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The Inspiring World of Details – Ideas from Uffizi Gallery

Paivi Eerola and Gypsy Girl, a painting by Boccaccio Boccaccino

If you have followed my blog for some time, you know that this photo is very meaningful to me. It was a hot day in June when I visited Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. The huge old building was filled with world-class art. But I wasn’t just going to look at the famous masterpieces like Botticelli’s Primavera or Birth of Venus. I was searching a small painting of Boccaccio Boccaccino.

Meeting Boccaccio Boccaccino at Uffizi

Boccaccino’s painting made my heart bounce when I saw it on Google at the beginning of this year. I made my version of it during the spring.

Paivi Eerola and her oil painting combining Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci, and Gypsy Girl by Boccaccio Boccaccino

After finishing the painting, Boccaccino’s Gypsy Girl continued to fascinate me so that in June, I traveled to Italy with my husband to see the original painting. I tried to prepare myself for the situation that I wouldn’t see it. Sometimes museums lend paintings for other exhibitions or don’t have everything on display. But my journey wasn’t wasted: I got the chance to admire the painting, so tiny that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Namely, the whole spring I had tried to capture the gentle features for much bigger size, and it felt challenging!

Boccaccino's Gypsy Girl and Paivi's version, by Boccaccio Boccaccino and Paivi Eerola
Comparing Boccaccino’s Gypsy Girl and Paivi’s version

Now when I compare the details, I see many differences. My gypsy girl is not the same person than the original, but it’s ok. I feel that it resembles me and especially how I would like to be seen: gentle but observing, always protecting what’s precious.

Wouldn’t it be if I could tell my story to Boccaccio Boccaccino? I would tell him how I saw his painting on the Internet, in a big catalog that anyone can browse. I would tell him how I examined the images of the painting and painted a bigger version of it. He would probably wonder how I could afford for all the paints for the big version, and who had ordered such a large painting of a modest gypsy girl. “It’s just for me,” I would say, “this painting is so special that I don’t want to sell it.” “You must be a wealthy woman,” he would probably say and then continue: “Where did you say you come from?”. I would tell him about Finland, an area in the far north and show it on a map. Then I would tell him about airplanes. He wouldn’t probably believe anything!

But at the end, all I would like to say to him is this: “People from all over the world come to see your painting. They buy the ticket in advance. They queue. They sweat. They book the hotel based on its location. They take pictures of it. They examine them when they are back home.”

Isn’t that something any artist would like to hear?

More Uffizi – Some Ideas for Your Art Journals

1) Fresco Pages

Like any museum in Florence, Uffizi Gallery’s ceilings had a lot of frescos. The long hallways were full of illustrations.

Uffizi Gallery, ceilings

The round ceiling is so brilliant that I have to show you a close-up photo:

A painted ceiling at The Uffizi Gallery, Italy, Florence

I love how the branches go to the back and to the front of the bars, and how the color changes in the background. It’s such a great idea that I also quickly recorded it onto my art journal!

Art journal page idea by Peony and Parakeet

2) Delicate Patterns Filling Solid Areas

Another idea is to see the possibility of a solid or dull area. See how the grass can be more than just green color or green strokes. I saw quite a many paintings that had this:

Alesso Baldovinetti, Cafaggiolo Altarpiece, c. 1453, a detail
Alesso Baldovinetti, Cafaggiolo Altarpiece, c. 1453, a detail

3) Translucent Elements

I am fascinated by the number of veils in Renaissance art, and especially how they are painted.

Sandro Botticelli: The Cestello Annunciation, a detail
Sandro Botticelli: The Cestello Annunciation, a detail

They are like abstract art if you look at them closer! See how the line changes in strength and how a little bright spot makes the fabric look shiny!

Sandro Botticelli: The Cestello Annunciation, a detail
Sandro Botticelli: The Cestello Annunciation, a detail

I also loved how the veil was painting in this painting:

Sandro Botticelli: Madonna of the Magnificat, c. 1483
Sandro Botticelli: Madonna of the Magnificat, c. 1483

Another idea: add stripes on those translucent elements!

A detail of Sandro Botticelli's Madonna of the Magnificat, c. 1483
A detail of Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Magnificat, c. 1483

4) Light on the Center

I end this blog post with the simple idea that came from a stunning painting. Create a very bright element in the center and then add dark shadows around the painting!

