Lost and found ~ travel sketches


One of the downsides (and blessings) of a nomadic life, is that one cannot hoard stuff. Detaching from material possessions is a prerequisite for a successful nomadic life.

Even though we have several times dramatically thinned out our earthly possessions, there are a few cherished items that we have somehow managed to hold onto. The best of Peta’s paintings, photo albums and surprise, boxes of sketchbooks, which we thought we had lost somewhere in between moves.

We recently, while in Chicago visiting family, stumbled upon a trove of years of Peta’s sketchbooks, which travelled from Chicago to Nicaragua and then back again.

There are piles and piles of sketchbooks with (mostly Peta’s) drawings and painted sketches done over the years when we both almost always had a pen/pencil and sketchbook in our hands. It was a way for us not only of recording our visual experiences, but as well it provided an opportunity to slow down and be in the moment.

Here below, a sample of 78 sketches, in 12 different locations  

Looking through our stored boxes in Chicago. They arrived from Nicaragua over 6 months ago, but this is our first opportunity where we have some time to open and sort through them, while we are here visiting our family.

Here is a selection of what we found in these long lost sketch books….


2000 ~ Venice, Italy

Vivaldi and Bach concert,  Basilica St. Marco, December 25th, Venice.

Quick sketches of concert goers and musicians.

Architectural details of the organ balcony.

The small architectural details captured.

Pastel colored piazza walls.

Coffee at San Marco square, Christmas Eve.

In a cafe… warming up from the wet weather outside.

A distinctive profile.

2000 ~ Firenze, Italy

On the train from Venice to Florence. Ben is bundled up and sketching.

Other passengers on the train…

At an organ concert at Felicitia Church, Florence

People in the audience.


Vista from Piazza Michelangelo.

2001 ~ Chicago, U.S.

Scrabble was one of many favorite activities in our household. Adam and Ben, 2001

A wooden bench in front of paintings, our living room. (Roslyn Lane, Highland Park)

2001 ~ Kansas City, U.S.

Kansas City, one of Ben’s U.S. “home bases…”

Jazz rules in Kansas City.


2002 ~ Paris, France

Dramatic arches. Church St. Germain.


2002 – Antibes, France

Harbour front, Antibes, France

Open air market place.

Sketches at a cafe, Southern France.

My boyfriend.

2002 – Marbella and Ronda, Spain

Flamenco guitar rules this part of the world.

Flamenco dance, Cordoba, Spain.

Flamenco dancers before their dance.

Dancers taking a break

Strolling the streets of Ronda.

View over the hills, lunch in Ronda.

Ben in Seville, Spain

2005 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

A sunny Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam, Holland.

Time in a coffeeshop.


Canals, boats, cafes, characters…

Bright pink tulips ~ Kukenhoff tulip garden.

2003 ~ Buenos Aires, Argentina and Colonia, Uruguay

Buenos Aires has a beautiful cemetery ~ “Ricoletta”, with noteworthy sculptures.

Ben (on right) in a cafe in Buenos Aires. We returned to Buenos Aires several times while we were launching our artisanal furniture and interiors business, “Ethnicities” at the time.

Colonia, Uruguay is across the bay from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Just a boat ride away.

Rose red adobe houses on several cobbled stoned streets, in Colonia, Uruguay.


2004 ~ Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Peru

Women at the Cusco market place with their tall black hats, and thick black braids.

Colors of the market. Carrots in a huge basket. Long Cusco braid.

Close up of onions at market

Red and yellow peppers and baskets of limes at market. This sketch was the impetus for a much larger oil painting on canvas, a couple years later.

View from a cafe in the high altitude town of Cusco. Cafes provide great spots for sketching.

The detail of a doorway at Maccu Piccu.

Details of archaeological carvings in mud at the ancient city of Chan Chan, Peru.

Archeological finds. Many of these small sculptures and vases found their way into a series of large oil paintings later on.

Teracotta tiles, blue shirts and walls. Waiting for a procession. Sacred Valley near Ollyantetambo.

A few days in a simple beach cabana, Northern Peru.

Ben’s sketches ~

Ben was also sketching, and using pastels, while on long international business flights…

A modern angle…

A palace in Abu Dhabi

….and others were done al fresco,  …. such as in Venice, Italy, sketching together.

A sweeping view of one of the large water through fares in Venice

Strolling the streets, Italy.

Vista Plaza Michelangelo, Florence, Italy. Ben’s take…

A famous cafe in Piazza Saint Marco, Venice. Serving thick hot chocolate continuously for several hundred years. We sat here for an afternoon as the world went by…

Until it got dark (early). Winter in Venice.


