Palladio's Villas Weeks 4-5: A few progress photos and some early work

August 18, 2021 | 14 Comments

In addition to keeping up with my teacup a day lockdown project, I’m also continuing to sketch my way through Palladio’s villas.

This has been a Mon-Fri project and on some occasions I’ve done more than one sketch for a particular villa.  I’ve really been enjoying doing a little Palladio sketching again even though some days I haven’t had a lot of time. And I’ve been trying to mix up a few different techniques.

PV16: Villa Pisani (Part 2)

The first sketch of this villa was the street view (see it at the end of this collection) but I wanted to sketch the garden facade as well. My notes below state that I was trying to see how many lines I could omit! 🙂

Here is the full spread accompanied by Moonlight Roses by Royal Albert.

PV17: Barchesse di Villa Trissino

One of the really fun parts of this project has been getting to know Palladio’s lesser known works including incomplete projects. Most of his villas were working farms (not luxury palaces) and they included barchesse – stables/outbuildings for housing animals, supplies, stores etc. Many of the villa designs included barchesse but they were never built. For Villa Trissino only the barchesse was built. I was surprised when I did some research that this was part of a huge project…

…so I drew a quick drawing of the grand scheme. It included a centrally planned villa like one I will draw in a few weeks time.

PV19: Villa Badoer

I recently realised that 20 years ago (back in 2001) I did a number of sketches of Palladio’s villas. In fact, I did start working my way through them. And I remember clearly sketching Villa Badoer as it was my favourite at the time.

Here is that sketch done in an A4 visual diary – Sept 2001.

(Aside: Maybe I should scan this book and do an article on my early Palladio drawings.)

A big part of the reason why I liked it so much was because it had a curved barchesse!


PV19: Villa Barbaro (Villa di Maser)

This is another villa with a full barchessa and one that I know very well as it was included on the Palladian Odyssey tours. I did this much of the sketch (paint first then line) and decided to pause. I wasn’t sure whether to finish it or not.

But a few days later I added a few more lines, some of the background trees and a little bit of sky.

BTW some of my villa sketches have not been positioned totally level on the page. In real life it doesn’t bother me, but I do notice it much more on a scan. Oh! well, these are the types of ‘errors’ that I learn to live with in my sketchbook – particuarly as all of these sketches are done in under 20 minutes. However, I am going to make more of a concerted effort to get my villas straighter from now on!

I love visiting this villa so much and sketching it brings back so many memories, that I had to do another sketch and it was also very loose and free.

This is a highly saturated version (using Quin Gold and Marine Blue) to match the teacup which was on the page as well.

PV20: Villa Foscari

Palladio’s most monumental villa and one that I would love to sketch in real life. When I was last in Italy (in 2019) I did discuss with Monica  (local art historian and dear friend) visiting it in 2020.

This is a villa that I want to study further and sketch a few more views of it.

PV21: Villa Porto

A lesser-known villa with modifications by others… but one that was fun to sketch.

I remembered to scan the sketch at an early stage so you can see the first few steps – a few pencil lines, paint (wall colour and shadows) and then drawing. I think that was the order… but never quite sure as I mix it up frequently.

Here is the finished spread (which I talked about during a Sketchbook Design livestream last night!)

PV22: Villa Zeno

It appears that this villa, which has been in a terrible run-down condition for years – has recently been renovated. But I decided to do an older version of it.

The muted colours matched the quick sketch of some scribbly gum trees from an afternoon visit to Lane Cove National Park.

So there you have it… some more Palladian Villas! Which is your favourite of this collection?

There are 31 villas on my list so I’m on the home straight now, however, I’m slowing down my pace a little. It’s been a wonderful project to work on during this lockdown as the sketches are not too hard (for me) and if I want to, I can easily do a little research by looking up some of my books on Palladio. Mike Botton suggested that I move on to his Palazzos once I complete the villas… so there is plenty to keep me going for a while!



  • Prashanta says:

    Wow Liz – I love how the villas come alive in your sketches. Would love to see the scan of your early Palladio drawings too.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Prashanta! Your request is noted 🙂 And great to see you in the chat during last night’s livestream!

  • Rachael Ayres says:

    PV17 is easily my favourite – love what you’ve done with the light and shadows especially

  • Heidi Smith says:

    Really like the colour of your opening page PV16, and PV17 is wonderful colours allso, but my favourite villa sketch is 18 Badoer. The muted colours work really well.
    I can’t pick a favourite spread. They are all so lovely and different.
    I must come and revisit sketchbook design (i did the original Run through but wasn’t very active in posting.)
    Always look forward to your posts and seeing your work 🙂

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Heidi. Villa Badoer was a favourite of mine. Would love to see you in the Sketchbook Design classroom – just pop in anytime… or join a livestream 🙂

  • Frannie says:

    I love them all. My favourite sketch is the one of villa Zeno, it’s different. It feels that nature is trying to grow over the walls and yet the old walls are still standing.

  • Jamie C says:

    My favorite is Villa Zeno but that’s because it’s got all the green on it. I do love my greens. As for not green buildings or sketches (lol!) my favorite is, the Villa Badoer. That curved barchesse is great. I’m excited to learn what a “barchesse” is, too! I adore the iso (?) drawing of it. Do you cover how to do that in Buildings? If not do you have any good books to recommend?

  • Kimberly Ester says:

    Hi Liz, my two favorites from this week are Villa Porto – I love all the red shutters and roof, and Villa Zeno with the green ivy and green shutters. Villa Zeno looks so enticing next to your “scribbly gum trees” which I’m also fond of.

  • Sandie Ingram says:

    Wow, Liz! How could anyone choose a favorite from all these gorgeous sketches? The part I love the best is how your palette matches the tea cups! Beautiful.

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