Gerard van Honthorst, Adoration of the Child, 1619-1620
Gerard van Honthorst, Adoration of the Child, 1619-1620

As you can guess, it was an inspiring visit, and I could easily write and show more. Hopefully these inspired you, and hopefully, I will see you in the classes this fall.

Coming Up!

Online classes
Aug/Sept Collageland – a self-study class (textile-inspired collages)
Aug/Sept Inspirational Drawing 2.0 – available as self-study (drawing from imagination)
Oct/Nov Flower-themed online workshop (not your regular flower art class!)

Local workshops in Finland
Sept 9-10 Draw Freely – Piirrä vapaasti 1-2 (Suomeksi! – in Finnish)

Other news
I am planning to offer a free live webinar in September if I can just fit that into my schedule. Many have asked about my coaching program The Exploring Artist. I will rerun that at the beginning of next year.

Stay tuned and if you haven’t subscribed my weekly emails yet, subscribe here!

26 thoughts on “The Inspiring World of Details – Ideas from Uffizi Gallery

  1. I really love this blog issue! Having you point out particular points of interest and showing us how you experimented with those ideas .

  2. Oh, Paivi, this made my heart sing! I’m so very glad that you were able to see this magical painting in person, and I love how you would have explained our world to Boccaccino. Love that ceiling, and how you did a journal spread with your version. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Thank you Paivi, I really learned some great ideas from your sharing
    this. I am always excited to see your blog in my inbox!
    You are very inspiring and supportive.
    Much Appreciation, Cassie

  4. thank you for another inspiring blog filled with many great ideas — I a happy that you visited the uffizzi

  5. So happy you were able to visit Uffizi. Loved your beautiful version of the round ceiling. A possible class?

  6. Thank you for this blog. I wish everyone.could go to Italy and see these masterpieces! Especially if you’ve made art — is one place you have to go see! I was brought to tears several times the first time I visited Italy. And that was before I knew anything about drawing or painting! I share your awe for these amazing paintings!

    1. Thank you, Amy! Seeing world-class art is always an emotional experience. I have also wondered why Boccaccio Boccaccino created that painting but at Uffizi, I found out that it belonged to the collection of Leopoldo de Medici who wasn’t any regular art collector but who favored everything a bit different. So maybe Boccaccio saw his chance to get his work to Medici’s collection or maybe he got a commission from Leopoldo.

  7. Thank you for sharing a special post. I visited the Uffizi in 1975 and still feel dazzled. Their collection is magnificent. I recall the Botticelli works. I love your version of the Gypsy as well as the original. Thanks for sharing your passion with us. The ceiling painting is delightful, you did us a favor by sharing the close-up. A series based on it would be a challenge.

  8. Thank you for sharing your visit to this wonderful museum. Caravaggio painted wonderful pictures with the light focussed on the centre of the picture – they are mesmerizing too. Thank you for sharing the details of the ceiling and the grass, I will look more closely for these finer details – sometimes a museum as large as the Uffizi overwhelms you so that you can’t fit more into your brain. Your photos helped to focus my eyes!

    1. Thanks, Jakki! I have many photos of Caravaggio’s painting, I saw some of them in Rome too. He truly is a master of light and shadows! I have started to take more photos of the details also in general as I have noticed that they work for recording ideas better than just looking at the whole painting.

  9. Seems like you had a really great time. Hope you are both well.
    Your photos are really lovely especially the ceiling one. Lot of ideas I’m sure you head must be buzzing with excitement for classes.
    Speak to you soon. xx

    1. Thank you, Joanna! It was a lovely time, especially in Florence. We also spent a couple of days in Rome. Truly a lot of ideas to implement!

  10. Like Barbara who commented above, I also went to the Uffizi years ago. It was an amazing experience. I felt so privileged to be able to see such great art. Thanks for discussing your visit to the gallery and the inspiration you got from observing the works that you saw.

  11. Hey dear Paivi, great to read about your Florence art adventures. Hope you’ll share more of what you learned soon.

    We visited the venue in July this year, and I thought of you,

  12. As always, lovely! And I’d like to go also…I’m supposed to go to Italy sometime in the next 6 months. Hmmm…now I’m so inspired.
    Thank you so much. I love how much you love art.

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