Sketching Class

For sketching class this week, we took on some challenging subjects. On Wednesday, we started at Piazza di Sant' Ignazio, designed by Filippo Raguzzini in 1727-35. It's a wonderful series of spaces defined by elliptical shapes in plan, so my first sketches were done as a way to help the students see what happens to circular and elliptic forms when viewed in perspective, and to emphasize the utility of seeing and drawing the implied shapes themselves before trying to draw the buildings. From this piazza, we headed down the street to tackle the Pantheon, starting with some exterior views and finishing with interiors. Since most of my time in class is spent coaching the students, I rarely have a chance to spend more than 10 or 15 minutes on a drawing, and the drawings I do are intended to be instructive, so I try to keep them very small and quick. The two sketches of the Pantheon here were maybe 10 minutes each.

On Friday, we had 1pm reservations at the Galleria Borghese, so I decided to begin class at the Fontana di Trevi, which is roughly on the way to the Villa Borghese from Trastevere, where we're all living this summer. I arrived about 10 minutes early to crank out this drawing as a demonstration of very quickly trying to establish proportions on a complex subject such as this, and also to show how perspective can become "warped" depending on one's point of view. Though I failed to get the proportions right myself (the central bay of the triumphal arch is too narrow), I think seeing the drawing helped the students. The bit about warping a perspective, on the other hand, created more trouble than it was worth. I think I'll leave that out next time!

This final shot is some of the students in action at the Trevi. Sixteen students is a lot to handle, especially when they all fan out and find an attractive location from which to draw. For the start of this session I had them work from the same general area, mainly so they could assist each other on a common view. It seemed to work well.


Amalfi Field Trip

Had a good field trip to Atrani (along the Amalfi Coast) this past weekend. Here are just a few sketches from the Moleskine ... I'll try to post another blog with slightly more formal sketches soon.

The first two images were done as a pair. In the first, I was trying to see whether I could sketch a plan of a random intersection in Atrani, which has only one "street" running through the center of town.

The rest of the city is a maze of passageways, stairs, tunnels, etc. The second sketch is the same intersection in perspective. Trying to establish where to cut a horizontal plane is very confusing, to say the least, and trying to capture a perspective in such a confined, vertical space was also a challenge.

The third sketch is from our train ride back to Rome ... after getting on the wrong train in Salerno, we changed trains in Napoli, only to sit in the station for a solid two hours because of technical problems of some sort. It was hot, and dull, so I passed some of the time with this sketch. Those are my kids, Sam on the left and Will on the right.


Santa Maria in Trastevere

It was rainy for our sketching session last Monday, June 1, so we stayed very close to our studio in this piazza. I gave the students a challenge to sketch the plan of this church, called Santa Maria in Trastevere, and did my best to do the same as I walked around to help them. I think I drew the side chapels a bit too small, but otherwise it's reasonably accurate.

After class was over I decided to do a quick representational sketch from the piazza. After getting the drawing set up in pencil, it started to rain on me, so I took cover under the umbrellas of a restaurant before adding the pen work and watercolor. They were just getting set up for lunch at the restaurant, and each waiter (and eventually an old man who I figured must be the owner) took turns to stop by for a look at what I was up to. All of them were positive and enthusiastic, and it was a good opportunity to practice my Italian skills. All in all, a fine morning despite the rain.
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