Living One's Dream

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Raffaela Lan Pellegrini. Photo by Roberto Palermo, professional photographer, Florence, Italy.

Raffaela Lan Pellegrini completed her B.F.A. in painting with a double minor in etching and art history at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze. This school was founded in 1784 as a result of a reformation of the former Accademia delle Arti Disegno, founded in 1563 by Cosimo I dei Medici. Pellegrini’s B.F.A. degree was followed by a year and a half specialization at the private international printmaking school Il Bisonte, also in Florence.

Pellegrini had been thinking about pursuing a master’s degree for some time but her daily Florentine guide work made scheduling impossible. She came across Academy of Art University’s online M.F.A. program and was thrilled to be able to pursue her dream while continuing her private tours throughout the city of Florence. 

Pellegrini grew up surrounded by beauty in a small mountain village on the edge of one of Italy’s national parks. As a young girl, her favorite pastime was drawing from the many Renaissance art books available in her home. Pellegrini’s mother was a textbook author for the Sansoni publishing house and would often travel to Florence for work. She brought Pellegrini to Florence for her first visit at the age of seven. They visited the Uffizi museum and Pellegrini was overwhelmed by the large Botticelli painting, Primavera, and the enormity of the museum itself. This exposure definitely trained her eyes to create and the artistic desire grew stronger over the years. 

As Pellegrini continued with the online program, she explored still life and landscape and by the time her mid-point review came up, she realized she had been painting more cityscape and decided to concentrate on this subject matter as her thesis. She understood that this was where her focus needed to be; Tuscany and all its beauty was there at her fingertips. It became more and more evident as she continued painting that her true love for Florence was there in the center, and she became more aware of light and how it influenced the scenes that she was painting. In addition to cityscape, Pellegrini’s paintings progressed with the addition of figures.

“I am living my dream in the most cohesive and coherent way that I can by being faithful to my gift. I paint the eternal beauty of Florence and truly love and appreciate this magnificent city.”

“The best part of creating a painting is when it transmits the initial emotion I felt when I decided to paint the scene,” she said. “Naturally, the composition, color and light have to reinforce this feeling.” Pellegrini admits that she often struggles with value, however she attributes her growth to the M.F.A. program and from the support of all of her instructors. 

Pellegrini has some wonderful recommendations to her fellow online students, particularly students living overseas, to never get behind and to stay in touch with their instructors, always turning to them for help. “It’s difficult to have the discipline sometimes when working from so far away, but staying in touch with classmates and instructors has definitely helped me through some of the difficult times.” 

“I am living my dream in the most cohesive and coherent way that I can by being faithful to my gift,” said Pellegrini. “I paint the eternal beauty of Florence and truly love and appreciate this magnificent city.” 

Pellegrini will be presenting her final thesis work at the end of the fall semester and plans to attend the commencement ceremony in May 2018. Her plans after graduation are to return to teaching at a university level in Florence and she hopes to exhibit her work in galleries and museum shows.