Art Lessons in Front of Masterpieces

I can pinpoint the exact moment my life drastically changed paths. In the second year of high school, my art class had an assignment to create a few simple paintings. It was not the first time I had picked up a paintbrush, but it was the first time that I felt connected with it. The experience, while both exciting and liberating, only convinced me that art was a delightful hobby. Then one day, we were told to paint self-portraits. At first, I felt daunted, anxious about the end result. But ever so slowly, I began to let myself go. I allowed myself to experiment with colors, brush strokes, and texture. I felt myself falling in love with the piece of art, imperfections and all.

At some point in my childhood, I had convinced myself that I didn’t have the talent necessary for artistic endeavors. None of my teachers encouraged me to pursue art, so I didn’t. It wasn’t until high school that I realized I had potential. It’s because of this that I want to inspire children to pursue an interest in the arts. The desire to become an art teacher stems from both a love of the practice and a hope to cultivate artistic appreciation in young students.

Today, I find myself in a tiny apartment in the heart of Florence. My artistic experience in sophomore year of high school created a domino effect that led me here. At Arcadia University, I began to study art history in tandem with my studio courses. I have since developed a strong appreciation for all art forms. When I decided to study abroad, I didn’t think twice about my destination. Florence called me with its historic architecture, renaissance masterpieces, and general appeal. There are 72 museums in Florence and more than 200 churches offering stunning views of thousands of artworks. I could not have picked a better city to pursue my artistic interests.

A few days after arriving, I noticed this installation near my school. Street art is common in Florence, ranging from altered signage to graffitied posters.

A few days after arriving, I noticed this installation near my school. Street art is common in Florence, ranging from altered signage to graffitied posters.

My focus in Florence is practicing painting and graphic design while learning more about art history. One of the incredible aspects of this city is its wealth of important art, much of which I get to see during weekly class trips. One of the classes I’m enrolled in, “Life and Works of Michelangelo,” starts in Accademia Italiana with a short lecture, and then moves to on-location lessons in front of masterpieces. I’ve learned about The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi, The Battle of Centaurs in Casa Buonarotti, and The Miracle of St. Francis in the Cappella Sassetti.

Seeing a famed artwork for the first time is a surreal experience. Having seen The Birth of Venus by Botticelli on posters, in classrooms, and even above my bed in my Florence apartment, there was a moment of shock when we walked into a seemingly random room and the grand masterpiece was framed before me. The truth is that no slide or book could begin to capture a work of art. The colors vibrated, helping fully bring the image to life. I look forward to returning and further studying the craftsmanship. My time in the Botticelli room was shorter than I would have liked, but even so I could see the precise technique of this historic artist.

Having art in my life is a source of energy and excitement, a fountain of youth for my soul. I have journeyed quite far from where I started, both mentally and physically, and I can only imagine where I will be in the upcoming years. With a new knowledge and excitement, I hope to spread some of the joy in my experience to you.