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My travel sketchbook: Positano 1 – Balcony View

It was only around 5 weeks ago that I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the Croatian jewel of Dubrovnik, and there to open the pages of my brand new leather backed moleskin sketchbook and begin covering those pages with pen sketches. There is nothing quite so nice for me as making sketches on the spot, particularly of views from cafes and piazzas, on bustling beaches and of stunning views, because unlike the process of taking a quick photo, the duration and experience of making a sketch makes the process more memorable, and the resulting image far more rich and rewarding. I’ve already shared with you some of the sketches which came out of my Dubrovnik trip, and now I am delighted to be able to share some of the works which have come out of my visit to Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Following in the tradition of my Norm Sketches, I tend to create my sketches using a fineliner pen rather than the more traditional pencil or charcoal. I find the permanence of pen sketches more attractive, and the depth of black that can be achieved more dramatic. It does however mean that there is no scope whatsoever for mistake, and so very often artistic license takes the place of reality when inevitable errors have to be “corrected” such as to salvage the whole work. This may mean that a few buildings come out a bit wonky, but I enjoy this aspect of the “hand made” about a sketch (and indeed a painting). After all, if you want photographic perfection then you may as well take a photo.

Positano Sketch 1: Balcony View towards the Sirenuse (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Positano Sketch 1: Balcony View towards the Sirenusas (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

My first sketch is of our base on the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and more particularly one part of the stunning 180 degree panorama we enjoyed from our hotel room with a view. This sketch captures the view looking Westwards towards the tiny group of Sirenusas islands (otherwise known as the Li Galli) which can be seen on the horizon of the sketch. That little archipelago is named after the Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey, as they are reputed to be the location where the Sirens lived, and from whose deathly allure Odysseus had to be protected by being tied to a mast with wax blocking his ears from their tempting song. It is undoubtedly no coincidence that our room was named “Li Galli”, because our balcony probably afforded the best view of these islands of any other in the hotel. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to do the view justice therefore, and this first sketch of the holiday is my homage to it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gill #

    You just get better and better

    July 1, 2014
  2. AR #

    Those are my feelings, as well, about sketching with pen. (I’ve never heard anyone else express the same feeling about the dramatic deep tones of a pen – that’s mainly what does it for me as well.) Though I might have become an artist, I finally ended up focusing on writing. Still, I like to sketch from time to time. I think it allows me to appreciate what’s going on in picture more than I would otherwise.

    This sketch is great- the feeling of height with one clump of buildings seen from above and the other straight-on; and the peaceful, slow-encroaching sea… it feels like a very old lover’s quarrel. I love spots that feel like real places, and not just arbitrarily filled space.

    July 4, 2014
    • I was thinking as I was reading some of your other comments how beautifully you write – and now I see that you’re a writer! And a highly skilled one too! Thanks so much for these comments – you describe my art better than even I can! Imagining this as a kind of lovers quarrel is seriously inspired. It wasn’t the typical Positano view, because it was more of a hodgepodge of random buildings, but that’s exactly why I was drawn to it. Thanks again for your amazing comments!

      July 5, 2014
      • AR #

        My pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed perusing your site.

        July 8, 2014

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