Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fall Term 2015

This October I returned to lovely Florence to continue my studies at the Florence Academy of Art. I apologize for a very late update, but I am slowly rediscovering just how rigorous and time-consuming the schedule is. But as the fall term is winding down, I’ve managed to find a few precious moments to catalog my experiences. So here at last is an extensive update, one long overdue:

My first two major projects were my final figure drawing in charcoal and my second cast painting. 
On the cast I tried my hand at limited palette, which consisted of the colors Ivory Black, Lead White, Yellow Ochre, and English Red. 

This is a step more complex than my previous cast painting, a Grisaille painting created using only white, black, and Raw Umber.  While a grisaille palette is designed to help students focus only on value-changes and slight temperature shifts, adding a red and yellow to my palette is a good way to transition into the complications of working with color.

I used this same palette for my figure painting. For my final cast, I used the full palette, making good use of the addition of Cobalt Blue on my background.

I also experimented with color for my final portrait in charcoal. My last two were drawn on Arches paper, toned grey. This time, I tinted the ink with a bit of raw sienna and red to get a warmer shade more reminiscent of skin tones.
"Portrait of Marco" (unfinished)

Portraits remain by far my favorite subject to work with. For me, they encompass a greater level of depth and psychological drama than a figure or still life can offer. This summer I had the pleasure of drawing a portrait of my grandfather Reverend R. Leroy Moser:


I look forward to next year when my studies will  have more of a focus on portraiture. Next time, I will be using paint!

"Portrait of Marco" (detail)

Twice a week I also attend the school’s evening drawing sessions, where I practice smaller figure drawings in pencil. This term there were also two themed evenings where the students experimented in new mediums, charcoal wipe-out drawings, and even pen!


Two additional classes I am taking this year are Ecorche and a Construction and Composition class. In the Ecorche class I tried my hand at sculpting for the first time, and over the course of the year will sculpt a skeleton, onto which I will build muscles. In the Construction and Composition class, we are learning how to compose a painting, and exploring the concepts of perspective, proportions, and light, with the aim of learning how to construct a figure from imagination. Although I prefer the experience of working from life, this course has taught me some of the most indispensable artistic lessons I have ever learned. One class was an all-day demo, in which the instructor completed an entire oil painting of a torso, completely from his imagination:


 Both of these classes have been entirely new experiences for me, and have helped greatly in better solidifying my understanding of drawing the human figure.

Beautiful Italian olive grove

Outside of class, I’ve been feeding my artistic inspiration with the beauty of Italy. One day I tried my hand at olive picking, and another I went to the local Teatro Verdi to hear a performance of Beethoven and Brahms.

Also, Palazzo Strozzi held an exhibition which featured the works of artists such as Bouguereau, Ciseri, and Van Gogh, to name a few.

In awe before the presence of this perfect painting by Bouguereau.


And with one last charcoal sketch, the fall term is over.

As the term comes to a close, the city is preparing for Christmas. I celebrate winter break by visiting one of the local traditions, the Christmas Market, just in the square in front of Santa Croce.

Buon Natale! (Merry Christmas!)

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