Continuing Journeys in Tuscany


Monday September 22 ’14

The sun is up and rising high in the sky. We are having what we dreamed of here in Tuscany. Cobalt blue skies and Cad Yellow hot sun, with high hills, walled cities, pencil pines and rough red tiled roofs at funny angles.

Sydney it ain’t.

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In the Studio we were continuing our ‘going away’ concept and would be doing a stack of oblong boxes at differing angles.

Imagine you are looking out of a Tuscan window and looking down on the rooftops and seeing how they ‘go away’ into the distance.  In fact that is exactly what we would be doing later this morning.

Chris was working with us again and ran through how in history artists have come up with many devices to try to show distance and perspective.   He’d done a red conté demo sketch with eye level and vanishing points, as a sample of how things look from where YOU are.

The box exercise was very successful and followed on with this thinking.


Off to old Barga, and straight to Guiseppe’s cafe for a great caffeine hit. It’s our local so he knows us now. He brought out a taste of almond cream pie. Nyum.

Once the big doors to Bruno Cordati’s Palazzo opened, we headed up to the very top to the gorgeous mural painted Studio.

This level is only open by private arrangement so we felt very privileged to paint here, and the views over Barga are quite magical.

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Bruno Cordati was a Barga boy who painted in an impressionist style, the poor italians who suffer greatly after Mussolini’s time and it upset him greatly. For him it was cathartic to paint the world as he saw it then.

His grandson now manages the Palazzo and keeps the lovely old building and museum and Bruno’s memory alive.

We each chose a window and sketched in the frame. Once that was there to contain it, in goes the view.

Use colour on your view and then establish whether your frame or glass needs to be darker or not. You decide. What do you think will work?


Next would be another classic Tuscan scene – alleyways.

Everyone found a spot and got stuck in. We were getting pressed for time so it meant getting this one down quick smart. They often work very well for that reason.

Then home for a lovely bread, cheese, meat platter and olive lunch.  We love to be outside at the big table, sipping on wine, embibing in Tuscan food and sketching in between.

So the hot afternoon whiled away and nothing but the bees, birds and babbling brook could be heard.

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Dinner would be a special one and our hosts would join us. We had a fabulous time discussing the different worlds we all come from and how the sharing and caring nature of sketching could solve many problems worldwide.

That’s our view, we know it works, so we’re sticking to it.

After dinner in the upstairs sitting room with some serious after dinner drinks, we watched the DVD Chris had made from photos he’d been taking all week.  We just loved seeing ourselves in the places we’d been, doing things we didn’t know we were doing!!!! Hilarious.

But we must return to other worlds and continue our sharing caring sketching adventure.  Ciao everyone.


Tuesday September 23 ’14


It was an earlier breakfast than usual, as our gorgeous group would be departing Tuscany for pastures further afield.

Most were headed for South of France, Cinque Terre, Rome and good heavens one even back to Sydney, but with a day or so in Pisa to get used to the idea.

Early afternoon we greeted some new sketchers, keen to find out what this travel sketching was all about and to immerse themselves in a week of doing only that. No care. No responsibility. Pure enjoyment.

We had the most beautiful Tuscan day with sun and clear skies. The pool was glittering and inviting – which several succumbed to. Very invigorating they said.

We all sat in the shade under the pergola for our first lunch together.

Mari had put out a wonderful spread of meats, cheeses, tomatoes, artichokes and fresh bread. We are pretty keen on the food as you can tell.

One of our previous girls had said she was going to eat her way round Italy. She changed her mind after a few days. I think I already have she said. Easily done.

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Mid afternoon after everyone was settled in and feeling comfortable with everyone else, we would meet at the outdoor table for our first sketch.

I’d found a few pink flowers and some greenery and made a couple of still life setups.

We would begin at the beginning and work out which way our sketch would go on our page. Depending on where you were sitting of course.

Before long we had completed pink flower sketches all entirely different and all feeling very happy. First sketch in this glorious location nailed.

A bit of time out for everyone and we’d meet for aperitifs at 6.30pm. Very nice pink ones with lethal things in there but darned tasty. Everyone was feeling very laid-back by now.

Dinner was served in the dining room and we loved all the 3 courses with wines and coffee to round it off.

Somehow eyes were closing and a few decided their comfy beds were calling, so in fact we all toddled off till the morning. Nighty night all.


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