The arches of San Marco square.

Where? not sure…. somewhere in time.

Our sketches were our (visual) diaries ~ Vignettes in pencil, charcoal, pen, pastel and water color which provide a peek into our lives pre Green Global Trek adventures.


72 thoughts on “Lost and found ~ travel sketches

  1. Niki

    Fabulous sketches, great visual diary of good memories.

    Reminds me of Dad’s sketches, everywhere we went, and of Daniel’s sketches. Good that you kept them.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Nik. Dad’s sketches of his and moms travels were always and still are such an inspiration. Especially the architectural sketches and the overall vistas of a spot that he chose to capture. I wonder what Daniel would have been drawing today…..


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Janis… I had forgotten about these sketch books actually. Not sure what to do with them other than look at them like photo albums and then pack them up again. For me, it really is more about the process of being creative and observing details around me than the end product. But then again, sure was fun to find them!


  2. Liesbet

    These are amazing! I’m so glad you found them again. What great memories and fantastic ways to capture those special moments. My favorites are the ones of South America, still an intriguing continent to me, since we haven’t visited extensively yet. And, I love the fact that you can both work on sketches and pieces of art. What a fantastic pastime. When I see all those sketch books, it does remind me of the boxes full of diaries I have stored, starting from when I was 14. Hold on to them, please! 🙂 And, Peta, I hope you can pick up paining again soon!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Liesbet one of the benefits of sketches is that they are smaller than paintings.. well at least most of my paintings. My series of Stray Dogs averaged 5ft x 5ft and there were 40 of them. Many sold, but I still have some of them rolled up in tubes. Not easy for a nomadic girl to lug paintings around!!

      Peru is a MUST! We were there for a month, initially for sourcing for our business at the time which entailed selecting Peruvian ceramics for our line of artisanal ethnic interior decoration. It is a country that really resonated with both of us. It inspired a whole series of paintings, again, on the large side… The Chan Chan ancient city of mud with its sequence of carvings was something quite extraordinary.

      It IS great that we can be creative together. Ben also does sculptures of the female form out of clay. We spent many a weekend painting and sculpting together from live nude models both in Chicago and Nicaragua.


  3. Shari Pratt

    How wonderful that you found your “lost” sketchbooks. Writing captures events in one way, art in another, a bit like the difference between a piano and an orchestra. These are so interesting to see. The images must have conjured all kinds of memories as you pored over the books.

    I especially love Peta’s sketch of her boyfriend – he looks just like Ben. I guess she likes the thoughtful, intelligent type. 😉

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Shari, you got me pegged! Thanks for the lovely feedback. I had forgotten about not only these sketchbooks but our many trips to Europe, as Asia has been filling our heads for the past 3 years, so it definitely was fun to revisit these experiences.


  4. Lexklein

    It would have been a terrible shame to lose all of these! They are not only beautiful to look at, but I bet they brought back a rush of feelings about all those times and places. I’ve missed seeing you around here – glad to see you popping in, especially with these treasures!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Lex, so nice to read you again. Yup we have been on the road visiting family for 6 weeks. No time to write our blog or read all my favorite ones… but I will be catching up soon now that am back in Sri Lanka once again and living the simple life! 🙂


  5. Darlene Foster

    What a find. It must have been fun to look through these sketches. I love them all but especially the tulips as I am writing about them right now in my next book which takes place in Holland.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Funny, the tulips almost didn’t make the cut… hard to narrow down the selection from so many different sketchbooks from different places and time periods. Holland is a great setting for your next book… Ben says “Amanda will particularly enjoy Appeldorn”!! Thanks for stopping by to comment.


  6. Judith Westerfield

    What a treasure trove of experiences and TALENT. Fabuloso!!! So enjoyed seeing them (but I bet not as much as you did!)

    Visual art, whether it’s your photos or your sketches are priceless reminders of times spent and past.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Judith for these flattering comments. Interestingly, for me, drawing is about being in the moment primarily. When you sit and look at something for a long period of time, look at it closely, you really do see it differently. Drawing really is about seeing.

      Was definitely a nice surprise to come across them again though, for sure.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Alison thank you, and glad you enjoyed these. Most of these moments I would not have remembered if I had not done the sketches, so it was definitely fun to see them again.


    1. Greenglobaltrek

      Thanks Kelly. My dad was the inspiration for adding a bit of color He sketched whenever he and my mom travelled and I loved how he added bits of color here and there.

