Day 0 – Overture

So, folks, today is the day we hop on a plane and sail across the skies to Italy, where our first stop will be Rome. Ah, yes. The shining capital that once used to be the seat of history’s greatest empire… But today is a mere day of anticipation. The long journey between gates, checking bags in, and awaiting to board a ship that will sail into the night, leading us to our destination the next morning.

In the mean time, I would like to share something special for you the audience. Something that will set the course for this journey.

Observation Sketch of the David

As I stated in my previous post, I studied for a month in Florence. What was I studying, you ask? One course was photography. The second? Drawing. Throughout the drawing course we carried around a sketchbook and drawing tools. Our task was to fill the sketchbook by the end of the course. It was this course that helped me mature in technique as an artist/drawer. The first example, you will note in the image above, is one of my earlier sketches of Michelangelo’s David, Florence’s most iconic statue. In earlier drawings in this book, I stuck to my graphite pencils and basic shedding, as it was the most familiar to me. As a novice, I steered clear of inks, pastels, chalks, and absolutely hated charcoal (and to this day still do). Thus most of my graphite drawings tended to smear and lack contrast. Looking at my sketch of the David, I can see the naivety I possessed at this stage. Moving forward, my professor suggested that I give ink a try.

Observation sketch of Dante Alighieri’s Statue in front of Santa Croce

I struggle a bit with pen at first, because once a line is down, it can’t be reversed, but it made things much cleaner, and when I got to experimenting with shading, I could get a variety of tones that I struggled with in graphite.

Magpie Taxidermy in La Specola
Wax replica of muscular anatomy in La Specola

After plenty of practice, ink became one of my favorite mediums for observation sketching and drawing. In a way, I have to thank that professor and my classmates for encouraging me to take a step away from something I was familiar with, as it helped bring a new energy to the latter parts of my sketch journal.

Rape of the Sabine Women in Piazza Vecchio
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

So, now that I’ve shown the work I had done four years ago, will I be filling another sketchbook upon my return? You bet!

However, I mostly want to focus on a particular theme.

Motifs.

Specifically, religious motifs.

Italy is as much a grounds for the early foundations of the Church as it was a grounds for Art. Thus, there is plenty of religious icons and symbolism scattered throughout the country. In the picture below was the beginning of a sketch that I started while waiting to climb up a tower in Sienna. It is of course from the earlier part of my sketchbook when I still embrace graphite as my “go to”.

Sketch of The Virgin Mary Crowned by Jesus

I hope to find and record more motifs like this one. Perhaps I can even make a complete version of this one as well. So with that being said, I’m going to leave this post off on this last image/note. I typically do something that I like to call “church doodles”, where when I have spare time while serving, I make a small drawing of whatever comes to mind. So this weekend, I made one that reflects a common image of Christ Jesus that we commonly see here in the good old USA. A simple image of Jesus looking upward and peaceful. At what in particular? Most likely the Father. Who knows. But it is a simple image no less.

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