Friday, February 24, 2006

Rome Week 5

I just want to get it out fast....Oh, How I adore Rome.

The beginning of the week was a bit lonely and spent mostly in the
studio trying to figure out how to paint and draw...hmmm. One would
think that I could do it just fine already. But, I guess there is
always something new to learn. (If anyone knows a good method for
fixing watercolors on panel....let me know).

It's always nice to get emails from home about news and goings on. It
can sometimes be very isolating here. So whenever I hear from all of
you at home, it helps combat the loneliness that can sometimes settle

I did get a chance to go back to the Capitoline Museums and draw from
the Roman replica of the Dying Gaul statue. It was beautiful.
Actually, I was incredibly lucky. When we arrived there was a film
crew in the next room. Almost right after I sat down to sketch the
statue, they moved to my room and kicked out all the tourists. But I
guess since I was sketching and in there for serious pursuits they
left me alone, and then proceeded to light the Gaul with several
spotlights. I had my very own lighting crew to get the specifics
down. It was fabulous; of course I also had an occasional audience.
It was nice not to have anyone getting into my line of vision for

Thursday was a wet and rainy day. We stood out in it for nearly an
hour and a half studying just the Arch of Constantine upon the entry
into the Forum from the ancient Via Sacra. There is such a myriad of
styles of carving from Trajan's, Hadrian, and Constantine's eras that
it is an interesting lesson in sculptural styles.

From there we headed to the Church of San Clemente, one of the best
examples of Roman Building Recycling or Palimpsesting. At the bottom
most level, we were exploring a factory of some kind (thought to be
the mint of Imperial Rome) and a house from the 1st Century BC. In
the 3rd Century it had been turned into a Mythraic Temple (one of the
early mystery religions) and in the 5th Century it was all covered and
a basilica (church) was built on top of that which is now on the 3rd
level up as the 1st era had 2 stories). From there, in the 11th
century the 3rd and final layer was added as an updated church
(filling in the 5th c additions). There are some fabulously gilded
mosaics of the saints and Christ in the apse of the last level. I've
never actually seen any of this style. Building within the current
structure has continued throughout the last..oh...900 years or so,
with the addition of frescoes in the 15th c. and later. I think
though the best part of the tour was finding the fresco that really
was more of a political satire cartoon included with profanity in

So today, I went on a tour of a Fattoria in (farm and winery) in
Tuscany, near Siena and Montalpulciano. This particular one is owned
and run solely by women; the only one in Italy. I have to say, they
make some really fabulous wines. We ate lunch at the restaurant and
had a pasta making lesson. It was well worth the excursion fee the
school charged just for the lunch alone. It was all farm /locally
raised/grown ingredients. WOW. I don't think I've ever had a better
roasted chicken. (Sorry Mom.)

It is also the little things that are constantly surprising me. Like
finding an Italian lesson when getting my cappuccino at the local bar.
All of the beautiful flower stands, who have there flowers displayed
for all to see. My favorite foods are constantly far
suppli are still at the top. If ever there was something to make the
Atkins guy turn in his would be suppli (and potato pizza).
They are tomato rice balls stuffed with fresh mozzarella, then deep
fried. I think they were sent directly from heaven.
Then there is the incredible support for artists. For example my
roommate, the vegetarian, wanted to buy a shrimp to draw from the
seafood counter. Since she had never bought meat in her life, she
wanted me there for moral support and my language skills. When I
explained that she only wanted one shrimp for a model in drawing, he
actually gave it to her for free, and considering it was a jumbo prawn
at about 25 euro a kilo…not really a small thing!

As per usual, Rome is full of surprises. I can't wait to see what
else is in store….


I want to live my life not by the regret of "what if", but by its
possibilities. -ME

What lies behind us and what lies before us are nothing compared to
what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rome week 4

Dear Family and Friends,

This last week has been very eventful. I've discovered that my
Italian is good enough to get me through the hospital on my own
(Bronchitis, don't worry I didn't have an accident!) and to tell off a
florist in Campo de Fiori for being a HUGE jerk.

Most of the week was spent in bed, unfortunately. But there were some
significant things that have happened. I stood on the foundation of
the Temple of Jupiter, a temple built in the early days of Rome (BC),
and walked amongst some of the best sculpture in the world and
sketched quite a bit as well.

