Palladian Odyssey Tour 1

May 28, 2017 | 15 Comments

We have just finished the first of two Palladian Odyssey tours in the Veneto Region of Italy. I am sitting in my hotel room (supposedly resting) and trying to think of some adequate words to describe the last 6 days. But, I don’t think I can do it justice!

So instead I will give you a few quick thoughts and then share a heap of photos.

Please note: It has been so intensive that the only social media posting I have consistently maintained has been instagram stories. I have been posting a number of videos each day which only remain online for 24 hours. But don’t worry, I am saving them, and will put a video together on my return home.

Lets just start with some photos (correction: a LOT of photos) and I will share some thoughts at the end.

My journey: A quick sketch of Milano Centrale Station – I had to wait for three hours before I could get on a train to Vicenza

Vicenza sketching pre-tour on Saturday

I had one day to explore the city before people arrived…

so I went crazy sketching some Palladio buildings.

Day 1:

We met after lunch and then boarded our bus and head to our first location. Afternoon exercises at a wonderful farm stay – Ca de Memi – after some fancy refreshments.

Evening walk into the ‘town’ past Palladio’s magnificent Villa Cornaro (we would visit it on Day 2).

Incredible welcome dinner at Ca de Memi – one of the best meals I have ever had!

Day 2:

Wonderful tour of Ca’ Marcello by the owner, Count Jacopo.

Morning session sketching the front of the villa (not by Palladio but still stunning)

Lunch with the Count at the rear of the villa.

Shape based exercises after lunch in the garden.

Wonderful private tour by Carl Gable, owner of Villa Cornaro, and quick sketch of the rear of the villa.

Day 3:

Morning tour of Villa Emo by local historian Monica Facchini, and then a 1 hour sketching session of this impressive Palladian villa.

Giving my comments and critique at the sketchbook ‘throw-down’ session.

Amazing  lunch at Asolo (I didn’t take a photo but here are two stills from my Instagram story) …

and then we had a 1 hour shape based sketching session. I was too busy running around seeing everyone to take any photos, but here is a photo on the way to dinner.

Day 4:

Another wonderful tour by Monica of Villa di Maser and once again I didn’t take a photo of the location.

But here is my quick sketch of the villa during Monica’s introduction.

Most of the group went to the wine shop associated with the villa for a little wine tasting, but I needed to splash some earth red paint around.

Another lovely lunch, this time by the river at Bassano del Grappa, then a quick walking tour through town with Monica…

… before settling by the river to sketch the view (including a Palladian bridge).

Amazing work!

Day 5:

Back in Vicenza, we battled some serious noise distraction to do a careful (accurate) sketch of Palladio’s Loggia

Here is a except from my detailed demonstration.

and here is the incredible collection of sketches at the end of the session.

After lunch on the square, and a session sharing our sketching kits, we had some free time to sketch a postcard for our postcard exchange. Here is my super quick loose version of the building from the morning session.

A visit up to the top of the Basilica in the early evening.

Final dinner – including the lucky dip for the postcards.

And here is the final postcard collection!

Wow! it’s has certainly been a very busy few days, and as you can see from these photos, we have done a lot of moving around, enjoyed some top meals and experienced a number of private tours. So, it is fairly obvious that this was not a typical sketching workshop with long sketching sessions. Instead the sketching slotted in between all these other activities – just like it does in real life, when you are travel sketching.

Many of the sketching sessions were about 1 hour in length and I had a wonderful time sharing my top tips for doing fast sketching while travelling.The tours were all fantastic and really helped us understand and connect more with our subject matter.

We had the most wonderful group of people – everyone was lovely and we had so much fun sketching and hanging out together! It was very exciting to see everyone’s work (including a diverse range of styles) develop during the week and it was such a rich experience to be able to share these creative journeys with each other.

And, as for Mike Botton, the tour director… what can I say? He was incredible!!!

Mike and I have been working on these tours for 2 years and it all went better than expected. So well organised and run. Thanks Mike for all your hard work to put this adventure together. And after a few days break, and we do it all again with a second group – I can’t wait!

I have been pleasantly surprised by how much sketching I managed to fit in and how finished my sketchbook pages are (even with sketch notes from teaching sessions, or super quick sketches during the tours) but, yes, I am tired, very tired.

So it’s now time to get a little rest before going out to dinner again. It never ends!

If you are interested in joining the Palladian Odyssey in 2018, please join the mailing list over on the website.



  • Dougie Simpson says:

    What a fantastic tour. Great Sketching Great Tour… I’m coming back in 2018.. highly recommended. Many thanks Liz Mike and all the gang who made the trip

  • Emily D. says:

    How wonderful! I’d love to do this with you some day!

  • Looks like a wonderful trip!

  • Bob Cochran says:

    I ask as one who is an “wannabe” sketcher with no training in sketching nor any sustained sketching experience. From looking at the sketchbooks in this post — I assume the tour group is composed entirely of architects or at any rate people with a great deal of artistic experience: advanced to professional sketching or painting skills or both? That is, none of the group are “new to sketching” like me? Is the group entirely from Australia? I wonder what language(s) were spoken for the group. Italian? French? English?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Bob, T
      here were only 2 architects in the group and most people had maximum of 3 years of sketching (self taught with the occasional workshop).
      My great joy is teaching techniques to help ‘non architects’ to sketch buildings in a way that they look convincing and we were all super excited by everyone’s work at the end of the workshop. I think the participants would be pleased with your comment – that you think they are architects! 🙂
      The tour is best suited for people who have some sketching under their belt and are more or less comfortable sketching out on location with others (ie. have done some urban sketching before). I strongly recommend people do my foundations online course beforehand so that they can get the most out of the experience.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Also – we had a range of nationalities – American (mostly in tour 1), British, Australian, french, Canadian and Dutch

    • Bob Cochran says:

      Hi Liz, thank you for taking the time from a very busy life to respond to my question. Since your tour focuses on the works of Andrea Palladio, and you and Mike Botton are architects, I thought the group might be composed almost exclusively of fellow architects with an interest in Palladio’s designs. Also influencing me is the outstanding quality of the sketches shown in the sketchbook “throw down” photos. Your report on the tour and the stunning work of the tour members truly, truly impresses me. Well done, to all of you!

  • Nancy G. says:

    I would also love to go on the trip next year . Is it appropriate for beginners? Wow….it looks like a fabulous workshop!

  • Gerda Wolzak-van Hummel says:

    It was a wonderful tour. Thanks Liz, Mike and all people in the sketch adventure.

  • Heather Austin says:

    Thanks for sharing all the fun adventures Liz! Great work everyone!! I hope to be on one of the next courses so I can meet some more fellow sketchers!!

  • Gabrielle L. R. says:

    I remembered seeing your instagram story and blog posts about the palladian odyssey when I went to Vicenza two days ago and started seeing Pallado everywhere…. it was crazy to imagine being there, remembering your sketches and sketching myself! I also remembered your venezia adventures when I went a few days ago and it’s a special feeling to visit and sketch a place that has been visited and sketched by one of your idols 🙂 thank you again for sharing your adventures with the world!

Leave a Reply