Lucca 2014 – Week Two!

Everyone enjoyed the two day break on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a special day for me as I met Erin Hill for the first time. Erin is from Australia and we’ve followed each other’s blogs for a long time. We realized last week that we were both in Tuscany, leading groups of artists. Erin brought her gang in to Lucca on Saturday morning and we all met in the Antiteatro.


I had a few jobs to do over the weekend. I never stop looking for good painting and sketching sites, particularly ones that offer shelter from inclement weather. Also, I prepare for lessons and demonstrations. Rain was in the forecast for Monday (it never happened, fortunately) so I visited a covered section of the wall. I made these two watercolour sketches to give the group some ideas about incorporating the arches into their compositions. On Monday morning, we talked mostly about simplification, editing and value.

Watercolour demonstrations by Barry Coombs

After our discussion/demonstration, everyone hiked into the nearby Porta San Pietro area and got to work. I spent most of the day hanging around the group to offer feedback. Occasionally, I wandered up and down neighbouring streets with my camera and it’s not difficult to find interesting and charming subjects.



IMG_3044  IMG_3043

IMG_3036  IMG_3042


Another great day winds down and we have another critique at the Hotel Rex.





As a little something different, I had issued everyone with a blank watercolour postcard in the morning. They were all asked to complete a postcard over the course of the day. We looked at them after the regular critique and held a People’s Choice vote. The winner was Dottie! Her postcard is third from the right in the bottom row.


Tuesday was our day to visit Cinqueterre, the famous ‘Five Lands’ on the Ligurian coast. It was mostly a day of sightseeing as we took the train to Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare before boarding a boat to the fascinating and historic town of Portovenere. Still, a few of our dedicated artists managed to do a bit of sketching.




Our final full day of painting was Wednesday and we marched up to the Villa Guinigi Museum. The museum has wonderful arches which allowed us to paint indoors or out without worrying about rain. However, our  good fortune continued and it was a beautiful precipitation-free day.

I gathered the group together for a pen and watercolour demonstration. I had done the watercolour portion in two steps several days prior. It was ready for me to work in some pen while the group watched and asked questions. With the first step, I’d established the light and shadow with a cool grey wash mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. When that was dry, I’d ‘glazed’ local colour over the appropriate areas. I used a drawing pen with Sepia ink for the line work.

Photo courtesy of  Evelyn Cunningham

Photo courtesy of
Evelyn Cunningham

Step one of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step two of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Step three of pen and watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs


IMG_3081  IMG_3076

Our critique at the hotel featured an exciting mix of sketches and more sustained watercolours. Everyone has made strides since we arrived in Lucca.





Thursday was a free day and we held our Final Critique in the late afternoon. After that, there were a few hours to pack and prepare for our return trip before enjoying our Farewell Dinner at a very nice local restaurant.

It was a great trip and our wonderful guide, Paola Romano, helped keep everything on an even keel. She certainly made my life much easier. Everyone contributes to a successful painting holiday. Our group was punctual, thoughtful, hard-working and inclusive. Thanks go out to all of them and to you for following and commenting. Grazie mille!


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4 Responses to “Lucca 2014 – Week Two!”

  1. Joan Wolfe Says:

    Again, thoroughly enjoyed your trip. Amazed at the wonderful growth in the quality of the paintings, reflecting on that just before your comment. Loved the commentary, the lessons, seeing the art generated, and your wonderful photographs. Thank you so much for sharing with us this way. Greatly appreciated.

  2. Carol King Says:

    I really enjoyed travelling with you (if only in my imagination). Loved seeing your demos and your students’ work as well as the gorgeous pictures.

  3. Lois Says:

    Hi Barry,
    Thanks always for Sharing, all. Such Beautiful Pictures and all
    the Students art too.
    Checked out every detail of each picture and paintings,drawings.
    Amazing what you see!
    Thanks again,

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