Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 and Graduation

This June I officially graduated from the Florence Academy of Art. Although I still have one more term to complete my education there, I had the pleasure of walking with the 2016 graduating class. 

Even more exciting, I am pleased to say that at the graduation ceremony I had the honor of receiving an award. My final still-life was granted Best Still Life of the Year. This particular painting was a long and challenging project, so to have my work recognized in this way was an amazing and unreal experience.

It's been a quick year and a half, but I am amazed by how much I have learned in so short a time. I started off the winter term with another still-life painting. Originally, my idea was to make a still life based on the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is an aesthetic which focuses on the beauty of things that are imperfect or transient. For compositional reasons I had to sacrifice the theme a bit, but I tried to include a bit of the original idea in the focal point of the painting, an otherwise perfect white cup with a crack, which rests on top of a fallen leaf. The first still-life painting at school is supposed to be of light objects against a dark background, so I took the opportunity to set the objects against a backdrop of mysterious shadows. 

After a few still-lifes, I did my first portrait oil painting while studying at FAA (my previous ones being charcoal drawings).
What I especially hoped to capture about this pose was the sense of light illuminating the model's face. To achieve this involved a great deal of simplification of values within the lights and especially in the shadows, the sense of form largely being achieved in the transition between the two. 
For my second portrait I took progress photos to capture the step-by-step process:

Alongside working on portraits and still life, I also studied figure painting. My final longpose of the year was a five-week-long seated pose:

 Personally my favorite project was a bit of an experiment, a simple still-life of a boot. Since coming to Florence I've adjusted to traveling around the city almost entirely on foot, which sometimes takes a toll on my footwear. After wearing out from months of treading over the cobble-stone streets, one such unlucky shoe made it's way into my still-life. I like to think of it as a bit of a tribute to Van Gogh's painting of the same subject, to which I looked for some inspiration.

This project was slightly different because I had a short amount of time to work on it, only about three days. This meant adjusting my method a little and adopting a much bolder and more direct way of painting than usual, which, though challenging at first, became very liberating.  
At the end of the year my class's studio held an open house. It was very fulfilling to see the work everyone's put so much time and energy into on display. 

As exciting as graduation is, I am certainly going to miss painting alongside this group of diligent and artistic people. I know this fall I am going to hold onto every moment of my last term.  Even a year and a half later, I cannot express enough my gratitude for being able to study at this amazing place that is Florence Academy. To all those who made this possible, I am forever thankful.
Thank you,
Eliza Moser

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fall Term 2015

This October I returned to lovely Florence to continue my studies at the Florence Academy of Art. I apologize for a very late update, but I am slowly rediscovering just how rigorous and time-consuming the schedule is. But as the fall term is winding down, I’ve managed to find a few precious moments to catalog my experiences. So here at last is an extensive update, one long overdue:

My first two major projects were my final figure drawing in charcoal and my second cast painting. 
On the cast I tried my hand at limited palette, which consisted of the colors Ivory Black, Lead White, Yellow Ochre, and English Red. 

This is a step more complex than my previous cast painting, a Grisaille painting created using only white, black, and Raw Umber.  While a grisaille palette is designed to help students focus only on value-changes and slight temperature shifts, adding a red and yellow to my palette is a good way to transition into the complications of working with color.

I used this same palette for my figure painting. For my final cast, I used the full palette, making good use of the addition of Cobalt Blue on my background.

I also experimented with color for my final portrait in charcoal. My last two were drawn on Arches paper, toned grey. This time, I tinted the ink with a bit of raw sienna and red to get a warmer shade more reminiscent of skin tones.
"Portrait of Marco" (unfinished)

Portraits remain by far my favorite subject to work with. For me, they encompass a greater level of depth and psychological drama than a figure or still life can offer. This summer I had the pleasure of drawing a portrait of my grandfather Reverend R. Leroy Moser:


I look forward to next year when my studies will  have more of a focus on portraiture. Next time, I will be using paint!

