Outside the Studio: Finding inspiration in Italy (part 1 of 4 - Milan)

Inspiration for our work at Carrot Top Studio can be found in so many different places! We find it in the everyday, in readings, in fabric, and in getting out of the normal routine. A recent trip to Italy allowed us days full of “inspiring moments.” Here are the highlights from Milan ….

Just off the plane we headed to see Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. Painted in the late 15th-century this mural sized (15 x 29’) piece is in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Of course I’ve looked at it online and in books many, many times but this was one of those seeing it in person art experiences that was so different in the “up close and personal.” Leonardo paints the few minutes after Jesus has declared that one disciple would betray him before the sun rises. I was moved to tears at the enormity of what Leonardo took on in the subject matter, the physical size of the work, the innovation of perspective and his experimental methods of using pigments directly on a dry plaster wall. This work impacted viewers and artists for many years to come. It was an art game changer. That is astounding.  If you go — know that tickets need to be purchased online about 3 months in advance. If that doesn’t work call the museum directly to see what is available or you’ll need to buy a tour with an independent tour guide company (expensive!). The good news is that only 20-25 people are allowed in at a time so you can easily see the art and enjoy the space it is in.   Inspiration take away  — don’t be afraid to try new things.

Just off the plane we headed to see Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. Painted in the late 15th-century this mural sized (15 x 29’) piece is in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Of course I’ve looked at it online and in books many, many times but this was one of those seeing it in person art experiences that was so different in the “up close and personal.” Leonardo paints the few minutes after Jesus has declared that one disciple would betray him before the sun rises. I was moved to tears at the enormity of what Leonardo took on in the subject matter, the physical size of the work, the innovation of perspective and his experimental methods of using pigments directly on a dry plaster wall. This work impacted viewers and artists for many years to come. It was an art game changer. That is astounding.

If you go — know that tickets need to be purchased online about 3 months in advance. If that doesn’t work call the museum directly to see what is available or you’ll need to buy a tour with an independent tour guide company (expensive!). The good news is that only 20-25 people are allowed in at a time so you can easily see the art and enjoy the space it is in.

Inspiration take away — don’t be afraid to try new things.

Our lodging overlooked the Cimitero Monumentale. This wasn’t on our list of “to-do’s” but when we saw the enormity (most of the above image foreground) we were curious and thoroughly appreciated spending several hours in this very large cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1866 and is overflowing with contemporary and classical Italian sculpture and architecture.

Our lodging overlooked the Cimitero Monumentale. This wasn’t on our list of “to-do’s” but when we saw the enormity (most of the above image foreground) we were curious and thoroughly appreciated spending several hours in this very large cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1866 and is overflowing with contemporary and classical Italian sculpture and architecture.

This was a sculpture on top of a grave that was quite touching. The reality of grief and sorrow in the sculpture amidst the evergreen life of the ivy tells a story of earthly existence and the belief of the Resurrection and God’s eternal love.   Inspiration take away  —How do I honor grief and sorrow without neglecting the celebration of life beyond in my art?

This was a sculpture on top of a grave that was quite touching. The reality of grief and sorrow in the sculpture amidst the evergreen life of the ivy tells a story of earthly existence and the belief of the Resurrection and God’s eternal love.

Inspiration take away —How do I honor grief and sorrow without neglecting the celebration of life beyond in my art?

Nearly 6 centuries in the making, this 5th largest Christian church in the world is not short on visual interest! 3400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures decorate the Duomo inside and out!

Nearly 6 centuries in the making, this 5th largest Christian church in the world is not short on visual interest! 3400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures decorate the Duomo inside and out!

Almost at 215’ high! What a thrill to be able to walk on the rooftop and admire the craftsmanship up close.   Inspiration take away  — details matter!

Almost at 215’ high! What a thrill to be able to walk on the rooftop and admire the craftsmanship up close.

Inspiration take away — details matter!

This sculpture of St. Agnes from the second half of the 14th century by an unidentified artist was quite striking. It was observed in the Museum of the Milan Cathedral. Tradition tells us that, at age 12, Agnes was slighted for her religious devotion. Her declaration of a life of purity while being pursued by many suitors found her being punished for such by being dragged naked in the streets to be placed in a brothel. She turned to days of prayer in the midst of this unfavorable environment. Tragically Agnes was ultimately killed for her steadfastness and virginity.   Inspiration take away  —gain strength from the stories of faith of those who have gone before us. Also admiration for how the artist used the many symbols in this “simple” sculpture … do you see the shields, the lily, the roses, the lamb, the grapes and vines?

This sculpture of St. Agnes from the second half of the 14th century by an unidentified artist was quite striking. It was observed in the Museum of the Milan Cathedral. Tradition tells us that, at age 12, Agnes was slighted for her religious devotion. Her declaration of a life of purity while being pursued by many suitors found her being punished for such by being dragged naked in the streets to be placed in a brothel. She turned to days of prayer in the midst of this unfavorable environment. Tragically Agnes was ultimately killed for her steadfastness and virginity.

Inspiration take away —gain strength from the stories of faith of those who have gone before us. Also admiration for how the artist used the many symbols in this “simple” sculpture … do you see the shields, the lily, the roses, the lamb, the grapes and vines?

Next up … sharing about our time in Cinque Terre.