Palladian Odyssey Tour 2

June 4, 2017 | 10 Comments

Today at midday I sat quietly under a tree and sketched this experimental version of Palladio’s Palazzo Chiericati.

As I sketched I was trying to process some of the things which have occurred in the past fortnight. There are a lot of memories and thoughts encoded in this sketch that I just can’t put into words.

After the sketch I took off my Palladian Odyssey name tag as a symbolic gesture that the epic journey – an odyssey indeed – was over.

We had another fabulous group in the second tour – this time the Australians were the major nationality, but we also had a few Americans, and one Parisian. Once again the friendship and support created in the group over the last 6 days was incredible. (Sadly Trish from Tasmania is missing from this group photo)

As I recorded in detail the itinerary of the first tour in my previous article, I will just share some different events/places and a few highlights from the second tour.

Day 1: Another lovely afternoon in the garden at Ca’ de Memi – our farm stay.

I really started to build some lovely friendships with the locals who are part of the Palladian Odyssey Tour – this is the wonderful Michela at Ca’ De Memi.

BTW I managed to sketch a little more of the exquisite dinner prepared by her on the first evening.

Day 2: Back at Ca’ Marcello. Here is my demo showing how to sketch architecture quickly without measuring or perspective setup – instead using relationships and a constructing volumes approach.

A photo of the sketches done by the group. They were thrown in at the deep end straight away and produced great results!

Afternoon lesson on the back steps of the villa…

and the afternoon sketches abstracting shapes!

We had the privilege of meeting Count Marcello (father of Count Jacopo from Tour 1) who gave us a tour of the villa and grounds, and this week we ate our lunch in the sala inside the villa. But as soon as we were about to leave at the end of the day, the Count had to get back to work.

It was wonderful to visit Villa Cornaro again and this time I got a copy of the owner’s book signed. Really special to have a short chat with both Carl and Sally Gable about Palladio at the end of the tour.

This conversation with the Gables was so inspiring (when it comes to Palladio I am a total fan-girl!) that I had tears in my eyes while doing this sketch.

I truly found it hard to believe that I was drawing a Palladio building in real life!

Day 2 evening: I ‘stayed in’ during Tour 1, so on Tour 2 I just had to join the evening outing to Castelfranco for pizza.

A few extremely quick sketches as we walked the streets before dinner.

Aside: I am quite pleased that after years of training I am now able to do this type of sketch in a only a minute or two with a acceptable degree of accuracy!

Day 3: Back at Villa Emo with the wonderful guided tour by Monica.

This time I sketched with watercolour during her introduction.

Another incredible collection of sketches from the group – the result of a very abbreviated demo on perspective and a 45 minute sketching period!

LizSteel-Asolo-demoAfternoon in Asolo – I forgot to take a photo at lunch again… but in the afternoon did a few quick demos of shape first street scenes. This is a partial demo.

General view of the main piazza – pity about the truck hey?

One of the sketcher’s husband (who we called a ‘plus one’), often used our sketching sessions as a flute practice session – it was as if we had our own private musician on the tour with us! Thanks Roger.

Even the casual dinners had stunning settings – this is our dinner view at Asolo.

I am including this photo as it shows Andrea, on the right. He was our wonderful (and very safe) driver for both tours. “Thanks mate!” (we were teaching him a bit of Australian over pizza one night.)

Day 4: A sunny morning at Villa Barbaro at Maser.

A collage of two partial sketches I did during another introduction by Monica.

Lunch at Bassano del Grappa with a great backdrop.

A lovely photo of Lauren… there is a story to this photo, but I won’t go into it now.

Then it was time to sketch the Palladian bridge! Bassano is SO beautiful but it was a bit hot and humid sketching on the riverside and we had to sit a bit further back this week so that we could sit in the shade.

Day 5: Final morning sketching session was relocated from the main piazza in Vicenza as it was packed with people watching National Day parades.

So instead of the Loggia we sketched the partial Palazzo Porto – outstanding work by everyone.

