Photos For Midterm

Yes, I have been doing some serious blog slacking… I apologize. Here are some of my photographs that I will be presenting for my midterm critique. Any comments are more than welcome. © Chris Doyle 2012

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Fire in the Florentine Sky

Yesterday I finally made it back up to San Miniato. This time I was there to photograph. I had planned shooting pre-sunset, sunset and post-sunset photos. However, Blair and Sofia had said that they wanted to come with me to watch too, so I had to wait for them and they were ready slightly later than I had hoped for. Sunset was at 6:58 and we found ourselves hustling up the hill at roughly 6:45. I was able to take some shots with the sun just setting over the horizon and then we stayed long after the sun had set completely and watched from Piazza Michelangelo as Florence began to light up in the night. Here are some of my favorites from last night:

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You know its getting close to Halloween when you start drawing skeletons.

For the last week we have been learning about anatomy in drawing class. We have been learning how to invision the skeleton inside the body and how the skeleton is where the initial shape comes from. First we started with a real person, and then yesterday I got to draw the David and his skeleton. Here they are:

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Don’t take my things

All images on this blog are copyright of Chris Doyle. All rights reserved. Written permission required for usage. Grazie!

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Before and After: Eight Days days of writers block

Here are two more poems that I have written. I suffered through a patch of writers block in between these two pieces, but I am happy to have words again. Again, these are rough drafts and I would love some feedback…mom.

Florence, September 23, 2012 

The Fakir

The people had gathered in a circle

looking intently

at the spectacle in the center


Florentines and tourists alike

all stopped

draw in like moths to a flame

Even the gypsies stopped their begging

if only for a moment

to ponder the man before them


There he stood, or sat

I could not be sure

for nothing but his staff touched the ground


Shrouded in orange

reminiscent of pumpkins at Halloween

he remained


He remained

solemn as the statues

that stand silently, stoically

underneath the loggia in Palazzo Vecchio


His face expressionless

locked in concentration

Only his eyes greeted the crowd

Occasionally rasing a hand

to present a generous bystander

with a rolled piece of paper

A Pearl of Wisdom


He remained there

motionless for a long time

Long after his curly haired neighbor had finished

the final verse of Halleluiah

and his last notes had been lost

in the full Florence air

he remained


I could not help

but remain with him

puzzled and awestruck

Transfixed on the man

in the center of the circle


The sun began to set

and still he remained

the golden light

dancing a slow, beautiful waltz

through each fold of his orange robes


A dog pulled at his leash

but his owner did not notice

Spellbound by the levitating man

he was destined to stay

As long as the mystery remained

he would stay


As the curly haired man

sang about the sound of silence

I collected my things

and I left the mysterious man behind



Florence, October 2, 2012

To Win, One Must Lose

It finally happened

That sinking feeling

when you reach into your pockets

and something is missing.


Reassuring myself

that there will be

someone upstairs to

answer my incessant



Yet there is nothing

and the buzzing sound

that would calm my mind

and bring me home

never comes.


I have no choice

but to post up

on the cold, thankless

sidewalk and wait.


Large dirty pigeons

lumbering sumo wrestlers

challenge their smaller

swifter sparrow counterparts

for the breadcrumbs

that scatter the sidewalk.


Hundreds of people

walk by pausing

only briefly to question

with inquisitive eyes

my choice for a seat

I have no response.


A few familiar faces

pass silently

like ships in the night

there is nothing

they can do.


I am an old

weather worn fisherman

rod in hand, hook in water

bobber bobbing monotonously

in the vast endless ocean

waiting for a jerk or a nibble

or something.


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The Hel-Storm

A week ago Saturday, September 22nd, I traveled to Pisa and Lucca on another death march through Italy with Helen. It was the first time I had seen her since I dropped her class, so I was unsure of how to talk to her. I’ll be honest and say that when I first arrived at Piazza Indipendenza, the place where we meet the bus on field trip days, I did everything I could to avoid her. Our meeting was inevitable however, and when we finally sat down on the bus, it took just under three minutes for Helen to find me. The bus had shown up almost an hour late and Helen was visibly perturbed, which only elevated my desire to avoid her. She slowly made it down the aisle of the bus, handing out supplemental information on Pisa and Lucca to each of the students. I knew the confrontation was coming and yet I still couldn’t prepare myself. She came the row where Nick and I were sitting and I sheepishly showed her that I didn’t need any of the extra information because I had already gotten it in class a few days before.

