Piazza del Popolo

Had another sketching session with the students yesterday morning, and I managed to do a couple quick drawings. This was the second one I did, directly in watercolor without any setup sketch in pencil. I only had about 15 or 20 minutes before we had to pop in for a visit to Santa Maria del Popolo before it closed at noon (wanted to show the students the Caravaggio paintings there), so I was having to paint quickly. I did this same view a year ago in charcoal (which can be seen here). I didn't have more time then, but not having to think about color and work with paints led to better results. But I'm really trying to do more watercolor this year, and I'm finding that setting up the drawing with pencil first is too tedious for me and leads to a paint-by-numbers approach that I'm rarely very happy with. So, while I think the charcoal version of this sketch is more interesting and effective somehow, this was a good effort as well and I look forward to furthering this approach to sketching with watercolor.


Getting Back in the Groove

Had a great walking tour with the students this morning. We began near the bell tower in this sketch, at the Forum Boarium, and finished at the Ponte Fabricio, which is on the other side of Tiber Island from where I stood to draw this, from the Ponte Cestio. The subject here is the Ponte Emilio - far better known as the Ponte Rotto, or "Broken Bridge," which has been sitting there in the middle of the Tiber, broken, for over 400 years (part of it remained until the 1880s, but the last time it was completely functional was around 1598). I've done a few sketches in the past week, but this was the first one where I really felt like I had hit the old groove of drawing. There are some mistakes here and there, as there are with every drawing I do, but the process of creating this one was generally smooth, fast, and entirely enjoyable. I think one reason is that I used charcoal, which easily allows for the range of value that I strive for in most of my sketches. Makes me want to get back out there and draw some more tomorrow.


Vicolo del Cedro

Had a good sketching class this morning, we focused on quick sketches with an eye toward composition and perspective. Several students were excited about the progress they made in just a couple hours, so that was good. Once we wrapped up, I headed a little further up the Vicolo del Cedro to see if I could find a sketch-worthy scene and came upon this view. The street slopes up to a stair which climbs up the Gianicolo to the church and monastic complex of San Pietro in Montorio, site of Bramante's Tempietto. It was nice and cool this morning, with some fine breezes coming through, so it was an ideal time to draw. Adding to the ambience was the music playing loudly through an open window above me - a great smattering of classic rock gems, including several tunes from the Rolling Stones, The Who, and several 70s bands from the US. It might not seem to fit the mood of the place or the sketch, but believe me, it was working just fine and reminded me of the college buddies I studied with over here in 1986-87. They would have gotten a kick out of it.


In Rome Again

It's been far too long since I've posted something ... but I was very busy wrapping up the spring semester and making preparations to begin the Rome Program for the summer. We arrived here in Rome almost a week ago, and classes are off the ground, so I finally have a little time to sketch and relax a little. It's been a stressful few months, with too many faculty meetings and too much bad news about budgets. The bad news is sure to continue, but at least we can enjoy a temporary respite from the meetings. My work on the summer program is really only beginning, but after a rough semester like that it's great to get back to a focus on teaching in an incredible place like Rome. This morning we head out for our first organized sketching session ... 16 students wandering the streets and recording their observations. And me shuttling back and forth among them with tips and praise and small talk. There's almost nothing I'd rather be doing. So it's time to go for a cappuccino and cornetto, before meeting the group in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. (btw, this sketch I did yesterday in Via dei Cappellari, very near the Campo dei Fiori. I used a 2B pencil, and it took maybe 30 minutes or so.)
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