Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries in Oxford - 2015

Contact: e-mail Isabel: for information and a registration form.
Oxford is one of the greatest cities in the heart of England - the city of dreaming spires - Everywhere you go there are beautiful locations, people, cyclists and loads of stories to tell.

We have organised six different locations for the 3 day workshop and you would be experiencing them all,  from the quirky Oxford University Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums to Radcliffe Square within the Bodleian Library complex, the Oxford Covered Market, scenes from Broad St by the Sheldonian Theatre and St Aldate’s streets and the views from Christ Church Meadow.

Join Urban Sketchers Isabel Carmona, Miguel Herranz and Swasky for 3 full days workshop that will get you to know Oxford intimately and to develop your personal urban sketching techniques.

The workshop will be hosted Museum of Oxford where we will start and end each day and we will put up a developing exhibition of our work created during each day in their gallery space. After the workshop, the exhibition will continue at the Museum until the end of July.

It will be fun but hard work, as you will be enjoying learning and experimenting all the  time, trying out different ways of drawing, sketching and using colour without fear, sharing the work we do and discussing our findings intensely.  There are no mistakes in urban sketching only lessons.

Each of the instructors will explore different themes of urban sketching.

Colour in the eye of the beholder (Isabel)
Isabel’s theme is Colour:  we all see colour different, as colour is light reflected and perceived by us on the back of the eye and stimuli sent to our brains. 
How many times have you argued about What colour is this?
Using watercolour as the main medium, we'll explore the idea of colour and contrast as the starting point of a sketch.
In this workshop we'll start with colour (in watercolour) to abstract what we see, using colour boldly and with strong contrast. Drawing can take place later either with more colour more linear marks or with pen if preferred.

colour shapes first - linear marks later

The process will help participants to think about a sketch from the general (capturing your vision of colour and the big picture in blocks) to the particular (adding detail and focus gradually). Key points are contrast, strong complementary colours, light and shade, colour marks.

Capturing the picture in big blocks of colour

As the main working tool is watercolour, we'll experiment with creating various marks using brushstroke and varying our marks from broad strokes of colour to fine lines…
We will talk about colour, perception, abstraction and individuality.

Don't worry if you have not used watercolour before, the basics will be covered. If you've used watercolour before, be prepared to use strong colours!

Exercise of building up layers of colour in watercolour

Thin line, bold sketch (Miguel)
Miguel’s theme is Line.
Following the line to see what it shows you over the paper, to wander between life and drawing, to see how your hand, your pen and your line give can give themselves another different life to the drawing.

We will experiment how to sketch spaces with no reference or erasable tools (no rulers, measures or pencils) in order to be able to put invisible reference points, add or divide dimensions, checking  depths, heights and tilts on your paper just working with your eyes and mind. This will allow you to draw much slower but to finish the sketch much faster.

The second exercise will be spiral drawing, which do not mean drawing spirals, but taking a main favorite little focus point that takes our attention and to draw it on the center of the page. Then drawing everything around following a spiral movement to avoid losing the reference of the focus point but letting it grow to all the page surface in a some kind of “organic” way.

Drawing people from Lilliput to Gulliver’s (Swasky)
Drawing people is the most scary topic,  even if we assume we know how to draw buildings. It is the most difficult for everybody, even for me. So let's go a bit further, we will work most of time in the middle of nowhere, there where nobody doesn't want to go. Unpleasant feelings will be our first sensations but after a little bit of theory we will see that it is not so difficult. The human body is just a question of how we see things. Exercises will focus in drawing crowded scenes or locations where people are gathered. Little by little we will increase difficulty, following a push and pull learning strategy.
6 or 10 seconds sketch. Starting up our approach to draw people.
While capturing people in motion is often a challenge, this workshop will begin with some indicators about how to let go of the fear of drawing people, how to identify the body language. We will also notice all the stories that are behind each place in relationship to the people.

From the body to the face. People on place and context.
We will work hard and on location, drawing as much as we can and trying to capture body language and face expressions.

Drawing commuters on the train. Face expression.
Learning goals
  • Pushing participants out of their comfort zone, at their own level. From beginners starting to sketch to more confident participants, we aim to teach you something new and push you outside your boundaries, helping you experiment.

  • Experiment with different techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.
  • Using and trying different approaches - line drawing with pens and pencils,watercolours and colour in different media, textures, light and shade, mark making tools
  • Using more colour and texture and making you think about how do you represent what you see and to develop your own way of representing what you see in colour with confidence
  • Losing the fear to draw people
  • People, context and the story underneath.

Workshop Schedule
Tuesday 7 July
Welcome in the Museum of Oxford in our meeting space, in the evening at 4.30pm.

Wednesday 8 July
9.00am -9.30am Welcome at the Museum of Oxford
9.30am-12.30pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12.30pm- 2.00pm Lunch
2.00pm - 4.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
4.00pm -5.30pm Review and exhibition pin up

Thursday 9 July
9.00am -9.30am Meeting at the Museum of Oxford
9.30am-12.30pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12.30pm- 2.00pm Lunch
2.00pm - 4.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
4.00pm -5.30pm Review and exhibition pin up

Friday 10 July
9.00am -9.30am Meeting at the Museum of Oxford
9.30am-12.30pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
12.30pm- 2.00pm Lunch
2.00pm - 4.00pm Isa, Miguel and Swasky workshops
4.00pm -5.30pm Review and exhibition pin up
Works' exhibition Opening. Exhibition continues to end of July

Saturday 11 July

10.00pm -5.00pm Sketchcrawl in Oxford - USk London will join us

30 attendees maximum, 18 minimum. Any level of drawing experience is welcome


A list will be provided for participants - generally bring what you normally draw with.This is what Isabel and Swasky work with:

Registration fee
£ 225 - (£180 concessions - 20% discount for students 
or unwaged -with proof of concession status)
To book - e-mail Isabel: for a registration form.

