When I was younger, I had the good fortune to join my parents on a few of their European trips. My stepfather and ace illustrator Carlos Diniz was also my mentor and employer, so I spent a lot of time visiting the important architectural wonders that were so abundant in the wellspring of western civilization – Italia! Adding that my Mother and Carlos were enthusiastic gourmands and admirers of fine wine, these trips were pretty incredible to this day inspire not only my work but my own lifestyle.
Segue to the present day – sitting here in quarantine, with more time on my hands than I have ever been accustomed to, my creative mind wandered back to those halcyon days in Italy.
Rather than be down about the whole COVID-19 situation, I decided to have fun and to share some little sketches with my friends, thinking that maybe I could help to trigger some pleasant memories in them too.
Well, I must say the response has been everything I wished for and more! I have received so many nice responses, including more than a few architect’s anecdotes about being young and traveling through Italy and discovering those magical places for the first time. Encouraged by this I decided to continue drawing and sending out a sketch a week until we were free from this pandemic.
What is it about Italy? From the 18th century British gentlemen of means marveling at the archaeological finds; to current day, the panoply of natural and man-made enchantments continue to draw people world over and to enrich us all with a universal appreciation for some of the best art and architecture ever to have been dreamed and created.
Regarding the drawings themselves, having recently uncovered some of Carlos Diniz’s early ink work (a subject for another journal,) I became intrigued with the idea creating my Italy drawings using the old crosshatching techniques and thought to try my hand at ink media.
Carlos was a master of crosshatching; in my opinion, unequaled by many artists in this or any other age. Densely crosshatched drawing was once a staple of the CDA repertoire, but in my iteration of the studio, we phased it out as a technique when we made the transition to watercolor media. Rediscovering this beautiful technique and reinvigorating my love of this beautiful country has not only kept me busy, but has helped me reconnect with old friends, colleagues and other lovers of art. Following are a few of the drawings – a true example of taking life’s lemons and making lemonade. I hope you enjoy them!
This is a great view from the upper terrace of the Hotel Raphael showing the cityscape from St. Peters to Castle St. Angelo.
Carlos Diniz was a huge Palladio fan, and while with him I visited the churches in Venice and the Teatro Olympica in Vicenza, I never got to see any of the Villas in person. This stately view of the archetypal villa captures Palladio’s elegant palazzo nicely, so I chose it for the second entry on the Architectural Tour.
VILLA ROTUNDA GARDENS
Looking from the back of the villa, one has a lovely view of the entry drive flanked by statuary and a small church beyond. The site on a small hill was chosen for its 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside.
This is a well-known view of the cathedral from the Mangia Tower. When I visited Sienna and experienced its medieval Palio di Siena horse race, the city was ablaze in pageantry for the physically brutal contest. Everything about Italy’s turbulent history was on full display.
The cathedral is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen – inside and out, and from the adjacent high walls one could see for miles. I found this composition appealing for its chaotic foreground buildings juxtaposed to the refined church edifice and with the soft Umbrian hills beyond.
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