Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Coventry April 2015 Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries - Space Oddities

Coventry and our venue, the Herbert Gallery, were great locations to based the workshop, right in the centre of a very walkable city

The workshop explored and pushed perspective ideas of our participants in various ways: Simone explained the more traditional one and two point perspective basics; Swasky looked at views in the round using flattened drawings and also including multiple perspective points of view on the same drawing and Isabel focused in curvilinear perspective where everything bends

In the end, students pushed themselves a lot, they tackled complex concepts and people adapted the different ideas to their way of drawing, the results, speak for themselves - a few images below. The main lesson is not to be frightened of complexity and open the mind to different ways of representation that allow you to include more space in your drawings.

The entire group worked together in the afternoons under the direction of one of the instructors: with Swasky we did quick portraits and figures, with Simone we looked at people in urban space and at thinking about composition using thumbnails with Isabel we drew collective sketches - a view in four hands, sharing our sketchbooks and learning to adapt to others points of view.   

Our  work was displayed as an exhibition at the Herbert Gallery on display during the month of April 2015
Coventry workshop group
Simone, Isabel and Swasky happy after setting the day's exhibition
Tackling curvilinear perspective
See of portraits
View on the round

 Drawing people in the urban landscape
Drawing team by their 4 hand drawings
Space Oddities Exhibition Wall 1
 Space Oddities - Exhibition Wall 2

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Last June in Volterra

villa Le Guadalupe, photo by Laurel Holmes.
I finally gathered some photos and links from our last workshop in Tuscany. 
We had a group of ten nice and talented participants. I love the small size of this workshop and I always like to come back to villa Le Guadalupe, this time with my friend and co-instructor Caroline Peyron.

We were so lucky to have Marc Holmes among us, in Tuscany for his own workshop in the nearby town of Cortona, so we could watch him at work. Marc's amazing watercolors can be seen here and here, with a note on our workshop here. Double fortune, his wife Laurel Holmes did a great photo reportage of our workshop.

See also Johanna Medvey reportage and a post in this blog.
Photos and drawing of our four days in Volterra can be seen here and in the slideshow below.

Thanks to Moleskine for the sketchbooks donation!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

CAPTURING CHAOS: Drawing a crowd

To register
e-mail Suhita: suhita(at)gmail(dot)com for information and registration. (Title your email October 10 Capturing Chaos Workshop to make sure I receive it)

Workshop details
Saturday October 10th, 2015
San Francisco, California (exact location in the city TBD)
10:00 am to 1:30 pm
$40 per person to be sent in with a completed registration form

Learning Goals
- Learning to capture people in motion through quick, gestural drawing
-Capturing a complex, energy-filled crowd scene

Do you walk into busy crowded places and feel overwhelmed at the idea of drawing them? Is it hard to see where to begin a sketch of a place so full of people, movement and chaos? Do you wish you could capture the scene without being overwhelmed by it? This workshop will help you do just that by breaking down the into a series of simple steps.

We use a process of alternating between two very different modes of seeing and drawing: one more structured, the other very loose and gestural. Together, we will combine these two processes for a sketch that is loose and spontaneous and captures the energy and activity of these places without ending up as a bewildering mess.

Workshop Schedule
We will start with a discussion and an exercise in quick, gestural figure drawing from observation.

We’ll follow this up by talking about the qualities of busy places (and our location in particular) that we would like to capture and all the elements that go into making the scene.

We will then break down the busy scene before us and learn to capture it all: the people in motion, and the setting, all in one sketch. The instructor will demo each step as we move through the process, and we will gather to critique and discuss the pieces at the end of the session.

Please bring
1) A medium sized or larger sketchbook  for the final watercolor piece.

2) A book you can use to do lots of pages of quick, gestural figure drawings (can be the same book, but we will use lots of pages for this exercise so you may want to use a less expensive paper than watercolor paper)

2) Graphite pencil

3) One or two different kinds of pens for making marks: a fountain pen, a sharpie pen, a brushpen or any other kind of pen with waterproof ink

4) A small watercolor kit and brush

5) Bring a portable stool if you like, to sit on while working.

