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Inside My Summer Sketchbooks

It was a quiet summer on this blog…

But it was anything but a quiet summer for me! I spent a good deal of the summer away from my studio travelling – more than a month in Italy and a week discovering the Hudson River Valley in New York state.

After almost 3 years of being home-bound, it was such a blessing to be back out exploring places known and unknown. Being an artist that thrives on painting from my travels, being back on the road this summer gave me such a big energy injection! Some of that energy got poured into quick (and not-so-quick) sketches in the sketchbooks I brought along.

I love the calm of my studio but I also love the freedom of sketching on-site, whether at a café table, sitting in a field, or under a tree in a blistering Tuscan piazza. There’s an excitement reaching inside my bag to grab a sketchbook and pen, and just starting to draw whatever grabs my eye, accompanied by a sense of urgency because “drawing conditions” can quickly change. What can I get on the page before the weather turns unfavourable, the light fades, or the café staff give me the evil eye to move along!

My biggest challenge with sketching is getting out of my “studio head”, reminding myself that this type of drawing is just for me to PLAY, as well as be a visual diary of these days with all their imperfections. Lines are wonky, the painting is loose, and the subjects are usually quite random – not at all like the precise studio work I usually do. But both ways of art-making are sides of the same coin, of my art practice – and where I can remember the stories and feel the joy in all of it.

So, I’ll stop the artist-talk now and show you some of my “What I Did This Summer” sketching :

My Morning Coffee View from the Terrace, Lecchi in Chianti
The velvety Crete Senesi Landscape near Asciano, Tuscany
The Formal Gardens at La Foce, Tuscany
Sketching Quickly Before A Thunderstorm at Castello di Ama Winery – lines got wonkier the closer the storm got!
Window in Lecchi In Chianti
Windows and Walls in Rome (first and third drawings), and Castelnuovo Berardenga (centre)
San Sano, Tuscany
The Well at Volpaia, Tuscany – had children looking over my shoulder as I drew
Sketching after a delicious lunch in Monterchi, Tuscany
The Monterchi sketches (left) and a 10-minute sketch of Colle di Val d’Elsa (right) while waiting for my ride
Vanderbilt Family Summer Mansion in Hyde Park, NY – took lots of time with this one
Sketched quickly as bugs were biting my legs sitting in the grass at Olana Mansion, Hudson, NY
Random Fast Sketches in Italy

This sketching summer was really a wonderful experience, but now I’m back in the studio, tapping into that energy to create some new work for the fall! Talk soon!

(Materials: The Italy sketches were drawn with Copic ink pens and painted with watercolour, and the New York sketches were also drawn with Copic pens but painted with Derwent Inktense pencils. I used 3 different small watercolour sketchbooks, all by Pentalic.)

5 replies »

  1. Your “sketches” are so inspiring. Just beautiful and I can find so many other adjectives to describe their beauty. Love, love, love. You are so talented, and I am thankful I can drink it all in via a computer screen. Thank you for sharing.Stephanie Swenss

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