Sketching and painting in Florence

Sketching and painting in Florence

AcquaFirenze and Urban Sketchers Firenze are groups of artists and sketchers that run meet-ups.

Thu 02 Nov 2023 3:50 PM

With the wealth of artistic heritage that Florence offers on every street corner, it would be no mistake to think the city still attracts artists of every interest and discipline. Since we may not all be chiseling away at marble blocks or painting a grand masterpiece in a studio, urban sketching is the perfect entrance point for complete beginners and a community of locals and internationals.

AcquaFirenze and Urban Sketchers Firenze are both open-to-all groups of artists and sketchers that run frequent meet-ups across Florence, Tuscany, Italy and even abroad, welcoming anyone with paper and a pencil. The meetings take the groups to new locations each time, to draw and paint the environment from life, and to bring like-minded individuals together.

Speaking with Lucia Baccini and Natus Rodríguez, who both take part in the organization of the groups, we find out more about the activities and how to get involved.

How and when was the AcquaFirenze group created?

Natus: The AcquaFirenze group came from my idea at the start of 2017. The group was created to connect watercolour enthusiasts, to organize trips to paint en plein air and to encourage and empower each other, as well as to give life to our shared initiatives. The idea was successful and a large group was formed in quite a short time. In 2017, we held our first collective exhibition in the headquarters of Tuscany’s regional council. Parallel groups were soon formed in other cities and areas, and today AcquaBologna, AcquaMaremma, AcquaPisa and AcquaTorino all exist, among others. At the moment, there are 12 groups across the country, including the islands. AcquaFirenze has been a cultural association since 2022. In addition to our painting meetings together, which are always free, we organize workshops with artists and other activities. The association has no geographical limits for initiatives and events, and at the moment, it is especially active in Florence and Bologna, where the activities of the association are conducted by Enrico Ciabatti and Iolanda Blesas.

Lucia: We formed the Urban Sketchers Firenze group in 2018, for which we have acquired official approval from the international Urban Sketchers Organization. Those who take part in it are more or less the same as AcquaFirenze, but the USK Firenze meetings are aimed at sketching using any technique and following USK guidelines: to draw only what you see and to be faithful to the reality you represent. I coordinate this group alongside Renata Custodero and Giorgia Vitale.

Where do you like to draw? Are the meetings always in Florence or across Tuscany and Italy?

Natus: AcquaFirenze meetings are preferably outside of the city, where you can paint more easily with an easel (as well as if you don’t always use one) and are often combined with cultural visits. We have held meetings in various parts of Tuscany, as well as outside the region. Since 2018, we have held exchange events, especially in Spain, given my origins there, but we don’t exclude any countries, given our internationality. In the summer of 2023, we held a wonderful meeting in Barcelona.

Lucia: The USK Firenze meetings, on the other hand, are occasions when Urban Sketchers who are travelling, who are passing through Florence, often join and they happen predominantly in Florence, outside or indoors, depending on the weather. All the meetings for both groups are free and open to all, subject only to potential costs for entering museums, churches, etc.

Do you collaborate with urban sketching groups from other cities?

Lucia: Yes, we have held some wonderful meetings with other groups. We have been to draw in Maremma many times with USK Grosseto and we often join other groups, as we did most recently in Bergamo, with the groups from Bergamo, Milan, Parma and Genoa.

Natus: In 2023, joining together the forces of USK Firenze and AcquaFirenze, we organized an Urban Sketching Festival in Florence that attracted sketchers from all over Italy, as well as from abroad. It was a great success!

Are there other types of activities that you do as a group?

Natus: AcquaFirenze organizes a variety of activities linked to developing creativity and artistic techniques. Among these are our free monthly meetings, La Tertulia, aimed at our members and workshops in watercolour and other techniques.

How can people take part?

Lucia: For the trips, whether for AcquaFirenze or USK Firenze, participation is completely free. All of the updates about our meetings are on our social media pages, on Facebook (@acquafirenze @uskfirenze) and Instagram (@acquafirenze @uskfirenze).

Natus: For AcquaFirenze, we recommend that you become a member in order to strengthen the association, which invests time and resources to organize events. Information on how to become a member is on the AcquaFirenze website.

Are there any requirements?

Natus: No, the meetings are always open to all, including those who have never drawn or painted before!

Where is your favourite place to draw in the city?

Lucia: I love drawing architecture, so my favourite place would be anywhere in the centro storico where there are interesting details and views to draw. These don’t necessarily include the city’s most important monuments. My favourites are actually the small streets and piazzas that are less well-known.

Natus: I prefer to paint places that are peaceful, away from the confusion, and especially those immersed in nature. Places by the sea are my favourites. I remember one of our trips with AcquaMaremma, where we painted while actually in the sea, on the picturesque beach of Feniglia, near the Argentario.

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