Retro Sorrento

Illustrated and Handmade designs

made in utica

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 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: 

Gig Posters

Illustration WorkMaria ValleseComment

Over the past few months I've had a few commissions for gig posters - something I find super fun and have always wanted to do! 

My friends over at commissioned me for a poster for their upcoming Soul Train event with The Adirondack Scenic Railroad. I wanted to intertwine the look from the Soul Train music variety show from the 70's/80's era with an iconic image from Utica. Because the train ride is starting out at Union Station the obvious pick was the outside facade of the building (although I also threw around some ideas with a skyline and a train landscape). I'm a big fan of Filmore Posters from artists like Brian Graham and Bonnie MacLean - so you'll definitely see their influence here in color and style.

The Soul Train poster will be given away with event ticket purchases which can be made at the Adirondack Scenic Railroad's website, at the train station, or at

I've also been creating posters for DJ Ease One's gigs at Lukin's Brick Oven Pizza on Varick Street in Utica. DJ Ease One plays a mix of hip hop and R&B with some classics in the mix. Go see him you'll have a blast! 

Late Autumn Class Schedule

Maria ValleseComment

Looking for something to do now that the weather is cooling down and the kids are off to school? How about getting in touch with your creative side? Classes at Signature 81 are the perfect way to find a new hobby or talent. I offer several affordable classes in everything from drawing and painting to crocheting. Below you'll find a list of classes and workshops I'll be teaching this fall and into December. You can also find this list on the Calendar page of this website. 

Note: My drawing classes will start up again after the Christmas holidays. 

You can sign up for any one of these classes at Signature 81's website, visiting their chic new shop at 13 College Street in Clinton, or by giving them a call at 315-269-7799. Don't see something you like here? There's a whole list of classes offered by the talented teaching staff of Signature 81 that you can find on their website calendar! 

Introduction to Colored Pencil

Dates & Time: 

  • Tuesday October 6th, 13th and 20th, 6-9PM

3 week Class

Intro to Colored Pencil explores the different techniques that can be used to create beautiful artwork with colored pencils. Colored pencils are portable, lightweight, inexpensive and can create a piece that looks like a painting. In this workshop you will explore mixing and layering colors, using different types of paper, and learn how to take care of your finished colored pencil piece. We will be using artist-grade colored pencils and each student will have the opportunity to go home with a finished piece of art. 

$125.00, all materials included. 

Max: 6 students


Pastel Painting

Dates & Time: 

  • Sundays October 4th, 11th and 18th 10AM-1PM

3 Week Class

Pastel Painting explores different techniques and styles used to create vivid and colorful artwork with pastels. In this class, students will explore color mixing and layering techniques with both oil pastel and chalk pastel, along with different papers and surfaces. Preservation of finished artwork will also be discussed. We will be using artist-grade pastels and each student has the opportunity to go home with a finished piece of art at the end of the 3 week class. 

$150.00, all materials included. 

Max: 6 students


Basically Hooked

1 to 3 Sessions

Basically Hooked is a series of one session classes that explore different crochet techniques, styles, patterns and projects. Each class is categorized by skill level (beginner, intermediate and advanced). Classes will cover pattern reading, stitches, care of finished products, etc. Students will have the opportunity to go home with a finished project after each class. 

Classes may be purchased at a fixed single price of $35 for each class or 3 for $90. All materials included. 

Beginnner = ✽

Intermediate = ✽✽

Advanced = ✽✽✽

Dates and Times: 

  • Wednesday, September 16th 6:30-8:30: Mug Cozy with Pocket ✽✽
  • Wednesday, September 23rd 6:30-8:30: Thread Crochet ✽✽✽
  • Wednesday, September 30th 6:30-8:30: Bow Hair Clip ✽
  • Wednesday, October 7th 6:30-8:30: Wine Flip Flop ✽✽
  • Wednesday, October 14th 6:30-8:30: Sunflowers ✽✽✽
  • Wednesday, October 21st 6:30-8:30: Easy Coffee Cozie ✽
  • Wednesday, October 28th 6:30-8:30: Chunky Quickie Hats ✽✽
  • Wednesday, November 4th 6:30-8:30: Picture Frames ✽✽✽
  • Wednesday, November 11th 6:30-8:30: Granny Square Coaster ✽
  • Wednesday, November 18th 6:30-8:30: Maple Leaf Garland ✽✽
  • Wednesday, November 25th - No class
  • Wednesday, December 2nd 6:30-8:30: Amigurumi Christmas Tree ✽✽✽
  • Wednesday, December 9th 6:30-8:30: Ice Skate ornaments ✽
  • Wednesday, December 16th, 6:30-8:30: Country Chic Star Ornament ✽✽

Max: 8 students

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!