Friday, April 20, 2018

Life Drawing locations, Florence, Italy

drawing: Tom J. Byrne

A lot of people are passionate about life drawing. For those not familiar with the term, it refers to the drawing of a living model, usually nude, under controlled lighting conditions, sometimes as part of a still life composition. Life drawing can be a study, the basis for a painting or if the pose is long enough a painting can be executed.

Below is a short video of the monthly life drawing event at Cafe Giubbe Rosse, in Florence. 

At the moment there are a few locations for life drawing in Florence, Italy.
Thanks to the Charles Cecil Academy, the Florence Academy and Santa Croce Arte.
These evening events occur after students of the academies and artists studios have finished their work and the studio spaces are available for non students to draw. The events are open to non professionals, people who are self teaching, graduates of the academies and people with a life long love of drawing the human form. So the range of styles and skills of those who attend varies dramatically but the passion to create is universal.

Art Cult Florence and Firenze Drawing Club organise Burlesque drawing events in the historical Cafe Giubbe Rosse in Piazza Republica. It's a once a month event but it's spectacular. The times and dates change. The cafe space is historical in the sense that it has always been a place for artists to meet and they continue the tradition to this day. For more information check the Art Cult or Firenze Drawing Club facebook pages. Here is a sample of what occurs at the events.

Occasionally there is a daytime or morning drawing event in Florence. These spaces are usually donated by an Art Patron such as Cultural Salon Firenze or an Artist with a studio space that is being unused while they are traveling or exhibiting abroad. 
drawing: Tom J. Byrne

Below are the times, locations and costs of life drawing in Florence. The events are open to artists and enthusiastic amateurs visiting Florence and there is no membership process. No appointment is needed, just turn up. The equipment supplied includes seating, easels, the model and lighting. You provide your own drawing equipment, paper or painting tools. There is no instruction. It’s important to be very quiet when working and the sessions are usually between two and three hours long with short breaks every 25 minutes. In the middle of the session there is a long pose and this is traditionally when people pay for their participation. It’s okay to leave an additional tip for the model in a separate tip box.
Drawing by Tom J. Byrne


The Charles Cecil Academy.
Time and day: Every Tuesday, 7.15pm - 9pm
Cost: €5
Easels and seating available.
Note: The street numbers on Borgo San Frediano can be confusing for visitors as there are two sets. One set are in red, these are commercial address’s and the remainder are in dark blue, these are domestic address’s. Charles Cecils is dark blue. Google maps will miss direct you if you search for the address, so enter no.140 to arrive close to the correct door. When you arrive, the entrance leads directly to a long narrow stairs. At the top of the stairs turn left and the drawing studio is on the left. Arrive in plenty of time to allow yourself to get set up with seating or easel so as not to disturb the group. The poses are determined by the administrator of the academy.

The Florence Academy
Address: Via delle Casine 21/R 50122 Florence Italy
Time and day: Every Thursday, 5.30pm - 8.30pm
Cost: €2 for a half session. €4 for the full session.
Easels and seating available.
Again the street numbers are broken into red and dark blue. The studio number is in red and the entrance is a double door at ground floor level. It is generally closed so you ring the bell to gain access. Don’t arrive too early but if you are late it’s okay as the hour of 5.30 may not suit everyones work hours. Please be quiet during the drawing session. The poses are determined by the administrator.

Cultural Salon Firenze may be providing a morning or afternoon studio drawing area in the center of the city. Times and days will be added here as they occur.

Santa Croce Arte is a private Artists studio in the heart of Florence, where you will receive a warm welcome from Claudia and Gianni. It's a very large studio with many rooms. Twice a month they open their doors in the evenings and welcome guests to draw with them. It's late and very often it finishes by not finishing and people continue to chat until the wee hours over a glass of wine. The pattern of dates changes each month to accommodate the working plans of the studio. To verify the hours and dates check their Facebook page.
As a rule, there is a sketch night twice a month on Thursday with live model in the historical Piazza of Santa Croce.

Address: 19, Piazza Santa Croce, 1st floor. Door bell, press ACSIT.
Time: Confirm on Facebook.
Bring your drawing material.
Seating provided. No easels.
Cost: €10

Life Drawing is a way of learning anatomy, testing your capacity to accurately draw and dare I say, it’s a spiritual experience for the artist and the model.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Workshops in Florence Italy this Spring

Here are a selection of workshops for you to enjoy this Spring in Florence Italy. There's something for everyone, from oils to watercolor and urban sketching. The Florence Studio is centrally located, near the Duomo and is run by graduates of the Classical Art Academies here in Florence.

