by Carrie Osborn, Staff Member
Florence is a city that does not allow you to ignore art. Regardless of whether you cross the threshold into a museum, you are constantly sounded by masterpieces. The façade of the church that you walk past every morning was probably designed by one the best architects of the Renaissance. The Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria is essentially an outdoor museum filled with beautiful marble statuary that is visible to anyone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at no cost. Brunelleschi’s dome can be seen from almost any spot in the city.
This nonstop assault of beauty and perfection has the potential to be a little bit overwhelming, to say the least. The thought of creating something of your own in this place where the gods of the Renaissance made names for themselves can be so intimidating that you almost feel you shouldn’t even try. And so, when the time came for me to select my courses for my first semester studying abroad in Florence and I had to choose whether or not to take an art class, I nearly let that intimidation get the best of me. I am so glad I didn’t.
Let me make something very clear: I had absolutely zero artistic talent. In preschool I was pretty adept at finger painting, but that was the peak of my artistic career. I figured that if I was ever going to learn how to really draw or paint, I might as well try to do it where the best artists who ever lived learned. Dive in head first, right?
My art course began. Pigments, brushes, and canvases were purchased, and I set about my daily task of copying a master drawing. Walking the streets of Florence every day helped me turn my intimidation into inspiration. Soaking up all of the visual influences around me, I attacked my assignments with even more dedication than I would normally devote to “academic” classes. It turned out that all I needed to ignite my artistic talents was a great instructor, a little push, and some Florentine magic.
I learned that you never know what you’re capable of until you’re pushed to try something that’s entirely outside of your comfort zone. What better place to give your best shot at emulating Renaissance masters than Florence, Italy? You might just surprise yourself!