Art, Philosphy, Travel

Italy 2017.02.25-.03.03.009

2017.02.25 Week 9 Day 1
This Saturday was spent working on my anatomy homework. We have to replicate the sketches in the book “The Human Figure” by John H. Vanderpool originally published in 1935. The pencil sketches are simple and useful in starting the process of learning about the muscles and skeleton of the human body. The goal is not to become a surgeon—rather to understand the “boney landmarks” and the major muscle groups that are visible when drawing the human figure.

The weather has started to “turn” —meaning the temperatures are climbing; trees are budding (especially the river trees along the Arno; birds are chirping and chasing each other with their courting rituals; couples are walking more slowly hand-in-hand; and the air is fresh and full of oxygen. It lifts the spirits.

2017.02.26 Week 9 Day 2
Tgarend-of-the-fort-1oday was a glorious day. The weather approached 15Cº , no wind and beautifully sunny. My routine on Sundays is to get in a good walk, explore Florence and visit a different church during Mass (and light candles for my deceased dogs). I began by walking to the
Giardino della Fortezza (Garden of the Fort) north of the train station. I had lovely sit down watching dog walkers, birds and the calm of the weather. After sitting still in the park I headed to the Museum of San Marco via Via 27 Aprile. This is a complex with a church and convent. I attended Mass and, as is my custom, lite three

candles for my three deceased soft coated wheaten terriers. The organist was producing beautiful music. The convent was the home, in the 15th century, to the painter Fra Angelica and the preacher Girolamo Savonarola.

I also visited the library. This is supposed to be the very first public library. It was designed by Michelozzo, the architect of Cosimo the Eder. It set the precedent for the Renaissance monastery library. It was built between 1441-1444: It had 64 cypress desks arranged in 2 rows with bookcases on the perimeter. When it was finished the library held the collection of over 400 Greek and Latin manuscripts that had belonged to Niccolo Niccoli (I live on Via di Niccoli). His will required that his library be held in tact–and wish that Cosimo honored by building this library. Cosimo had a dream of a “public” library and this space realized that dream.

An inventory (see photo) was done in 1499-1500. On the right side were religious books (ex parte orientis) and on the left were classical texts (ex parte ocidentis). By then the library had 861 books. Napolenon’s occupation in 1808 began the process of breaking up the library (all church property was confiscated and the collection was given to public collections.) When religious orders were further suppressed in the Kingdom of Italy in 1867 the collection was divided between the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana and the Biblioteca Nazionale.

The photos show the space, the liturgical books and the tools and materials used to create the medieval illuminated manuscripts.

Following this quiet and contemplative visit, I headed to the Piazza Santa Croce.

From there I went home to finish my anatomy homework, laundry, talk to Lea via FaceTime and make sure our accountant got all of our tax related documents uploaded correctly. Dinner as a thick soup of black-eyed peas, red onion, garlic, tomato and basil.The wine was Caselle—a Chianti Superiore from Fratoria Montellori.

2017.02.27 Week 9 Day 3 Class 36
Besides working on my Bargue #2 Torso, I had my follow-up orthopedic surgeon check-up. Happy to report that I did not need another cortisone shot. Only exercise and limited lifting. I will have a further follow-up in 30 days. It is now much more fun to put on a T-shirt. I missed a one day figure pose because of the appointment.

2017.02.28-03.03 Week 9 Day 4-7 Classes 37-40
This week saw the end of Bargue #2 Torso. The last several days saw a real test of my patience. I spent hours on tiny areas (10cm X 10cm). The hardest elements were getting the tiny turning points on the scapula (shoulder blade) to work. I finally completed the drawing on Friday. Monday will be the “formal” acceptance and choosing of Bargue #3—my last. As with the Bargue #2, #3 will be more complex than the previous one. There will be even more reliance on sight-sizing. We will only be able to measure the extremities. 

Besides the Bargue, we had to start another value scale. Tedious but very important. Hopefully I will finish mine tomorrow (Saturday the 4th of March) for a Monday morning inspection.


In the afternoon we finished with our four-day pose with the addition of the big form modeling. We fell short of time to complete the work but I learned a great deal. The lessons learned:

  • Do not trick yourself into thinking you are representing a human body. One is drawing shapes in relationships to other shapes and negative spaces;
  • Shading seems on the surface as straight-forward. It is emphatically not (at least for me). Creating a smooth, error free shade is complex and difficult;
  • I must (repeat must) slow down and stop rushing to get to “an image;”
  • Drawing is about understanding shapes and the way light lands (relative to the adjacent shapes) on the shapes;
  • Blending the big form model must be done subtly and slow.

I am grateful that my shoulder enabled me to work at the easel this week. By 6PM each day I was, of course, very tired and the shoulder hurt. I am taking Tumeric for inflammation to avoid taking other anti-inflammatories which are not kind to the body. But with the exercises and rest I am able to return the next day for another round of learning. I am looking forward to a fresh start of a new Bargue on Monday.


About Jeffrey Scherer

artist.father.grandfather.leftist.walker.retired architect


2 thoughts on “Italy 2017.02.25-.03.03.009

  1. Jeff: I have been following your journey with great interest & admiration. Admiration for your courage in plunging into something so demanding & so challenging. (My first husband was an artist & excellent draftsman so I do
    Know what is required to be good.) also the courage it takes to do what you are doing & put yourself so far out of your comfort zone!

    I had the pleasure of studying in Florence when I was in college & am reliving my experience then thru your blog. In case you are struggling to figure out who I am, your brother David worked for me when I was the City Manager of Del Mar, Ca & you gave Richard & me & two other couples a wonderful walking tour of Merida & your fabulous home when we were there last January.

    I have one question: are your classes in Italian & what is your proficiency in the language? If you are studying in English how are you managing without Italian?

    Anyway, I do not intend to
    Comment with any frequency. Just wanted you to count me among your admirers. Richard & I wish you lots of luck in this adventure. Keep lighting those candles!!!

    Posted by Lauraine Brekke-Esparza | March 4, 2017, 09:49
    • Lauraine
      Comments are always welcomed. The classes are in English (it was founded by John Michael Angel, an Englishman) and students come from all over the world. My Italian is basic–I can read at a beginners level. With my Spanish (also at a low level–language is not my strong suit) I can understand some things. I am going to start lesson after the Spring break–now that I have my bearings and one trimester under my belt. Hope you both are well. All the best and thanks for the follow.

      Posted by Jeffrey Scherer | March 4, 2017, 09:54
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