In which I walk through the mine field of logistics for the sake of art…

by Laura A

Once again I’ve let this blog go dormant for a while, even though I really like writing. The reason is that I wasn’t satisfied with merely posting photos all the time, and yet I wasn’t ready to reshape the blog into something new yet.  My thoughts are undergoing one of those caterpillar to butterfly moments (I hope, haha!) and who wants to see all that gooey mess inside a cocoon?

Anyway, I’ll give a short update, and then we’ll see what comes of the blogging:

Last week I walked into the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arte di Torino (the local art college) and stood in line to ask for some information about their non-degree figure-drawing course. Their site said they were taking enrollments through October. What followed was a typical Italian bureaucratic exchange: I got no information whatsoever about the course except that there was no teacher.  Instead, they informed me that since I didn’t have a diploma from an Italian liceo artistico (art high school) I would have to sit for the entrance exam. And incidentally, this was the last day to sign up for it–the last hour, in fact. The exam would last from 9:00-4:30, take place on September 17 (this Wednesday), there was an oral art history component, and of course they told me nothing about what either component would entail.

So, knowing there was no use in arguing with the humorless woman behind the counter, I went out to the street and asked directions to the nearest post office, filled out my bolletino and paid the exam fee, filled out the admission exam form, and stood in line again to submit everything. After that I went across the street to the art store, bought a variety of soft pencils, charcoal, and a pad of newsprint, and went home.

Since then I’ve been trying to get myself back into the habit of fitting quick gesture drawings onto large sheets of newsprint. I’ve done a couple of more detailed drawings as well. Since I don’t have a model, I’m having to use art books instead. And naturally, after such a long studio hiatus, I get distracted easily by all the other work I have to do. But I’m keeping with it. Taking up figure drawing again is sort of like starting to run again after getting out of shape; It makes me extremely tired, but after I work for about an hour, I feel great!

Am I worried about the exam?  Not really.  I’m more worried about the logistics: Getting myself up and over to the Accademia at 9 a.m., working for that long without coffee, and not knowing what’s allowed in terms of lunch and bathroom breaks! But if a former portrait artist can’t pass a figure drawing exam for local high school students, those high schoolers must be pretty darn good, and I should want to be in the class all the more next year, eh?

And the art history oral? Well, if I can’t convey something of my love of painting, as seen across time and geography, to the jury, then that probably says more about my Italian language skills than my knowledge of art history. That is a real possibility, but there’s not much I can do about it between now and Wednesday except look up some art terms. For both exams, it helps that I don’t have any idea what the expectations are, so I’m sort of walking into the experience like a child.

Anyway, I had to decide everything so quickly that I’ll just have to take the exam and figure out the rest later if I pass. I don’t even know for sure whether I want to take the class yet, as I don’t know what the hours are and what the course costs! I had simply been thinking about starting to paint portraits again, and thought that a figure-drawing course would both get me back into shape and introduce me to other artists in the city.

So, as usual, the order is: Do the bureaucracy, submit myself to the experience for which I underwent the bureaucracy, and then figure out what the heck is going on. And last of all, perhaps a couple of years into the experience, I might know whether it was worth it. That’s pretty much the opposite order from what people think is wise in the US, but in Italy there’s really no use fighting it.  In Italy, wisdom means learning to live well even when things are out of control.

18 September: I’ve added an update here.