Florence!  Sigh. It’s long been a very special place to me. When I am there, or I think about my time spent there, the word that comes to mind is reverence. All that art, still there in this Tuscan town. Still in the places, it was made for, there is nothing like it. It’s like the ghosts of geniuses walk the streets with you.

Michelangelo’s David at the Academia Gallery in Florence

The faces of people gazing up at the David sculpture by Michelangelo. This sculpture, completed in 1504, holds us in its gaze still.

Over ten years ago, I spent a semester studying art in Mexico. It was a profound time in my growth as an artist. The underlying current there was passion. A quote from my teacher was “I don’t care what the subject looks like, show me how you feel about it.

That is a quote I will never forget, it has deep meaning for me and I can see it reflected in the way I create. Each country has its own value system around art. When you study art in places with deep the cultural ties to their art, the more you will feel that value system in the way art is taught.

Two years ago I packed my bags to study in Florence. I didn’t know what to expect. Italy has such a deep, deep rooted relationship to art and was the birthplace of the Renaissance. But the Italians are so passionate, would that passion spill over into a freedom in art as it did in Mexico?

No. No is the answer. The passion for art is tied tight like a bow around the classical tradition of art. When you grow up surrounded by so much unbelievable classical art, when your teachers are the likes of Michelangelo, you don’t really need to move past that. You put that up on a pedestal and honor it. And so, I return to the word reverence.

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery

I’ve spent weeks returning to drawing in preparation and now my bags are packed; and my knees buckle just a bit, as my heart beats just a bit faster, thinking of heading off to study, in that city, with so much mind-boggling art, by so many classical and historically important artists. This study will not be about searching for the freedom in art, it will be about discipline. This study is about learning as much as I can, so later, at another time, I can break through from a place of knowing, into the place of freedom I first experienced in Mexico, and long to return to in art. But for now, reverence.

Left: Studying in Florence 2 years ago, Right: a few drawings I have been working on in preparation for my studies.

Just a note- I am writing this on Saturday, the day I will fly out. You’re most likely reading this on Monday, when I am already in Florence, already beginning my studies. So please tune into to my Facebook and Instagram pages, where I will be uploading in real time, and bringing you all along with me on this adventure.