Drawing to See


Drawings are a document of the process and a direct reflection of thinking and artistic decision-making. An Artist’s Handbook, page 58

Many thanks to the wonderful artists who participated in my drawing program, Drawing to See, at Tenuta di Spannocchia in Italy this summer. There is an overall theme for the course, Genius Loci (spirit of place). In addition, each artist chooses their own theme and a related poem. There is an emphasis on materials, process, and the open-endedness, ongoing and unfinished nature of a drawing. Using exercises from An Artist’s Handbook, the importance of the unfinished aspect of the drawing process – an exploration of ideas, an embodiment of the transition and flux in the act of experience – is addressed. Artists work from direct observation, from the flat, and from memory, visualization and imagination. Here are some images of this season’s artists and their work.

IMG_1136Studio (limonaia, lemon tree barn) at Tenuta di Spannocchia

IMG_4118Sketching in the yard outside the studio at Spannocchia

IMG_3092View of Spannocchia farmhouses from the yard outside the studio

IMG_4299Alexandra Eldridge in the studio


IMG_4275Etruscan Mirror, graphite, ultramarine blue violet pigment, ink on found antique paper

IMG_0173.JPGSpannocchia is an Etruscan place. There is a small museum, a former granary, on the estate with objects on display excavated from an Etruscan cistern during a dig in the area.

IMG_4270Sketch of a floor tile in the Piccolomini Library in Siena, graphite (below)

Pierced, terre pozzuoli pigmented trace for transfer (above)

IMG_4269Transferred image, terre pozzuoli pigment on Magnani paper (above)

Silverpoint drawing on Magnani paper with prepared ground (below)


IMG_4294Revelation (Spannocchia Cat), silverpoint and iron gall ink on prepared ground

IMG_4273Nest in the Villa Windowsill, graphite, conté crayon, ink on found antique paper

IMG_4291Tiny Moment, Refuge and Sanctuary (villa bedroom 2 bath), indigo ink on Fabriano Artistico paper

IMG_4288I Find You in All These Things, iron gall and indigo ink on vellum, conté crayon on Fabriano Artistico paper

IMG_4290Poem: I Find You in All These Things, Rainer Maria Rilke

Theme: Revelation

IMG_4266Amy Conway in the studio

IMG_4251Flower, graphite (stumped and erased) on vellum

IMG_4252Charcoal sketch after Giorgio Morandi

Pierced, terre pozzuoli pigmented trace for transfer

Transferred image, terre pozzuoli pigmentIMG_4257Sketches after Susan Topilkar, sum ink on kraft paper and Japanese Kitakata paper

IMG_4254Silverpoint sketch, of a Memmo di Filippuccio fresco detail in Palazzo Comunale in San Gimignano, on Arches buff paper with prepared ground, adhered with thread to mulberry paper

IMG_0141San Gimignano

IMG_4251Teasels, walnut ink on vellum

Tiny Moment, Watching the Cypress Tree Breathe, sum ink on Arches paper

Nocturne, indigo ink on Fabriano Artistico paper

IMG_4261Sketch of botanical subject, sumi ink on Fabriano Artistico paper

IMG_4320Poem: In the Garden of PossibilitiesAmy Conway

Theme: Liberation and Illumination

IMG_4314Yu Rong in the studio

IMG_4238Silverpoint highlighted with white and yellow on tinted ground

IMG_4326Eternity, pressed botanical material on tinted ground

IMG_4325Bound book, sumi ink and collage on vellum

IMG_4245Nocturne, Sovicille Night, iron gall, indigo, and walnut ink, watercolor on vellum mounted on rag paper

IMG_4241Doorsien (a view out the studio window), watercolor

IMG_4232Doorsien, Abbazia Di San Galgano, silverpoint, watercolor on tinted ground

IMG_2425Abbazia Di San Galgano

IMG_2418Abbazia Di San Galgano

IMG_4235Fragrances, silverpoint, iron gall, walnut and indigo ink, botanical material on prepared ground

Poem: Fragrances, Bashõ

Theme: Fragrances and Nature

IMG_4180Joe Sasarak in the studio stitching line

IMG_4221Teasels, silverpoint on tinted ground

IMG_4246Teasels, sumi ink on vellum

FullSizeRenderDoorsien (studio entrance), silverpoint on tinted ground

IMG_4247Sketch from Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Annunciation (sinopia underdrawing), Monte Siepi Chapel, San Galgano, conté crayon

IMG_4248Silverpoint sketch of villa bedroom pillows on prepared ground (after Albrecht Durer)

IMG_4250Lance, charcoal sketch on moleskin

IMG_4249Club Kid, bound and sealed book, sumi ink, thread, collage, vellum, mulberry paper, tinted rag paper

IMG_4208Evolution, sketch from Jacobo da Pontormo’s Nude Boy Seated, conté crayon on laid paper

IMG_4229Nocturne (The Chambered Nautilus), iron gall and indigo ink on vegetable vellum mounted on rag paper

Poem: The Chambered Nautilus, Oliver Wendell Holmes

Theme: Evolution (artistic)

IMG_0166Castello di Spannocchia

The Spannocchia Foundation is a private foundation with a focus on sustainable resources. The Foundation occupies a twelve hundred acre, forested estate in Tuscany. Spannocchia is an Etruscan place, with an Etruscan museum housed in a fourteenth century granary, adjacent to a twelfth century castle. Among other endeavors, the Foundation blends early farming methods with state-of-the art twenty-first century farming practice. My Painting, Drawing and Art History Programs resonate with the Foundation’s vision, in that there is a concentration on early drawing and painting methods revealing the art history and tradition within the context and location of early practice, examined through the lens of contemporary art practice.

IMG_4126Drawing to See artists at San Galgano

IMG_4130San Galgano

IMG_4048San Gimignano


IMG_0195Florence from Giotto’s Campanile

IMG_4429Scriptorium, our favorite drawing materials source in Florence


Painting at Farnesia, Michelangelo gave Daniel endless advice. One day he even came in to visit him and , not finding him, he climbed on the scaffolding and drew a huge head with charcoal. It is still there. Daniel respected it and did not put color on it so that posterity could know more about Michelangelo, even when he was playing.

Stendhal, The Italian Schools of Painting 


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