Torcello without my camera

The decision was not easy for me. A self-bound sketchbook made of Moleskine paper in A5 size, watercolour pencils, paint box, brushes, fineliner and fountain pen but no camera would accompany me to Torcello for a week.

This house stands in – let’s call it – the main square of Torcello. I only know it with closed shutters and have never seen anyone enter or leave it. Although the EF nib on my Lamy is almost new, I find the lines too thick. Also, despite diluted De Atramentis ink, I have had increased problems with ink flow.

The outlines are also too prominent in this sketch of the waterfront. What appeals to me about this view is not so much the subject as the struggle with the different vanishing lines, which I always lose. On the other hand, the spot is very practical, as I can sit in the garden of the house I rent every year.

For the rest of the sketches, the Lamy fountain pen stayed at home. Last year I struggled with black smears from the supposedly waterproof fineliners. This year I found a solution. From now on, I sketched with a watercolour pencil, then moved on to colouring and sketched the outlines only after the paint had dried. For the southern view of the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, I used a Muji fineliner with a thickness of 0.38.

This was my morning sketch, where I retreated far into the botany, where I was attacked by gnats and a drooling basset.

The church of Santa Fosca is my most sketched building. Normally, I sit in front of the west side. This year I was adventurous and tried it from the north side, which admittedly doesn’t look much different.

This is where my fineliner from Otho came into play. It feels more like a biro, but has become my new favourite tool.

What is the best way to bring the different brick colours onto paper? This question occupies me every time I go to Italy. Here I tried it with subtle dabs of colour in the wet paint.

Hard to believe, but I had never sketched a front view of the Basilica before.

Torcello’s less prominent bridge is the Ponte di Santa Maria. Therefore, I turned to the Sailor Fude, which I use far too less often. It copes better with the ink and the different stroke widths bring every sketch to life.

I have an old print at home showing the east side of Piazza Santa Fosca. Nowadays it’s hard to sketch (or photograph) exactly this view because it is blocked by more trees and a souvenir stall.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sketched as much as I did this week. The decision not to take the camera with me turned out to be a good one.

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