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COURSE NAME: "Drawing - Rome Sketchbook"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Catherine Parsonage
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 9:00 AM 11:45 AM

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.

This course is based on the fundamentals of drawing: mark making, use of line, tone, composition and perspective.  Each class will introduce these core concepts to be explored by students using a range of materials and approaches.

The aim will be to use the city of Rome as our subject: its urban and natural landscapes, panoramic views and architecture (this is dependent on the potential Covid-19 restrictions in Spring).  Regardless of where the classes will take place, this course will be centered on practical advice, creative experimentation and dynamic class discussion.


Through weekly sessions, either on-site or in the studio, students will:


·       Acquire fundamental drawing skills.

·       Experiment with a range of drawing materials and diverse approaches to drawing.

·       Produce an extensive portfolio of drawings.

·       Learn how to effectively present, discuss and evaluate their own drawings and those of their peers.

·       Gain knowledge of a range of art historical and contemporary approaches to drawing which will be directly applied to their own observations and drawings.


Students must buy their own art supplies.

A detailed list of materials will be provided prior to the beginning of the semester.

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), also Vertecchi, a chain with many branches, including one near Piazza di Spagna. Drawing supplies are also commonly found in stationary stores (cartolerie). Show your JCU student card at Poggi to receive 15% discount. 

There is no textbook.


ParticipationParticipation will be assessed through weekly moodle forums where students will share and discuss drawing assignments. Participation is expected in all aspects of the course, on-site and in studio critiques. Students should show a willingness to ask questions, share opinions and contribute. 20
Sketchbook Grading is based on a judgment of the contents of the sketchbook and related work created over the semester.Quantity of work produced is of great importance, since producing a large body of work by itself practically guarantees progress. Commitment, range of experimentation, resourcefulness, inventiveness, expressiveness, acuity of observation, concision, complexity, improvement, spatial clarity, and other aspects of technical skill and artistic quality are also considered. Note that attendance is required, and excessive numbers of missed classes will inhibit the quantity and quality of the work submitted.80

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 problems.
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.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. 
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.



Please note that the syllabus and schedule are subject to unforeseen changes.


Week 1

21st January

Introduction to course and materials

Mark Making. Making mark swatches

JCU Art Studio, Largo dei Fiorentini


Week 2

28th January

Line. Taking Visual Notes. Mark Making & Using a Viewfinder

On-site: Campidoglio (the piazza of the Capitoline Hill, up the big stairs to the south of P.za Venezia)


Week 3

4th February

Line. The Hand & The Eye. Exploring the relationship between the hand and the eye through blind contour drawing and changes of pace

On-Site: Orto Botanico


Week 4

11th February

Tone and the Turtle Fountain. How do we build form using only light & shadow?

On-Site Meet at Piazza Mattei (the “Turtle Fountain”)


Week 5

18th February

Tone. Creating an ‘Impression’ How do we depict something which constantly changing?

On-site: Tiber Island. An exploration of shifting light and landscape


Week 6

25th February

Composition and City Life. Using the viewfinder & our knowledge of line and tone to create inventive compositions

On-site: Gelateria TBC


Week 7

4th March

Midterm Presentation & Critique


Spring Break 8-12 March


Week 8

18th March

Perspective I. Introduction to one-point perspective

On-Site: Santa Sabina on the Aventino


Week 9

25th March

Perspective II. Introduction to two-point perspective

Gianicolo to Bramante’s Tempietto at S. Pietro in Montorio


Week 10

1st April

Deconstructing Perspective. An exploration of how we can deconstruct linear perspective

On-site: Fontana dell'Acqua Paola & panoramic views of Rome


Week 11

8th April  

The Figure in Space

Ponte Sant’Angelo


Week 12

15th April

The Figure and Drama! How do we communicate emotion through drawing?

On-site: Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by Bernini, Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria. An exploration of gesture and expression


Week 13

22nd April

Drawing in the City I. Using the skills and techniques we have developed to work on a longer study

On-site: Location to be decided by the class: urban scene, natural landscape, panoramic view, architecture


Week 14

29th April

Drawing in the City II. Using the skills and techniques we have developed to work on a longer study

On-site: Location to be decided by the class: urban scene, natural landscape, panoramic view, architecture


Week 15

TBC: Final Presentation & Critique