feet don’t fail me now

It’s hard to believe all that we’ve been doing since my last post. For one thing, the weather finally broke last Friday. After two weeks of temperatures in the upper nineties, we’ve been enjoying mid-70s to low-80s with blue skies and what I refer to as Michelangelo’s clouds. These shots are from our Sunday visit to the church of San Miniato al Monte and the Piazzale Michelangelo, overlooking Florence.



To give you an idea of why you aren’t reading more about what we’ve been up to, here’s a list of places we’ve been over the last nine days:

  • 08_30 Wednesday
    Galleria degli Uffizi. A five hour journey through gallery after gallery of world-class art. Probably only second to the Louvre museum in size and significance of its collection. And the crowds seemed to support that claim. A long and rewarding day of viewing, sketching, and sharing the experience with a couple thousand other visitors. John secured a shaded table on the rooftop cafe, and we played musical chairs as others in the group showed up for a break.
  • 08_31 Thursday
    Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. After our day at the Ufizzi, this didn’t take as long, but feet were sore, and we needed to rest up for our day trip on Friday.
  • 09_1 Friday
    San Gimignano Day Trip. A third of the bus trip there was just getting out of Florence! This was a fantastic day all around. San Gimignano is the epitome of picturesque. We had no problem finding great drawing subjects around every corner. No one wanted to leave. Will report more later on our visit.
  • 09_2 Saturday
    Arezzo. Instructors’ side trip on students’ day off. John and I thought, “maybe a couple hours.” More like six. No surprise to anyone who knows us, or John’s fervent interest in all things Renaissance. Piero della Francesco anyone? Oh yeah. A surprising city with several amazing sites. We missed the annual joust in the main square by one day! Next year? Most students stayed home to rest. A couple went to Venice on a one-day tour!
  • 09_3 Sunday
    Casa Buonorrati | Piazzale Michelangelo | San Miniato al Monte. Starting the day with a visit to Michelangelo’s home, then heading across the Arno to the piazzale named after him, we enjoyed a really great day to be on a hilltop overlooking the city, and were amazed by San Miniato. After some exploring and sketch activity, most of us retired to the piazzale below for refreshments, returning late in the afternoon for mass and Gregorian chant in the crypt sanctuary at San Miniato. I walked the long way back to Santa Maria Novella and caught some great views of the wooded hillsides over Otrarno.
  • 09_4 Monday
    Church and Museum of Orsanmichele | Palazzo Vecchio | Piazza della Signora. We started the day off with a studio session where students had a chance to experiment with some different media on a view or two that resonated with them. Some minds were stretched and concepts explored, after working mostly in pencil and pen on small sketchbook pages. I’ll share the images with you in an upcoming post. Later that afternoon we saw statues by Donatello and others at the Italian Gothic church of Orsanmichele, then dropped in on yet another Medici palace to see more Michelangelo sculptures and lavishly designed ceilings.
  • 09_5 Tuesday
    The Laurentian Library | Medici Chapel | Basilica di San Lorenzo| Palazzo Medici. How the Medici lived, and lived on after death, was the theme of the day. Through the tombs designed for the chapel, including Michelangelo’s Sagrestia Nuova – with its compelling figures of Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk overlooking visitors to the tombs of Lorenzo di Piero and Giuliano di Lorenzo – visitors are confronted with questions of mortality, and how two of the more insignificant Medicis warrant such a significant tribute. In the main chapel, the scale of the six empty sarcophagi is stunning. Tombs of giants. Or gods. But all are actually buried in the crypt below, like mortals. We spent some extended sketching time in the basilica, practicing our one-point perspective on the rational geometric forms of this majestic space. The day ended with a visit to a more modest Medici palace than Palazzo Pitti or Palazzo Vecchio. Refreshing.
  • 09_6 Wednesday
    Palazzo Davanzati | Ferragamo Museum. The day began with a studio session, reviewing work from Monday’s studio and wrapping up some lesson plans on perspective drawing processes. Palazzo Davanzati was an excellent look at how the upper-middle class lived. The Ferragamo Museum rotates their exhibit every year, this year featuring the art and craft of late 1920s Italy, through the contemporaries of Salvador Ferragamo, on the 90th anniversary of his return to Italy from 12 years designing shoes for the stars of Hollywood.
  • 09_7 Thursday
    Galleria dell’Accademia | San Marco Museum | Ospedale degli Innocenti | Basilica della Santissima Annunziata. Today’s itinerary was jammed. Michelangelo’s David was the highlight of the Accademia. Then off to see the former convent of San Marco; the recently completed renovation of the former orphanage at the Ospedale degli Innocenti, and the cafe in the rooftop loggia with amazing views of the surrounding city; then heading across the piazza to see a Baroque church – what a change! After days of nothing but Gothic and Renaissance churches, the Baroque excesses were jaw-dropping and almost funny in the sheer excess of decorated surfaces and carved ornamentation.

There are plenty of images to accompany the descriptions above, and I’ll put them in separate posts with narrative summaries. But it’s almost 10:30 and I have an early train to catch tomorrow.

Siena! Our last excursion together before we gather on Sunday to review all the sketchbooks. Students have improved their drawing abilities so much in the last couple weeks! Can’t wait to get the pictures and share with you.



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