Drawing as Seeing in Siena Italy

4 students and teacher are standing and holding up paper to a texxtured brown wall


I attended the very first course of Drawing As Seeing, held at the  Siena Art Institute  in Italy this past July 2016. This was an exciting opportunity to travel to Siena and Florence, and explore new techniques in multi-sensory drawing. The course explores a multi-sensory art-making approach using touch, verbal description and experimental materials; taught by artists Annie Leist and Pamela Lawton.

I met Pamela Lawton and Annie Leist where they teach regularly at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they apply innovative approaches to drawing for people with vision loss. This intensive 10-day course was geared towards students of all abilities and students with a range of vision, as well as fully sighted students wishing to experiment with an alternative approach.

The first day of class we met outside the Siena Art Institute on a cobblestone street and made rubbings of the textured walls, including reliefs of turtles from the building and church on the street. Then we went to the Museum Civico to hear a verbal description of the frescoes  Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. We did all this

before lunch at one of the many restaurants in the

Piazza del Campo! The next day we created collage works from the rubbings and drawings of the previous day. Each day we drew in different museums, churches, gardens & piazzas, and we also spent a weekend in Florence visiting touch exhibits at the Uffizi Galleries and the Pitti Palace.

Woman drawing in foreground, male drawing in background

Dana Simon drawing in Siena studio, includes Joe Esteban

We learned to draw not only what can be seen, such as shape and color, but what can be felt such as the sun on one’s back, what can be heard, such as the sound of bells, and what are the smells.  We also draw what feeling one might think of when eating a piece of fruit, and the light of stained glass windows inside the domo or church. We learned to use all our senses, and to include them into our artworks.


If you are interested in joining a similar class come to the Seeing Through Drawing class that meets one Saturday a month at the Uris Education Center, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the upcoming event listings on this website for information on the next class.

photo of 9 people, all sitting at tables

Entire group drawing in Siena studio, includes Pamela Lawton, Dana Simon, Syma, Annie Leist, Amy Silva, Jane Zweibel, Kenlynn Schroeder, Joe Esteban