I had the opportunity to tour the Tuscany region of Italy on my bike in September 2017. Cycling provides me with a great opportunity to view and experience Italy. I was able to stop and view village scenes, plazas and the landscapes that were spread out for me to view. I spent many afternoons finding a thousand-year old stone step to sit on in the corner of an Italian plaza with my selected vantage point for sketching, This was my first experience with plein air work. It has its challenges and rewards. The first challenge is sometime the weather, hot in most cases on this trip. Sometimes the place I wanted to sketch from was in the blazing sun. Then I needed to find a place the I was somewhat out of the way of the many tourists, taxis and delivery trucks. The best places were were I could find a step to sit on, hard as it was, I could site for a few hours and get the sketch completed.
I use these sketches to study the scene along with some photographs for a subsequent watercolor work in my studio. I do my best work when I have spent some time on location, feeling the temperature, sun and breeze, taking in the smells and the colors of the place. These help me decide how to mix my colors and makes my brush flow with emotion, hopefully all of which creates a great watercolor that allows the viewer to feel some of the same experience.