White legs on ‘Grand Tour’

I heard that if you want to be a great artist then a trip to Italy to see the work of the great Renaissance masters is a must; at least that’s what they used to say long ago. Admittedly things were a little bit different then. Then, they had to cross the Alps in a whole host of adventurous manners while I got to enjoy the ‘comfort’ of a Ryanair flight, directly from Edinburgh to Pisa, but at least I caught a glimpse of the Alps from 30,000 ft. I have to admit I did spend a few moments imagining what it would be like to have to trek your way across the mountain passes carrying your artist’s equipment, that is unless you were a wealthy European son on your ‘Grand Tour’.

Well, on my search for Italian art of the past I travelled to Florence and then to Lucca – I happened to do a few drawings along the way. I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to not get distracted by to much Rosé – well known for its hazards, and to resist drawing landscapes with cypress trees and Italian balconies! I tried instead to draw other things that many others were taking photos of.

I get very excited about certain aspects of Medieval and Renaissance art and spent a lot of time looking at gargoyles and the many other grotesque ornaments decorating houses, churches and gardens. You can find something to catch your eye at every corner, there was so much to potentially be drawn that I felt quite stressed out at times and now really deserve a rest from this art ‘holiday’. But enough said, here is some of the fruit from the holiday sketchbook….

From drawings showing rather interesting ways in which artists have been inspired by animals at the beautiful Biboli Gardens in Florence…






….to a collection of faces which I have started. The first drawing shows a compilation of carved out faces spread throughout the Duomo of Barga, a town in the mountains of the Province of Lucca, which, as I found out has a very special connection to Scotland.


A collection of faces worked into the stone facade and spread across the building opposite our hotel in Florence.
B3Some drawings of sculptures from the many galleries and gardens I visited.


And the facade of  a house with frescoes and a wagon shop selling clothes.Picture new4

Once I had saturated myself with the ‘sophisticated’ travelling approach I found myself straying from my ‘Grand Tour’ and immersing myself into more typical tourist attractions and did a bit of people watching.

A3This is ‘Il Porcellino’, a small fountain with a statue of a wild boar. People  were constantly rubbing his snout and throwing money into him. The legend says that if you throw money into his snout you will return to Florence.

On the last day we went to the beach of Viareggio, a vibrant little sea town with many markets. Below are some drawings of an elderly lady sunbathing at the beach; what looks a bit like  a pine forest on the left hand side is actually a jungle of parasols placed to ensure you can never catch a glimpse of the sea.



And if you want to watch hoards of people adopting awkward random poses you should go to Pisa and see the tower. In an attempt to get a photo in which they are seen to be holding up the leaning tower people will do anything ……and look remarkably silly whilst doing so!
AAnd finally what would a place like Italy be without the visitors enjoying the wine at every opportunity… although this tourist seems a bit lost in thought…



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