Sunday, June 30, 2013

Roaming Rome

I took a regional train to Rome from Montepescali. Arrived on a Sunday noon and checked in the hostel. I started walking and sketching and ended up at St Peter's Square. Here, I observed tourists and pilgrims enjoying the warm Sunday afternoon shine, while I flipped over to a spread in my sketchbook to do a panorama.

It's been about 15 years since I last set foot on this ground.  It's good to be back here, this time armed with my sketchbook, watercolours, ink and pencils.

This is one of the places I've always wanted to sketch.

The result of the panorama.

Inside St Peter's Basilica is the tomb of Papa Giovanni Paolo II next to the Pieta (above). Apparently, he was moved up from the tomb for the popes in the basement as he was causing a jam below. :) He is going to be canonized this October. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Travelling Toscano 2: Castiglione della Pescaia

This is part 2 of my weekend getaway in the province of Grosetto, in the region of Tuscany.

I was invited by a friend to stay over the weekend and explore the village of Montepescali and the beach at Castiglione della Pescaia.  This post focuses on the beach. :)  Because my friends were locals, they knew exactly where to park. Many private beaches litter the coastline of Italy. Only a handful are untouched. 

Cold waters, warm sand.  I decided to spend my time walking down the coast, passing by private sections after private sections until I arrived at a rock formation which didn't allow me to walk further. 

I'll work on one of these when I visit another beach.

Sketch of the the castle at Castiglione della Pescaia.

I really love this shot by one of the suntanning ladies.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Travelling Toscano: Montepescali

I just got back from a week out of Florence. The first place I went to is Montepascali, a region in Tuscany.  Just so that you are not confused, I'll focus on the first half of my journey to Montepescali about 150km southwest of Florence. 

About 222m above sea level, this town built in the middle ages has a scenic panorama of the coastal strip! I was invited by a friend to stay over the weekend and explore this little town with a population of about 22o. 

For me, it was a pleasant getaway from the city-life + school. There are probably hundreds of such towns here in Italy, so looking forward to visiting them. :)

What a sight from the piazza just below the Church of Ss. Stefano and Lorenzo!

Church of Ss. Stefano and Lorenzo

Picturesque views from all the way up here!

Decorations for a wedding celebration were being put up at S. Nicolo.

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's like Magic!

The final 2-week live model Anatomy Study for term one

One of the most interesting BIG CONCEPTS I learnt at school last term is about creating illusions! I never thought I would ever hear that word again - Illusion.  It's amazing that I get to do it now with my Art turning graphite on a 2D plane into a 3-dimensional object.  I can also imagine myself performing a show each time I finish every piece of art work.  Looking forward to pushing this form of Art as far as I can go.

Here's some background to why I get so excited about the word illusion... simply because I love magic! Specifically the art of entertaining people using deceptive means... (hahaha!) Books on magic, movies about magic, street performances, stage show with a live-audience... All you need is pure slight of hand and a little dash of misdirection... I love the idea of being able to take someone and suspend them in disbelief, taking them out of their daily hum drum. And especially to kids as they are still at an age where they believe that anything can happen. We all need this sense of awe and wonderment every now and then.

Given a choice, I would watch a magic show rather than a game of football or a popular sit-com. Clearly it's an art where only few would appreciate. Here's an old video I produced once upon a time when I was a young lad given some off time during work to create this after office hours at the parking lot just to amuse some of my colleagues.  On another note, NOW YOU SEE ME, is now playing at the Odeon in original sound. Perfect timing! :)
(It's not an option for me to embed the video here, so you have to go there directly with this link.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Got ID?

I've just passed the 10 week mark here in Italy and it's been great so far. In between classes, there were a lot of administrative work to be done living here in Italy.  Everything for getting my permit to stay to getting my fiscal code... But I think I have pretty much everything, until the next renewal. I'm almost Italian!!!

The Permesso di Soggiono is the most important to obtain for long term stay. I'll share an overview of this complicated procedure for those who need to know the full process and have clue how to go about it.

1. You will need:
- An application form
- Passport
- Visa on passport
- Letter of acceptance from school or place of work
- Italian Revenue Stamp €14.62 (Marca da Bollo - specifically for the Permesso di Soggiorgno) which can be purchased from the local Tabbachi and some bars.
More here:

2. Go to the Sportello at VIA PIETRAPIANA 53 to pay up (next door at the Italiane Poste with all your documents. It cost about 100.  You will receive a kit, receipt and more instructions.

3. An appointment with a specific timing will be made about one month later at the Questura (Police Station) at Via della Fortezza 17.  Here you will need:
- Bring the Receipt and Kit you got from 2
- 3 passport-size photographs
- All your fingers for scanning

4. About 2 weeks to 4 weeks later, you will return to this same Questura to pick up your Permesso di Soggiorno. Be prepared to wait in line. Bring every single document you have just in case.

5. Finally, you will be invited to watch a 5 hour video presentation on living in Italy (1hr x 5 clips) which will cover everything from point 1 - 4 and lots more. :)

(Clock-wise from bottom left: Permesso di Soggiorno, Codice Fiscale and my Identity Card.
Yes, I can vote now! :) 

So why am I not smiling? I didn't bring 3 photographs and had to scout for a "nearby"instant photo shop. At the point when the lady took the photo, she told me not to smile.  If you were bored reading all of this, imagine what I had to go through. :p

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fruit cake and bicycle

What doesfruit cake containing dried fruit and often marzipan and covered with sugarpowdered sugar or icing sugar got to do with my former bicycle?

They're both Stol(l)en.

Like they say "You never own bicycles in Florence. You rent them from bike thieves."

Here's the scoop:
I was on my way to meet my schoolmates for a end of the school year gathering. I stopped by Coop (a supermarket) to pick up some groceries, and thinking I was going to be in there for only 5 minutes, I placed my bike on the rack without locking it.

When I came out... Gone. Like a disappearing act. To my disbelief, I thought that I had parked it somewhere else. No. It was gone! 

Good bye, Mr Bicycle. I'm sure the person who took it needed it badly. : )

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Let the Summer begin!!!

The sun is finally out and it's warming up really well for the next three months. Time to put away the bargues for now. I'll be here in Italy visiting museums, exploring the nearby vicinity, attending workshops, and of course... sketch.  It's been awhile since I last spent an entire morning/afternoon drawing the streets of Florence.  Definitely looking forward to it.  And you can check in for more sketches too here and at my Facebook art page.  

Happy Summer with cookies!!!

Doing the final touches of the live model piece.

Here at the Angel Academy we strive to best by pushing our limits to the extreme... :)
If only I had 3 more hands. 

These are some of the trees I killed this term. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nearing the End

It's been nearly 10 weeks and boy did time whizz by so fast! A couple of days more and we break for summer. Some of us will be travelling back home, whereas the rest of us will be spending time either hanging out here in Florence or travelling around the region. Since I just got here only 2 and a half months back, I'll be staying here for the summer, and will finally get to sketch quite a lot more! :)

Here's a snapshot of some of the skills I picked up this first quarter at Angel Academy.

Learning how to construct the human anatomy using the comparative technique.

Let's throw in a sitting pose and a chair to make things a little more complex. 

 A focus on shadow shapes.

The introduction of Big Form Modelling.

... and taking an image to as best a render as possible.

It's amazing what I've picked up in 10 weeks! And this is a reminder to me that given any situation, I'd rather be taught then be self-taught. Actually, I don't believe in this term, "self-taught".  Be it in music, business, sports, etc, if one seeks knowledge from either Youtube, Google, or even by casually asking a friend for tips and advice, isn't the internet already one's teacher? And if one claims to be self-taught, chances are that person i not diving deep enough into the subject. Food for thought.

Looking forward to the coming summer!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

All About Bargue - Part 3

This is a near to finish Parthenon Horse bargue that I have been working on for the past 6 weeks.  This one took a long time. It was amazing how my journey on the Camino last year taught me how to "slow down", but this particular bargue brings it to a whole new level! They say the 2nd bargues are the most painful. And once you move past this, even the next may be tougher, it will be bearable just because you did the 2nd bargue.

Things I learnt doing this barge:
- Big Form Modelling (Creating the illusion of 3D on a 2D sheet of paper... funny how I thought I'd never be dabbling in magic again. ;p )
- I began to see clusters of shapes instead of individual points. 
- Pacing myself and not allowing the speed of others to affect me... we're all different, doing different things... another Camino reminder.
- I developed a heightened awareness of precision. 

On to the next (and more complex) bargue!! :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another kind of Art

Some of my friends wonder what I have been eating here in Florence. This post will answer just that. I enjoy cooking. I feel it's therapeutic, and it keeps me away from my work, which is necessary from time to time. I also feel it helps me understand and makes me more confident in my art too especially in the area of balancing.  Be it colour, line width, shadow shapes... the food I cook inspires the art, and the art I do inspires the food. My housemates also cook, so we do a lot of sharing and learning. What a deal!!  Here are some of my creations:

So I finally got to make pulpo - a popular dish from north western Spain in Galicia.

This is what the final dish looks like with potatoes.

I'm also learning how to prepare food Tuscan style.  Here I use Salvia leaves to add to the flavouring of my Ravioli.  

And of course, I still prepare the spicy stuff from South East Asia.