Spent the morning with the Andersons for a slow breakfast/brunch at a cafe near the hotel. The waiter was Dominican and very friendly. The food and company were fantastic! Now, OFF TO MY DEAR FLORENCE!!!! I cannot wait to see her again!
As anticipated, the Vatican provided an overload to the senses. Between the cool, open, and massive space of St. Peter's, the profusion of ornamentation and horror vaccui of the Vatican Museums, and an unexpected Contemporary exhibition at the Vatican Museum, the walk to the Galleria Borghese was a welcome (albeit more strenuous than expected) pause. At the end of the day, I was fully stimulated! After these two art venues, a group of us (me, Wes, Sandy, the Andersons, Jean, and Shelley) walked to the Spanish Steps, had drinks and dinner, then strolled to the Trevi fountain. Afterwards, we had a wonderful slow meal on our way back to the hotel.
Today afforded more time for sketching. My heart skipped many beats as Sandy and I encountered students happily sketching throughout the Galleria Borghese. Later, we stumbled upon students rapidly sketching at the Trevi Fountain. I was happy to call them our own! Go team Lander!
I have noticed that in my sketches, I am paying more attention to negative spaces. Perhaps this is because I am planning to incorporate multiple figures into my work when I return home. I am unsure how I will handle the space in these works, but I think I'll find an answer in studying/sketching on this trip. The sketches (below) are made with waterproof and water-soluble ink pens. Some were painted with watercolor this evening. I've noticed that some of the captions are inaccurate (ex. substitute Bernini for Bellini. . . must be the jet lag!)
Today was quite a day. . . actually 2 days smooshed in together! After a great overnight flight from Charlotte to Rome, the group set out on a rigorous "stroll". We began at the Colloseum, which was a dramatic introduction to the city. Due to major excavation projects going on at the Forum, we walked around (and up and down) for too long before finding our way to Capitoline Hill! Being the day's leader, I was worried that I would soon face mutiny! While I did work the group hard today, it was worth it to see the Pantheon (always a spiritual experience for me), and Carravaggios St. Matthew series in San Luigi dei Francesi. By the time we got to this small church, the mixture of exhaustion, gratitude (for safe arrival to Italy) and awe caused me to nearly cry. To see the students' expressions at each of these sites was worth every bit of time spent organizing it! Already, the trip has been a success! Sandy, Jennings, Mary Patton, the Slagles, Wes and I had dinner together at a small restaurant off of Campo dei Fiori. We slowly shared multiple appetizers, a few liters of wine, and then sampled the restaurant's pasta and pizza. Man, I've missed Italy! After a stroll through Piazza Navona, and a hazelnut & strawberry gelato (Wes's first gelato ever!), we hit the sack! The Welcome Piram Hotel was fantastic! Tomorrow is ST. PETER'S BASILICA, THE VATICAN MUSEUM, and the GALLERIA BORGHESE.
My travel watercolor set is cleaned and ready for its next adventure! This little guy has been with me on nearly every trip I've taken since I was 18! I've had to refill a few colors here and there, but this kit has been resilient. Thank you Winsor & Newton for giving me this fine travel buddy. On to the next adventure!
We are 3 days out and I get more and more excited with every hour! Today the students will be posting brief critical write ups on contemporary artists we'll see at the venice biennale. I, too, will spend some time familiarizing myself with some of these artists. I've glanced at some of them and look forward to digging deeper into their cultural and historical backgrounds! More posts to come soon!
Traveling is an life changing experience that many artists have shared. One of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargent even visited Venice and created some of his most recognizable watercolor sketches there. The idea of travel is often idealized and romanticized by artists and non-artists alike, which often gets in the way of authentic cultural experience. Still, traveling to new places (or even seeking the unknown aspects of familiar places) offers an encounter with the world that reinforces an encounter with one's own real self. These encounters are not idealized or naively romanticized. They are real. I am thankful that my advisor at Furman (Bob Chance) encouraged me to go on my first trip abroad (a semester abroad in Cortona, Italy). I was terrified! I would have never thought that i would be changed so much by that experience. It changed the trajectory of my life and my career. It's not that traveling abroad changed me as much as it helped me to realize who I have been all along. . . and who I wanted to become.
I am excited to observe my students have such encounters. I, of course, cannot wait to be impacted by my own experiences traveling with them. Every time I go somewhere new, I discover something new about myself. I am inspired as an artist and as a human.
Last night, we had a pre-trip meeting. Dr. Tom Pitts began our meeting with a series of quotes about travel. These quotes resonated tremendously with me:
"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
“Using words to describe magic is like using a screwdriver to cut roast beef.”
Artists and Travel: John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925)