Dorothy’s Sketchbook Sorrento Watercolors [Part 1]

Sorrento Watercolors

Solving my fears of travelling alone opened a portal to many gifts unseen.

It seems we are quick to focus on the buts. Listing all the risks and reasons a thing CAN'T be done, we lose sight of the gift. Sorrento watercolors and travelling with art supplies proved to be just the tip of the gifts that would flow ~

Sorrento Garden by the Sea, watercolor

a gift

Last Easter, my dear friend Antonella invited me to join her in Sorrento for a week. Wow!

The opportunity to see the Amalfi Coast with a native Neapolitan who speaks fluent English caught my attention. But ~ and it was a huge but ~ I had never travelled abroad alone, much less with art supplies.

The thing that had me solve all my concerns, was knowing this would be my window. The window was open. Was I going to thank god for the precious moments with Antonella in Sorrento and have faith that it would all work out? Or not?

I might be dead in a year. No, I'm not ill. But let's be real.

The gift of precious moments with Antonella changed my life. The story is woven between my brush strokes.

Sorrento Watercolors
The intoxicating fragrance of blooming wisteria wrapped us in luxury.

Receive more in this series ...

Don't miss the rest of this story, as Antonella and I visit Positano, by hydrofoil, an Italian designer's shop,  and oh, painting Marina Grande.

colors from within

Many people think that what I see with my eyes inspires me to paint. It does, however ...

It's actually so much deeper. The feeling of being in that garden with Antonella, the intoxicating frangrance of my favorite wisteria, and the presence of mind that the Creator had gifted me these precious moments ~

colors of all of spilled onto the white paper

with utter joy.


Sorrento Watercolors
The garden was private, off limits. But Antonella ...

paradise access

On a cliff above the port, Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria was the hangout of choice for big-name guests like the Queen of Sweden and famed tenor Enrico Caruso (there’s even a suite named after him). Its atmosphere feels just as it did during the Belle Époque era: many of the original antiques still fill every nook, and waiters in white jackets deliver Aperol Spritzes like clockwork to guests on the terrace.

So how did I get into the private garden?

I'd seen the guard earlier in the week. Painting in there seemed off limits.

Antonella insisted, appealing to the gentleman in Italian, we were graciously granted permission to sit and paint in the garden for as long as we pleased!

See Dorothy's Italian Watercolors

The collection includes Dorothy's watercolors from Sorrento,  Positano, Tuscany, Lucca, Cortona, Pienza, Lago Maggiore, Siena, Panzano, Poggia Alla Croce, Figline Val'Arno, Florence, and more.

Sorrento Watercolors
Wisteria dripped from the pergola throughout the garden.


So how could I possibly capture all of the beauty in a few precious moments?

I only had four days to paint.

Travelling alone, I decided a watercolor palette and 9x12 block of watercolor paper in my carry-on would be all the art supplies I would take.

I bought an over-sized satchel which fit them, plus my essentials. And packed one small piece of luggage for the overhead bin.

Getting off the plane in Rome, I was able to grab my gear, purchase train tickets for the TGV to Naples, and find my seat on the train to Rome Termini at the airport.

Once on the TGV train, I opened my paints and played with the colors.

Sorrento Watercolors
On the train, I experimented with the watersoluble pastels I'd purchased for ny trip.


I have discovered that travelling is THE prefect time for experimenting. Out of routines, the wild abandon of travelling feeds creativity.

So I didn't resist the urge to purchase a set of 48 water soluble pastels from Charvin for the trip. Yes, I've used pastels before, but water soluble ones. I use and adore Charvin oil paints, so I jumped at the chance to experiment.

I did have concerns about possibly coming home with no good paintings. What if all of them were experiments to be added to the pile of experiments? C'est la vie!

Sorrento Watercolors

orchid sisters

I'd met Antonella four years ago in Tuscany. She'd been invited to translate our first Italian cooking lesson.

I met her again two years later when I returned to Tuscany for a second two-month residency. This time I learned that she'd married an American GI and lived in northern Virginia for eight years.

She loved everything about America. And when I brought my American friends to Italy, she delighted in entertaining all of us.

In Sorrento I discovered a soul sister. You can see how our colors relate, my pinks on the coral side, hers on the orchid. I came home with a new color in my palette ~ orchid ~ and it has changed everything about the glow within my paintings and me.

Being with Antonella, letting myself revel in her stories of growing up in Naples and Positano, hearing about her sisters, mother, husband, and her views of Americans and Italians ~ were as much an influence and inspiration to my paintings as what I saw with my eyes.

People inspire my art, my heart.

I paint with my heart.

Receive more in this series ...

Don't miss the rest of this story, as Antonella and I visit Positano, by hydrofoil, an Italian designer's shop,  and oh, painting Marina Grande.

Antonella's Watercolors

Sitting in the garden together, I invited Antonella to try her hand with watercolors. She'd never painted before.

She gave it a try anyway.

Antonella's Sorrento Watercolors
Antonella's Sorrento Watercolors

Doesn't her signature look like that of a pro?

I asked her to sign it before I took the photo. At the time, I didn't know why. Now I do.

Antonella's Garden

As a special thank you to Antonella, I would like to treat everyone to her watercolors. I've designed fabrics from her paintings, so you can create a wardrobe or decorate your castle!

21 fabrics from cottons, to linen, crepe, knits, canvas, and luxe velvet are printed to order. Order a test swatch, a fat quarter, or yardage for any size project.


Antonella's Garden Fabric Collection
Antonella's Sorrento Watercolors on tabletop designs.

Made to Order Tabletop Designs

If you don't have time or inclination to sew, you can still enjoy precious moments of your own with a Sorrento dinner table.

Mix & match luxe cotton sateen tablecloths, runners, placemats, and napkins for a festive Italian spring or summer table.

Design Your Own Unique Art Scarves

Antonella's Garden Collection

  1. Simply select 4 fabrics with the Infinity Scarf Design Tool.
  2. Mix & Match to create 2 two-sided scarves.
  3. Select from 24 designs in Antonella's Garden.
Mix & Match Antonella's Garden crepe de chine to create your own artistic design scarves.

One to Wear, & One to Share

Select crepe de chine for a light-weight, slightly translucent scarf with a lovely drape. If you prefer chiffon, it's lighter and more translucent than the crepe. (I'm not a fan of Modern Jersey for scarves, as it is heavier than I like to wear around my neck.)

If you'd like more design ideas, Download Pattern Ideas and sewing instructions.

Wear one, share one!

painting Positano
Painting on the train is fun!

Would you like me to let you know when the next in this series is published?

See where I am travelling next with my watercolors

Fill out your information, and I'll send you a notice when the next article is published.

Who would LOVE to see this?

Pass Creativity forward . . .

someone you know is waiting to be inspired

Joy's Garden Salon | a modern day art salon

Joy's Garden Salon | a modern day art salon

Joy's Garden Salon | a modern day art salon