My Europe 2020 trip is on... virtually!

April 25, 2020 | 27 Comments

Every year for the past decade I’ve had at least one big sketching trip – based around either the Urban Sketchers Symposium and/or the Palladian Odyssey Tours. These trips are always very important in terms of the development of my art and I’ve been a little worried that with all the teaching I’m doing this year, I haven’t allowed for any time for my own art. So I have decided to go on my trip as planned this year… but virtually of course! And so today I packed my art supplies (in my Walkit bag), cleaned and topped up my palette and started my sketchbook.

For the next 11.5 weeks I am going to be spending an hour or so every day (ie. Monday to Saturday) going through my itinerary as planned and filling a number of travel sketchbooks. I’ll be using the Hahnemuehle Watercolour book (A4 landscape) for this trip and guess that I’ll fill about 4-5 of them.

The only change to my itinerary will occur during my last two weeks in Italy. Mike Botton and I were due to do some planning for another Palladian Odyssey Tour but I want to keep that for the future. So instead I’ll just revisit some well known cities – Venice, Bologna, Florence and have a few more days in Rome. I had a feeling in late February that my trip could be cancelled and so I hadn’t fully planned the second half of my trip (Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands). I’ll firm up my virtual destinations in the next few weeks. Here is a very rough map of my itinerary.

Wherever possible I will be reaching out to friends who I would have met up with on my travels and I’ll be getting suggestions on places to visit (for sketching and food!) Of course all the sketching will be done from photos – so this is a virtual sketching project and not at all urban sketching.

I’ll be sharing my adventures here, but also videos of my plans and sketches in my Instagram stories.

I know that it is a big undertaking with all my other work, but I’m super excited about it. Especially as it gives me a chance to do some more experimental things with my work based on my favourite subjects (scenes and architecture of Italy!)

Of course I’m fully aware of the terrible outcomes of the pandemic and Italy has been in my thoughts a lot over the past months being one of the first countries hit by it. My hope is that my virtual trip will give us all a little relief and distraction from the reality around us.

Stay tuned for Day 1 on Monday when I’ll be virtually flying to Rome.



  • Elina says:

    I’m super curious to see how your virtual trip will go! Wishing you luck, inspiration and wonderful discoveries!

    I’ve been revisiting the pictures from my previous trips and I regret there aren’t enough of them… Perhaps I’ll try sketching from google maps instead and see how it’ll go.

  • Sherri Carneal says:

    This makes me so happy right now.

  • Steve Freear says:

    A question to go with your ongoing palette posts. With different sky colours, especially when you go to Scotland and things like different stonework, do you have any alternative paint colours you bring with you when you come to Europe?

  • Dawn Holder says:

    What a great idea! You always inspire me. Thanks for sharing!

  • I’m going a virtual trip now – we were supposed to go to Italy on a bike barge trip, so that’s my daily sketch inspiration. I don’t have my own photos unfortunately. It’s a bit of a challenge since it was years since I was there! It is a fun if challenging goal.

  • Kristine Martens says:

    Brava! You are setting a wonderful example for how the brain and body can be transported to new and exciting places through our art making. Keep the inspirational videos and information coming please. i am loving the watercolor palette series too. Thank you.

  • Tonya Dale says:

    I want to see the page showing your virtual trip’s wardrobe! House slippers? The same outfit for days on end? Those are what many of us are wearing these days!

  • Karen Kastrup says:

    Dear Liz
    I am looking forward ,to follow your Long sketch trip, from Denmark .
    You are an inspiration for me .
    I like “ keep it simple”.
    Regard Karen

  • Flory says:

    Brilliant, Liz! You are truly a lightbearer in so many ways. I can’t wait to tour with you! Love, Flory ??

  • Marcia Lynch says:

    Bravo! This will be a fun trip we can all enjoy!
    Already, I am in love with your ocean on your first map of the trip. No doubt you used your beloved Conalt Teal Light…what else is in the mix?

  • Eve Ottavino says:

    What a fantastic idea! I’ll be following you on your virtual adventures and it will help me fill in for my own planned but cancelled trips.

  • Laurence COULAUD says:

    Ready for boarding ……. OWL !!!!
    Thank you for the invitation to travel

  • Marinka de Jong says:

    Have a great trip Liz, will follow you virtually. Besides using photo’s I can recommend using google street view. It gives the feeling as if you are really walking in the Streets and you can choose a nice spot to draw which might be different then the ones that are in pictures!

  • Anka Bungert says:

    How interesting! Why have I never thought about something like virtual travelling and sketching.?

  • Karen Hutt says:

    This is such a great idea, hope you don’t mind I am going to do the same, we would normally go away twice this year but obviously can’t so I’m going to use my photos to come up with a 2020 virtual memory. Happy virtual memories for 2020.

  • Megan says:

    What a brilliant idea. Now if we can just keep this up after the pandemic crisis is over we may actually do something to save the planet. Peoples obsession with travel without thought of the consequences may actually come to the fore now. Congratulations to you for this innovative move, there are countless photos of places on the internet and we can all find something wonderful to sketch and paint. Bravo.

  • Suzanne says:

    Thank you Liz I’ll be virtually going on your journey with you.

    I covered beautiful (writing) journals ready for 2 previous European trips but came home each time with them empty which really disappointed me. I am going to get my itineraries and photos out now and relive/record those wonderful trips in my journeys. I can do flip-out sketch pages & attach….Thank you for the inspiration.

    Also … I asked you previously about Lamy pens and De Atramentis & clogging. Feedback= I washed (no result), soaked in dishwashing liquid (little result). Googled and in absence of the recommended amonia/water solution I used 1part Dynamo washing liquid 3parts water. Over a week I had a fine string of ink oozing out of my pens.

    Disclaimer .. it worked for me but I’m not recommendng others try it. My pens weren’t working at all so had nothing to lose

  • Julie Knowles says:

    Love this Liz….thank you so much for sharing!!

    Out of curiosity, what does the “V” stand for in “EUR20V”?

  • Liz Steel says:

    Thanks everyone! I hope you will enjoy it!

  • I think I’ll have to take my own virtual tour too. It seems like a great way to escape into our own minds.
    I was supposed to go to Northern England in June, but maybe I’ll just make good use of Google Street View and virtually follow my itinerary.
    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from your classes, it’s that plenty of sketches from photographs still made me better at on-location sketching when I finally get the chance to do so.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Yay! shannon… you will have fun. Yes, sketching from photos is not the same, but it can be great for training and tackling hard scenes than you would normally attempt.

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