To register
e-mail Suhitasuhita(at)gmail(dot)com for information and registration. (Title your email October 10 Capturing Chaos Workshop to make sure I receive it)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sketching the Wild Atlantic Way: Workshop in Kinvara & Galway, Ireland, 2-6 September 2015

Workshop in Kinvara and Galway City, Ireland
September 2nd - 6th 2015

with Róisín Curé

Kinvara, Co. Galway lies on the west coast of Ireland and is one of the area's prettiest villages. There's a quiet pace of life there, even though the hurly-burly of Galway City in summer is only half an hour away by car. A traditional fishing village, Kinvara is on the sea, and forms part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way, the coastline that snakes its way down the western seaboard from north to south. Perhaps the most prominent feature of Kinvara is the 16th-century castle of Dunguaire which stands alone on a little promontory, like a sentinel on the approach to the village.

Come and sketch the colour and tradition of Kinvara with Róisín Curé this September: there'll be three and a half days of intense sketching instruction, punctuated by evenings of music and dining in some of Galway's best pubs and restaurants. 

Accommodation for those who wish to avail of it is in the Kinvara Guesthouse, situated in the heart of the village, on a bed and breakfast basis. 

Every night we will dine somewhere different; all the restaurants are well-known in the area and offer the best in our fabulous local cuisine, with local seafood and seasonal produce on the menu. If there are any oyster lovers amongst you, the fact that native Irish oysters will have just come back into season will be the cause of excitement. 

The Workshop

The focus will be on using ink and watercolour on the move. The materials we will use will be brush pen and fountain pen with waterproof ink in black and grey and watercolour. Every day we'll have a chance to look at the work from the previous day and get everyone's personal approach and how they felt about it.

Wednesday 2nd September

Meet and greet in the Pier Head, a charming pub on the water's edge on Kinvara Quay. After we've all been introduced, we'll have dinner looking out over Galway Bay. You can see it at the back of the quay here - it's the yellow building facing the quay.

Thursday 3rd September

A bright an early start will see us doing a few warm-up sketches before tackling the exterior of Dunguaire Castle from a handy vantage point. We'll stick to a very limited palette: in this way not only do we keep things simple, but we can concentrate of form and value without the additional element of colour.

Lunch will be arranged on the day but Kinvara has lots of options.

The afternoon session will centre around sketching the main street of the village, which is lined with charming, brightly coloured shops and pubs on either side. We'll take a much looser approach, with strong colour being the focus of the afternoon session, working on the principle of building many layers of watercolour in order to achieve a strong result.

The evening will take us to Moran's on the Weir, a charming restaurant on the banks of the Dunkellin River. This river meets the esturay near here and teems with salmon and sea trout, which can be seen leaping on the tide. If the weather is fine we'll take a pre-dinner stroll along the green path to the seashore. This is a very picturesque spot and will be recognisable from Róisín's many sketches from the area. After dinner in Moran's we'll return by minibus transfer to Kinvara.

See if you can spot Moran's on the far side of the water...it's pretty small!

Friday 4th September

We'll steal a march on the crowds and arrive in Kinvara Farmer's Market to watch the stallholders set up at 9.30am, for a 10.00am start. This market takes places every Friday on the Square in Kinvara, right on the doorstep of the Kinvara Guesthouse and is a very convivial, lively spot every week. We'll focus on sketching people: we'll learn the tricks the urban sketcher uses when drawing moving forms such as making composites of many people, repeating certain figures and choosing those making repetitive actions. There'll be musicians and colourful characters manning stalls from Ireland and abroad. 

Lunch will be fresh food from the stalls in the market.

The afternoon will be dedicated to Dunguaire Castle: all the participants will have a pass for the castle which will be valid for the whole day. There will be an opportunity to sketch inside the castle, and indeed on the parapets if the sketcher wishes. This will consist of two parts: a demonstration sketch of the dining room will be followed by each participant choosing their own spot, and Róisín will go to each student and offer one-on-one attention during this session.

The evening will be a time for relaxing: a special banquet will be offered in Dunguaire Castle, which aims to replicate in part a traditional medieval meal (i.e. you will be offered mead!) This is followed by an evening of entertainment provided by the actors and singers of the castle, who will treat us to stories and music of old Ireland.

We'll finish at the Castle at about 8.45 and there'll be time to stroll back into the village and get in a session of traditional Irish music in one of Kinvara's warm and friendly pubs. You'll be very welcome to sketch and Róisín will make suggestions in advance on some good ways to approach a sketch of musicians.

