The Argentina Experience

The focus of my visit to Argentina was giving two talks and having the opportunity to work with students from Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Brazil. I really appreciated the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to draw without inhibition.

It was an emotional time for me when I saw the students’ work exhibited in La Plata. The students had drawn in accordion-fold sketchbooks, which you can see hanging vertically in the background of this photo. Seeing the display in this manner reinforces the idea that no single drawing is as important as an entire body of work, whether it be a single sketchbook or a whole series of sketchbooks. It was very heartwarming and gratifying for me to see how proud the students were of their work and I hope they will continue to enjoy drawing with increased confidence.

Avenida de Mayo

Here is a photo of the view that Wilder Gómez Taipe, Edgardo Minond and I drew in Buenos Aires, followed by photos of my drawing in progress.

I wanted to show these to illustrate how my process starts with blocking out the major forms with light pen strokes. In this way, I can both compose the view and ensure that the composition will fit properly on the page. At this early stage, adjustments can still be made before committing to the drawing’s development.

Once I have the composition blocked out, I then begin to work on the major forms and fill in the details. I usually begin with foreground elements to frame the view before moving on to the focus of the drawing. At other times, I may start with the focus of the view but always rough out framing elements fairly quickly so that the drawing composition is always in the forefront.

In a few days, I will try to recap my Argentina experience.

La Plata and Buenos Aires

We’ve had a wonderful time drawing with the students and faculty, starting in Córdoba, then in Rosario and La Plata for the congresso. This was the last drawing site in La Plata, the Casa de Gobierno, before the exhibition of the students’ work at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

Here are Wilder Gómez Taipe, Edgardo Minond and me drawing similar views of Avenida de Mayo in Buenos Aires yesterday.

Sadly, we leave for home today.


Friday evening, after my presentation, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with UNC faculty at Juan Griego, where Horacio Burgos performed the Brazilian music of Antônio Carlos Jobim and Argentina Tangos. Music, like architecture, can express the soul of a culture.

Here are the students I drew with yesterday at Alta Gracia, one of the six Estancias established by the Jesuits around Córdoba in the 17th century. Beautiful, crisp day. While most of the students are from Córdoba and Rosario, there are also a few from Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Tomorrow, we draw Córdoba before leaving for Rosario.


Looking forward to visiting Argentina for the very first time. I will be working with Roberto Ferraris and his students from the National University of Córdoba, spending a few days sketching in and around Córdoba before traveling to Rosario on the way to Buenos Aires for the 2012 EGraFIA International Congress in La Plata, where I will be giving a presentation on drawing. Hope to be able to meet up with the UrbanSketchers group in Buenos Aires and post some work.

In the meantime, here is a drawing I did of Santa Maria, Virgen de la Altagracia, on a quiet Sunday morning before leaving for home after the recent UrbanSketchers’ symposium in Santo Domingo. Looking eastward into the morning sun, it was difficult to see the church clearly but I can still hear the singing of the assembly emanating from the Sunday morning Mass within.

Ravello and Amalfi

The few times I had the privilege of teaching in Rome, we always scheduled a field trip to the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Cuma, Naples, and Pompeii before arriving in Amalfi and using it as a base to visit Ravello and its Villas Cimbrone and Rufolo as well as the Greek site of Paestum further down the coast.

In 2000, we were able to stay in placid Ravello at the Hotel Parsifal, a former monastery built in 1288 on the edge of town. This is a view of my corner room and terrace, which overlooked the Amalfi Coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The other times we stayed at the Hotel Lidomare in the coastal town of Amalfi, just off the main piazza from which one sees this view of the Duomo. A broad stairway leads up to a striped marble and stone entrance arcade, surmounted by a pedimented facade with a mosaic tympanum. Off to the left is a Romanesque bell tower and tiled cupola typical of the area. I simply outlined the foreground and surrounding structures to contrast with the ornamentation of the cathedral.

While the drawing appears to be very detailed, this enlarged portion shows that drawing has the unique ability to suggest without having to exactly reproduce what a photograph might capture. As I wrote a few months ago, this is the magic of hand drawing—”to suggest to the mind’s eye a scene that we recognize. The whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.”