To keep track of all my sketchbooks, I started naming them. My first two sketchbooks from my travels were premade sketchbooks and I wanted my third (Terzo) to be special since it would be my first time traveling back to Italy since my Internship ended. Terzo was the first handbound sketchbook I made that started the addiction and the love of naming these sketchbooks. They've become my travel companions, umbrellas and seat cushion at times, and my most favorite thing to bring home and share with friends and family.
Since Terzo, there's been Quarto, Quinto, Sesto, Settimo and Ottavo (each meaning 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in Italian). My most recent sketchbook tends to always be my current favorite but each sketchbook definitely has some favorite pages.
2013, Lucca with Terzo
In 2013, I spent the fall in Lucca at my friend Vanessa's apartment to just spend some time in Italy visiting friends. This was the first year I ever traveled with a sketchbook I had made myself, let alone a mixed paper sketchbook. While it doesn't have too many sketches that are still favorites, I do love flipping through it to see how I played with drawing and sketching in the same spread, side by side!
Since I had so much solo, unscheduled time this trip, there's a series of produce studies I did in watercolor from this year in Terzo. As well as lots of more detailed fountain pen sketches of places I was eating at around Lucca. This spot was my friend Elena's former restaurant, Emporio del Sale. It was an amazing spot to hang out at and sketch with a glass of prosecco! This was also my first year traveling with Instagram so I wasn't really in the swing of documenting sketches out in the wild!
2016, Orvieto with Quinto
This was a big year for me and sketching, and hosting retreats! 2016 was the first year I ever hosted retreats in Italy (Florence only that year) which meant that I had a whole week in Italy with very little time to sketch! What followed afterwards in the few weeks I traveled solo once the retreats wrapped was pretty monumental for how I fill sketchbooks while traveling.
Left with waaay too many blank pages, I started journaling/doodling everything I did/ate/saw during the day to help fill the pages. I absolutely LOVE how this looks scattered between watercolors and sketches and continue to do this in every sketchbook I travel with longterm. Plus it's just a great way to pass the time when traveling solo.
2017, Castiglion Fiorentino with Sesto
This was the first year the retreats came home to Castiglion Fiorentino! I was SO excited to finally show folks around my Italian hometown this year, as well as be able to teach everyone to sketch my favorite sites and streets.
One of the iconic views of town is from the Vassari Loggia arches at the top of town, overlooking the Val d'Chio with the bell tower of La Collegiata nearby. I've sketched this view probably more times than anything else except the Pantheon in Rome and it was so fun to lead our guests through their first time painting it.
Stay tuned for Nono (my 9th sketchbook) this fall! ;)
Written by Chelsea Ward, the host and founder of Wanderful Retreats