Retro Sorrento

Illustrated and Handmade designs

Building Illustration

Utica Coloring Book with Made In Utica

Illustration Work, Building Illustration, EventsMaria ValleseComment

I love working with my friends over at Made In Utica, and I'm especially excited about this project I worked on with them for the 2016 Holiday Season: The Utica Coloring Book! 

Over the past few months I have been creating black and white ink illustrations of some of my favorite places in our city for you to color in this 16-page booklet. This is a limited printing, with a limited quantity, so get yours online at madeinutica.com/shop ASAP! 

Here's just some of what you'll find inside: 

More info From Made in Utica

"Celebrating all the ways Utica is colorful! The perfect Made In Utica gift or collector’s item to keep!

More than just a coloring book, this is a collection of art featuring illustrations by Retro Sorrento. Artist Maria Vallese has beautifully and intricately detailed some of her favorite #madeinutica places. Color it in, frame it, keep it – this is a book to be treasured and enjoyed. Also makes a perfect holiday gift for Utica friends and family near and far. Available in a limited quantity for a limited time only.

The Details

  • 16 pages of unique designs
  • Includes artist’s notes and descriptions
  • Only 250 available
  • 8.5″ x 11″ in size
  • Orders will be shipped out no later than December 12th
  • You may also choose to pick up your order on December 10th from 10am-2pm at Made In Utica, #323 in Mayro Building on Bank Place in Utica

What are you waiting for? Don’t miss your chance to have the Utica Coloring Book for yourself, your kids or your loved ones. ON SALE NOW."


I've been all over town helping promote this, including a stop at the Uticast this past week. I talked with Sam about my art career thus far, my the Coloring Book, my favorite books, the Beatles, and more! Listen to the episode here: 

Bagg's Square Facing South

Building Illustration, Illustration WorkMaria ValleseComment

Over the past several years, Downtown Utica has seen a resurgence of business activity - new restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, offices, bakeries, etc. A favorite spot of mine is Bagg's Square. This area surrounds Utica's Union Station (home to many Indie Garage Sales!), extending under the Genesee Street overpass. The Tailor and the Cook has an interesting read on this area's history and revitalization on their website

This past spring, I created a mixed media painting of Bagg's Square, facing south and including Utica Coffee Roasters and The Tailor and the Cook. 

I created this piece using a mixed media technique that I've been playing around with on and off for the past 8 years or so. A combination of oil pastels, oil paints and colored pencil on a textured surface gives me just the color saturation and appearance I've been looking for. 

I start with my sketch, which I create on paper at the site (I also take several photo references for color which I use later on) and working from that guide I create a drawing with india ink on my final board. 

Then comes the fun part - layering pastels, paints, and colored pencil little by little to create the right texture and colors to reflect Bagg's Square! 

The finished product dries for a few days and then is sprayed with a fixative to preserve its colors. I then scan the image at a high resolution and have it printed on archival paper - and that's when it comes to you! 

Clinton, NY Building Illustration

Building Illustration, Illustration WorkMaria ValleseComment

Here's some pieces I recently finished up, reworked from sketches I created a few months ago. These are some of the more recognizable historical buildings in the village of Clinton, NY - where my studio is located. The Allen Building is where my studio has been located since 2011. 

The Allen Building, Clinton NY. Digital mixed media with watercolor and ink. 

Alteri's Restaurant, Clinton NY. Digital mixed media with watercolor and ink. 

Hogan's Corner, Clinton, NY. The current home to Cafe J. Digital mixed media with watercolor and ink.

Prints of these pieces are currently available at Signature 81's new location, 17 College Street, Clinton NY. 

Huge updates!

Building Illustration, Crochet Jewelry, Illustration Worksorrento421Comment

I've been working on so many things, and definitely neglecting to update here! I've got lots of new earrings in the works, along with some new pieces I'll be working on for the summer shows.

Here's some new earrings that are currently available on my Etsy page:

Peace sign earrings $26

Crochet Earrings with brass sun charm and czech glass beading $24

Crochet Chandelier earrings with howlite beads, $24

Evil Eye Chandelier earrings $24

Crochet hoops $18

Crochet Hoops $18

The Spring Indie Garage Sale also passed us by without an update, here's my booth from the show. So glad we were able to be back at Utica's Union Station: 

I also finished up a flier & map for a local organization that I'm involved with.

Project-U

is a coalition of artists aiming to highlight the arts culture of downtown Utica and giving artists space and the opportunity to exhibit their work in empty and underused storefronts in the downtown area. 

Here's a close up of some of the buildings, Utica has some beautiful architecture and it was very interesting to see how these old buildings have evolved through the years. 

Columbia Street, home to Upstate Flux

The Mayro Building, Genesee Street. 

Macartovin Building, Devereux and Genesee Streets. 

Black River Systems, part of the busy corner, Genesee and Lafayette Streets. 

The Former Bev's Building, Genesee Street. 

Union Station, Main Street. 

Strut, Bleeker Street. 

I was also able to work with my friend Kim at Creative Designs and Christine's Cookie Shoppe in New Hartford on another logo for Christine's new dog treats! Kim did the fantastic design on this, and I did the dog cartoon/caricature. 

Dog Caricature for Christine's Cookie Shoppe's new Dog Treats! 

Lastly, here's a digital piece I finished up for a show last month at the Mill Art Center & Gallery in Honeyoye Falls, NY. 

"Coffee at the Windowsill"