Saturday 5th September

Saturday in Galway is the liveliest day of the week in Galway City. We'll head into town in the morning and make ourselves comfortable on the banks of the Claddagh, looking across to the colourful traditional buildings of the Long Walk. 

There are usually boats and swans in the foreground as well as the odd squabbling seagull, which will offer us the perfect opportunity to use foreground and background subject matter in order to give depth to a sketch. The row of houses of the Long Walk will offer us the challenge of combining line with colour in order to capture the feeling of a complex scene. 

There is a very busy and lively outdoor market in the heart of Galway City and it is highly recommended for a visit, although it would be too crowded to sketch to all but the most patient! However there are some really excellent food stalls in the market and you won't do better for an al fresco lunch than one of these.

After lunch there will be a sketching session on the city side of the River Corrib, where there will be more challenges of capturing city life in watercolour. However there will also be time to stroll around the tiny city on your won if you wish. 

This is a view of the so-called "Latin Quarter" of Galway, with the River Corrib behind the viewer. The street to the left is the main street winding its way up through the city.

After a busy day of sketching we will reward ourselves with a special treat: dinner in Ard Bia, next to the Spanish Arch on the banks of the River Corrib: those with a window seat will see the river rushing past on its way to the Atlantic.
We'll return to Kinvara after dinner, and those who still have the energy can partake of some more local music!

Sunday 6th September

Our last morning will be a chance to enjoy sketching in Kinvara once more. We will head down to the quay and take on some linework in the form of traditional boats. We'll look at underdrawing in pencil followed by a rapid and almost continuous line as a way to tackle very complex structures.

After the session we'll have a look at the results from the workshop and hear everyone's contribution. Lunch will be from one of the venues in Kinvara and there ends the workshop, as we say farewell until the next time.

Non-sketching Partners

The Kinvara area is full of activities for the non-sketching travelling companions.

There is, first and foremost, the beautiful Burren, a wonderful wild landscape to walk and lose yourself in complete tranquility, on the famous karstic pavement which dates to the Carboniferous period, when Ireland was covered in a shallow, tropical sea. Today it is full of micro-climates and the botany lover will be enchanted by the flora to be found on the Burren. Maps will be provided for those who wish to explore the region.

Other than that activities include a visit to the Burren Perfumery, Ailwee Caves and the bird sanctuary which is part of that attraction. There is also the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna a few miles down the road. If your partner wishes to travel a little further they can go into Galway City, an event in itself.

For the more adventurous there is golf, surfing, hill-walking and of course a visit to the nearby islands is an unforgettable experience if the sun is shining.


The cost for the workshop, including accommodation in the Kinvara Guesthouse, breakfast in the hotel, transfer to and from Moran's and Galway City, entry to the Castle and evening meals (set menu) in the restaurants we have arranged is €1035.

The cost for the workshop without accommodation or breakfast, but including transfer to and from Moran's and Galway City, entry to the Castle and evening meals (set menu) in the restuarants we have arranged is €762.

The cost for non-sketching companions including accommodation in the Kinvara Guesthouse, breakfast in the hotel, transfer to and from Moran's and Galway City and evening meals (set menu) in the restaurants we have arranged is €660.

The cost for a non-sketching companion without accommodation or breakfast, but including transfer to and from Moran's and Galway City and evening meals (set menu) in the restaurants we have arranged is €335.

There will be a discount of €100 on the above prices on all bookings paid in full before 15th June. Please see Róisín's website at roisincure.com (http://roisincure.com/wp/workshop-sketching-the-wild-atlantic-way-kinvara/) for all details of what is required in the way of sketching equipment, and what is and is not included in the price.


Róisín speaks English, French and Spanish and will be very happy to help you with any questions you might have in any one of these languages. As the numbers will be small - the maximum number of participants will be just 13 - you will be assured of lots of personal attention.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

From Farm to Plate: Documenting the Slow Food Movement in Chatham County, NC

From Farm to Plate Workshop: Documenting the Slow Food Movement in Chatham County, NC

The Slow Food movement was started in Italy “by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in the 1980s, with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life.” “Today Slow Food represents a global movement ...in over 160 countries.” “Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it, and good for the planet.” (Quotes are from the website. See more at: http://www.slowfood.com)

