Europe20V: A Baroque Day in Rome

May 4, 2020 | 2 Comments

On Friday I had an extra special sketching experience… a very personal project which brought together 20 years of interest and study in both architecture and art.

I decided to spend the day sketching and reading up on nine Baroque church facades in Rome and to work in chronological order! It was an epic virtual journey.

Back in 2010, when I had 9 days in Rome, I sketched most of these buildings on location. This was a real dream come true, as during the previous 10 years I’d been studying the architecture of Italian Renaissance and Baroque  and it was incredible to be there sketching these buildings in real life.

But since then I’ve been mainly developing my art and as a result I’ve become a little rusty with my architectural history of Rome. However, through the Palladian Odyssey Tours and other travels, I have been refining some specific techniques for sketching classical architecture (shared inside SketchingNow Buildings) but these are mainly for much simpler buildings. So it was really interesting to come back to an old obsession of mine (sketching really complex Baroque buildings) and see how much my ability to analyse their design and the ease to which I can sketch them loosely has developed over the years

I had two goals for this Baroque day:

  1. to trace the development of the one type of building and to explore the increasing complexity of the work of the Baroque architects in terms of using the classical orders (the columns and entablatures – the horizontal band above the columns), the stepping of the wall planes, the use of curves and more
  2. to experiment with different ways of sketching the same type of subject – basically all white stone buildings.

I had a ball doing both of these!

There was something really special about this mini project – it felt great to be able to switch off most of my other work for the day and just focus on something that meant a lot to me. It’s really good to spend a big block of time to explore new things by doing a similar subject over and over in a short period of time.  My mind was buzzing by the end of the day.

I could write a lot more about what I learnt, but a lot of that is fairly specialized. My main takeaways have to do with either architectural design (which only a few of you would be interested in) or my own watercolour experiments for sketching these complex buildings loosely but yet with a degree of accuracy (which I’m in the middle of developing and can’t articulate yet).

So let’s just see what I managed to do during my Baroque Day.

The individual sketches


Il Gesu

Santa Susanna

Sant’ Andrea della Valle

Santi Vincenzo de Anastasio

Santa Maria della Pace

Sant’ Andrea Al Quirinale

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

Santa Maria in Campitelli

San Marcello al Corso


The full sketchbook spreads with my notes


What a day! I hope that you have enjoyed seeing these pages!


And BTW George is my constant companion when I visit Rome so I quote him all the time!



  • John Tochko says:

    Terrific post! I could see the joy you had in in exploring these 16th and 17th century architects. You inspired me to have my own “day” to follow my own muse. I’m a long-time follower and have taken most of your courses (some twice). Thank you for sharing your art and explorations!
    -John ( retired PhD engineer, life-long watercolorist, and architect wannabe)

  • Vickie Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing. It’s has been over 30 years since I earned my degree in art and over 20 since I taught or put any of my knowledge into practice. I’ve pushed most of that learning into the recesses of my mind. Your classes are really helping bring all of it back.

    What strikes me most about these sketches is your use of receding cool colors against warm colors to define the depth of the buildings, instead of drawing in all the edges. I really like that.

Leave a Reply