Category Archives: Uncategorized

Buongiorno! Hello from Florence


Florence!  Sigh. It’s long been a very special place to me. When I am there, or I think about my time spent there, the word that comes to mind is reverence. All that art, still there in this Tuscan town. Still in the places it was made for, there is nothing like it. It’s like the ghosts of geniuses walk the streets with you.


Michelangelo’s  David At the Academia Gallery in Florence.

image1 (1)

The faces of people gazing up at the David sculpture by Michelangelo.  This sculpture, completed in 1504, holds us in its gaze still.

Over ten years ago, I spent a semester studying art in Mexico. It was a profound time in my growth as a artist. The underlying current there was passion. A quote from my teacher was “I don’t care what the subject looks like, show me how you feel about it”
That is a quote I will never forget, it has deep meaning for me and I can see it reflected in the way I create. Each country has its own value system around art. When you study art in places with deep the cultural ties to  their art, the more you will feel that value system in the way art is taught.

Two years ago I packed my bags to study in Florence. I didn’t know what to expect. Italy has such a deep deep rooted relationship to art and was the birthplace of the Renaissance. But the Italians are so passionate, would that passion spill over into a freedom in art as it did in Mexico?

No. No is the answer. The passion for art is tied tight like a bow around the classical tradition of art. When you grow up surrounded by so much unbelievable classical art, when your teachers are the likes of Michelangelo, you don’t really need to move past that. You put that up on a pedestal and honor it. And so, I return to the word reverence.


Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery

I’ve spent weeks returning to drawing in preparation and now my bags are packed; and my knees buckle just a bit, as my heart beats just a bit faster, thinking of heading off to study, in that city, with so much mind boggling art, by so many classical and historically important artists. This study will not be about searching for the freedom in art, it will be about discipline. This study is about learning as much as I can, so later, at another time, I can break through from a place of knowing, into the place of freedom I first experienced in Mexico, and long to return to in art. But for now, reverence.

Left: Studying in Florence 2 years ago, Right: a few drawings I have been working on in preparation for my studies.

Just a note- I am writing this on Saturday, the day I will fly out. You’re most likely reading this on Monday, when I am already in Florence, already beginning my studies. So please tune into to my Facebook and Instagram pages, where I will be uploading in real time, and bringing you all along with me on this adventure.


Learn, Grow, Teach



A copy from Henry Yan’s book Figure Drawing

The best teachers are also students, and a great student will share what they learn and teach along the way.

That will be my focus as March turns to April. Women’s History Month was a lot of fun; I loved learning more about the women who made art history, and their struggles and triumphs inspired me. It made me think about the importance of giving 200%, and what is possible when you set your sights just a bit higher.


A copy of an Andrew Wyeth dry brush painting. Doing this study taught me a lot. I think I’ll do more. It was my first attempt at dry brush.

It also got me thinking about sharing art and teaching. The journey of an artist doesn’t seem to have as much meaning unless you’re growing and sharing along the way.


Le sigh! This book is a must for lovers of landscapes and Turner.

Art books are a personal passion. One of my all time favorites is J.M.W. Turner’s “Painting Set Free.” I could turn its pages endlessly, looking at the way he truly did set painting free in the last fifteen years of his life. For many masters it is the same: In their later years, their art gets looser and freer. The Impressionists are another example of this. Personally, I think this freedom comes from a place of mastery. When you know your craft so well you can seemingly do it in your sleep. When you have so much muscle memory built up from years of honing your skills, then you have great freedom. So it is that I want to be an abstract painter when I grow up, so I’m returning again to the classical world.


A living master: Henry Yan’s “Figure Drawing” is an incredible teacher and amazing to turn the pages of.

In mid-April, I’ll be heading back to Florence and Tuscany to study from a more classical form. To prepare myself, I’m copying from the masters. Copying? Yes, of course, it is part of any classical training. It is imperative that you say you are copying, and never claim the idea as your own, but copying is learning in the art world. If you go into any of the world’s great museums, you will often find artists copying from the masters. And that is how so many of the masters started their own education. Turner spent time in the National Gallery copying from those who went before him, and so it goes.

You learn from going where those before you went. I’m studying from life as well, attending live sessions with models, as I will be studying from life in Italy. I am preparing to be a good student, and the best way to learn is to teach, so I hope you come along with me on this month of discovery. I plan to be on posting a lot of information for you, so you can learn along with me. Because if I believe anything, it’s that art is for everyone!

What about you? What have you learned that you turned around and taught? I love hearing from you. The best conversations are on Facebook and Instagram, I hope to see you there!


A copy from Henry Yan’s book Figure Drawing