Spring in Italy
Thursday, June 15, 2006
  Three weeks to sketch to my hearts content

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. I am currently working on prints, paintings and collages inspried by this experience and planning to take a group to the Amalfi Coast (southern Italy) in spring 2007. We'll take several day trips (pompeii, capri, positano) and work in our sketchbooks. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or are interested in coming along in the spring please contact me at mphackmann@comcast.net.

Three weeks in Italy, Spring 2006. I am still dreaming of the Italian cities, countryside, culture and the time to create and play in the studio. It was heavenly to be there for so long. I felt like I could sit still and enjoy it as opposed to sprinting from one sight to the next in hopes not to miss one single experience (or pair of fabulous italian leather shoes). I had time to notice what was happening around me and sketch to my hearts content. I filled three sketchbooks. (note to self: next time pack more pens) Here are a few of my favorite sketches and a couple corresponding photos (so you can see what I really mean). I was there to assist on a painting trip - my role was teaching sketchbook development.
  Roma - Sketchbook One

I left for rome April 13th (my lucky day) and had 5 days to roam Rome. Highlights included spotting the Pope twice, Colloseo, a docent tour of the roman antiquities (I shocked myself being so interested in the history), Testaccio market, Pantheon, and another favorite experience was being invited to celebrate the easter holiday with a family in Rome.
  Piazza Navona
  Testaccio treasure hunt

If you know me, than you know what I mean when I say I went dumpster diving at the market. These cool bits were pieces of packaging just left outside to fend for themselves?!?!?
  Easter Sunday at the Vatican
  Umbria - Sketchbook Two

I met the group of artists I was traveling with on April 18 in the airport. It was rainy and cold - a good day to drive into Umbria. We arrived at La Romita and were greeted by our host Edmund and several green glass containers scattered all over the school. It was a painting focused trip, and I was there to teach sketchbook development. (We made books, reviewed sketching ideas and techniques and experimented with a little collage) Our two weeks there were spent soaking in various cities in the center of Umbria and working in the studio (which was the chapel of a converted monastery - really it was)

We traveled to Terni, Narni, Spoleto, San Gemini, Perugia, Valle San Martino, Stronecone (that was week one) - Orvieto, Montefalco, Todi, Assisi, and Carsulae (week 2) We covered some serious ground... and I wore my car-sickness wrist bands on every trip. (by the way - for those of you considering such an adventure - that is a must have on the packing list, along with hand wipes) I wonder if there is as much to discover here if I looked a little harder - probably not a 1400’s fresco from Fra Angelica or Fra Filippo Lippi- but maybe I’d find something else wonderfully inspiring to fill my mind and sketchbook pages with... The local search continues!
  Spoleto - a fresco feast

  The most beautiful fountain in central italy - Perugia

  Valle San Martino

I can't believe people still live in the completely untouched medieval town
  The massive cathedral in Orvieto
  Amazing Frescoes in Todi

I love this page. This was one of the many fresco cycles we saw in Umbria - I was (literally) drawn to them more than I expected. A friend I was traveling with said - no self respecting town would call itself Todi.
  Views of the roman ruins at Carsulae

I started 2 paintings here. It was the perfect place to paint for me - quiet and plenty of architectural elements to focus on.
  Sorrento - Sketchbook Three

Not that I’m planning on going anywhere anytime soon - but I told Chad I wanted my ashes scattered here when I go. Sorrento and the Amalfi coast is heaven on earth as far as I’m concerned. The hills are dotted with lemon and olive trees that go on until it reaches the coast. Endless views of pastel colored coastal towns slip down the coast against the blue blue water that blends right in to the sky. Blue blue blue blue and turquoise. We only had 2 days there. I must go back. I need to go back, I’m not finished sketching there yet. And my blood-level-limoncello count is dropping. Like provence drips with lavender this region utilizes every last squeeze of their lemons - including the rind. It's worked into breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, color palettes, it’s everywhere. When we checked out of our hotel they gave us 6 humongous lemons for the road?!?! hmm... I peeled and tried one - gorgeous on the eyes - but this is still a lemon.
  Wandering through Pompeii

I’ve wanted to visit Pompeii since learning about it in fifth grade. We took the circumvesuvia from Sorrento to get there, picked up a bag lunch (prochuttio and mozzarella) and some blood oranges and headed in for the day. It’s one of the most amazing and well preserved places I've ever seen. It was more of a modern city than where I grew up in upstate new york. Urban. Sophisticated. Impressive amounts of planning went into discovering that city and it continues. We were there about five hours and it wasn’t enough. Mosaics, sculptures, signage, bodies, frescoes, alters, columns, bathtubs, amphitheaters, theaters, brothels, bedrooms, gardens, homes, temples, and hints of their lives and creativity. Endless things to observe and sketch.
  Signature tiles on the Amalfi Cathedral
  Day trip through the Amalfi Coast

Here is a sketch and picture from our road trip to Amalfi, Ravello, and Positano. (I’m dang glad we weren’t driving... note: do not be tempted to rent, drive, or park a car here). The endless views of terraced lemon and olive groves and water goes in as far as the eye can see. Over every cliff and turn was another spectacular view. These lemon, terra cotta, salmon, and sea foam buildings seem to be miraculously balancing on top of each other. Every inch is gorgeous. Every hill and corner in the road reveals another gem to feast your eyes on. Many of the areas religious buildings are topped with vibrant green and yellow majorca tiles (the regions local colors), it’s sings out against the blue skies and water vistas. Even though the buildings are smooshed together it feels clean clear and uncomplicated. Heavenly to me.
  Back to Roma

I’m ready to forget about going back to rome and just staying here, but my traveling companion reminds me that we’ve already paid for a cool hotel outside campo di fiori so that we can stroll out the door and hit the market and Trastevere. And that we have sites to see, markets to lollygag at, and streets to wander, coffee to drink. OK I’m convinced. But I still need to go back.


I'm a spirited artist and instructor with lots of energy. Currently I'm developing paintings, prints, books and collages that are inspired and developed in my sketchbooks. This fall I'll be offering a sketchbook development course at the Corcoran, and a workshop in Portland, Oregon in hopes to pass along what I've learned through working in mine. To see more about my artwork please go to mphackmann.com

June 2006 /

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