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  • Writer's pictureRachel Pearsey

Exploring Italy - Part 1

In this strange new world we are all living in, the Coronavirus has closed borders and airspaces, shut down all but essential businesses, and confined people to their homes across the globe. As of today, this global pandemic has infected over 3 million people and killed hundreds of thousands... We are all trying to find hope and encourage one another in the face of these new realities. None of us can travel right now. We're all stuck where we are, so I figured now is a great time to dust off my blog. Let me invite you to come along on a travel sketching journey with me exploring Italy!

With Morocco in lockdown for the safety of all, the programs for our international artist residency, Green Olive Arts, have been temporarily suspended. You can read on our blog about the impact this pandemic has had on the city of Tetouan. I have set up my studio at home now since I'm not allowed to go outside except for groceries. One of the projects I've been working on is finishing the drawings and paintings in my travel sketchbook from my trip to Italy in August, 2019 with my artist friend Miriam McAuley. We had ten days to visit 7 different cities. We found cheap flights from Tangier to Rome, stayed in little AirBnB apartments, figured out public transportation, and walked an average of 18,000 steps every day (some days as high as 24,000)! We saw so much amazing art and architecture, sketched to our hearts' content, and took many photos and videos. It really was a dream come true.

This is Part 1 in a series of blog posts I will be sharing about the trip. I'll give you a general introduction here, and then continue sharing stories, drawings and photos, so strap on your travel backpack and come along for the adventure!

Bagnoregio and Orvieto, Italy - travel sketching, sketchbook line drawings, by Rachel Pearsey
Bagnoregio and Orvieto, Italy - travel sketching

During my confinement at home this past month, I also finished editing a video highlighting our adventures. I love traveling in Europe and happening upon buskers performing live music in the streets! It really is wonderful! All the music in the video is from live performances, either by local musicians or by me and Miriam. We loved finding empty old chapels and cathedrals, with amazing acoustics, and singing in harmony with each other. Technically I think you're supposed to be quiet inside, but we figured this was a good exception, and it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. The few people who came in to pray while we were singing didn't seem to mind!

Italy has been one of the countries hardest hit during this Coronavirus pandemic. It is so sad to think of such an amazing and beautiful country once teeming with people, now locked down, with empty streets and so much suffering! The immediate and longterm impact of this is devastating, but the people of Italy are resilient and generous. My heart goes out to everyone who is grieving the loss of loved ones, or struggling to survive Covid19... to those are barely making ends meet without work, while trying to stay sane in confinement at home... and to those with overwhelming jobs in health care and other essential positions.

Florence, Italy travel sketching - ink drawing on watercolor wash by Rachel Pearsey
The Rooftops of Florence - ink drawing on watercolor wash

If you're an artist, I'm sure you've experienced traveling with non-artists. You know how frustrating it is to have impatient friends ready to move on to the next sight when you haven't finished sketching yet! They'd rather breeze through the art museums instead of slowly taking in the masterpieces.

But traveling with a friend who is also an artist is quit wonderful! Miriam and I kept a good pace with sight seeing but we also spent hours sitting and sketching together all throughout the trip. No one was rushing us or going off and leaving us. It was also delightful to have a fellow artist to explore museums with and share the awe of such incredible art. Be watching for a post about some of my favorite art that we discovered! There so many stories about each of the places we visited... so many wonderful things I saw and drew that I want to share with you. I'm looking forward to having you along on this journey with me as I revisit my adventures!

Cinque Terre, Italy - line and wash drawings, travel sketching by Rachel Pearsey
Cinque Terre, Italy - line and wash drawings

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