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COURSE NAME: "Drawing - Rome Sketchbook"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session I 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Pola Wickham
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 9:00 AM 12:45 PM

This course makes use of the unparalleled resource that is the city of Rome itself; each class meets at a different site around the city. Students work in sketchbook form, creating over the course of the term a diary of visual encounters. Instruction, apart from brief discussions of the sites themselves, focuses on efficient visual note taking: the quick description of form, awareness of light and the development of volume in space. With practice and growing experience, students become capable of producing drawings governed by conscious intention.
Each class meets at a different site of historical and visual interest around Rome. Students make drawings from observation in their sketchbooks creating a record of their experiences and of the sites they are seeing. The beginning of each class meeting is dedicated to a brief discussion of the  site, and the presentation of an issue to be addressed in drawing. Some of the basic drawing issues addressed in specific lessons include: centering the subject on the page, the uses and the values of line, rendering form in light and dark, creating space and visual drama through various kinds of contrast, practical advice on perspective, specifying point of view, creating atmosphere, faces and figures from classical statuary and so on. 

Additional information:
1. The course involves working from direct observation. Working from photographs is not permitted.
2. The course may include visits involving an entry fee.  These visits are held to a minimum and should not cost you more than a total of 25 Euro over the session.
3. The core activity is drawing directly from observation. You will not be able to meet the requirements of the course without working many hours outside of class.
4. The class meets rain or shine.
5. The course is meant to be a framework allowing very free individual artistic choices. The lessons are meant to help students get started, but there is always room for creative alternatives.
6. Students must come to class on time because that is when the site is explained, and the day's drawing problem and other announcements are given. 
7. Students need to dress appropriately: proper footware, no bare shoulders and no very short skirts allowed in churches, hats and sunscreen.
8. Be sure to plan your morning itinerary in order to arrive promptly at the site at 9:00. Be alert for announcements of changes to the preliminary schedule below.

Students buy their own art supplies. You need a bound or spiral bound (not glued) notebook not less than 24 x 34 cm. If wanted also a smaller notebook of 12 x 24 cm. The drawing instruments are preferably a variety of pencils, or soft, dark graphite, but other tools are welcome too. You will need erasers and a pencil sharpener. Ink, pens and brushes are fine, but optional. Soft charcoal or pastel are not recommended, as the image quickly degrades in the sketchbook, even when you use fixative.

There is no textbook. 

Art supply stores: Poggi (two locations, one in Trastevere on Via Merry del Val, just off Viale Trastevere, and the other on Via Pie’ di Marmo, near the Pantheon), Arte Tre in Via del Fiume near Via Ripetta and the Piazza del Popolo. Drawing supplies are commonly found in stationary stores (cartolerie); Moleskin books which are useful for smaller skatchbboks can be found within the Feltrinelli bookstores.

By the end of the course students should be more visually alert to their surroundings, capable of careful observation, familiar with significant sites in Rome, and capable of representing what they see in both quick sketches and longer studies. They will have acquired skill using various technical approaches to drawing and knowledge about some traditions in drawing and painting.










Completed sketchbook of drawings done over the termGrading is based on a judgment of the contents of the sketchbook created over the semester. Quantity of work produced is of great importance as is improvement. Producing a large body of work by itself is a guarantee of progress. Commitment, range of experimentation, resourcefulness, inventiveness, expressiveness, acuity of observation, concision, complexity, spatial clarity, and other aspects of technical skill and artistic quality are also considered.100

AWork of this quality shows excellent mastery of the course content along with exceptional levels of technical skill, artistic awareness, originality, resourcefulness, commitment, quantity of work and improvement. There has been excellent collaboration and leadership in group projects, and there have been no attendance problem
BA highly competent level of performance with work that directly addresses the content of the course, with a good quantity of work produced.
CAn acceptable level of performance: the work shows awareness of the course content, but is very limited in quantity, quality, commitment and skill.
DThe student lacks a coherent grasp of the course material and has failed to produce much work.
FNegligent in attendance, academic honesty, engagement with the course content, or production of work.


Attendance is required.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


1    (Tuesday May 23) Introduction. Meet (this time only) at JCU Art Studio, Largo dei Fiorentini, 1. Lesson: two opposed languages of drawing, line vs. tonal value. Sketching on the Castel Sant’Angelo bridge.

2    (Thursday May 25) Meet at Santa Sabina on the Aventino. (From school walk to the other side of the river at Tiber Island, then continue south past S. Maria in Cosmedin; after the main street leading to the Circo Massimo turn left up a little pathway called the Clivio di Rocca Savella leading from the river to the Aventine hill. Past the famous orange grove you will find the big parking lot of S. Sabina. Wait there.) No bare shoulders or shorts in this or other churches. Lesson devoted to solving problems of perspective.

Assignment week 1: Five sketches of perspectives.

3    (Tues. May 30) Meet at the Campidoglio (the piazza of the Capitoline Hill, up the big stairs to the south of Piazza Venezia. Lesson: view-finding, looking down upon the forum and on the city.

4    (Thurs. June 1) Meet at Santo Stefano in Rotondo (take the metro B to Colosseo, walk round the Colosseum and then up the hill which is called Via Claudia, about 3/4 of the way up the hill, on the left, there is a street called Via Santo Stefano in Rotondo, take this left, if you arrive at a fountain shaped like a boat you are too far, and a bit further on you will see on the right an entrance to the church). No bare shoulders or shorts in this or other churches.

Assignment week 2: Two far slower drawings that include more information.

5    (Tues. June 6) Meet at Palazzo Altemps, a museum of classical sculpture located outside the curved end of Piazza Navona. The entrance is in Piazza Sant’Apollinare 48, just off of Corso Rinascimento. Drawing the large sarcophagus and other statues from antiquity. Entry fee 13 Euro. Fast line drawings to begin with to slower drawings that include simple forms of chiaro/scuro (light and dark).

6    (Thurs. June 8) Meet at Galleria Pamphili, with ticket money which will be 10 euros aproximately.

Assignment week 3: Roman antiquity or art from the past. Five drawings with light and shadows.

 7    (Tues. June 13) Meet at Guarini entry; we’ll go up the Gianicolo to draw views of the city from above fontana dell’ acqua paola
Bramante’s Tempietto at S. Pietro in Montorio. Drawing views over the city with the problem of atmosphere and then also drawing architecture: round forms in perspective.

8    (Thurs. June 15) Meet by the fountain of the Triton in Piazza Barberini. We will be looking at the Baroque by seeing the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by Bernini and San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Borromini. Drawing greater complexity.

Assignment week 4: Five Roman views (can one still find a way to be personal in a city that has been depicted so many times before?)

9    (Tues. June 20) Orto Botanico; meet at Guarini entry, and we walk from there. Entry fee 6 Euro. Suggesting forms instead of being able to describe them, observation of nature (possibly introducing color).

10    (Thurs. June 22) Final meeting at JCU Art Studio, Largo dei Fiorentini, 1. Group critique 

11    (Friday June 23) Appointments made for individual meetings that take the place of a final exam.