Our Tuscan Sketching Life


Sunday September 28 ’14

Another hot sunny day in Tuscany. How much of this can one take!

Into the Studio by 9.30 and we’d be looking at eye level and perspective.  I have a simple little graph I get people to do into their books, which as we do it line by line helps to explain how to see where all lines go.

We talk about that and people begin to get the idea of seeing the shapes and which way they go, depending if it’s above or below your eye level.  Once you’ve got it you’re away.

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Away we go up and up till we reach the little village of Sommoocolonia.  As we walk up the view just gets more amazing, with it’s dusky lilacs and soft blues in the distance.

The sketching brief was to follow this morning’s warmup by doing either the bell tower or the red brick villa, thinking about where your eye level is, and going from there.


Lots of measuring with a straight arm was happening so I knew we were on track. In fact everyone was pretty good with this, and only a few tweaks to make it work where needed.

Most chose the red villa as you could have the sun behind you. The bell tower could be sketched out of the sun if you moved about a little.

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A very friendly fellow with a basket of freshly picked vegetables and his 3 dogs walked past. He returned a few minutes later with a large rusty key and wanted us to follow him down to the base of the bell tower, to see the war museum. We worked that out.

Most people don’t get this opportunity as there’s never anyone around to show it to you.

Outside was an American flag and an Italian one. We entered and there was an incredible collection of memorabilia from that fateful time in 1942 when the Germans came through and fought this last little bunch of buffalo soldiers who held out for 3 days before being overpowered. I’m thinking one man must have escaped, as he’s in the photo of the platoon in 1942 and in the reunion one in 1980. I know he and his brigade were heroes but were not recognised as such – being black!

We painted on and completed a couple of works, thinking how different things would have been here at that time.

Now it’s a quiet piece of paradise and a marvellous place to paint or sketch.


Back home for lunch at our big outdoor table overlooking the pool and sketches being polished up or even more started.

We were out to dinner tonight and decided to have drinks at Giovanni’s beforehand.

Milton was having a wardrobe meltdown before we went out, cos his white shirt wouldn’t do up!

The ladies thought this was hilarious and he’s only been here a few days.

Pink spritzers and white wine was ordered and a happy band of sketchers were we.

Giovanni was in fine form kissing and hugging the ladies. He is a bit of a showman having appeared in the local opera once.

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Round the corner to L’Osteria we went at the appointed time and were seated at our outdoor table.

We so enjoyed the tasty first platter of cold cuts then one pasta followed by another. Please tell me there’s no more pleaded one sketcher beside me.

Of course, there’s a main to follow and then a dessert, then coffee….

Groan, Ok I’ll try.

The food is so gorgeous but you do feel there may be more than is needed.

The Italians like to be generous with food. As we’ve discovered daily. Home we went and were very pleased to fall into our beds after a very fun evening.

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Monday September 29 ’14.IMG_9833

Monday September 29 ’14.

We’re very settled now in our Italian home. Every need taken care of. Gorgeous places to go each day. We even sketch all hours of the day and into the evening.

Nobody has to but everyone likes adding more sketches of things they are attracted to, to their sketch journals.

The books are looking so different and interesting now as each one works their pages in their different styles.

One sketcher had used paper receipts, tickets etc, pasted them in and sketched over the top. Really effective and a great way to keep memorabilia.

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Something different today. We sketched an Italian fruit bowl with wine bottle beside, using firstly our left hand and then our right hand.

Some actually preferred their ‘other hand’ one. This is a great exercise to force you to loosen up, and a very good way to get to be more ambidextrous, as one girls’ surgeon has insisted  – everybody should. Saves the day if you ever have a stroke!

The top centre sketch is by a sketcher who has to use her left hand now because of a brain operation. She actually did an amazing sketch using her partly disabled right hand. She continued all day using her ‘other hand’ and says she will try more, to help her regain it’s use. She is very happy for me to share this information with you.


We’d be spending the morning at Bruno Cordati Palazzo Studio.

The Studio is down narrow laneways we now are very familiar with, at the top of the building via winding old concrete stairs.

The views from each window are the classic red tiled roofs, church and bell towers and of course lines of laundry hanging between balconies, flapping in the warm air.

First of course was our morning coffee at Giovanni’s and he just loves seeing all the ladies now.

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Meantime I was checking out a beautiful B&B nearby, with, I must add, the best view of Barga old town I’ve seen. We’ll be having some of our sketchers here as well as at the farmhouse so that we can offer up to 12 places next June. Just gorgeous.

We’ll be sketching from here as a location anyway.

With our window sketches completed and looking very charming, we decided to either carry on sketching lane ways, or wander and explore and perhaps do a little last minute shopping.

Most loved that quirky shop called Vaso Di Pandora, with the crazy patterned barber’s chair in the window, and most of us have found gorgeous and different small gifts there. For one sketcher, a glittery outfit was her big purchase. They loved us in there!

For some, the gelato was enough to make them very happy.

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With a free afternoon, after our beautiful Tuscan salad with bread and cheese at home, most decided to plan their packing and then come back to the table to sketch. It was dark before some came in and we were well into our aperitifs.

We do enjoy our evening meals at home and this one with a divine lasagne then followed by Tiramisu was to die for. Our last dinner together. Awwwww.

We had some lovely tributes to one another and enjoyed a wonderful last meal together. Once again our group is like family and Chris and Krysia loved having us.

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We had such a laugh when the orange cat, we hardly see, sat staring down from the staircase. Krysia then stretches up, places her tiramisu plate on the stairs, and the cat has a party. He really likes dessert she says. Ah he’s one of us.

We knew the time had come to see the movie of ourselves. A little limoncello, some almond biscotti and we’re ready to begin.

We are quite enthralled to see ourselves in the locations we’ve sketched in and not realizing we were being photographed. We are deeply into our sketching. The world could blow up and we wouldn’t notice till we got the last of the colour on.

And so concludes our absolutely gorgeous week. We will simply say to ourselves this is not goodbye as we will promise ourselves we’ll return.




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