Reflections and Other Images

Today is my last full Monday in Florence. Having just finished another ‘first day’ of figure drawing (this week we’re doing portraits in charcoal – of real people) I gave myself a little time to reflect on my last three weeks here. I’m sure I’ve said this already – but, it’s been an absolute whirlwind of art, tourism, eating, and making friends. I feel like I’ve barely had time for a nap! There’s going to be time for sleep when I’m home, right?

I haven’t been able to update as often as I would have liked, but this week instead of glueing myself to the Internet, I’ve been going to sketch classes:

first sketch class

second week

Going to the Pitti Palace and surrounding gardens for some drawing practice with my new friend, Iona:

Iona sketches a big ol' naked dude

Gallery in the Palazzo Pitti

sketch of lounging park goer

And eating some delicious food (and gelato, because it’s in its own category) – unfortunately I haven’t taken any pictures of these places, but I’ll remedy that situation for my next post, so you’ll have to settle for google pics:

GustaPizza's signature pizza

La Carraia Gelateria

Regarding what I’ve learned, I can already tell that my eye is getting better and my hand is improving as well. This afternoon I noticed I could commit to a line and draw back from the paper to look, only to see that I was more delicate, deliberate, quick and accurate with my pencil. This may seem a little silly, but having done this every day for weeks straight, I can tell you it’s nice to be less frustrated with my work than I am satisfied with what I’ve accomplished! On Friday I think I’ll post a day-by-day picture set of my last figure drawing, so we can all see what work is done in three hours every day, for five days.

This is last Thursday’s figure – the only sitting pose that we labored over. What a trial that was!

All this improvement and frustration and concentration and general *hard work* adds up. I am so glad to have taken a chance on myself, and to have put myself out there! There’s a lot of value in trying something new, whether it is living alone, traveling abroad, or taking a class in something you’ve never really tried before! That’s my advice for today: do something new. You might surprise yourself with how capable you are!

And if nothing else comes of it, you’ll meet new people with new perspectives and experience:

From left: Iona, Sam, and me!

That’s enough for today! You’ll hear from me on Friday!

Of long days and late nights, or, Figure Drawing May Kill You But You’ll Like It

Whew. I finally have an hour or so to sit down and relax!

These last couple of days have been both extremely rewarding and extremely exhausting. Combining jet lag, living without A/C, late nights and 6+ hours of drawing a day will get to you. Yes, I’ve been drawing all day every day since Monday morning at 9 am, which has been paired nicely with evenings out with my family before they moved on to Rome, as well a some sight-seeing and getting to know my roommates.

Duomo

Duomo interior

But, classes are just as amazing as Florence itself. The students – some with minimal experience – are all learning through the sight-size method used by artists since the Renaissance (artists who drew or painted their subjects proportionally). The idea is to stand far enough away that the entirety of the subject of your art will fit comfortably on the page/canvas and from there you can measure quite precisely the proportions of your work because of its closeness to reality. This theory comes from the idea that art should be looked at feet away as opposed to up close (which may be what you’ll find to be the norm in a crowded museum), which may remind you of the Impressionists:

Monet in Venice

Look at any Monet, like this study done in Venice, up close and you’ll get rainbow vomit. Not very sorry for that visual. However, stand back ten feet and you’re looking at a lovely study of light.

I quite enjoy the method because it is that – methodical, and requires organizing yourself, maintaining a routine and paying very close attention to detail.

my work with charcoal next to the real thing

The potential issue with drawing sight-size is – you must continue to stand back around 4-9 feet to look at your subject, and then walk forward to make a mark on the page. You can’t look around your easel to see if you’re doing it right, because it doesn’t look the same from nearly ten feet closer! So, I may have walked miles already, but not around the city… Just back and forth across the studio.

life drawing

Despite my fatigue, I will continue to persevere to live the life here in Florence, starting with a gelato on the way to my flat before I head off to an evening lecture in art history! Looks like a long day ahead, and it’s already four!

I’ll leave you with my first figure drawing, and hopefully will have an update at the end of the weekend!

first drawing with sight-size