Impressions of Italy: Broken Arrow Skies

Our first ever trip to Italy. We landed in Rome on a blistering hot day in early July. Then we spent time in Tuscany, Venice and Florence. I sketched. A lot. Too much to blog all of it. So here, in a few posts, are some things that struck me.

Those skies: the shape of them as seen from narrow lanes. Say ‘sky’ and I think vast, endless, horizontal expanse, perhaps broken by the silhouettes of buildings and trees in the distance. But when viewed from narrow alleys, that sky turns into this active, jagged broken arrow shape, a lightning bolt headed down to the horizon. Sometimes I made a sketch just to record that broken arrow sky shape I loved.

Here is the view from the window in our apartment in Rome not far from the Spanish Steps. Just an alley, buildings, and that sky…

Yet another time I stopped in the middle of my rambling through the city, to draw this.
Not quite broken arrow shaped, but that sky is why I noticed this narrow space while waiting (forever!) outside the Uffizi in Florence.

And outside the Accademia, this artist worked away with that lightning bolt of a sky behind him.

In the steep medieval hilltown of Montepulciano, I sketched these two scenes. Too bad my supply of premixed dark brown ink ( DeAtramentis document blue and brown) ran out in the middle of the trip: it was perfect for those old buildings. This first scene was right outside our hotel and the next one, a hundred feet up the road.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Italy, people, reportage, Summer, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Impressions of Italy: Broken Arrow Skies

  1. rosjenke says:

    I love your skies and that’s a great way to describe them. That ink was indeed the perfect colour. I mixed one of my own, preppy brown and black, just because that’s what I had. It works ok too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rene Wojcik says:

    Very nice work. Your treatment of the sky in your sketches is wonderful. You need to do another Craftsy class on sketching buildings, Your Craftsy class on people sketching is outstanding. It has done wonders for me. Now I am not as intimidated about putting people in my sketches. They now seem more alive and vibrant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Wilson says:

    Makes me want to go to Italy. Beautiful work and great color. Building color particularly nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TheArtistOnTheRoad says:

    Beautiful work Suhita! love the range in styles and varied mediums. Sounds like you had a great time. The two on the bottom are particularly nice but I also love the sketch above without lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the way you’ve captured Italy! those cobbled streets and narrow alleys. I was in Florence last Sept and the lines. . .and the crowds. . .and the heat. . .! Sketching is a great way to survive some of those downsides of travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mariska says:

    Very nice sketches from italy. How long does it take you to make one like the last two ones. And what does make you decide to use contour lines or not?


    • Mariska, I’m guessing about 30-45 minutes. What technique I use depends on may things: the tools I’m carrying limit what I can do for sure, but there’s also just the idea of how I want the final piece to feel: line is more contained, I can get to detail much quicker if I use pen line in addition to color washes. But sometimes I just want a piece to feel more atmospheric, less detailed and then I might leave it out…


  7. LauraLu says:

    Your sketching and use of watercolors is amazing. I love it! What does “be more responsive to the place when I sketch” mean? I am so new at sketching, I don’t understand this terminology, I’m sorry. I would love to learn. I too have taken your Craftsy class on sketching people, and I’d love to see you do a class on using watercolors. Their so beautiful.
    Thank you so much for sharing.


    • Laura, I meant that instaed of just using one tried and tested methodology of working ( for example pen first then color) , I’d like to think about what i want to achieve and then choose my technique to suit it. For example I might use more detailed linework to capture precise details for one piece. But for another, I might just stay with loose color washes and no linework for a different feel. I don’t have any rules when i work, but I do find I often revert to one way of working without thinking, and I’d like to vary it more.


  8. Lee Kline says:

    Hi, Suhita. Been away from the sketching for some time. Your tip about the “broken Arrow” is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

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