We began today with our very first watercolor lesson at the Baths of Caracalla instructed by Peter Lang. Over the past centuries, the baths have gradually become more and more simplified in their form. Today, it takes a combination of images, the “what is” and “what once was” to piece together the story of the Baths of Caracalla. For us as novice painters, the subject matter was perfect because of the simplified nature of the forms. However, the basic form of the subject matter was really just a starting point. Looking closely at the baths, they have a complexity all their own which makes them fascinating to look at. Instead of seeing what is (the ruins) I found myself imagining what once was  which made me really appreciate my experience there.

Baths of Caracalla - Forms and Sketches

Baths of Caracalla Panorama

Subject Matter for Watercolor Attempt #1

Baths of Caracalla Watercolor

Well keeping in mind some of the watercolor analytiques that we had seen back in Newark, my first attempt at watercolor in Rome concerned me. I did make the mistake of sitting in direct sunlight which made matters even more difficult. Though the painting turned out to be very grade school looking, I did walk away with some techniques for future watercolors: 1) start out using the lightest of lite colors, if you start too dark, there’s no coming back 2) wash the page from top to bottom with a build-up of lite layers 3) add detail and the heaviest color last.

In addition to starting our painting careers, we had a group walk which began in the early evening. We met up on Isolo Tibre and set out walking on a lower path along the Tiber. The ultimate destination of this walk was an ex-slaughterhouse which sits right along the river. Currently the slaughterhouse has been converted into two seperate communal living situations which exclusively house male populations. Between these two comunities is an organic food store and snackbar. On our walk, we were fortunate enough to get a small taste of all three. We arrived to the sounds of drum beats and dancing at the first community, stopped for a snack and rest at the organic food store and were welcomed by the second community due to some past projects Lorenzo had done there. While visiting the second community, we had the time to sit in a small, intimate garden space which Lorenzo had worked on some years back. That same spot was destined to be a parking lot before this sort of sacred space was created. All throughout the slaughterhouse compound, there was the most vibrant graffiti. Some was old, some was new. There were cracks and peels in some spaces and in others, the paint still looked wet. In a way, it turned the entire place into a work of art which continues to evolve over time.

First Signs of Graffiti

A Living Art Piece

A Few of My Favorites

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