In 2019, I changed my usual rushing in and out of Rome and booked 5 nights at a relatively cheap hotel near the Campo de’ Fiori after the Civita workshop. I had the BEST time all by myself for the most part (other than seeing my friends Kelly and Francesca), just wandering and sketching at my own pace. I have figured out that I really do my best work when I’m by myself, because I can listen to my own rhythms. Here are some of the images I sketched.
Near my hotel was the Portico d’Ottavia in the old Jewish quarter…yes, there is Jewish quarter in Catholic Rome. I say in the shade and listened to group after group of tourists with guides, often tearing up at their stories. I love how the ancient and modern coexist in this city. Unlike Americans, I suspect that Italians value and respect all things old…including people.
Also near the hotel were the sunken Roman ruins of the Largo d’Argentina (“argento” means “silver”). I stood to sketch in order to see the lower level. According to Francesca, Rome kept building on top of itself for thousands of years. The Tiber river would flood and leave huge amounts of silt, and instead of cleaning it out, they just built on top of it. The pine trees, which I did a terrible job of painting, are umbrella pines that produce pignoli nuts! The weeds growing in the walls produce caper berries.
When it’s hot out, I head inside the nearest church to sketch. Cool and quiet, I can sit undisturbed to sketch, rest and restore. The interior of Sant’ Andrea della Valle was right outside the window of my hotel. The interior is all shiny gold, so I basically just painted with yellow ochre and a touch of burnt sienna. I love the challenge of these perspective views! If you can enlarge this image, please take a look…it’s much more interesting when you can really see inside the spaces.
Towards the end of my stay, I woke up feeling sick, but I was so determined not to miss a day of sketching, that I threw on clothes, grabbed water bottles (Rome has the best tasting water, everywhere in the streets…), and I headed toward this picturesque spot I’ve walked by many times. This is a wide angle view that goes from the Vittorio Emanuele II monument (aka, the “wedding cake”), through the nearly 2000 year old Trajan’s Column, to the beautiful churches on the right, the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto and Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano. The more I sat in the heat, the worse I felt, but I pushed through. Listened to a guy selling something and how he engaged every person that walked by. Usually, it was “Where you from? Do you play basketball?” He was great, I hope he sold a lot, he worked so hard! In the end, I loved this sketch…and all the sights and sounds come back…