Anticipating Italy

One of the best parts of travel is anticipating it. I will be spending a week in Italy in May 2022 teaching a small group travel art workshop—what an awesome thing to look forward to! There are so many things I am curious about; so many things I want to learn now before going. My travel preparations typically begin by making a map. From there I can start to understand the geography, landforms, plant and wildlife communities, and heritage. This base knowledge helps me understand what I’m looking at and dive deeper when I’m on the ground. And then there is the language. How much can I learn in six months? As you can see, there’s much to do and I’m off and running. I hope you will indulge me in my illustrated preparations. And should you want to join me next spring—all the better!

Learn more about Sketching the Nature of Italy in Watercolor, May 2-9, 2022 at the Winslow Art Center >
Io sono così eccitato!

Tips and Techniques- I’m trying out a Hand Book watercolor sketchbook, portrait size 8.25×5.5” for my pre-trip journal. I’ve been reluctant to buy one of these because the paper is only 95lb, but an artist friend recommended it and I took a leap. I’m glad I did- so far so good. When considering what goes into a travel journal, I like to include elements from the place. This may be colors, lettering styles, architectural details, or wildlife. Because I want to become more familiar with European birds, I bought a field guide and plan to sketch some of the birds I’d like to see. Number 1: the Hoopoe– what a crazy, amazing crest and feather striping. More to come!

35 Comments on “Anticipating Italy

  1. Oh, I really like how you are doing the pre travel sketchbook ! I love the page with the words and birds 🙂 – what a neat way to learn vocabulary of the place ! Wish I had done that for my China trip a few years ago – I have forgotten the words I learned – something like to go back and refresh your memory is a fantastic idea! The pages are ‘magnifica’ and thank you for the tip !

    • Nice to hear from you Meera. I figure that writing down and illustrating words and phrases will help my recall and, you’re right, they will become a good refresher later. I will likely use bird dialogue throughout as a fun way to learn both. Ciao!

      • yes, I agree and I chomping at the bit to go abroad, However I have enjoyed my time near my home I saw a lot of unique places in Atlantic Canada over the pandemic. Cheers enloy

  2. Absolutely love this! Must say, my favorite part is the boots❤️I’ve been fortunate to have visited Italy twice, but never thought to bring a sketchbook. But, the thousands of pictures I took have been an endless source of inspiration. You’re going to need a bigger sketchbook!

    • Thanks Denise- I started drawing a map of Italy and even had most of it roughed in when I thought of going with the boots. Much sexier, no? I have not been to Italy before so this will be a much anticipated experience.

  3. How exciting! And Italy at that! One place I’ve always wanted to visit. My family is from Italy. These pages are beautiful. Can’t wait to see what artful pages you bring back. In the meantime, have fun getting ready.

    • Thanks Erica- I’ve started a list of things to research and journal about. Now I just need time to dive in. I’m glad my Italy pages will connect you to a place that is meaningful to you.

  4. Ciao Jean! I’m so excited to be joining you in May. I signed up the moment I got the email about your workshop. I lived in Italy right after college, 40 years ago and it has had a hold on my heart ever since. I started watercolor journaling about 2 years ago and get giddy just thinking about painting there and learning from you.

  5. How exciting! I agree that the anticipation is part of the fun of traveling. I think you’re trying to tempt us all!
    I’ve looked at the Hand Made journals and they make one with heavier paper also. I’m curious to see how you like yours. They seem really nice.

  6. Wow! That is so exciting. And it’s so true — the planning and anticipation of a trip is half the fun. Something we haven’t been able to do for so long.
    I LOVE the boots. Very clever. But do bring along some sensible shoes as well. 😉
    These are terrific spreads, and a great way to prepare for this trip. Your destination is Perugia? A good friend has a home just south of there which I have yet to visit.
    I have used the Handbook sketchbooks and like them. Very different from the S&B books you’ve been using.
    Thanks for a delightful start to my Sunday morning.

    • Thanks Alison. I’m thrilled to kick off my planning. Rest assured I could never wear boots like this, WAY to high! And yes, after years of using S&B Journals, I’m curious to see how this goes with the Handbook.

  7. What a lovely way to plan for a trip! Umbria is so beautiful – the gardens and the landscape are exquisite and what I loved was the scent in the air – wish I could join you all on this adventure but maybe another time. Your ideas for sketches today are lovely.

    • Hi Patti- How nice to have your endorsement. Since you have been there, please feel free to let me know if there is something you think I might want to know or research as part of my preparations. Hope you are doing well!

  8. Love your work to get ready! Such a beautiful book so far! Just an FYI- I just saw a Handbook in my favorite art store with 140 lb/300 gsm paper! Have put it on my Christmas list…..they seem to be making them in many sizes, too…..has a lovely blue Himalayan poppy on the outside to distinguish it from the original……maybe watch out for it?

    • Hi Kristin- thanks for the tip, I’ll watch for that. Paper makes such a big difference in the quality of the artwork. The 95lb must be well sized. It buckled a little, but not bad. See you soon!

  9. Hop on the Duolingo app for the next six months & you’ll be glad you did!! (I’m in Italy right now, and loving it!).

    • Hi Roxanne- I’m already on Duolingo– still repeating “Io mangio il pane” and “tue sei la donna” an awful lot. But I can see some progress. I’ve enjoyed following your trip– looks fantastic!

      • I’m in Amsterdam this evening on my way home…still in that happy buzz of a workshop glow! The scenery, flora & fauna are so much fun to paint & the whole experience was incredible. Can’t wait to hear about your trip coming up – so excited for you!! The Italian people are so nice, I felt right at home!

  10. Your upcoming trip sounds idyllic. I love your boot map, and your birds speaking Italian! That reminds me of a tea towel I have that says “A ogni uccello, il suo nido è bello” (“To each bird, his own nest is beautiful”). Buon viaggio!!

  11. You will love the Umbria region and fall in love with the people, food, wine and nature! There is so much to put in your sketch/paint travel book. Look for the prickly pears and the fig, pomegranet, lemon and olive trees as well as the grapevines. They are delightful subjects to paint. I am so happy for you. Ciao!

  12. I’m very happy for you, Jean, and this is a brilliant way to dive into that wonderful stage of travel called anticipation. It’s clever to have the birds asking each other their names, and the boots! As busy as you’re likely to be there, this makes me think that you’re going to produce a fabulous travel journal.

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