Here is my demo on the left and an earlier looser version from Monday. Both of these sketches use my Seven Step System for Working Structurally (part of my SketchingNow Buildings course – returning later in the year.)

Final afternoon concept and quick demo at Piazza San Lorenzo before a thunderstorm hit.

While I was sheltering in the colonnade of the Basilica one of my Instagram followers – Alison from Verona who was in Vicenza for the day – ran into me! Wow wow wow! So special.

Quick sketch during drinks on the terrace on top of the Basilica.

Tour 2 finished with a  sketchbook share session in the Piazza.

(So much for a shorter highlights article – I got a bit carried away!!)

Once again I have to publicly thank Mike Botton for his fantastic job as tour director. The amount of work he has done over the last two years is huge, and everything went so smoothly! The Palladian Odyssey would never have happened without his idea and expert tour planning and coordination. Thanks Mike!

We have created a really unique type of sketching workshop – one in which the sketching is balanced with great local private tours, meals at top restaurants with incredible views. So it is a full travel sketching experience!

A few questions I have been asked:

Were the participants all architects and/or experienced artists?
No! most were self taught sketchers with between 6 months – 3 years experience. It is my great joy to teach techniques to help non-architects to sketch buildings, and to help architects loosen up!

Is this workshop suitable for beginners?
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.

Will you run this again next year?
Yes, the intention is to repeat the tour in 2018 – please join the mailing list over on the website.

I have had a LOT of fun sharing daily videos on Instagram! It has been a crazy time and filming a few 15 second videos each day turned out to be the best way to record it. I hope many of you have been able to watch them each day.

Teaching and sketching alongside two groups of lovely sketchers for a 6 day period was a very rich experience, not only have I become good friends with everyone but I feel a part of their creative journey – a great honour.

I have been overwhelmed to see the development and/or risk taking in everyone’s work over the last fortnight. And I can’t wait to follow along with them in the coming weeks and months.

A huge thanks to everyone who was part of the Palladian Odyssey! It’s so sad that it is now all over. I will miss you all a lot!

Thanks also to everyone who have virtually joined in with us on our epic journey!

I am very tired physically but buzzing with creative energy. So stay tuned for my next adventures as I do a little travelling and sketching for myself!


  • Heather Austin says:

    Wow, the tour looks amazing! And what a talented group!!
    I hope you enjoyed it as much as you were looking forward to it Fiona.
    Liz I’ll be keeping an eye out for your future courses, I LOVED the Sydney one i did 🙂

    • FIONA HAYES says:

      Hi Heather! The tour was amazing. I can hardly find the words to describe it but Liz’s summation in this blog post covers it all. Can’t think of enough superlatives.

  • Hi Liz , this trip looks amazing
    Are you planning to do it again in 2018?

  • Bob Cochran says:

    Was there a predominant brand of sketchbook used by the group? How well did the sketchbooks stand up to travel and outdoor use? Did most students bring just one sketchbook, or did they bring several to experiment with? I assume that each student also brought her or her own set of watercolors. Was there a predominant brand of these? Bear in mind I’m asking out of my own curiosity. I have no sketching or painting skills yet. The photos are so very interesting. Your students have amazing abilities and certainly an interest in reaching a new level of skill.

    • Liz Steel says:

      A few people had books/kits similar to miner but most had different. The focus on the workshop is developing techniques for fast sketching. Although we mention supplies it is secondary to the important stuff 🙂
      And Bob please don’t say ‘no skills’ – ‘developing skills’or ‘learning skills’ is much better! Always look to improve whatever stage you are at.

  • Bob Cochran says:

    Another thing I’m curious about: doesn’t jet lag affect a person’s sketching work? I am guessing the entire class was already in Italy for several days before the class started — that would have given them a chance to get on Central European Time (UTC+1).

  • Flory says:

    Thank you for taking the rest of us along on your amazing odyssey, Liz! I have enjoyed it so much and am full of renewed inspiration. On a personal note, your braces-free smile looks fabulous! Xoxo Flory

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