First and Second Day of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching Course in Italy

My friend, Annette, and I are rather new to urban sketching.  We both did Liz Steel’s online course and when we saw that she was doing an urban sketching workshop in Italy, we quickly signed up before we changed our minds. 😁😁 The few months before we headed off to Italy, we tried to meet on a weekly basis and sketch in plein air to improve our skill levels.

I had every intention of posting our Italian urban sketching experience daily but Wifi in Italy is extremely slow.  I tried to post this post three times in Italy and each time it failed completely. It didn’t even save it.  Once, I even wrote the entry at 5 am, sitting on the toilet, in order to not disturb sleeping beauty, Annette.  😆😄 After the third attempt, I gave up, hence, the entries are being posted from Tassie.

We started the course under the shade of a  Vicenzan tree at the Ca’ de Memi with some chicken warming up exercises.

Liz Steel, our urban sketcher extraordinaire, and the chickens.

Firstly, we did some blind line drawings, line drawings and put down shapes with paint and then applied pen work.

One of the Chicken Exercises

After our chicken exercises we had dinner and did some more blind line drawings. This is the portrait that Liz Steel did of me.

Liz Steel’s blind sketch of me. I love it!

The next day we had breakfast together and then ….

Breakfast at Ca’ de Memi, Vicenza

a quick sketch of a teapot, cup and Lauren, from San Francisco, U.S….

…and then the group clambered onto a bus with all our urban sketching gear and made our way to Ca’ Marcello Villa.

The grand Ca’ Marcello Villa
A partial view of the front garden at Ca’ Marcello Villa

Marcello Villa was a sustainable working farm on a grand scale. The wings housed the workers. There’s a building at the back that housed over a thousand pairs of pigeons which was the farm’s main meat source.

One of the workers’ wings at Ca’ Marcello Villa.

Everything in the villa was opulent.  I tried to sketch, listen, write down a few notes and follow the tour guide while he was speaking and showing us the many rooms of the main house.

My notes and quick sketches. I loved the swan head/neck bed posts and the extra deep chair seats to accommodate all the material of the full ballroom dresses that the ladies wore a few centuries ago.

The ballroom on the second level had a flexible floor.  I was on the opposite side of the extremely large ballroom, when the tour guide demonstrated the spring in the floor, and I felt the movement under my feet.  It conjured the imagery of men in their finest twirling and lifting women in their full, long dresses off their feet with the greatest of ease.

We went through the villa’s original 16th century doors to bedrooms with bass relief pictures, depicting scenes from daily life, adorning walls.  The plaster is 100 millimetres thick and sculptors would work back into the plaster, carving the images.  They only have first name records of these sculptors because they weren’t considered artists.  Unbelievable because their work is exquisite.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the villa.

After the tour and lunch, we got down to business.  Firstly, Liz gave us a demonstration and then we had 15 minutes to do our first initial sketch.  It felt somewhat daunting to do our first sketch with a group and time limit, but draw we did.  This is all I managed to get down on paper in 15 minutes.

15 minute sketch of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Then we had 40 minutes to have another go.

My sketch done with dipping a reed in ink and then applying watercolour.

After lunch, we went to the back of the villa.

Back view of the main house of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Liz did another demonstration for us and then we chose a garden scene to paint.

Liz demonstrating
Strange creature in the gardens of Villa Marcello.

After the garden scene painting, we climbed onto the bus and headed back to Ca’ del Memi for a quick dropping off of supplies and then we walked to the Villa Cornaro, in Vicenza, where we were met by the owner, who graciously let us into his home… where more history was heard and drawings were drawn…



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