Saturday started very slow after a late night on Friday. I finished the blog post for week 19. Did laundry and worked on my charcoal cast drawing in the afternoon. In the evening I went to the opening of a portrait show at the Florence Academy of Art featuring the portrait of one gentleman (Victor Caulfield). Each painting was set in a different historical theme. Here is the painter Daniel Graves (founder of the Florence Academy of Art) and his painting “The Emperor with no Clothes.”
Sunday I went to the Dante house museum. Here is page from the oldest known illustrated edition of “Divine Comedy” by Dante with marginalia by his son Jacobo—dated 2nd quarter of the XIV century.
2017.05.15-26 Term 2 Week 6 and 7
These last two weeks have flown by. I have finished a 3 week nude figure pose and my charcoal drawing of a cast foot. I had little time for extra curricula activities except for seeing my dear friends from London, Carly and Phil Cooper. They were here for 4 days. They spent each day visiting the sites and in the evenings we had nice suppers. On Sunday the 21st we spent the day walking to about 8 private palaces and gardens. It was the annual open house throughout Italy of private gardens and palazzos. We visited
- Giardino Corsi Annalena, via Romana 38
- Giardino Torrigiani, via dei Serragli 146 (the largest priviate garden in a city center in Europe.
- Palazzo Michelozzi, via maggio 11
- Palazzo Frescobaldi, via Santo Spirito 39. This family produces Nipozzano Chianti Rufina. It also backs up the the church of Santo Spirito.
- Palazzo Antinori Aldobrandini, via dei Serragli 9
Here are images from our day of walking (16,000 steps.)
2017.05.15 Term 2 Week 6
I was honored to be asked to pose on the 15th for two of the teachers at the Angel Academy. It was a three hour session. Even though I only saw progress during my 5 minute and 15 minute break, I learned a great deal observing them. Thanks to Giulia Bucciarelli and Brian Smyth it was fun! (note: Brian decided to paint my headphone. Quote “I always paint what I see.”)
Charcoal Cast Finished 2017.05.26
After the Bargue drawings, the next cycle of work is to draw, with charcoal, two plaster casts using the sight-size method. I will only complete one of these this term. This method utilizes an easel set up to be precisely parallel with and laterally centered on the subject cast. One uses a knitting needle as the measuring device—viewing the cast from a distance of about 3X the depth of the subject and “sighting” the size. From this point, one moves back-and-forth from a distance to close-up position to start making marks which establishes the physical boundaries of the drawing onto the paper. Once the forms outer limits are set, this drawing is transfered to Roma hand-made paper to begin the proper charcoal drawing.
Following this, the drawing begins in earnest to give the illusion of the three dimensional qualities of the subject cast. It is a physically and mentally rigorous activity. One tiny speck of charcoal misplaced throws off the illusion of three dimensionality. In addition to the actual representation of the cast, the background must be a uniform layer (as uniform as humanly possible) of charcoal. One smudge and the flatness is ruined—and repairing is very time consuming. Thanks to my great teacher, Nicole Lalande, my charcoal drawing of the cast foot was finished on May 26 after 5 weeks (about 75 hours of drawing time). Thanks to her guidance and keen eye my drawing, according to her, “looks almost like the actual cast.” What I learned:
- Sight-sizing demands a rigorous concentration that must not be interrupted.
- Once the element is size-checked then one must figure out how to create the illusion of form from essentially slightly varying marks on the paper. One is actually not “drawing” the cast so much as rendering the way light falls on its surfaces.
- The process is excruciatingly slow. One errant speck of charcoal dust can throw off the whole illusion.
- Protecting the drawing between classes is crucial. Even well protected, the charcoal surface can deteriorate just from subtle air movement of being nudge—since the charcoal is not fixed (spray on fixative) until it is completed.
Here is the sequence of the drawing.
Three Week Figure Finished 2017.05.26
One of the main reasons I wanted to come to an art school, was to learn to sight-size, and draw the figure and portraits. I finished my latest full figure “Frederica” and, as should be the case, it is the best one yet. My teacher, Giulia Bucciarelli, said “I have seen big improvements in your work during this term, you have worked really hard, you followed my instructions and you did great in putting them into practice. I’m sure you will do really good in your artistic journey because you have the right attitude and I think it’s a good thing to keep learning and have different inputs from different people and environments, I wish you the best with it.”
Here is the sequence of drawings.
These last two weeks also saw the finalization of my decision to leave the Angel Academy of Art after this term. I simply can not get, at the Academy, the painting experience I need in the one year I have set aside to be away from home. The school is based on a rigorous and non-modifiable program that requires at least 5 or 6 terms before one even gets to painting. Even then, portrait painting is not even taught except as a Masters Program.
When this second term ends on June 16, I will be taking private lessons at the Florence Studio from June 19-28 . I will be studying color pallets, sight-sizing and portraiture. I am still negotiating with my wife, but hopefully, beginning in early October, I will be taking private instructions from Amy Florence Mosley. I will be at her studio learning color, making my own paints, sight-sizing, figure painting and portraiture. We will use quick still-life paintings to study different color pallets which will help me better understand color families. I am excited to embark on this incredibly intense educational experience. I plan to finish up my work in early December and return home to start the next chapter in this journey.
Here is a picture of Amy.