Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
La Torre del Monzone
This Medieval tower, located next to the Temple of Portunus in Rome's
ancient Foro Boario (Cattle or "Cowboy" Forum), was known for a long time
as La Casa di Pilato -- perhaps because it was traditionally the theatrical
location during popular Holy Week reenactments of Christ's Passion, for the
scene where Jesus is brought for judgment before Pontius Pilate before the
crowds themselves cry out to Pilate, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" , relieving
him of "responsibility" for the execution.

According to Emma Amadei, author of the 1933 text, ROMA TURRITA, the word
"monzone" is a Roman- dialect derivation from "mansione," or mansion. This highly
elaborate old tower, encrusted with ancient Roman cornices, consoles, capitals, and even
rosettes -- says the author -- probably belonged to the family of one Nicolo Crescencio,
whose name appears in the inscriptions contained in the various marble lunettes and in
the threshold's tympanum, along with poetic phrases supposedly pronounced by the
house itself alluding to its elegance and beauty. The Crescencios lived in the 1300s.

While the author also mentions a long-standing belief that the 14th-century Roman
tribune, Cola di Rienzo, lived in this tower, she also cites the opinion of archaeologist and
restorer Antonio Muñoz to the effect that the tower may have been built as early as the
500s  -- which would explain its sort of desperate quotation of classical antiquity, in the
style of the enlightened Visigothic viceroy  
Theodoric (454-526).
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The process of drawing La Torre del Monzone
began with what turned out to be a meticulous
study of its south wall, shown immediately above.
In fact, I more or less
mindlessly scribbled an ink
line on the white before I began the study. One
may still see this wavy scribble faintly on the top
right corner of the image! At that point, I was
simply trying to get a sense of line thickness and
especially to see how freely my hand could glide
across the sheet of smooth Fabriano paper. With
pen & ink, fear can easily trip up line flow and
literally cripple one's hand. This is because one
cannot erase an ink line -- there's no going back
to white or gray, once the line is there.
The Garden of the Hesperides
The success of pen&ink drawing, for me, depends
on a mixture of looseness and control in the
draughtsman. Like
Yin and Yang. Balance of
opposites like straight and curve, heavy and light,
verticals and horizontals, masses and voids. The
artist must see and draw the general before he
pretends to bring in the particulars, and he must
constantly -- most constantly -- do a sort of "pulling
back" to view wholistically the illusion he is creating
on the entire page with the marks and flow of the
pen. (A little bit like walking and chewing gum at
the same time, as the saying goes.)        
The more one loses one's self-consciousness and draws for the
sheer study of form and/or for the delight of it, the more fulfilling the
experience will be. When I think too much that someone is going to
judge my drawing or, worse, that I must produce a masterpiece, I
immediately tense up -- and my line shakes, trips up, or splattters
ink all over the page.

A drawing is a construction, it is an event! A drawing is an act of
building a figure or form out of lines on the paper surface. In the
second of my drawings on this page I especially like how the
columns of the drawing seem to be doing just that: acting as
columns for the paper and "holding up" the top edge of the paper
itself -- along with the drawn bricks, the cornice, and the reliefs of  
sphinxes and flowery garlands, etc.  
The Notes on the margin
of this sketchbook page
that was part of my study
process for drawing the
Roman Tower del
Monzone ..... include  the
sort of "mantra" of
16th-century French  
Michel de
Montaigne (1533-1592).

One of Montaigne's most
celebrated phrases is
"What do I know?", and
the spirit of inquiry and
openness to discovery
that inspired his famous
ESSAYS is something I
strive for, often with
difficulty, when I draw.

Interestingly, the Latin
letters inscribed on the
lunette of the balconied
window  I studied on this
page say something about
how the house is an effigy
or image of its maker. I
think the same holds true
about how our lines and
our drawings are images
or effigies of ourselves.
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Towers project