Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Gut Punch of Beauty- by Jerrod Partridge

By guest blogger, artist Jerrod Partridge of Ocean Springs, MS

Jerrod Partridge on a balcony in Florence. All images ©|Jerrod Partridge

Recently, I was sketching on one of the overlooks at the medieval Italian town of San Gimignano.  As I was translating the vastness of the scene with pen and ink I began to notice a universal language coming from the diverse group of passers by.
People walked the incline of cobble street that’s only about eight feet wide, with arches overhead and architecture on either side exposing hundreds of years of history, and came to a sudden opening in the buildings which exposes one of the most stunning vistas Tuscany has to offer.  It is a stunning patchwork quilt of the iconic elements of the area; vineyards, olive groves, Italian Cypress, and ancient buildings with terracotta rooftops.  The response to this view was usually not “wow” or “ooh” or “aah”, but a noise that started with an “m” sound and ended with a short burst of air through the nose.  It’s the same noise made when you’re hit in the stomach.  So I’m calling this universal language the gut punch of beauty. 
Image ©2018|Jerrod Partridge

My wife, Jessie and I have had the pleasure of leading people on trips to Tuscany for the past six years.  The primary focus of these trips is to have a meaningful and memorable experience with the people, places, environment, and cuisine of Tuscany and to do that through the art making processes of drawing and painting.  We call these Visual Explorations.

Walnut ink drawing of San Gimignano view. Image ©2018|Jerrod Partridge

While not everyone on our trips consider themselves “artists”, we encourage them to use a pencil, pen or paint to really see their surroundings.  When you sit in a spot for 30 minutes to 2 hours recording your observations you have a far deeper experience with the place than quickly walking by and snapping a few photos.  (side note - Serious photographers incorporate the same slow, thoughtful and measured response to a scene as a person drawing or painting. )  But whether or not you get a “good” drawing from the experience is not the main point.  It does feel good to achieve that, but the main point is the experience.  
Fattoria and tower at Spannocchia Oil 9x12. Image ©2018|Jerrod Partridge

So it was on our most recent Visual Explorations trips where I observed this universal language in San Gimignano.  I have specific memories when I’ve had a gut punch response to things.  The Sistine Chapel at The Vatican is one, and John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Lady Agnew in Scotland is another.  I remember these vividly because the gut punch of beauty leaves a scar.
Walnut ink drawing of San Gimignano Gate 5x7  ©2018|Jerrod Partridge

As artists we can only hope to one day create something which causes this reaction from someone.   But in the meantime we show off the scars left from these experiences by doing a drawing, organizing a painting, writing a story, or composing music.  We keep swinging and one day we may just land a solid hit.

About Jerrod

Jerrod is a full-time studio artist in Ocean Springs, MS.  He currently has a solo exhibition at Southside Gallery in Oxford, MS which will be on view through September 8.  

You can see photos from all of his past Visual Explorations trips on his recently redesigned website  And if you're interested in experiencing Tuscany in a medieval castle on a working organic farm with lessons in drawing, painting, and traditional cooking, their 2019 trip is scheduled for July 19-26.  Contact him at for more info.   

A big thanks to Jerrod Partridge for his story!


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1 comment:

  1. Happy to be included on your blog Dot. Thanks for putting this together.