In the Triangle area of NC, the Slow Food Movement is a well-established culture, & blends easily with the thriving Slow Money, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Energy, & Buy Local movements that energize the community here. There are more sustainable & organic farms per capita in Chatham County than anywhere else in the state.(More artists & craftspeople, too!) You will also find solar panels everywhere in this rural countryside with rolling hills. (See below for references.*)

Crops under the solar panels at Piedmont Biofarm, Pittsboro, NC (detail) © 2015 Stacye Leanza

Come practice your reportage skills as you document the journey our “Slow Food” takes to get from the farm, all the way to your restaurant plate, & the dedicated people who do the work all along the way. Artists sympathetic to these causes will find this workshop a great way to express their views! Those who like the challenge of reportorial drawing will appreciate the variety of settings & activities we will draw. Those who appreciate great local food will love what's on the menu!

Our assignment: We are pictorial journalists (aka: reportorial illustrators), traveling with the people & crops grown at Granite Springs Farm, & Piedmont Biofarm, two sustainable farms in Chatham County, NC. Over the course of 2 days, we'll follow the produce as it is harvested and goes to the local farmer's market. Then we'll visit a restaurant that buys from these local farmers, & draw “behind the scenes” in the kitchen. Finally, we'll put down our sketchbooks & dine on their local creations. 
For our final drawing session on Sunday, we'll visit the kitchen of our own Italian country chef, Giancarlo Toso, at Blue Heron Farm. He will offer a cooking class (homemade pasta!), as he prepares our Harvest Meal. Workshop participants may opt to join the cooking class for part of the session.

Our meals: Throughout the workshop, we will dine on delectable food from local cafes, such as Angelina's Kitchen (Greek), & Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe (Indian). All eateries serve meals made with produce, dairy, &/or meat bought from local, sustainable farms, like Granite Springs & Piedmont Biofarm.

An important part of the Slow Food movement is savoring the meal. We will get to witness this first-hand as we share a couple of meals with our farm hosts at Blue Heron Farm. Our own Italian country chef, Giancarlo Toso, will prepare our Sunday Harvest Meal with produce from Granite Springs, & other local farms. There will be time to relax for a bit after the meal. So, do count on a lot of scrumptious food to complement the drawing!


Learning goals:
One of the most important things about Reportage is learning how to tell the story efficiently & effectively. It is a constant editing process. I will guide you through the editing process throughout the workshop. The specific lessons listed below will help you with speed, accuracy, expression, & story-telling.

1st session: Using “Blobs” to compose your picture, & draw people in motion.
  • Page Composition (Who's in charge of your drawing??)
The concept of using “blobs” to compose your picture requires you to distill your scene into very general shapes. These “blobs” are easy to adjust, because they have no sharp outline. By using this method, you can compose & adjust your composition relatively easily. Adding detail becomes easier afterwards. 

Here (above) is an example of a composition that has been “blobbed in”, then adjusted with slightly darker color. If you look closely, you can see that light lines have been added.
Here (above) you can see that more detail has been added, as well as more color, & darker & brighter lines.  

(Click here for complete Blob Demo & explanation: 

  • Gestures & body-language
When people are moving quickly, there are only seconds to record the essence of their pose. “Blob” gestures (aka: mass gestures) can be done in a few strokes. And, if you are observing their body language closely, these gesture drawings can be very expressive! Another good thing about blob gestures is that – if you get lucky – your subject may stick around a few seconds longer, so you can scratch in a few lines of detail. Below (left) is an example of the traditional “blocking in”. Observe the faint, general lines beneath the darker, more detailed lines. On the right, the colored shapes were “blobbed-in” first, adjusted, then the dark line added. Note that the line diverts somewhat from the colored blobs.

2nd session: Multiple images; Zooming In & Out
  • Multiple images at the same time
People working tend to repeat a series of motions over & over. We can use this to our advantage, by drawing 2 pictures at the same time! I've drawn white circles around the 2 images (below) to show they are 'insets', separate from the rest of the composition. The subject switched back & forth from the 2 positions.

  • Zooming In & Out
You are drawing a picture of someone when you notice the exquisite expression of their feet. But your picture is too small to do justice to the detail. What to do? 

