Monday, February 02, 2009

La Toscana


A couple weekends ago I made a whirlwind tour of Tuscany over 5 days. The weather was damp but mild enough to get a decent amount of al fresco sketching done. There were relatively few tourists in the cities & on the roads so it was easy to get around & visit museums.

First stop San Gimignano. I warmed up with a sketch of two of the (14) famous towers seen from the main street into the town.


I found a good vantage point at an outdoor café & sketched the main piazza with its much photographed cisterna.





On the way out I found a spot where I could sketch the town with all its towers. Then it was onto Siena (with a brief stop at the fortress of Monteriggioni)


The Piazza del Campo is the most well known spot in the city but rather difficult to squeeze into a sketchbook. In the sketch above I captured one quarter of the piazza where the palio horse-race is held every summer. A wide format Moleskine was perfect to draw the extreme proportions of the Torre del Mangia. I was eager to climb this sucker but it was closed due to the rain!



Here's the view from my hotel window. The stripy tower in the background is the Duomo.


Inside the Duomo I found the lavish Cappella della Madonna del Voto



Next day I had to hot-foot it back north to Florence. I've visited the city twice before but never drawn the Ponte Vecchio-now was my chance!



I wanted to get a drawing on the bridge too to capture the tourists gazing at the jewellry displays & posing for phtos. I sheltered amongst the stalls selling Pinocchio dolls & tried to keep the rain drops from hitting my page. Florentine policemen look very chic with their white leather handbags & pith helmets!



I only had one hour before the Uffizi museum closed. I dashed around it to find Leonardo's Adoration of the Magi, Botticelli's Birth of Venus & Carvaggio's Medusa shield. However the last day I had a whole morning to take in the Accademia where I wanted to sketch Michelangelo's original David.

It's really well displayed at the end of a 'corridor' of Michelangelo's unfinished slaves. The portly American tourists were a fine contrast to the perfect forms sculpted by Michelangelo!


The male & female forms above are a detail from Giambologna's 'Rape of the Sabines' which is said to be perfect from every angle.

After the Accademia I had to leave promptly accounting for time lost in Florence's labyrinthine one way system. Leonardo da Vinci himself couldn't figure out the urban planning of that place!

More of my Tuscany sketches can be seen at the Urban Sketchers blog.

19 comments:

Adam Whitmarsh said...

Amazing, the sketches seem effortless! 'David' is incredible, the tones you applied work perfectly. I look forward to viewing more work.
Rgds, Adam

Isabel said...

I came from urbansketchers to visit your blog and really like what I've seen great sketches

alan said...

I also found your post on Urban sketchers and was impressed. The blog is even more so. Great work. I love the ecomony of your architectural drawings. I noticed a repro of a Ronald Searle, which was interesting as I see some affinities between ytour line quaility and his - especially in the neat sketch of a Bristol cafe.

The animal sketches are marvellous

I'll be back

Louie del Carmen said...

Magnificent work Matt. Your linework is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Robyn said...

What a treat to find your blog through Urban Sketchers, Matt.

I stood in the freezing cold to sketch the Ponte Vecchio in December - because living here I always feel guilty that I don't take all the wonderful sketching opportunities. Your beautiful work can certainly teach me a thing or two!

Smook said...

Always a pleasure looking through your generous sketches, Matt! Thanks for sharing....

I especially love the Siena5 (nice open areas contrasting nicely with the detailed accents of the buildings) and ItalyMoleskine05 as well!

Bravo!

Uncle Emile said...

great sketches as allways Matt!
I went to San Geminiano in 76, this incredible "moyen age" town is a perfect subject for your style of graphic retranscription ... hope to see you soon in Nice!

animals sketches are GIANT !

Leo Matsuda said...

Amazing artwork, Matt! Thanks for stopping by in my blog too. I love your Ronald Searle Tribute Blog.

Alina Chau said...

These are beautiful!!

Giuseppe Ferrario said...

I love San Giminiano

John T. Quinn 3rd said...

i love the discipline and patience of work like this. something i lack. clean simplification coupled with a charming handwriting. great post!

Lucie Geffré said...

Beautiful!

Christian said...

These are wonderful Matt. Its always a pleasure to see what your latest.

Jeroen said...

Were there 2 fat women sitting in the Academia, constantly shouting NOFOTTO!!!!

Matt J said...

It happened Jeroen! Fascists!
Thanks for the comments & encouragement everyone.

Daron said...

beautiful stuff!

Brian Sibley said...

Superb sketches - I especially liked the ones of San Gimignano, the Cappella della Madonna del Voto and David and the slaves. They brought back many memories of Tuscany. If you haven't already done so, you must visit Lucca one day also Collodi with its Pinocchio associations...

Thanks, Matt.

Matt J said...

Cheers Brian-I passed by Lucca & Collodi on the drive down but alas I didn't have time. Volterra too, & Cinqueterra & Pisa ! I'll make another trip in the future.

BEN said...

compliments Matt!!!
I love this drawings, your use of the ink is beautiful! love the difference of pression, the strong lines and the tiny lines give a great sense of volume and perspective!
compliments again,
bravo!
:D