Under the Tuscan Sun.


Thursday September 18th

Another day which looked like rain but again was hot and blue.

Into the Studio we went fro our warmup sketch.  I don’t say what it will be beforehand, but we would be doing perspective.  Lots of those skills are required when you start sketching the shapes of Tuscany.

Chris our host and wonderful artist and art tutor was adding some vital pearls of wisdom to help our sketchers ‘see’.  We started right back at the basics. A cube.

Everyone had a go at drawing a cube on the board. Ok.  Now lets sketch the real thing. Firstly from being seated, then standing and another moving to another position.  This is much more intense than you think, and from the oohs and aaahs it was clear that we were beginning to ‘see’.

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All our cube sketching was going to come in very handy when we headed off to town and up into the old town of Barga.

Of course coffee was our first port of call, so up the cobbled lanes we wandered, headed for the square which had the tiny cafe we knew served the best coffee.

So tiny and so filled with treasures and bricabrac and things you couldn’t believe anyone would think to collect. All of these add add to the atmosphere as the aroma of coffee fills the air.


Up up up we go, clambering and weaving our way round old stone steps and pathways.

Finally we are at the top. And oh what a view. No army of invaders would have a chance of sneaking up down there.

Here we began our first sketches, in the shade of course.  Now our new knowledge of perspective would come into play.

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We headed back down the the square and to Cafe Cappreze for lunch on their gorgeous balcony, with Barga spread below us. On Tuscan time, we would spend a few hours dining, sketching and having a lot of laughs. We can amuse ourselves over anything at all.

More sketching, a little shopping, a big fat gelato and home we headed.


Our hosts had said they’d be out for the evening so like naughty children, we started on the aperitifs, plugged in Andre Bocelli and got ourselves totally in the mood for dancing.

Singing along, one of our sketchers was sure she was performing on stage with Andre. We were in hysterics as she sang into a broom handle with such emotion.

Clothes were being discarded as the dancers swayed and swooned around the terrace. Oh what a night.

We had a very funny conversation this morning when our host said ‘you left your top on the photocopier last night, and if Teddy had found that in the night, who knows what would have happened!

Teddy is the 11 month old husky/cross pup, who loves to find your shoes and clothes and  chew them to bits!!!!!

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Friday September 19 ’14


It was definitely going to rain today but it didn’t dampen our feelings about Tuscany in the least.

Simply being immersed in the life of sketching in such a magnificent location is something very special.  We wander up to the Studio and the students are aware that there is no table or still life set up.

Chris will work with me this morning on our subject.  People.

Chris gives a brief background to the stages of learning we go through in drawing, and the ways which the human form is drawn and painted over the centuries. However now we will see for ourselves, how to observe the human.


We start with some quick exercises to hasten our ability to see and sketch at the same time.  We all take turns at modelling and we end up with a collection of sketches of people in all sorts of poses.  A perfect start to follow on in the village of Cascio, where we will spend the day.

This must be one of the littlest walled villages around.  You can walk round in 10 minutes, 5 if you hurry.  It was well and truly raining cats and dogs by the time we arrived, so we scurried into Gloriana’s cafe and bar to order our caffein hit.


What a great place this is. Part cafe, bar, shop, and home.  We almost fill the place and we are made very welcome.

At another table sits a lone fellow, who’s name turns out to be Guiseppe.  He has a glass of pink something and we all look at him and go, ‘yes there’s our first cafe sketch.

Actually Guiseppe was very pleased to have so many ladies all focussed on him, and he sat very regally while we all worked quickly, fresh from our morning session doing just this.

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Still raining but Gloriana had set up our lunch, so we moved from one room to the next.  Little did we know what a session it would be.

Now Gloriana is known for her generosity with her amazing lunches, so we were in for a treat.  Great platters of meats, cheeses, tomato/tuna salads, eggs and beans, and fresh bread.  We all took a serving which we were happy with and began to tuck in, along with big bottles of red and white wine. Absolutely delicious.

Then Gloriana is back encouraging us to eat more, faster.  We were afraid to disobey and had at least 4 more plates filled as she spooned more on to any plate that looked even partly empty.


When you hear the shuffling of her shoes, you know Gloriana is back to feed you.    This time, satisfied we couldn’t get any more in, she brought the blueberry tart, fresh peaches and coffee.

As we finished the word was obviously out that the sketchers were in town, and some of the locals were keen to be sketched.  We managed to roll from the table back to the bar and there we had 3 lovely chaps all posing at the table, all hoping to be sketched.

As one of our sketchers said, ‘it’s like speed dating! Two minutes each.’  We all laughed and did an excellent job although we say so ourselves.

Actually we’re going to make a copy of them and they can keep those.

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Luckily the sun was coming out and we could at last get to walk around this lovely village and see what it was all about.

Up the hill we staggered and past the big house at the top with the amazing garden and where I remember they have tortoises living under the shrubs.  One of the owners, a very lovely lady, asked if we were the artists from Australia and would we like to come in and see the garden.

Word had certainly got out!  Ah well, it was working for us.  Quite beautiful and we were enthralled by the lemons, roses, massive tomatoes, and of course the baby tortoises under the leaves.  We finished our circuit of the wall and decided to do a last sketch of the day.

Our transport arrived just at the right time for us to complete our works and pile on board ready for a nice cuppa tea.  We didn’t have a lot of room for dinner, but we certainly enjoyed the light selection after Gloriana’s feast.

Another amazing day to be sure.

©ErinHillStudio Sept14.

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