Friday, January 21, 2011

Florence Flashback

Well, I'm feeling better now, so it's back in the blogging saddle...

Ten years ago today, I sat in L'Accademia in Florence, Italy, and drew this.

It's still kind of hard to believe that I lived and studied in Florence and did things on your average, everyday afternoon like like doodle masterpieces made hundreds of years ago by the giants of Western art in my own el cheapo sketchbook.

Florence was a wonderful, horrible, and strange time.

I had a view of the Duomo from my bedroom. My good friend and talented classmate tragically died there. Actor Peter Weller was in my High Renaissance and Mannerism class.

Wonderful. Horrible. Strange.

And it is harder to believe it was ten years ago. It makes me feel that I am so old, and makes me realize that I was so young.

Flipping through my old sketchbooks just last week and seeing this drawing dated ten years ago ( I hardly ever date anything I draw)... well, it just struck me how much Italy changed me, artistically and personally, and how much I've changed since then of my own accord.

From the David sketch to this watercolor of the Boboli Gardens, I don't know if I could show either of these pieces to anyone who knows me (or reads my blog) now and have them ever think that I did them. They are not cute, cartoons, cakes, or cats.

I have to admit, I love how it's this little gem of green in the far more familiar sea of drawings full of animals, saints, animal saints, girls and character sketches from whatever books I was reading at the time that make up my Italy-era sketchbooks.

Speaking of animal saints, they even crept to my metalsmithing work there, too.

I don't even do metalsmithing anymore. And animals saints? I abandoned drawing those circa 2002. Using this letter opener that I made with my own hands ten years ago feels more like using something that an ancestral relative of mine made long ago. It feels like someone else, it was that long ago and things are so different for me now.

But then, I guess some things do stay the same after all. I mean, it's a cat. I made a cat letter opener. That IS very like me!

How is it that ten years can feel like a nap and an eon all at once? Blast you, time!

When I returned from Florence, I found these old, old souvenir mini-photos at the flea market in Syracuse. They're of Piazzale Michelango, San Marco, the Bargello (my favorite museum! Other than the oddity that is La Specola, at least), and of course, the famous skyline of Florence itself.

They're even older than my personal Florentine artifacts, but it's very interesting to me to see how much Florence changed and yet stayed the same herself, from the time these photos were taken to when I was there many decades later.

Yup, ten years. I think it would be nice to go back, to give Florence another shot seen with the same eyes but through a different life.

Sigh! I'm going to have to start saving up that sofa change then, I reckon. Pin It


Ira F. Cummings said...

My work has changed a lot since then too. I guess ten years can be a long time.

For me, I don't think that the effect that the time in Florence had on me can be understated. It was both a really great time, and a horribly difficult time. I grew a lot, personally and artistically. It was really the singular period when my college career turned around.

Unfortunately, I don't have most of the art that I created there. I have a few pieces, but not the ones that I was most proud of. They were just too big to carry around, so they didn't make it.

I still remember the art and the place very fondly though.

Gina Lee Bean said...

I'm totally old-school.
I've always believed that in order to do the simple, cute cartoon stuff with ease and grace, one really needs to learn the basics: Drawing and Painting.
Many people will probably disagree with me on that statement...but it's so important to draw and paint from life...a lot.
Nothing beats traditional methods of teaching and learning to train the eye how to see.

It is so good that you are looking at your older work and reflecting on it. It is a great reminder that you have talent and no matter what medium you use, you do it very well. With this foundation under your belt, you can draw or paint or make anything...very well!

Great post! It has inspired me to go look at some of my old student work...which is 22 years old! LOL

Neva Austrew said...

I think you summed it up. Wonderful, horrible and strange. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but my memory of it all has softened over time. I hope you and I can get back there some day. And if you get there first, have a pastry in the name of good friends on the steps of the duomo!