Tuesday, April 26, 2011



I set my alarm for early, but failed to get up. Venetian glass, who cares. It’s so 'Barococo’. (My invented word for Baroque and Rococo taken to the nth degree—penultimately yucky.) I thought there might be some other studenti around the hotel, who hadn’t gotten the message about the schedule change, but I couldn’t find anyone. I began feeling sorry for myself, but then thought that that was ridiculous. Here I was in Venezia—enjoy yourself—so off I went to the Gallerie dell'Accademia—the largest collection of Venetian paintings in the world, from her heyday.
There was room after room of them—some very fine. While sitting at an outdoor trattoria nearby, I wrote about most of the day before in my journal, soaked up the sun and watched the people. 

(I found this nice video!)
click to see: Italian Adventure

Near the corner of the Accademia was a palazzo that had a carved lion on every fence post.
Then I noticed several domestic cats lounging around the area in front. After counting 16, I had to go get my camera!

Then, off for a simple lunch in the heavy-duty, crowded tourist area. I told the waiter that I didn't want any bread, but he left the breadbasket anyway. I'll bet he was surprised when I took all four pieces. I took them for the ‘doves!’ (I had seen a postcard of the pigeons in the Piazza San Marco, with the caption: "The Doves of St. Marks".)
Ever since, I've called them doves, and I've had to explain every time. I fed them every morning with my breakfast bread. The Doges had declared that they should be fed at public expense, and they were from the 10th until the 18th Century—so, I felt they might be hungry.

The next morning, I had sketching to do, for reckoning was soon—grading time! I was anxious about my mark, because it was my first post-graduate credit.

Giuliano had said that I would have my review at noon after their trip to Murano. Andrea, Marie and I had been ready and waiting at our appointed times. When it became 1:45, Andrea whose appointment was at 1:00, left to go look around Venezia. Marie (1:30), decided to wait with me. At 4:15!, Giuliano finally appeared. They had enjoyed Murano so much; they decided to tour several other islands! I was mad, and Guiliano knew it. Sometimes, Giuliano's Florentine sense of time and my Germanic preciseness clash. He just swept-in and started the reviews. Marie went first. After about twenty minutes, she came out in a huff. I wanted to ask her how she did, but Giuliano was already motioning me in. I sat down at the table, and he was very warm and gracious. He asked me, "In a few words, what are the differences between Venetian, Florentine and Roman architecture?"

I responded, "Venetian is decorative and surface treatment; Florentine is mass, light and changing forms; Roman architecture is a mixture of time."

He then asked, 'What do you think of San Miniato?"

"The siting is beautiful, the facade magnificent and the interior, one of the best in Italy." Then we talked about Venezia and her architecture for a while.

Finally he stated , "Ok. You've been one of my best and most enthusiastic students." I asked if he wasn't going to look at my sketches, explaining it was the first time I had ever sketched. He critiqued each one. His comments were very helpful, and he liked many of them. He gave me some hints for future sketching:
Learn Proper Detail of Scale. Pointing to a portion of one of my Venetian sketches that had the shudder slats of a window rendered, Giuliano said, "If that's what drawn, then even the bricks must show. And, also, another important window isn't shown in enough detail." I must learn to render an equal amount of detail.
He Complimented Me on my Massing, Good Proportions and Perspective—real potential for being a good sketcher.
Use a Larger Piece of Paper. Being so small, it limits my drawing. (Several did look cramped.) Use a larger, non-lined sheet and start in the center. That way I can expand it in a particular area if I wanted, or leave it small.
Take a Basic Drawing Course. "You know you can learn to play the flute yourself, but an instructor can give you basic fingering technique, thereby shortcutting the learning time."

Then, he gave me a 'B'! I was so upset. I saw on the ledger that Marie, who was very good, got a 'B' also! I could now understand why she left in a huff. I was upset for several hours and then I decided to get over it. Several of us went to Harry's Bar and had several Bellinis. I went home without dinner and fell into bed exhausted. I awoke refreshed. I went down to the garden for my breakfast. There were no chairs left. So my usual, matronly waitress brought me, all by herself, a big velvet upholstered chair from the sitting room and a small marble-topped mahogany table! She set them upright where I liked to sit with a view of the tables and the garden.

Great! I began writing in my journal. Next to me were two middle-aged spinsters(?) from New Zealand. I said, "You're a long way from home."

One replied, "Yes. If we went any farther, we'd fall off" Later she added, “We'll have to wear our 'Wellies' today." Now, that one I had to have explained. It seems that the Duke of Wellington had worn large rubber-coated boots when he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. After that, the boots became so popular, especially for the rainy British weather, they became known as 'Wellingtons' or 'Wellies' for short. She was right, the weather was looking pretty threatening.

At breakfast, the next morning, several of us were sitting around talking about the course, I began talking about how I was already missing Arnette. I thought, we should do something, so I sent a telegram to 'Jenny Zerbe, Royal Ballet School, London': “CONGRATULATIONS AND GOOD LUCK (STOP) LOVE, ARNETTE'S PARSONS SCHOOL FRIENDS (STOP)" Then I had to sign my name and address for reference. (I was glad, because I was the one who thought of it.)

I saw Mario in the lobby and asked him what grade he got. He said dejectedly, "a 'B'." To console him, I told him that I did too. But he said, "No! You got an 'A'!" After I said that he must be mistaken, he explained that we were graded in two areas and then given an overall mark for the course. He said that I had gotten a 'B' for sketching and an 'A' for interest theme, with an overall

  ---'A' for the Course!

Wow-what a lift! I had seen only the first mark. When I saw Giuliano later, I almost hugged him. Boy, was I 'up' all day.

Next, More Giuliano Fiorenzoli enthusiasm.


Caliban said...

What a nail biter on the grading. So glad you got an overall A. Loved the part about going to Harry's and have molto bellinis!

The "doves" was also a cute thing to note.

Any particularly paintings you recall from Gallerie dell'Accademia? I love that place. Divine! The Titians alone are enough to convince me I had been to Heaven when I visited Venice.

Don Voth said...

An "A" on my only post-graduate work!
I remember the Canelettos and Guardis the most.

Anonymous said...

For you Blog: I'd like to suggest you take a look at the watercolors Maurice Prendergast did of Venice. I think you might like them. They're quite colorful and they catch aspects of the city - particularly its festivals - that are so marvelous & traditionally Venetian. Prendergast was an American artist at the turn of the 20th century, and his Venetian watercolors are usually regarded (as they should be) as an American artist's early flirting with modernism. I particularly like - no, love - the ones he did of festivals at night, but he did lots of others, churches, piazzas, etc. - and they'd add even more color & fun to your blog, which is already colorful and fun. . . .Steve

Don Voth said...

Thanks Steve. I shall look into Pendergast's work. He was from Kansas City, wasn't he?