Posted on June 22, 2018
A bright Saturday morning sun illuminated the Forum Boarium as tourists queued nearby at the legendary Bocca della Verità or Mouth of Truth. The locale was familiar; a nearby farmers market on the via San Teodoro was a stop earlier in the week on the way to Appia Antica and Cecilia Metella. We’d returned to the onetime bustling cattle market of ancient Rome to study the round Temple of Hercules Victor.
The morning session sketching in sanguine pencil built on the week’s education in light and form, while also adding a new focus, rendering trees. Framed by picturesque umbrella pines, the temple served as a focal point against the trees’ darker range of values in the background.
Instructor David Mayernik emphasized seeing the ‘structure’ of a tree in order to create a compelling representation. Referencing works by masters of sanguine pencil rendering such as Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, students learned hatching techniques to create tone and value within the forms of the trees.
It was fitting (for the sake of symmetry) that on our final afternoon of the program we returned to the Campidoglio, where our first introduction to Rome had taken place a week earlier. The dynamic and bustling piazza was the stage for our final sketch in watercolor, as the group set out to capture the dynamic play of afternoon light and shadow.
The theatrical layering of statues and buildings in view included the medieval church of Santa Maria d’Aracoeli, the magnificent piazza of the Capitol, and glimpses of Roman Forum beyond. As crowds and wedding parties moved through the dynamic space, the dark equestrian figure of Marcus Aurelius stood silhouetted against the golden buildings, the supporting statuary a crisp white set against deep green cypress trees. Engrossed, we hardly noticed time passing until it was time to wrap up for the day.
The group gathered in the Alberto Santa Chiara’s courtyard for a final review of our work over a glass of prosecco. A celebratory dinner followed, at the Ristorante al Pompiere, where lively conversation flowed. Each student would be returning home with new insights, breakthroughs, and many lessons learned from our talented and passionate instructors. As the warm evening light fell through open windows, the group raised glasses to an inspiring week of drawing and watercolor, of fascinating history and conversation, and taking in the beauty around Rome’s every corner.
An excerpt from the ICAA’s Daily Inspiration From the Christopher H. Browne Rome Drawing Tour. To read more memories from the blog click here: https://www.classicist.org/articles/daily-inspiration-from-the-christopher-h-browne-rome-drawing-tour/