Then it came, the Hel-storm. She asked me if I had dropped her class and I told her that yes I had. She was a bit confused because of the amount of interest I had shown the first week or so when I told her my reasons for taking the class and how the Art History professor at High Point, Dr. Piperato, who had been her TA a few years ago, had highly recommended that I take Helen’s class. As I explained to her, even if I had taken her Early Renaissance class this fall and then her High Renaissance class in the spring like I had planned, then I would still have to go back to High Point next year and take Art History one and two with Dr. Piperato. As far as I am concerned, that is too much art history for me. I didn’t tell Helen that last part because it may have killed her, but she seemed to understand my reasoning and she said that she would have to have a talk with Dr. Piperato about why the credits earned from her class wouldn’t count as far as High Point was concerned. And it was over. Helen moved on to the next row of sleepy students, I had weathered the Hel-storm.

We arrived in Pisa already an hour behind schedule because of the late bus and so Helens death march became more of a death sprint. I had already made a visit to Pisa with my mother and my brother while we were traveling for two and a half weeks before I moved in, so I unlike many of the other students who had never been to Pisa, was prepared for what we were about to see. We turned the corner and there it was, just as I had left it, The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Unfortunately, we had been told prior to our arrival that we wouldn’t be climbing the tower because of the cost but we would be allowed to buy our own tickets during our lunch break and climb to the top if we wanted to. I had already climbed to the top a few weeks prior so I was content with just looking on in awe of the tower yet again.


The first stop on our trip was the Baptistery with its impressive Romanesque/Gothic architecture. I had only seen it from the outside the first time but of course this time I was with Helen, and it is required to see every inch of everything, accompanied by large overwhelming in-depth explanations of what we were looking at. Inside was very intriguing. From its high domed ceiling to the baptismal font, the Baptistery was quite impressive. Perhaps the most impressive physical thing inside however, was the Pulpit built by Nicola Pisano, which is one of the most famous pieces of sculpture in all of Tuscany. Another thing that blew me away while I was inside the Baptistery was the acoustics. At one point in our tour, the curator of the Baptistery at the time got up and demonstrated just how impressive the acoustics of the building were. She sang a few short notes and they reverberated off of the interior walls with such passion that it was no wonder why Helen wanted us to hear the demonstration.


Next came the Cathedral itself, which we learned is the “largest and most ambitious” Romanesque monument in Tuscany.” It was built that way to reflect the power of Pisa at the time. Beautiful from the outside, it was similarly beautiful on the inside as well. Giovanni Pisano, son of aforementioned Nicola, built the pulpit on the inside of the Cathedral and on it he carved, “I have now outdone my father.” I know if I said that, I would have to have something serious on my hands to back up my words. Giovanni was lucky enough to have something like that because his pulpit was just as if not more impressive. I suggest you look up both pulpits so you can formulate your own opinions.


After our exit from the Cathedral, Helen was in top gear and she declared that we would have to hustle through our next two stops in order to have a break for lunch and then get on the bus to head to Lucca.  As far as Helen was concerned, it was necessary to make a visit to the Campo Santo, or Gothic Cemetery, to see a handful of ancient Roman sarcophagi, which had supposedly inspired Nicola Pisano in some of his sculptures. One thing that I saw that I thought was very cool was the famous fresco, “Triumph of Death” which spanned from floor to ceiling and was very, let’s see, interesting, To get a better understanding I recommend looking it up yourself. Next up was a “quick” visit to the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo and then it was lunchtime. A delicious pizza margherita and then my first bite of calamari, that was interesting, and we soon found ourselves back in Helen’s wake as she sped off down a Pisan side street. We emerged into Piazza dei Cavalieri, the former center Piazza of Pisa, where in one building, as referred to in Dante’s Inferno, Ugolino of the Gherardesca family, after being sentenced to starve to death with his children, ate his children when they died in the hope of staying alive longer. Well it didn’t work, and he still died. With that image still swimming in our minds, we made our way back to the bus to begin the drive to Lucca.

