Diversionary Tactics

by Sandra Bruce

Hello, readers…I’ve been working on an online class in how to do Material Matrix!

Therefore….I  don’t have much to show in the way of what I’ve been up to…it’s been lots of writing, re-writing, experiments with lights, and just plain figuring it all out before we start taping hopefully next week. As you can see below, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Many people have asked me over the last few years about teaching online…. Zoom isn’t the right platform for me. People need to see up close what I’m doing when I demonstrate, clearly and with precise instruction. That’s why I decided to go the route of CourseCraft. It will be the type of class that can be saved and viewed whenever convenient. I’m putting in a LOT of instruction, tips, and visuals with what I think will be 1-1/2 hours of video. So…stay tuned for the announcement that it is done and ready to purchase, if you are interested or know someone who might be. I will offer a discount for any past students who want a “refresher”, either from Zephyr attendees or people who have taken my workshop with their guild. Zephyr students in 2021 will benefit from this too…they’ll have a leg up come next Fall.


I haven’t allowed myself any sewing while I’m working on my CourseCraft offering. Delaying gratification! But sometimes I do go off on a tangent and find myself in a rabbit hole. I came across a photo I took in Italy years ago, from a slide, and couldn’t remember the exact location. It was bugging me. Next thing I knew, I had dragged out boxes and boxes of slides from Italy trips I’ve taken, literally hundreds, (slides, not trips!) and was busily scanning my favorites into my computer. My scanner will take slides, but only one at a time. I started sharing them on Instagram and FaceBook, which was fun for me (further diversion) and I made some new friends along the way, while reliving some of the wonderful trips I have had in Italy. Since that is what I’ve been doing, I will share a few here, and hopefully provide you with a bit of diversion too. Keep in mind they were taken with a real camera, and mostly in the late 80’s and 90’s, so the quality isn’t what you get with today’s cameras. Those of you who follow me and have seen those I’ve posted, there are a few new ones here. Here they are, in no particular order:

This has been the most popular of my photos that I posted on IG and FB, and is of a street artist reproducing the painting by Caravaggio (one of my favorite painters), “Judith Beheading Holofernes”, the original of which hangs in Rome. I have no idea how long it takes to reproduce such a detailed painting in chalk, on knees, like this…and the sadness that must come when it rains! He’s done a fantastic job.

Sometimes a photo will really take you back to the time it was taken, as the photo above does for me. Here is my traveling companion, and our friend who lives in Villach, Austria, which is very close to the Italian border. We were walking through this very lush and prolific field of lupine, and being grateful for this beautiful place of nature.

Also from that day…we 4 went to a bistro for snacks of cheese, cold-cuts and local beer. As we were leaving the village Dieter pulled off the side of the road, took lawn chairs out of his trunk, and full of our afternoon snacking we lazily sunned ourselves on this hillside, looking over the valley with Yugoslavia just on the other side of that mountain range.

Back to Italy….and one of my most memorable meals, ever! I have been fortunate to be a guest of this family in Fabriano, the Sorcis, who own a restaurant and hotel. Here is Sunday dinner, polenta being slathered onto a big wooden board that was part of this family’s weekly tradition. On top of this polenta came sautéed young asparagus, which had been picked that morning, and was heavenly. Each of the 6 or so of us gathered around this board was given a fork and napkin, and dinner commenced. Have any of you readers experienced such a tradition?

Fabriano’s claim to fame is its paper making. If you go to any art supply store you will see handmade paper from there. There are paper stores everywhere in Fabriano, and a nice exhibit, as you see here, showing how paper is made. I brought home some wonderful samples and a paper purse.

The Collegiate Church, in the Tuscany hill town of San Gimignano, is one of those churches that looks quite ordinary on the outside, but the view takes your breath away when you step inside. It is filled with frescoes and paintings. I was amused by these gentlemen, sitting outside the church on a Sunday afternoon, smoking cigars, watching passersby, and chatting in the local dialect. A slice of life.

In the “old days” before iPhones and selfies, and when traveling alone, if you wanted your picture taken you had to ask a stranger to please take your picture. I have many of these…here in the Roman Forum I am drawing in my sketchbook.

Although….you could set up your camera and do a timed exposure…which I did here. I spent a week in Sardinia painting and sightseeing. I was there in May and had most of the hotels and beaches practically to myself. I had just taken an Italian language course and got plenty of practice here, as English is not as prevalent in Sardinia.

This very charming statue, “Il Pescatore” (“The Fisher Boy”) by Vincenzo Gemito, resides in The Bargello, one of Florence’s many museums. The Uffizi gets most of the limelight, but I think The Bargello is a gem and sometimes overlooked. Donatello’s “David” is here too. This fisher boy captured my heart and is so sweet. You can really see the fish squirming in his hands as he struggles to hang on to it. 

Another shot from Florence. A “Bar”….I wish we had such places to stop in the morning for a quick espresso, or a mid-day Negroni, perhaps?

Italians are good designers. Here, a sign for a glove shop. I love those colors together.

On this trip, with a friend, I spent most of my time taking shots of our feet and the beautiful mosaic floors that are everywhere.  Romulus and Remus are depicted here.

A closeup of some beautiful stonework.

I’ll bet there are millions of shots like this one, of Vernazza, my favorite town of the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a collection of 5 villages, connected on the ocean by a footpath, or “passeggiata”, that is about 7 miles long. I walked 3 of the 5, and visited the others by train. Truly breathtaking scenery! A friend was telling me she was there hiking, and passed French women on the path wearing heels and smoking cigarettes….I cannot imagine!

I’ll make this the last one…a happy face, obviously in Venice, riding in a gondola at sunset. Our gondoleer’s name was Sandro. I hope you have been able to be diverted for a few minutes from our crazy world right now, and that you are inspired in some small way!

Stay tuned for news about my online course, follow me on Instagram at sbruce1955, and on FaceBook at Sandra Bruce Creative, if you aren’t already a follower. Ciao!

10 thoughts on “Diversionary Tactics

  1. What wonderful memories of a beautiful country! I remember growing up (in the US) and eating a meal at my Italian grandmothers home. Giant wooden boards on the tables with polenta spread all over. Us grandkids had our own table and would make designs in the polenta as we ate. Yummy and fun!!

  2. As the years roll by, I have to think
    I may not ever make it to Venice myself – especially now w) these trying times. However – the shot of Sando w) The Girl in the Gondola somehow satisfied my vivid imagination of being there. What a fabulous photo! And I’m sure – a cherished memory of yours. Many thanks for sharing.

    • Rebecca, I hope you can get there someday! If not, there are so many wonderful videos on YouTube, etc. that you can watch. It’s one of the most “other worldly” places on this earth I have seen. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s