It’s a rainy Friday morning in Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road is buzzing with groups of school students and others taking in a bit of culture.
RMIT Fine Art (Honours) graduate Marco Luccio walks up to the information desk and claims his own group of students, who are obviously not from any school.
Some have been participating in Sketching in the Gallery with Luccio for years.
The program, run for NGV members, has been operating for a decade and Luccio has been taking the monthly classes for many years.
It’s so popular the sessions are often booked out as soon as they’re advertised.
Using the NGV’s public collection as inspiration and subject matter, Luccio takes participants through different parts of the gallery while teaching them the finer points of a particular technique each class.
Luccio says the world of art at the NGV was so vast that in nearly 10 years of teaching, he has yet to repeat a topic.
“I plan a year ahead and I try to make it so every class is different and I often pick subjects I think people have to know to draw,” he said.
And it was his experience at RMIT that inspired him to add the monthly class to his full-time art practice.
“I was fortunate enough to have teachers who encouraged me before I knew I could make a living from art,” Luccio said.
“My teacher, Hertha Kluge-Pott, employed me to teach while I was still a student myself. It's because of her that my love of mentoring really began.”
An acclaimed artist with exhibitions in the US and Australia to his name, Luccio has seen some of his NGV students go on to become artists in their own right.
“Some have had their own exhibitions, and the regulars usually have their own sketch books for the class.
“Those who want to learn more have used what they have done in Sketching in the Gallery as part of their folio when applying for further study.
“If they ask my opinion, I always suggest RMIT to them because of the experience I had there as a student. I think it’s still the best in terms of painting and drawing.”
Encouraging people who may not be confident in what they are creating is all about giving them a sense of achievement, along with inspiration.
“Even an awkward drawing that is really interesting is sometime more satisfying than a very confident but overly polished drawing.
“I myself was inspired by pictures in the National Gallery, particularly a Piranesi etching as a student and that is why I enjoy teaching here at the Gallery, to pass on the knowledge of learning from looking at pictures.”
RMIT is a design partner of the National Gallery of Victoria, and sponsors the NGV Summer Architecture Commission.
Story: Louise Handran