Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Art Bar in Florence Italy

I missed the sculpture exhibit at the Florence Academy last night because my friend Lisa was leaving for the States this morning and she really wanted to visit The Art Bar. I had taken her there for happy hour one night last month before we attended an art history lecture at the Charles Cecil Studios.

We really had a fun night – three “Chi Chi’s” each as you see in the photos. I love this drink, if for no other reason than I enjoy another way to serve vodka – what a versatile beverage! I drank my first Chi Chi in Hawaii in a luau (loo-ow) in 1999 with my family living there. Not sure I wanted one actually since I discovered in Colorado ten years earlier that in Spanish, chi chi means ‘breast.’ And the drink looks like milk (because clear vodka + white coconut milk + perhaps other ingredients = chi chi). While I have never liked to drink milk, I do love a good chi chi -- very cool and refreshing. And The Art Bar here on Via del Moro in Florence tops theirs with a boatload of fresh fruit and mint!

Allora, we laughed a lot as you might imagine. And then went over to one of my favorite pizza places – Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe – near the Bargello (sculpture museum) on Via Ghibellina. Lisa is on her way to New York now and I hope she did not have a grand mal di testa this morning!

10 Dicembre: I just found my card for The Art Bar and their official name is:
Antico Caffè Del Moro "Cafè des Artistes" -- although I wonder if that accent is a misprint? Address = Via del Moro, 4/r - Tel. 055 287661

Friday, December 7, 2007

All in A Day’s Work – Drawing

So, I am coming to the end of my projects. Here is what my weekday often looks like: from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., I work on my charcoal drawing of Sara. Then from 2 to 5 p.m. I work on my charcoal drawing of a plaster cast of a sculpted ear using the sight-size method. I do not actually see it as an ear. For the longest time I have only seen abstracted shapes, such as the duckie, the infinity symbol, and the sideways apostrophe mark.

Monday, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I draw from live models (portraits the first two days, one 2-hour pose of the figure on the third day) from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. I host the Wednesday evening sessions of lots of artists sharing model expenses. Thursdays are art history night, often with two events at two different art schools here in Florence, Italy: Angel Academy of Art and the Charles H. Cecil Studios. Fridays, I have the option to draw from life again or usually, just catch up on other projects or maybe even go out with a friend.

After drawing each night, I then work some more on my drawing of Sara (without the model) until 9 p.m. Much of working with charcoal means using the point. By this I mean that the charcoal stick must be sanded to a fine point in order to be applied to the paper, especially when trying to remove any blotchiness from using other application methods. My figure of Sara is 60 centimeters tall. She has taken up a lot of time, but I am happy with the progress I am making.

The rest of the time, I am either living life, meeting new people, or doing laundry or something. Perhaps this is not the exciting life some imagined – being in Italia and all – but I am really refining my skills as an artist and I love it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sara – Big Form Modeling in Charcoal Drawing

Picking up where I left off:
The sooner I convey the illusion of form, the stronger my disegno (design or drawing). Allora, after I distinguish the main tone design, I want to start turning the form with Big Form Modeling. Like other drawing systems, I will work large to small. This means that my first objective is to depict the entire figure as a three-dimensional form. Then I will do the same, within the context of the larger form, for the smaller forms, such as an arm.

I tend to like the brush, thus far, for things such as subtle blending. I get plenty of dust as I sharpen my charcoal sticks against a sandpaper-covered board (a small cutting board or a ping pong paddle work well – something flat and strong). So, I dip my brush into the dust and work my way from darks to light. How quickly I go from dark to light depends of the form I am creating.

In today’s images, I am showing you the beginning of Big Form Modeling on the figure’s head. The first image shows the head as a pattern of light paper with generalized dark shapes. The second shows that I have started to indicate that the head is an egg-like form, becoming darker closer to the bottom of the face, which is further away from the light source above the figure. I can do Big Form Modeling from side to side, as well as vertically.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sara – A Charcoal Drawing Process

My last day working with the model Sara is Friday. I wish I had more time, but then six weeks seems really long to most 2-dimensional artists.

These next two images were taken on the 8th of November. Here you can see that I have done a really poor job of creating consistent tones. I will work to correct this before moving on to the next step in the system. In the beginning, I only have two tones in my disegno: the light of the paper plus my added darks. You may see in the detail shot what I mean by abstraction of nature. The shadow on the wall behind the model is grouped together with the figure-in-shadow, creating one solid dark shape. I can re-find the line separating the two later – or not. My choice. (You can also see the vertical striping pattern of the textured Roma brand paper.)

The next step is to start to differentiate the darks by averaging together the DARK DARKS (such as the hair and shadows of the legs on the box). Those DARK DARKS get compressed charcoal, so I want to be sure of where I want them in my design. I then have my shapes set in three tones, all determined by the relationships to each other as I decide them.

