5 Tips for Watercolor Journaling in Tuscany

Let the Tuscan colors seep into your life

Watercolor Journaling is for anyone who loves color.

No prior experience is necessary to enjoy painting in Tuscany.

#1

Grab your colors ~ Ultra light, portable watercolor palette, brush and journal is all you need to experience being an artist under the Tuscan sun.

watercolor journaling in Tuscany
Sitting on a park bench over looking the hillside village, I painted this small watercolor sketch in my journal.

#2

Paint on the fly! Pocket watercolors with watercolor postcards are easy to paint on a cafe table or park bench. No easel or heavy equipment and paints are required.

watercolor journaling in Tuscany
This tiny watercolor is inspired by the laughter from our Tuscan dinner party. I think it captures the warmth and friendship of two houses coming together!

#3

Make your paintings sparkle with tiny white spaces between your colors. White adds whimsy and fun.

watercolor journaling in Tuscany
This little watercolor journal entry is just one of many whimsical building in nearby Greve. We visited the market there, enjoyed vibrant Tuscan colors.

#4

Try Watercolor crayons to add linear details. On wet let them bleed. On dry paper their pigments will flow when a wash is applied over top.

Tuscan cooking lessons
Danilo’s dinner party inspired this little watercolor sketch in my journal.

#5

Use a light touch to add whimsy. Look to see vibrant colors. Practice 10 minutes a day to train your eyes.

watercolor journaling in Tuscany
Delicate washed colors from my watercolor jouranal spilled over onto my oil paintings.

Learn to capture simple vignettes that express your inner artist. Go with the flow and bring home inspiration.

watercolor journaling in Tuscany
Watercolor journaling is easy and fun for beginners and advanced painters. Ultra portable, it’s quick and easy to paint in a cafe while waiting for Chianti.

Find out how you can go on a Tuscan Creativity Retreat with me Learn More>

Get dates for my next Muses of Tuscany Retreat

Plein Air Docents Wanted!!!

Whether you’ve painted before, or are simply interested in learning how it’s done, this is your opportunity to expand your knowledge and expertise.

Plein air painting festival
Go out plein air painting with me at two exclusive estate properties. Bring an easel and paint, or watch and ask questions. Pliein air painting at Goshen on the Ware River and Little England Farm on the York River.

In May twenty professional artists from Gary Pendleton’s definitive book, 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid Atlantic will come to the river to paint. Together with the community they will create the first Heart of the River Art Collection. The essential element in their success in capturing the inspiration and essence of life at the river is communication and understanding. That’s where my team of docents will play a leading role!

plein air painting
Engage with the artists and the public about what inspires the artists and their process.

I invite you to join me on Friday, May 5 OR Saturday, May 6 morning for everything you need to know about plein air painting.

plein air painting
Meet the artists and hear their ideas about what it takes to capture the essence of a scene.

As a Docent you will 

  • Receive a Free digital copy of my book about plein air painting in France, Discovering Joy’s Garden.
  • Go out plein air painting with me. Bring an easel and paint, or watch and ask questions.
  • Meet the artists and hear their ideas about what it takes to capture the essence of a scene.
  • Help guide the public in learning about plein air painting, the artists, and their process.
  • Share camaraderie and inspiration while facilitating the creation of Heart of the River Art Collection.

Limited Space Available, Sign up today

plein air painting gardens
Share camaraderie and inspiration while facilitating the creation of Heart of the River Art Collection.

Limited Space Available, Sign up today

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The Gloucester Plain Air Festival starts May 20-21 with a Plein Air Painting Workshop with Hai-Ou Hou, director of Chesapeake Fine Art Studio in Stevensville, Maryland. All artists are invited to join in a Nocturne Paint Out at Little England with Hai-Ou Hou and to paint in Gloucester village at Paint Main 2.5 on Saturday morning, May 27. Come and watch the pros or pick up a brush and join in the fun.

3 Doorways to the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ Tuscan Retreat

A Question is like a doorway. Opening a question changes everything.

My Retreat in Tuscany did this. The question I opened was “how to absorb the Tuscan Lifestyle into my life and artistry?”

Three doorway paintings explore this idea.

verdigris door painting dorothy fagan
Verdigris Door, oil, 10″ x 10″

Doorway #1 ~ Verdigris Door

In Verdigris Door, I was initially fascinated with the iron scroll work above the door. My first study was this oil wash and line drawing. You can see how my focus shifted from the detail scroll in the study below to color, light and shadow in the finished painting above.

Tuscan doorways
Scroll Door, wash and line drawing, 5″ x 7″
Tuscan doorways
Verdigris Doorway oil study, 8″ x 6″

#2 ~ Vermilion Doorway

Struck by the wonderful vermilion color, I tried several times to paint it. This version where the color is framed by an open archway, seemed a way of playing with the color without letting it dominate everything.

Three arched doorways, one to the right, the next front and center, and a third through the passage ~ lead us through the painting. A slice of sky opens light on the tower, street, and the next doorway.

Like a dream, I wonder what it means? Just writing the question, I see how this painting is open doorways, while the door in the first paintings were closed.

The quest of my Tuscan retreat did open me ~ connecting heart and mind in a gentle, compassionate way.

Vermilion Doorway Dorothy Fagan
Vermilion Doorway, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

The figure gives scale to the doorway, small in relation to a larger structure. A silhouette suggests questions. Who? An aspect of myself? Someone ancient? Or a new way of seeing myself?

Experiencing the Tuscany lifestyle, exploring slowly, letting the colors, flavors, and laughter seep in DID give me a deeper appreciation of life. I feel amazed and privileged to be here. Every moment of every day is precious and colorful. You can see this reflected in these paintings.

Loro Cuifenna
Loro Cuifenna village

This photo of Jim was my inspiration for the painting. There is nothing extraordinary about the photo. It looks like any tourist photo, poorly lit with the person looking the other way.

And yet … Jim standing in the doorway was an invitation to explore something hidden inside myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how it sparked my dream, colors and shapes hidden inside me that I never would have seen.

Green Door Dorothy Fagan
Green Door, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

#3 Green Door

From the same village of Loro Cuifenna, this narrow passage called for exploration. Yes, that IS a figure down in the passageway!

At first I painted the figure distinctly. Then it seemed to feel better as I blurred the form. I thought about painting it out completely. Then reluctantly, I let the human form be suspended between the sky and earth tones of the village.

Writing this, I see myself the same way.

Tuscan doorway
Green Door, oil study, 7″ x 5″

Writing about a painting AFTER it is painted, opens another doorway. There are things we ‘know’ about ourselves innately. Playing with colors and lines is one way of exploring something inside. Jotting questions, writing a simple description of each painting, these simple journaling techniques open new understanding of the soul inside.

Another Doorway

I am taking a group on a Tuscan Retreat. Watercolor journaling like this, writing, painting, cooking, wine tasting, exploring the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ What would it look like to absorb and live it? Find out more>