      I do have a current Sri Lankan sketchbook…maybe for anoter post!


  7. Dahlia

    I really enjoyed going through the lovely sketches and the different perspectives with which these seem to have been created. It was somehow very liberating to see them – a symbol of freedom to see and be in the moment and move on. Wonderful!

  8. caroline helbig

    You guys are both so talented. These are beautiful and certainly must bring back wonderful memories. They are all great but I have a special fondness for both your Italy works. It’s a great idea to capture them all on photos.

    1. Greenglobaltrek

      Thanks Caroline. We both enjoy the creative outlet that observing and sketching brings. It is nice to know which sketches people resonate with, so thanks for mentioning your “special fondness” for the ones done in Italy.

      Credit goes to Ben for sorting through boxes of sketchbooks, selecting his favorites and then photographing them.


  9. Jeff Bell

    These are great! I used to keep a paper journal but that changed with iPads and small computers. Maybe I’ll start it again. My drawings were usually silly cartoons to depict something that happened to us. Peta is a real artist!

    1. Greenglobaltrek

      Jeff, one of my dearest friends, Sharon Rosenzweig (you can find her on facebook) is a skilled cartoonist and does incredible drawings and commentaries on life. I love “cartoons to depict sonething that happened to us”. I was recently “introduced” to the work of Brian Fies (also on Facebook), a cartoonist who just depicted what happened to his home and life in the N. California fires.


  10. Dave Ply

    I’ve always marveled at folks who can draw and paint. My skills run to the stickman level. I think everyone should have a creative outlet, it’s nice that you have a good one.

    1. Greenglobaltrek

      Dave, I agree ….it is important to have creative outlets. I very much enjoy taking interesting photographs and writing ( the blog and for boutique hotels) these days, in addition to sketching.

      I think anyone can learn to draw by really seeing…but of course it helps to have a natural affinity in that direction as always.


  11. Pamela

    Not surprisingly, these sketches/paintings have so much HEART in them. I can hear the sounds of the places, feel the weather, taste the contentment and love that drew you to draw these scenes. Thank you for sharing. Even though most of them are of public places, somehow I feel you’ve brought me into a private space.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Pamela thank you that is high compliment indeed. It’s fun how our sketches, which were in storage for so long, are getting a “second life” in our blog and we ave enjoyed sharing them.

      Peta & Ben

  12. Anita @ No Particular Place to Go

    Finding these sketchbooks must have been like opening your own personal time capsules and romping through your memories. They are lovely!

    I especially love the very personal sense of the drawings which convey, in a way that photos never will, an in-the-moment feeling of observing the details of life flowing around you both. I’ve often wished I could draw and have tremendous admiration for artists who can convey so many things through just a few lines. Thanks so much for sharing these, Peta and Ben!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anita, it was exactly as if we opened a personal time capsule. That is a perfect analogy. Agree with you that drawings often convey and capture a moment in a manner that makes it more memorable to the person drawing, than taking a photograph does. After all most of us have hundreds of photographs taken in an instant, whereas a drawing requires time and attention and being still. So glad you enjoyed our sketches.

      Peta & Ben

  13. Laurel

    You are both so talented! I love photography, but there’s something much more personal about capturing life in pencil and paints. Sketching and painting seems to cultivate an even deeper awareness of a place or an event. What a treasure trove you have of beautiful memories!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Laurel. One does see more details that one would not probably notice without taking the time to focus on a drawing or a sketch. Our fellow Buddhists seek or advocate “mindfulness”, and for us, sketching is one of the activities that cultivates such mindfulness.

      Peta & Ben

  14. LuAnn

    I have always played with the idea of learning to sketch, as I find myself woefully without many artistic talents. Perhaps some day I will take the time, after I develop a better understanding of photography nuances, also on my list of must-dos! You both have such a talent. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      LuAnn, lately we have been taking more photographs than sketching, but coming across these again has inspired us to start some new sketchbooks.

      I recently purchased an Indian American Flute, not something on my must`do list but more of an impulsive purchase…. but I am really enjoying the challenge of learning something new that does not necessarily come instinctively. The same was true with learning Spanish when we moved to Nicaragua. Learning something one knows nothing about is intellectually stimulating and an interesting worthwhile process.


  15. Amit

    I’m impressed and loving these sketches and watercolors and pastels and and.. I really hope you’re planning to pull out the paints and pencils now that you’re back in Sri Lanka; I can’t wait to see what colors and scenes emerge from your Asian art-adventure!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Amit… These days I have been playing with learning a new instrument ~ the American Indian flute…. Not enough hours in the day!! My canvases and paint are ready and await the brushstroke.


