Having spent the last several weeks finishing both the charcoal drawing and the 3-week figure, this weekend I rested and continued reading Michelangelo: His Epic Life by Martin Gayford. I watched In Brugges last night—along with an episode of Fawlty Towers and Monthy Python’s Flying Circus. I was distraught over what is happening in our world and I needed a respite. While these diversions quieted my mind for a few hours, the minute I laid my head on the pillow, sadness flooded my soul.

The weather was beautiful—but there was bad weather in my heart. A few days  ago two men were killed by a right-wing neo-nazi extremist as they tried to protect two Muslim girls riding the Portland, Oregon MAX train. I am still processing this carnage and violation of humanity. It caused insomnia last night. I finally fell asleep at about 4AM. Today I am groggy and fuzzy and pissed off. Here I am, sitting in a beautiful city, surrounded by art with people from all over the world commingling—enjoying Florence’s beauty and the centuries of art. I firmly believe that the current United States pretender-in-chief should be held accountable. He incites anger, hatred and xenophobia. But as importantly he does not read nor does he have any understanding of history, humanity’s course of love or how we all contribute to life’s force of community. His self-centered ego excludes empathy, understanding and compassion. He incites this violence by encouraging the attribution of breakdowns in society to individuals and classes of people who are not similar to his own tribe. I get why people are angry. I know the Manchester, England bombing by an extremist terrorist fuels hate and xenophobia. When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma city in 1995, did people go out and start killing white Christians? Of course not. They treated him, and all the white Christian gunman shooting children in schools as one-off and mentally disturbed people. Why, because Americans can not seem to accept that hate is color-blind. Hate is taught. Hate is inflamed by fear-mongering and labeling dissimilarity as a threat. Hate springs from ignorance. Today I am deeply worried and sad.

The words of the sister of the 26 year old stabbing victim:
On Saturday, people mourned the stabbing victims and praised them as heroes for their actions. Namkai Meche’s sister, Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, emailed a statement to The Washington Post on behalf of their family, saying her brother lived “a joyous and full life” with an enthusiasm that was infectious.

“We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common. He was resolute in his conduct (and) respect of all people,” she wrote. “In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward. He will live in our hearts forever as the just, brave, loving, hilarious and beautiful soul he was. We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love.”

On a domestic and happier note, I did get laundry, my daily walk, cooking meals for the week and some reading done on this wonderful sunny Sunday. It was also great to Skype call with Lea again. She is more rested that the last time we talked—we are hoping the local cantina will not be playing music so loud that we can not sleep. Sleep deprivation tops the list for discomfort. It also looks like she is getting better from her intestinal distress.

2017.05.29-.31  Term 2 Week 8
Having finished my first charcoal, I have three weeks remaining in which to fill the afternoons. I have chosen to sit in on the afternoon figure class and practice portrait drawing. One advantage is that I have the same model each time—thus letting me “see” my progress. Today I had a few break-though moments after some voluntary nudging comments from one of my instructors (since I am not “officially” in their classes, I can not ask them for a critique.) You can see the first four attempts in sequence below. The third one is the truest to the model.

What I have learned so far:

  • In doing portraiture, it is not about the features. These are important but will not matter unless the understructure of skull is correct.
  • The nearly universal measurement aids are:
    • Middle of the eyes are in the central horizontal axis of the skull
    • The bottom of the nose, eye brow line and the hair line are each at the 1/3 point. This 1/3+1/3+1/3 is not the full skull dimension—rather the distance from the hair line to the chin.
    • The bottom of the lip is at the mid-point of the first 1/3 (between chin and bottom of nose.
    • The top of the ear aligns with the eyebrow line; the bottom with the bottom of the nose.
    • All features must remain in correct perspective.
    • From the side the front-to-back and top-to-bottom dimensions are roughly equal (nearly a square shape.)
  • Hair is not individual strands. It is part of the shadow shapes and should be treated as such. Once these shapes are correctly formed and shaded, details can be added only after the correct forms are in-place. The hair also telegraphs the shape of the skull.
  • It is really difficult.

2017.06.01  Term 2 Week 8
In the morning we continue with a second 3 week pose. Forming the overall construct went much faster than the previous figure study. I am still having difficulty with making sure the high-low diagonals are in the right place. But I am improving.

2017.06.02  Term 2 Week 8
The “Festa della Repubblica” is the Italian national holiday celebrated on the second day of June. It commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when (by universal suffrage) the Italian population was called to decide what form of government (monarchy or republic) to give to the country after the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. After 85 years of monarchy,  Italy became a Republic, and the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled. This is one of the most important Italian national holidays which is like July 14th in France (Storming of the Bastille) and July 4th (Independence Day) in the USA.


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