I was asleep almost immediately after getting on the bus. There is something about these Helen trips that seems to make one more tired than they have ever been before. I was not ready to wake up by the time we arrived in Lucca and so I was quite grumpy when the bus came to a stop and we all were told to get off. Luckily, the beauty of Lucca pleasantly surprised me and I found myself awake enough to enjoy what I was seeing,

The theme of the Lucca portion of the trip seemed to be Churches, as per usual. In total we saw five different churches. In one of the churches, San Frediano, we saw the tomb of Saint Zita, a local Saint who lived during the Middle Ages. The tomb was made of glass and you could see her body, just as they had “buried” her. Surprisingly, her body was very well preserved so we weren’t just looking at a skeleton. In the Gothic Cathedral, there is a cedar cross that is said to have been carved by Nicodemus, one of the people who removed Christ from the cross. The cross is known as the Volto Santo. It was very different than any of the crosses in any of the churches that we have seen thus far. In San Giovanni and San Reparata, we were able to enter the recently opened excavations underneath the churches, which reveal Roman, Early Christian, and Early Medieval remains of past churches on the site. I always enjoy going into these excavations sites, maybe one day I’ll work in one myself. Who knows?


One of my favorite things about Lucca was the main piazza, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. It is in the shape of an oval because the houses that surround the piazza were built on the foundations of an ancient Roman amphitheater. Unfortunately, we were only there for a short while because soon Helen was off, hot on the trail to another church. Another interesting thing that we saw in Lucca was the Giunigi Tower, one of Lucca’s landmarks. It was quite interesting because in a city setting like Lucca, there were numerous trees growing out of the top of the tower. After we had seen everything that Helen wanted us to see, she bought us all cake, vegetable cake but yes she bought us cake. That counts for something. On our way back to the bus after cake, we were lucky enough to be walking into a beautiful sunset, which was, to me, about as perfect a thing as you could ask for to end a Helen field trip.


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Playing with Plaster

Today was the middle step to completing our first project in Sculpture class. We have been working all month on our Bas-Reliefs in clay and today we reached the end of the clay portion of the project. It was plaster time. We formed our plaster molds, which took up the entire class time, from learning how to make them, to mixing the plaster, to actually pouring it on our sculptures. If you have never worked with plaster, let me tell you firstly that it is quite fun. First we had to mix the plaster for our first coat. We added a bit of pigment to the water so that in the final step, when we have to chisel off the mold from the plaster cast, we will be able to tell the difference between the mold and the cast.

Next we had to add the plaster to the water. Before the plaster is added to water, it is a very fine, almost flour-like, powder. The ratio of water to plaster is 1:1 and one we had met that, it was time to begin stirring. Once the stirring starts, the plaster begins to solidify rather quickly and Dario suggested that we only stir for around 45 seconds or until the plaster was comparable to a “melted ice-cream” consistency. Adam and I shared a bucket of plaster that we had mixed and once we had the right viscosity it was time to pour it onto our clay sculptures. Lets just say that I made a mess, but I wasn’t alone in that category as everyone at least got some liquidy plaster on the tables and the ground. We had to cover our sculpture in a quarter inch of plaster and then wait twenty or so minutes for the first coat to harden before we could begin the second coat.

After twenty minutes, it was time to mix our second batch of plaster. This time we had to stir a bit longer because we wanted the consistency to be a bit thicker, at least that’s what Dario told us. When we had mixed the second batch we had to cover everything yet again. This time it was much less messy because the plaster didn’t drip everywhere. We completed this step rather quickly because we could just take handfuls of the semi-liquid plaster and spread it across our sculpture like we were frosting a cake. We finished with our second layer just as class time was coming to an end so that was all we could do. We cleaned up, scraping the plaster off the tables and the floor and threw all of the chunks in the trash. In the time that it took for us to clean up, our second layer had hardened sufficiently and because the plaster is a chemical reaction, we were surprised that when we laid our hands on top of plaster covered sculptures, they were significantly warm. It was actually pretty wild. We placed our sculptures back on the shelves and now we have to wait until next Monday to do the next step, clay removal, so that we can be sure that the plaster is fully hard. I’ll keep you updated as best I can on the progress of the project. My final design is very different than my picture but I’ll let you imagine what it might be before I put up a final picture. Ciao!

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