook again to fill a page with another itinerary destination. Ciao!




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