The Pantheon, my ground zero

Today I find myself feeling so sad today for the current state of our world. In a pre-COVID-19 universe, I’d be boarding a plane to Italy today. This would be the 8th year I’ve had the honor to teach a sketching workshop in the amazing iconic hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio, just north of Rome. To say I look forward to this trip each year is a HUGE understatement. After 7 years, including a two month stay in 2014, it feels like a second home to me.

In 2013, I came to Rome and Civita during my 3-month architecture fellowship in Paris (OK, I still can’t believe I can write that sentence!) I usually stay a day or two in Rome to adjust to the time change before making my way north. Arriving in Rome is always a bit of a shock– it’s so wonderful to breathe in the warm colors, be greeted by bubbly and warm people, devour amazing food that felt like it comes straight from the earth.

When I get to Rome, I drop my bags and make a beeline for… the Pantheon. If I see nothing else, I have to come here. Just walking into the space fills me with awe and connects me to the ancient history that is this beautiful city. It’s humbling to realize I am at best a tiny nano-blip in the larger scheme of things in this universe, sort of like gazing at the billions of lights in the night sky. That’s how I feel when looking up at that exquisite opening in the ceiling above.

The Pantheon is a challenging place to sketch, I think I redrew the shapes on the page 10 times before I got everything proportional and fitting on the paper. It’s small, in my Pentalic 5×8 (perfect Golden Rectangle!) sketchbook. This sketch means so much to me– in part, I feel the connection to all the people who have been walking into this space for centuries, and it also represents the start of a wonderful adventure and lifelong dream to travel and teach. It’s the first image in my first book, Understanding Perspective, to explain the enormous power of sketching to see, remember, experience…

Yellow Ochre to Pyrrol Orange to Quin Burnt Orange…that’s the sequence of colors on the left…

For the next two weeks or so, I’ll be posting sketches, stories, and photos from my travel to Italy and workshops in Civita from the seven previous years. Until we can travel and meet there in the future, let’s travel together through the past from home! Grazie, baci a tutti!

12 thoughts on “The Pantheon, my ground zero

  1. Beautiful drawing. I can’t believe that you were able to find room in the Pantheon to do it. The last few times I have been there its like being an asparagus in a very crowded patch.

    Light wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Susan


    1. Thank you! And yes, it was crowded, but I was mostly looking UP! 😉 To get the ground, eventually people would move enough to see, but it did end up taking longer than usual! Looking at this sketch transports me back to that day and spot. (Can you hear my heavy sighs?)


  2. I can’t even imagine your sadness of not being there. Thank you for sharing this wonderful place as well as all the others thru your drawings and paintings. I’ve learned so much for your workshop in San Antonio and all the generous online postings you share. Hopefully we (I) will have the opportunity to again travel to these amazing places and look back on these crazy times!


  3. We visited the town of Bagnoregio several years ago on a trip to Italy. We have friends who are renovating a farmhouse outside Bagnoregio and had dinner at a small restaurant there. Such a lovely town and Civita is spectacular. We stayed at a vacation rental outside town that was lovely. 3 rental apartments and a swimming pool. We were the only guests the 3 nights we were there. Visited a different city every day in the area.


    1. Kate, that is amazing that you have been there!!!! The place you stayed sounds heavenly…I think I would have killed for a swimming pool whenI was there in August!!! Small world 🙂


  4. Hi Stephanie,

    Gorgeous, outstanding sketch of the Pantheon!

    When I was in college, I spent a semester in Rome studying art history and Italian.

    Someone told me water doesn’t enter the Pantheon when it rains, so I ran over one rainy day to witness the moisture on the floor!

    Be well, Ciao, Catherine



    1. HI Catherine, thank you! And I am soooo jealous about your time in Rome!! As far as the rain, I too have seen rain on the floor, with the center cordoned off so people don’t slip on all that gorgeous marble!


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