More Tuscan Sketching Days


Friday September 26 ’14

Today we would be starting on ‘people’ in the Studio.

Chris gave a quick run through on our development drawings from early childhood and how we would now try our own grownup version of people. Hoping for a difference!  Visual measuring is our best way to get some sense of comparing one shape against another.

Chris was the first model, and stood for 1 minute while everyone had a go at getting the body in some kind of divine proportion.  Then It was me. A differing angle so that one would have to think quickly about where the shapes were and how they related to each other.

Then 2 people.  Get them as though they are having conversation.  All sketches were terrific and would make a big difference when we went to Cascio today.

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Into the van and away. Into Gloriana”s we raced and ordered our coffee to enjoy outside under the flower covered portico.

No locals hovering today, but we were very happy to sketch one another, and in fact people just raced into it with newfound confidence. Good colour plenty of whites and heaps of character.

We then took a walk around this tiny walled town to get an idea of where we’d sketch after lunch.


In one direction, the view overlooking the whole valley as far as our village of Barga and beyond. Lavender hills behind soft greens and blues. Watching for the softness as it goes back.

In the other direction up the hill, and round the corner to the stone villa where the tortoises live. A family member kindly opened the gate and we were able to see the beauty of this garden with it’s potted lemon, pomegranate and pear trees.

We are amazed at the generosity and kindness of the local Italians we have met, and how generous they are, showing us places , inviting us into their gardens, offering food. We seem to have lost this sharing and friendliness somewhere along the way. In fact as one of our sketchers commented, if you saw strangers wandering round your garden, you’d call the police!

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Further over were the roses the herbs and under the vines were kiwi fruit in their hundreds. Unbelievable. You would have all your food fresh from the garden everyday.

We stopped here for a while and sketched something from the is glorious location.

The little tortoises were camouflaged beneath the grass of the netted area where they live. Lots of oohs and aaaahs as we discovered little patterned backs we hadn’t noticed.


Gloriana’s lunch was calling so we ambled down the hill and of course she was waiting at the door to welcome us in.

When all were seated she brought out great platters of thinly sliced meats, beans with egg, tomato salad, fresh crusty bread, and a soft cheese to die for. We loved this very homely cooking in her own dining room/bar with all the curios filling every space in every room.

Once we had completely overdone it we staggered out and decided where our afternoon sketch would be.

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A few tired little heads were nodding as the hot sun beat down and we wished we could dose off.  No matter, more sketches happened and by days end we had an excellent sketches and very happy people.  We have learned so much and it’s being put into effect.

After our drinks on the patio, we could help ourselves to the tasty broccoli flan, grain and green salads.  Our hosts were out for the evening and we did manage to behave in a very responsible manner, more or less. Only a few outbursts of hysteria.

We would be getting away earlier in the morning so everyone toddled off to get their beauty sleep. ZZZzzz.

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Saturday September 27 ’14


Saturday September 27 ’14

Just say the word to get up early, and our sketchers are all sitting having their muesli and toast, with proverbial coffee at the appointed hour.  Today was our Lucca adventure.

Get to the station, buy your tickets at the little bar, and have it punched in the machine.  Ready to go.

Train arrives and we hoist ourselves inelegantly up the steps and find a seat. We decide 2nd class suburban train seats are better than some airline seats.

A nice relaxed time looking out the window and we are there.

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What unbelievable weather we are having. Sunny and blue, not a breath of wind. A perfect Tuscany day.

We have our map with the line I’d drawn on it, starting at the station, leading around to Piazza  San Michele, where we like to have our first coffee, then along Via Roma to Via Fulongo to the Art shop. Then back to Anfiteatro where the amphitheatre was and is now houses and boutiques lined with cafes.

This is our sketching place.  The test here is how to get those houses in a circle, looking like that on paper.  We did some hard core observation and soon everyone could work it out.  Getting it sketched is tricky but doable.


Later we felt a Tuscan lunch was in order and after Milton had waylaid my people with a series of shops he felt they needed to see, (and of course make purchases) we found a table for our large group at a favourite spot just off the main shopping thoroughfare.

Oh what a life. Great company, great food, and great sketching.

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After this we all went our own ways and would meet back at the station in time for our train.

Our shopping expert found the Vogue/Laduree department store which we couldn’t resist having a little look around. It used to be just beautifully boxed macarons, but somehow has expanded to be way more than that. Mainly clothing and giftware.

Three of us decided to pose for the next cover of Vogue outside in front of the smart cafes lining the black carpet.

We know this will be  a hit. Beauty comes in surprise packages!


The train gave us a good chance to rest our weary bones and relax.

Our station was coming up and we headed to the door – we thought.

Last week I had let all the sketchers alight the train before I attempted to and got stuck in the door. One arm and foot waving in the breeze.

This week I couldn’t even find the door!

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Several others followed me, as I’m supposed to be their fearless leader!  Milton was banging on the doors hoping they’d open but to no avail.

We ran back to where we thought other doors were, but they seemed to have vanished.  Milton found an open door and jumped in to save us, as we leaped out as a door re-opened.

We are out, but he and his hat are now in!!  Then in the nick of time out he leaps, our valiant knight in blue jeans.  There is something about me and train doors Chris thinks. Really. I’ll try harder next time.

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A few drinks outside in the balmy warm evening air and we have very noisy conversations about anything at all.

Mari has made pizza bases and Chris has the pizza oven fired up to tremendous heat.

Each decorates their own from the selection of toppings and into the oven it goes.

Soooooo yummy and utterly delicious. Our gluten and dairy free girl is stunned. Mari has just made her the best pizza she’s ever had. It’s made with a special Italian finely ground flour just for pizzas. She’s had brilliant meals while here and it makes a world of difference if you know you you’re eating well.

We are all having a pretty jolly time by this stage of the week and lots of laughter all round as we share each others photos of mad moments and tell tales of funny things we’ve done. Some of the ladies insisted Milton do a Haka, which he did with great gusto.  People were fading and another excellent day comes to a close.


One comment

  1. Your students are all doing so well! I know you are having a wonderful time in Tuscany. It looks very much like the trip when I took 8 students to Provence – we are all having many happy memories reading about yours. (See – at the beginning – for the Sippers French adventures.)


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