Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Stepping foot on ground after many hours of flying was both relieving and overwhelming. Having never traveled­­ in my life, I was not sure how I would feel after spontaneously deciding to do study abroad. One minute I had been home and the next I was saying "ciao" to Italy!

Walking down the streets for the first time left me speechless. I could feel goosebumps forming up and down my arms as I looked up at all the buildings. Never have I felt so small in comparison to my surroundings and yet, it felt amazing to be dwarfed by such a gorgeous city. I was actually in a foreign country, specifically in one of the most influential and inspiring cities in Europe! With over 2000 years of history to share with a primary focus on its achievements during the Late Middle Ages, I couldn't imagine having picked any city other than Florence. I had studied the Middle Ages in multiple history classes, I had memorized Renaissance artwork on flashcards for art history, but little had I known, I would one day be living in the country my textbooks talked about.

Within the first 4 weeks of being here, this trip has presented its wonders and its flaws. I am no longer a 40 minute car ride away from home, a quick phone call to a friend and many things here are unfamiliar. But I have been given the opportunity to learn a new language, try new things and explore a culture I am naive to. Setting aside my American routines, I have begun my new Italian lifestyle. I am optimistic for the rest of the semester and am ready to absorb the artwork around me and grow as an artist.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not the Boboli Gardens

I spent part of Sunday afternoon strolling through the Boboli gardens and taking pictures. The gardens are lush and formal; with fountains,  hedges of boxwood and statues and aliees of sand they are spectacular. Unfortunately, my plans to have us paint there on Monday were stymied by forgetting that museums are usually closed on Monday, and the gardens are situated behind Palazzo Pitti, aka The Pitti Palace, which is a museum with enormous holdings of artwork and also the site of said,  Giardino di Boboli.This formidable and impressive Renaissance structure was built around 1458 and was originally the home Florentine banker Luca Pitti before it was bought by the Medici family.

But that's a story to be continued... Since the gardens were also closed we walked several blocks over to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito,  better known as Santo Spirito. The current church was built over the ruins of a 13th century monastery, and was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the early 15th century. The front of the church faces a square, or piazza, of the same name. The piazza is edged with outdoor restaurants, local vendors, fruit stands and people sitting or milling about populate the center of the piazza.
We stationed ourselves on the steps of the church and had a wide view of the piazza.

Posted by Deborah Dancy

If it's raining we head to the Mercato Centrale

Last Wednesday our trip to paint in the Boboli Gardens was thwarted by rain, so instead we headed to the Mercato Centrale. We were a little short in numbers as three members of our class caught the cold that is spreading around like wildfire. So, the few and the hardy spent an hour sketching and taking photos before heading back to our main studio classroom on Via del Moro to paint. The Mercato Centrale is a large cast-iron building that dates back to 1874. It is filled, and I mean filled with stalls of vendors selling, fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, meats of every description and variety, breads, cheeses, and the list goes on and on. It's literally a delight visually and gastronomically. In addition to being surrounded by all this fresh food- you can buy made to order delicious panini and eat right there. Though the photos don't show it, the place is absolutely packed with people. And this is only one of a number of markets in the city; this one just happens to be closest to the studio. If you want to read some more about markets in Florence check out,
Well enough writing about it, here are some pictures.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Drawing from the Piazzale Michelangelo

Last Wednesday we were south of the city and a little above, actually it was a bit of a hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. We didn't make all the way to the top, just far enough for a glorious view of the city. The sun and the mild temperature made for the right combination of drawing and gazing. Bellisimo.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Drawing above the city.

On Wednesday we were south of the city at the base of the entrance to Piazzale Michelangelo. Even at the base, we had a fantastic view above the city. Everyone is really getting back in the drawing groove. Energy and spirits are high, thanks to a little morning espresso and cappuccino.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Drawing on Via Dei Bardi

Monday, September 10th was another beautiful day in Florence. We were positioned a little south of the city center across the Arno on Via Dei Bardi. The aim continues to be defining what is important in observational drawing. Trying to selectively convey something about place using accurate perspective, highlighted by moments of value, while still making drawings that have a quality of clarity and energy; that's a tall order.  Wednesday we're hiking farther south heading up toward the Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a bit of a climb, but it offers amazing views of the city. We're all hoping for another beautiful sunny day. Next week, we start painting in the Giardino di Boboli.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 5th- Drawing in Florence

                  Wednesday morning September 5th drawing along the Arno and the Piazza Goldini.

Drawing along the Arno, near the Piazza Goldini

Here we are, in Florence Italy--Firenze. We've been here for almost ten days, and I think we're all adjusted now,  despite a little inconvenient jet lag. After the first few days of new sounds, sensations,  hot and humid temperatures, I think we're all pretty well settled in.  Yes, we still get lost, but we're walking the city every day and learning our way, even though we're distracted by shops, markets, windows full of food; rustic breads, divine cheeses, and amazingly gelati in every flavor under the sun, we persevere. Oh and of course, I haven't even mentioned the art.

So far, the students spent Monday day doing basic color studios and mixing at our studio on Via del Moro.  On Wednesday we took to the streets, in the middle of vespas, bicycles, cars, buses, sirens tourists and Florentines to draw on site.

We plunked ourselves down in the Plazza Goldini and along the Arno.  Piazzo Goldini is so named after a famous Venetian playwright whose statue is prominently displayed there.

Here are the students hard at work, clearly focused on putting those basic drawing skills to the test.

As for me, I'll be working in my studio while streaming my new favorite Italian jazz station.

More posting later from students, until then...ciao

Early morning drawing along the Arno, Ponte all a Carraia