  16. Cheryl

    I’m a fan, Peta! You’re so talented! Absolutely enjoyed this post (this one’s my favourite) and couldn’t get enough those gorgeous scenes and people that you’ve captured on paper! I used to enjoy sketching as a kid and left it since. Thanks for making me want to try sketching again!

  17. Sue Slaght

    It’s a historical treasure chest of art! How amazing to find these after thinking you no longer had them. I am imagining all the fabulous memories that came flooding back as you looked through them . I loved having a glimpse of your travels and lives over the years.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek

      I like that terminology applied of “treasure” ~ am thinking treasure box to be opened on occassion and rediscover the joys once again. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on our blog Otto.

  18. Gilda Baxter

    I am so envious of your ability to capture all these moments with your beautiful drawings. You most definitely will never want to lose sight of these precious recorded memories.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Gilda, I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon and ever since, and it has always been a natural form of expression over the years for me. We left our sketchbooks in the cold temperatures of Chicago, until we next meet again…

      Thanks Gilda for reading us and giving us your lovely feedback.


    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Dee. We are also partial to those sketches from Venice. We were there at Christmas time in the winter and were lucky enough to get to hear midnight mass at the cathedral at Piazza San Marco. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The acoustics were as dramatic and rich as the gold leafed ceiling. It has been great to have all these memories stirred up again by the sketches.

      Peta & Ben

  19. Lisa Dorenfest

    omFg! You had me at ‘one of the downsides (and blessings) of a nomadic life, is that one cannot hoard stuff’ but then I saw those drawings and i was like ‘If I created stuff like that, I could neve be apart from it for a moment’ Does Peta need an agent – because if I was in my old life in NYC, I would kill to have those images hanging on my wall! What a treasure trove.
    Remarkable. Truly.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Lisa thank you so much, I really appreciate your reaction to my sketches. For me they really are more about the process of observation, than the end result. That said, it is obviously fun when we come across them and suddenly times and places just come to life once again. I sold many of my large paintings from my dog series “The Stray Dogs of Nicaragua”, when we lived there. Because those paintings were contextual and people often thought they had seen the particular dog that was in a particular painting there were many dog lovers who bought my paintings. The sketches in sketchbooks are much more personal. Thanks again for the lovely comments.


  20. Rusha Sams

    What an interesting way to chronicle travels — and a life, as it were. I wish I had attempted even some of that because first impressions are always fun to reflect upon.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Rusha, well, it is never too late to start. Sketching is the result of keen observation, and whether at home or traveling sketching allows one to really focus in a unique way and “be in the moment.” Thanks for stopping by and for your feedback.


  21. shoreacres

    I’m so glad you called my attention to this post. It seems to me that your sketches capture your experiences in a way that photographs just can’t. Don’t ask me to explain the difference, because I can’t — perhaps if I could draw even one little bit I’d be better able to do so!

    Strangely, the most evocative for me was the one tucked in the middle that depicted jazz in Kansas City. My first job and first apartment were in KC, and I lived in a renovated, large house on North Main that had been divided into apartments. There was a Korean grocer across the street, and a black fellow lived above. Every now and then, he’d bring out his saxophone, sit on the stoop, and play. This little girl from small town Iowa would sit for hours, just listening. It was wonderful.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks for stopping by to take a look at the sketches and to comment.

      I think the difference between capturing a moment in a sketch is that it can be more personal than a photograph as one really needs to take the time to focus attention and be in the present moment in order to capture what one sees. Therefore when looking at a sketch it seems to bring one back to that extended moment suspended in time. Also when you do a drawing you select what you want to put in that drawing, whereas with a photograph it is less selective I think.

      I love that the Kansas City jazz sketches were evocative for you…Ben lived there for six years and I used to visit him and spend time there. Going to listen to jazz was one of our very favorite things to do in KC. Thanks for your vignette of those days for you…


  22. Kris

    Wow. I love this! When I see sketches (even more so than paintings) like this I wish I was given this talent in life. What an incredible gift to have the eye that captures such detail and being able to transmit this onto paper. Seems like a blissful way to be in the moment, observing life while time stands still/goes by.
    Beau-ti-ful. Love

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Kris!! Thank you for the lovely compliments. Glad you enjoyed the sketches. Drawing is an excellent way to be in the moment as it really does require focus and powers of observation. It is all about seeing. Really seeing. Thanks for stopping by the blog to read and comment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *