Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Art classes in Firenze

The cloister in the Convent of San Marco, Firenze
Last week I spent a few days in Florence or I should say Firenze, Italy. I received a variety of comments when friends and acquaintances learnt this news and they can be summarised like this: 'Wow!; Florence is sooo beautiful; lucky you; I remember when I was there in the 70s...'

The photocopy we worked to
My purpose in visiting Florence wasn't to traipse around art galleries or loll around in caf├ęs, although some of that did happen, but to attend two art classes run by Dr Alan Pascuzzi on Fresco painting and drawing with Silverpoint, a forerunner of the pencil. Dr Pascuzzi has been studying these techniques for many years that were perfected during the Renaissance (a period in European history that lasted from the 14th to the 17th century) and I was delighted to have the privilege to be taught by him.


The tracing paper cartoon
First of all we were treated to a chemistry lesson as Fresco is defined as 'painting on wet plaster with water-based pigments, when the plaster dries the pigments become part of the matrix of the wall and is very durable'. This requires the artist to spend time carefully preparing the plaster, the pigments and the image that's going to be painted. When the time comes to paint you find you are racing against the clock because once the plaster has reached a certain point in its drying process it won't take any more pigment.

One of Michelangelo's remarkable achievements was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel within the Vatican in Rome. This took him four years from 1508-1512. For our Fresco Dr Pascuzzi gave us a photocopy of the Delphic Sibyl painted by Michelangelo to follow. It was traditional during the Renaissance period for apprentices to learn their craft by copying the work of their master and I enjoyed being an apprentice to Michelangelo for a morning.

My finished Fresco
Having completed our three hour class I was only fit for a relaxing lunch and strolling around the city but we did visit the Convent of San Marco on our last day to look at the Frescos in the monastery and in the former monks cells painted by Fra Angelico. I discovered an appreciation of the skill required to produce these Frescos, that I wouldn't otherwise have had, and they left me awe struck.

One of the cells in San Marco
Our art classes were organised by Penny Howard and if you feel an urge to be a Renaissance apprentice for a couple of days you can reach her at Beyond the Yalla Dog.

1 comment:

Cathy Roberts said...

Love reading your blogs. Sounds like you had a great time in Firenze. Maybe you can use this image for a card.