My research progresses and on that front we did the tour of the
American Academy and now have access to their library. Its a beautiful
17th century Palazzo on top of one of the 7 hills of Rome. Its an
amazing collection that I feel very priveledged to use. My status as
a graduate student got me in. I'm hoping it will be a temendous
resource for my art history research.

I found the perfect pair of boots and actually bought them as well. I
guess this will be my one splurge for the semester. I also got a
great steel on some really high end watercolors and found my new
favorite art supply store. All of this on an expedition into the
neighborhood south of me.

I also found out about the future of the MFA in Italy program. My
university has chosen to discontinue it. They will be keeping the
Corciano study abroad portion, however stating the reasons of cost,
are no longer going to offer Rome. As a result of this decision, I
have requested transfer for the full year next year to Washington, DC.
This decision makes everything I do here now very bittersweet, as I
know that I will not be returning to enjoy the bounty of Rome for
another semester.

However, I feel this will be the best decision for me in the long run.
I have chosed to forgo returning to Italy in the fall due to the poor
condition of the studios in Corciano and trying to move
internationally right before my final thesis semester is next to
insanity. I will also have the chance at scholarships I would not
otherwise have available. While this all logically sounds good, my
heart hurts a little with the decisions.

So....if y'all were going to try to make it across the pond, I'd
better do it soon if I were you. I am going to try to stay as long as
I can this summer without completely running out of available funds.
And in the meantime, I'm going to try to soak up as much of La Dolce
Vita as possible here in Rome.

I hope this finds you all well and happy. Hope to hear from you soon.
And fyi, you are probably seeing more of the Olympics than I am. :(


I want to live my life not by the regret of "what if", but by its
possibilities. -ME

What lies behind us and what lies before us are nothing compared to
what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rome week 3

I would like to enter this email by just saying how lucky I feel to be
in Rome. After the experiences last semester, I truly appreciate the
things that I have here. I love Rome. It is a fabulous city that is
constantly surprising me.

I found a kosher butcher who was extremely nice and the customers were
even friendly with Becca and I. Becca said that its the best
experience she's had in a shop so far, though the funny thing is she
is a vegetarian. The great thing is that its within walking distance.
I'm hoping that the laundry place is just as nice.

So far I absolutely love my classes. Last week we toured the Campus
Martius in my art history class, found the place were Caesar was
killed (now a cat sanctuary), the Pompey theatre outline, the Temple
of Venus (and the funny woman who now lives there), did an
introduction of Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the original gaming and field
exercise site for ancient Romans, and hmmmm...several old temples, and
the best coffee place in Rome.

Drawing class was spent at Santa Maria in Trastevere piazza in a cafe
across from the church. I sat there for over two hours sipping the
best cinnamon cappuccino of my life, sketching, and not believing that
I was actually in class. The best thing is that we had sat there so
long that the waiter didn't believe it and thought we hadn't paid for
our drinks. I then got a chance to try out some original roman
arguing techniques. I did pretty well, and they finally believed me.

I've switched up to a higher level of conversation class, which is the
only Italian class period that I was able to fit into my schedule. My
professor says that my Italian is doing very well and that I shouldn't
have a lot of problems without taking a regular grammar class and if I
do, she'll help me with it. This is good news. For a while I thought
I wasn't going to be able to take anything do to my regular class

I've found that saying the words graduate student actually have some
weight. I'd asked our head of library services to help finding some
obscure technical manuals and the minute I said the magic words
"graduate student" suddenly he was going to try to get me into the
American Academy's library. So far, I think he's going to do it, it
doesn't hurt that his wife is also the librarian there either. Yeah!

I've found the Porta Portese Markets on Sunday mornings are so far the
best way to get things that I need for the studio or home. I've
gotten some killer deals on linen for painting and fabric for dividing
the studios and am now in search of a great pair of boots. The Porta
Portese is the largest flea/open air market I've ever seen. It first
took me over two hours to walk it when the vendors were first setting
up. The best thing is they are always willing to bargain.

I've hit a Manet show, Piazza del Popolo is on the schedule today with
some fabulous Caravaggio's (one of my favorite painters), and maybe a
quick trip to the English bookshop for some reference materials in the

So I will leave you here, so I can go get ready for today's adventures.


I want to live my life not by the regret of "what if", but by its
possibilities. -ME

What lies behind us and what lies before us are nothing compared to
what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson