Quinto, the 5th traveling sketchbook

It took a while to get over thinking that it's weird I name my sketchbooks. Yes, I know, it is still odd. But my sketchbooks are more than just this holder for drawings and ticket stubs. Over the years of traveling, my sketchbooks have become my travel companions, often my only travel companion. 

Giving them a name not only makes it easier to differentiate when I made certain sketches or went places, but it also reflects a bit more of what they mean to me. They're not just stacks of paper held together with vinyl and thread. They're pieces of my adventures. They're my icebreaker with locals or other fellow tourists. They're my journal for new Italian words and a calendar for keeping track of where I'm going. They're even my umbrella or cushion if the need should arise. They're the only souvenir that I can't wait to show off to everyone when I come home!

So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Quinto, my 5th traveling sketchbook! 

I haven't even sketched in Quinto, and he's already my favorite sketchbook to date. I was originally planning on making the sketchbook for the summer grey. But when I was at JoAnn's a couple weeks ago, I found this gorgeous mustard yellow bolt of vinyl on clearance and I had to have it! It's so smooth and luscious, I freakin' LOVE this cover. 

The inside is just as special. I was going to use linen like I usually do and at the last minute, I found some leftover chambray fabric that I saved from the bottom of the super long dress I hemmed last summer. I even left the buttons on the edge! 

These are pretty much all the supplies I take along for my travels too. I try to pare it down as much as possible to keep down the weight and bulk. My go-to supplies are: 

  • Winsor & Newton travel watercolors
  • Kaweco fountain pens (with ink cartridges in black, purple and sepia)
  • Kaweco mechanical pencil
  • Erasers
  • Clips to keep pages open to dry, or for photos
  • Kuretake Zig pens in brush tips and fine point
  • Faber Castell pen, S tip for painting on top of linework
  • Pentel waterbrush, in fine point (I have a fat tip I'll probably bring along too)
  • and an Elmer's "Photo Stik". It's archival so I don't have to worry about my pages yellowing over the years. 

You can read more about my favorite pens and where to get them in this recent blog post

I hope you'll follow along with my and Quinto's adventures this summer! I'll be posting photos of the sketching progress on Instagram under the hashtag #Quintothetravelingsketchbook. There will be plenty of Snapchat posts (@sketchynotions) of the Bellissima Art Retreat with Christi from Gypsy Studios as well! 

And if you'd like to stay in touch further, you can sign up for my newsletter! I'll be posting more details of my travels, as well as opportunities to win some hand painted postcards from Italy! 

You can read about my past traveling sketchbooks here: Terzo, the 3rd and Quarto, the 4th


I Madonnari 2016

OOFAH! I Madonnari this year was brutal! This was my fourth year doing it, and my first year sponsoring myself. I had all my gear lined up the day before, a friend to crash with in Santa Barbara all weekend, and my photo picked out and printed out. I thought I was prepared for what the weekend would hold. 

My lovely friend, Gina Gomez (I've raved about her work before), let me use her stunning photo of a sunflower field in Tuscany. I knew it was going to be an intense piece but I felt I was up for the challenge. 

Saturday came and I drove up to the Mission to get started! I picked an 8 foot by 8 foot square, the same size that I had last year when I drew the Duomo in Florence. It was a great location too, probably the best I've had all 4 years! 

I drew out my grid and helped my friend Christi from Gypsy Studios grid hers before starting my sunflower monster. 

Saturday went great, even though the sun came out. I was able to finish the sky, hills and start the sunflower before calling quits. 
It was all going so well...until Sunday morning when I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of raindrops...

Not a lot, but enough to make me nervous when I drove over at 8:15. Sure enough, the Mission actually got rained on. It washed away my grid, sketches and most of the work I had done Saturday. I was too wet to even try fixing anything. 

It was a pretty somber mood at the Mission. Artists just circling and surveying the damage of all the work. Luckily, Christi drove up shortly after and we went in search of brunch and mimosas while we waited for things to dry up. 
Once it was dry around 11, we had the arduous task of fixing the damage and getting some new work done. Sunday was rough, and unfortunately I didn't finish. So for the first time I actually had to work on Monday! Che palle! 

Monday was great though. A lot of friends and family stopped by to say hello, and I even had a little visit from that bee up above! Lots of little munchkins wandered by too, saying how much they loved sunflowers. I think a lot of people took photos of me with my square because of how well my hair matched the colors and sunflower craziness! 

I worked for almost 10 hours on Monday, and I finished it just in time for the sun to set and the light to be perfect. There were lots of ladders floating about so I was able to hop up one and snap and overhead shot of my beast. 

Guys...I LOVE this piece. I thought I loved the Duomo, but this beast blows that one out of the water. It might just be because I ended up spending over 25 hours working on it or because it was a photo by someone I really admire, but I really do love how this one turned out. 

I'm excited for next year already, especially since I plan to take a photo this summer while visiting the Cinque Terre to use for next year. The countdown has begun...