The emphasis is on a good learning experience rather than a purely academic one. We want you to want to paint and so it's not just about technique.

To contact The Florence Studio
Phone: +39 3891570276

Address: Borgo SS. Apostioli, 18

Simply click, to enlarge the images below

Artists Residencies in Italy

Italy is a very mysterious and beautiful place which everyone dreams of exploring, to experience the great food, the history and the art of this Latin culture.

Many artists and art students see it as a place of pilgrimage. Indeed it used to be a place of religious pilgrimage and it's still possible to walk through Italy, all the way from Canterbury to Jerusalem in the Holy Land.

While in Florence you are free to examine the great works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Lippi and so many other great artists upon whose shoulders artists aspire to stand.

Artists residencies exist in Italy and it was surprising to discover that there are so many. They range from the very basic, almost monastic to the extremely luxurious. I'll describe a couple here, both of which recur annually.

The Relais Borgo Santo Pietro residency is the most luxurious I’ve experienced. Situated 35km from the town of Siena and very isolated from everything, it rests atop a hill and is surrounded by rolling farmland with just one small village nearby. Many guests arrive by helicopter and extremely luxurious vehicles, normally rare in Italy, litter the car park. It’s luxurious edge is softened by the numbers of creative people who visit and stay at the Borgo. Indeed although it’s design is opulent it
feels like a small village clustering around a large villa. This in turn is surrounded by miles of organic farmland. All owned and maintained by the same family. The hotel itself is small but in time I imagine the small cottages which guests stay in, will spread out into the vineyards and among the fields of wheat.

Not far from the main hotel, in an area unpopulated by anything other than a lilly pond and a solidly built foot bridge (reminiscent of Monets Giverny) there is a small gazebo framed by a mature weeping willow. This is the artists studio. Inspiring and in a quiet isolated place with only the sound of ducks and birds to interfere with the creative process, it’s a place of refuge for guests and artists alike who come here seeking inspiration and instruction in art.

Each month there is a new resident artist who remains in the Borgo, painting, sculpting, performing or writing. Artists have only a couple of obligations to fulfill, to exhibit their art in the hotel and to give an introduction to their art, to any guest who requests it.


The next is a magnificent residency near Rome. It’s a bit of a marathon in many ways because during the 4 days, there are hundreds of other artists who also paint but are not resident. Resident artists are given accommodation, fed, partied and shown around the town. They are generally toasted as heroes while they are there. It’s a very warm welcome in a very historical town which oozes history and more than a pinch of mystery. The town is Subiaco, in the region on Lazio. Also known as the city of emperors and saints is located 75km from Rome. It was here that Nero built his summer palace and here that Saint Benedict founded his order. The spectacular monastery is unlike any you will have seen before. Neros palace did not fare as well over the centuries but the remains of the palace can be found near the monastery.

Although part of Rome, the route is a long one through winding hills. Artists usually travel by rented car or public transport. The 2 hour journey passes through beautiful countryside and is dotted with interesting villages atop plateaus. If you decide to explore en route it might take you considerably longer to get there but it would be worth it.

This really is a working residency. You paint every day and it lasts for four days. Usually they give you a location to work in and request that you focus on a subject or topic and there will be other artists there too. International artists are encouraged to take part and work in media ranging from watercolors to ink, oil and drawing. At the end of the event there is a party and award ceremony in the Abbey of Saint Scholastica where the order and sponsors, judge the art works submitted. Prizes are substantial and I’m the happy recipient of two awards.

If you decide to remain after the event you will find yourself in Mount Simbruini Natural Park, the largest protected area in Lazio and one of the largest Italian Natural Parks. I’ll post more information as we move through the winter on different art events which painters can take part in while visiting Italy.

I hope this gives you a taste of what you have to look forward to.

To sharpen your artistic skills you can reserve a place with the Florence Studio to study plein air watercolor or oil painting this Spring.

Tom J. Byrne will guide you through traditional methods of painting and new methods of composing and drawing. 


The list of workshops are here.

To contact The Florence Studio.
Phone: +39 3891570276

Address: Borgo SS. Apostioli, 18