3rd  session: What's Your Angle? How to tell the story visually (We'll be touching on this throughout the workshop.)
  • First – find your story angle.
What jazzes you about what you see? (You may want to follow a particular person, a particular crop, or activity.) Your angle may become apparent to you after you've been drawing for awhile. 
  • Second - tell your story visually
Learn & practice continuity & sequencing skills, so that your pictorial “essay” makes sense to the viewer. What's important to include about the people, the action, the crops, the setting? What can be left out? This is (partially) subjective! Based on your own interest & delight.

4th  session: Using color & line to unify, accentuate & polish up your work.
Tricks for creating a cohesive foreground, mid-ground, & background, so your drawings are not too busy, & 'read' well.

5th session: Q&A – We'll cover questions students have about the previous lessons. 

Schedule of Events

22 – 25 Oct., 2015

Details are subject to change.

Thurs eve:  5:30 - 8:PM Welcome, Intro at Blue Heron Farm; 2.5 h
Lite dinner w/ Giancarlo, country chef!

Fri morn:   9:AM – 12:30  Harvest sketching session, Granite Springs Farm        3.5 h
Lunch:         1: PM – 2:30    Slow Food Lunch with Giancarlo                                 1.5 h
Fri aft.:        2:45 – 5:45      2nd sketching session, Piedmont Biofarm                      3.0 h
Fri dinner: 6:00 PM          Local food picnic (Angelina's!*) at Piedmont Biofarm   1.0 h
Fri eve.:       7:00 – 8:00    Wine tasting at Fair Game Distillery, & author talk*      $5.

Sat. morn:  9:AM – 12:30  Chatham Farmer’s Mkt. sketching session                     3.0 h
Lunch:         12:30 – 1:45      buy lunch at Chatham/Carrboro Farmer’s Mkt.              $
Sat aft.:        2:00 – 5:00     4th sketching session; Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe!*   3.0 h
Sat dinner: 5 or 6:00          Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe*                                               $
Sat eve.:                                 Out to play? (optional)

Sun. morn:  10:AM – noon  Final sketching session: Cooking with Giancarlo           2.0 h
Lunch:          12:30 – 2:30     Giancarlo’s Harvest Feast                                               2.0 h
Sun aft.:       3:00 – 5:00      Art show - Invite Farmers & Blue Heron Farm hosts?
                          5 pm                  Good-bye!!
Details are subject to change.
Schedule Summary:
Thurs night - Welcome & Introductions , 2.5 hours
Friday & Saturday - 2 workshop sessions/day, approx. 6.5 hours total (+ optional play at night!)
Sunday – final workshop session & farm cooking event (2 hours), + Harvest Feast (2.0  hrs), & art show (2 hours)

Participants: Minimum of 6, maximum 15. All levels are welcome.

Click here for the  Supply List

Cost for the 3+ day weekend will include:
15 hours of instruction, with demos & individual guidance
4 meals*, mostly locally & sustainably grown & prepared! (see below, or schedule for details)
5.5 hours of socializing (See below; doesn't include optional play at night)

Register by 22nd August for a discount: $280 USD 
Full Price, after August 22nd : $295 USD

*(Cost does not cover our Saturday meals, nor wine-tasting.)
Travel from site to site is not included, but carpooling will be organized, so costs should be minimal.

Registration Fees will be refunded (minus the Paypal fee of approx. $9. USD) if you cancel by Sept. 30th.
If you cancel after Sept. 30th. , a cancellation fee of $50. USD will be retained.

Click here: to register

There are several B&Bs in the area, some that serve locally grown food. 

There are also a few choice homey B&B-style accommodations being offered by locals at blue Heron Farm. As these are in private homes, you'll receive contact info for these preferred accommodations once you are registered.

Click here for: the  Accommodations list.

About the Instructor:
I'm an illustrator with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in NYC. My cartoons for kids have been published locally and my editorial & book illustrations nationally. My murals are scattered around the Triangle area of NC. I teach Figure Drawing, Reportage, and other art classes, to grown-ups & kids. I also offer private art-coaching. I love teaching! It's a major part of my artistic life. I have been sketching my surroundings since childhood. My passion for urban sketching has left me with countless sketchbooks chronicling my travels. Visit my Facebook page: “Leanza-art, etc.,” and my website: www.leanza-art.com.

*Reference these articles about local visionaries, & related books by local authors: 

Overview of Chatham County

Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money, by Carol Peppe Hewitt 

Small is Possible, by Lyle Estill; 

AND websites: 
Piedmont Biofuel and Biofarm Tours: 
The plant: eco-industrial tours