"Portrait of Marco" (detail)

Twice a week I also attend the school’s evening drawing sessions, where I practice smaller figure drawings in pencil. This term there were also two themed evenings where the students experimented in new mediums, charcoal wipe-out drawings, and even pen!


Two additional classes I am taking this year are Ecorche and a Construction and Composition class. In the Ecorche class I tried my hand at sculpting for the first time, and over the course of the year will sculpt a skeleton, onto which I will build muscles. In the Construction and Composition class, we are learning how to compose a painting, and exploring the concepts of perspective, proportions, and light, with the aim of learning how to construct a figure from imagination. Although I prefer the experience of working from life, this course has taught me some of the most indispensable artistic lessons I have ever learned. One class was an all-day demo, in which the instructor completed an entire oil painting of a torso, completely from his imagination:


 Both of these classes have been entirely new experiences for me, and have helped greatly in better solidifying my understanding of drawing the human figure.

Beautiful Italian olive grove

Outside of class, I’ve been feeding my artistic inspiration with the beauty of Italy. One day I tried my hand at olive picking, and another I went to the local Teatro Verdi to hear a performance of Beethoven and Brahms.

Also, Palazzo Strozzi held an exhibition which featured the works of artists such as Bouguereau, Ciseri, and Van Gogh, to name a few.

In awe before the presence of this perfect painting by Bouguereau.


And with one last charcoal sketch, the fall term is over.

As the term comes to a close, the city is preparing for Christmas. I celebrate winter break by visiting one of the local traditions, the Christmas Market, just in the square in front of Santa Croce.

Buon Natale! (Merry Christmas!)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spring Term 2015

Spring Term 2015
Goodbye Dear Florence, until September!

With the arrival of summer, my second term at Florence Academy has come to an end, and I am now back home again in the United States.
I apologize for not posting an update sooner, this term was so busy I didn’t have time to update my blog on a regular basis. To make up for it I shall be posting updates about what I have learned in school periodically over the summer break.
Here are some of my works from this trimester (Please pardon the quality of images, most of these were taken from a phone, so I am including several images of some of the same pieces to show the full spectrum.)

Portrait of Alessio (unfinished)
My first cast painting, grisaille.
For my last two projects this term I began dabbling with paints. To transition smoothly from charcoal drawing to oil paints, they were done in grisaille, that is, using only three colors: white, black, and raw umber. The limitation to this monochromatic palette allows for focus on value-relationships and temperature without having to contend with the challenges of color.

My third long pose figure drawing, charcoal and white chalk.

My final cast drawing, done in charcoal and white chalk, Torso of Venus.
The sheer size of the drawing made this a lengthy project.

.Charcoal sketch, wipe-out method.
The idea behind the wipe-out method is to capture the large masses of the subject by laying down a layer of charcoal for the general dark masses and removing dust or "wiping out" for the light areas.

First long-pose figure painting, grisaille.

Over the summer I will go into detail about the making of each of these individual projects and what I have learned from them, as well as personal projects I am working on over the summer. 

Italian phrase of the day: "Buon Lavoro", "Good work". Italians use this phrase to wish someone the best while they work, just as they say "Buon Appetito" to wish someone a good meal. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

End Of Term Winter 2015

March 20th marked the last day of classes for the winter term at FAA. Over the course of this term I have completed two figure drawings, two cast drawings, a portrait, as well as numerous pencil drawings, an ecorche drawing for my long pose, and some value studies in paint. Here are some of my works:

Here are all my works assembled and waiting for the final critique
Second Cast Drawing - "Michelangelo"
Second Long-Pose
Value-studies in paint

my last pencil-drawing of the term
Next term I will work on another figure drawing and a complex cast, but, for now, I am enjoying spring break by sketching around this beautiful city!
Sketching at Ponte Vecchio

These last three months have been an amazing and enlightening experience. I am still in awe of how much this school has to offer, of all the incredible teachers and dedicated students, and of what an inspiring environment it is to learn in. Thank you again to all who helped make my attendance here possible!
Me and "Portrait of Jothi"

Italian word of the day: "Primavera", "Spring."