That last part is important. Each artist makes her own decisions. A good example of the various choices one can make is in the vertical part of the leg. My tone here is not a solid one. That is because with each new sitting, there were subtle differences in the pose, creating slightly different light patterns. That portion of the leg has quite a few areas that are debatable as to whether to group them with the lights or the darks. What you see here is a case of indecision. At some point soon, I will have made that choice.

You also see in the top left section of the front of the box that I had begun to distinguish more dark tones to show the three sides to the box. (And I have lightened the background to something between the lights and the figure-in-shadow.) The sooner I convey the illusion of form, the stronger my disegno (design or drawing).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sara – A Charcoal Drawing Continued

I thought you might want to see some more of my progress with my first carboncino (charcoal) drawing of Sara. I referenced the creation of the disegno of the figure’s head on 18 Nov. and also showed you something of how I transferred my cartoon to a quality toothed paper that accepts and holds carboncino.

In these next two images, taken on 4 November 2007, I have completed the transfer of the outline of the shapes in my disegno. Now I am filling in the darks. It is important to establish what is considered a shadow vs. what is light. There is no other way to define form, really. I start with vine charcoal, the French Nitram brand in this case. Using a soft B stick, I work it into the paper fairly dark. I try for consistency. Just as when building a house, an important foundation makes for a stronger house and less work further down the road. Then I use a soft sponge to really push the carboncino into the paper and fill in the tooth-y lines as much as possible.

In the close-up image of the figure drawing of Sara, you may see the difference between the roughly drawn-in charcoal (left above the head) and the sponged area afterwards (right). This is about all that I can do without the model present since all tones are relative. My background is too dark, but until I can be on -site and compare the tones on my paper to the tones I see before me, I cannot make my choices so easily. Especially since this is a new medium for me. Stay tuned . . . same bat channel.

City-Wide Art V Exhibit – Florence, Italy

In bella Italia, if you want to see art, you most likely will enter a church. That is true of this week in Florence as well. It feels great being accepted into a juried art exhibit and opening night is especially fun. One gets to meet so many other artists and art lovers that might never cross one’s path any other way. Tonight was the reception for the City-Wide Art V mostra in Florence, Italia, the same city that is currently hosting the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea or the Florence Biennale, now through 9 Dicembre.

Art critic and historian John T. Spike juried the City-Wide exhibit and gave a speech tonight that spoke of how exciting it was for him to see the contemporary art created in Florence. And reminded all of us of the legacy of the art created in Florence throughout history. Indeed.

Pictured in the group shot is John Spike, just right of center. To his left is Keith McBride, organizer of the City-Wide Art exhibit. This event is being held at the St. James Church, Via Bernardo Rucellai, 9, in Florence. My friend Simone told me that this is where David Bowie got married. Check it out soon – it ends this Saturday. See my exhibits page for details.

Oh, and the other photos are some of us just goofing around: Nancy Hines hams it up in front of her lovely drawing of our friend and fellow artist Jason. (Photo published with approval ;-) And artists Kieran and Hélène let me know that they will not hesitate in pulling out the euros for my lovely bronze “Ten.”

Now, I must get some sleep. Much work to do tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

PS Comcast appears to be blocking my e-mail addresses as spam. If you have a e-mail address and also signed up for my mailing list and somehow are missing these letters, you may need to contact Comcast and ask them how to solve the problem so you get the news you want. Ciao, belli.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Heidelberg Christmas Market – Florence, Italy

It arrived this past Wednesday – the annual Heidelberg Christmas mercato in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. This market features 50 wooden huts filled with holiday goodies. Lots of food is available from cheeses, breads, spices, and meats to sausages, pig, kraut, and pretzels with all kinds of toppings. Other gift items are handmade clothes, ornaments, porcelain and ceramics, candels, toys, and hats. Vendors come from Germany, Poland, Austria, France, and other countries.

I miss my friend Sylvia, from Austria, though. She was here last year selling the clove ornaments that I so adore. No one this year has anything like them.

One of the favorite selections among so many of my friends here in Firenze is the gluwein (pronounced 'gloo - vine') or as the Italians call it vin brulé, perhaps best understood as a VERY tasty mulled wine. Oh, the smell is yummy and the effect powerful. I asked a tourist to take this photo recently, documenting us drinking the stuff for lunch: from left to right, my Austrialian artist friend Skye; our Italian friend, photographer and model Sara; and, I hope, one of your favorite sculptors (ha!) on both sides of the Atlantic. ;-)

The night image I took on my way home of the carousel bar out in front of the entire mercato. You can see the façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and other famous Florentines are buried.

Cin Cin (pron. ‘chin chin’)