Cancellation policy: All fees are fully refundable if cancelled prior to 22 June 2015. If cancelled after 22 June, a £25 cancellation fee will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.
Workshop map
Oxford 2015 Worskshop map

About the instructors
Isabel is Spanish but studied in UK where she practices as an architect and artist. Her passion is watercolour, easy to carry around and sketch on the go and likes experimenting and mixing media to get interesting effects. Isabel started sketching in 1993 as part of her architecture training and continues to this day. She joined Urban Sketchers Spain in 2011 and USK London in 2014.  As an artist she is part of West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios scheme and joined the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative in 2013.
After a long career as advertising creative in Spain and Italy, Miguel becomes a freelance illustrator a few years ago. Working all day with digital media drove him back towards the live touch of the sketchbook that had finally grown to become his main medium of expression.
Swasky. Born and raised in Barcelona, Swasky has been drawing most of his lifetime, but when he finished his BFA he left drawing because he tried to start working. Then he decided to start again a degree in Audiovisual Communication. Once he fulfill his second degree he worked in an advertising production company, RCR, disappointed with a job so stressful and invidious he left his job and run a shop. With a new life he started drawing again.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Painting in Ischia Island, around Aragonese Castle.

IV° Naples Urban Sketching Workshop: Thursday 8 - Sunday 11, October 2015*
with Simo Capecchi and Caroline Peyron 
guest artist: Kelly Medford

in partnership with Associazione Amici di Gabriele Mattera

Painting in Ischia Island, around Aragonese Castle. In the footsteps of past and contemporary masters. In the fourth edition of our neapolitan workshop we move into the Gulf of Naples to reach Ischia island and one of its most fascinating places, the Aragonese Castle, a real retreat for painters that want to be inspired to observe and to create. This ancient fortress is located on a rocky little island, connected to the main island of Ischia through a bridge built in the fifteenth century. The fortified citadel was made as a defense against pirates and it was the main settlement of Ischia, hosting more than one thousand families, a dozen churches, a convent plus the fortress. Bombed several times, then abandoned and later used as a prison until 1860, the island with its buildings largely reduced in ruins was auctioned and bought by a private in 1912. 
Currently, the fortress itself is inaccessible but most of the other buildings, four churches and the convent has been restored and are used as a venue for exhibitions and hospitality, there is a restaurant, a café, vineyards, olive groves, cultivated fields, in addition to the headquarters of the European Institute of Restoration. The island is open to visitors all year round. From the top you can enjoy a 360 ° view on Ischia and over the Gulf of Naples.

This workshop offers the experience of living three days in a unique environment, to reach a state of flow and concentrate on drawing and painting, in contact with nature, surrounded by the sea and by the vestiges from the island history. Lodging in the old castle monastery, such a quiet environment where time passes slowly, will add a special charm to this experience. 
* Apply before May 31 to get a special discount on Il Monastero hotel rates! (see below).

In past centuries the Aragonese castle has been a favorite subject for countless artists traveling in Italy for their Grand Tour and landed in Ischia. Can we give new life to one of the most exploited views of the island? This will be the task dealt with Simo Capecchi, rediscovering and reinterpreting those classic views of the Aragonese Castle and searching for new compositions. 

Inside the Castle was born and lived Gabriele Mattera (1929-2005), established italian artist and son of the castle owner. We'll be introduced to his opera by his son Nicola, and we'll visit his studio inside the convent, where hundreds of his large oil paintings are preserved. Although he never represented  the castle or his panoramas while he gradually moved away from realism, his works do have a deep connection with the environment where they were made. With Caroline Peyron we will go on his footsteps and will paint plein air in the Castle gardens, observing nature details and fragments of architecture.

Participants will be guided by different approaches to location painting. Field sessions will be lead in turn by Simo Capecchi, an architect that likes to paint; Caroline Peyron, a French art teacher and artist based in Naples. Kelly Medford, an American plain air oil painter that lives in Rome, will demonstrates oil paintings technique.

Thanks to Franco Lancio for the workshop location idea, for his collaboration and for the graphics!

Mattera's studio today
Lodging: The Albergo il Monastero, located inside the Castello Aragonese of Ischia, will offer workshop participants a special - 20% discount on their low season rates, only for a double rooms option (we may help you to find a sketcher to share the room with) but, to get this offer you have to book the room before May 31. All rooms are facing south, there is no lift to 2 and 3 floor, a lift is connecting the sea level with the hotel located inside the Monastery on top of the island. Email the hotel for more details: ilmonastero(at) 
(mention the workshop in the object and add simo.capecchi(at)  in cc.
Workshop application is certainly possible after the end of May, but we cannot guarantee a room inside the castle and/or the same discount. You may find lodging by your own.

Gabriele Mattera painting in his studio, 1985.

Wednesday, October 7
5 pm - early check-in and welcome in Aragonese Castle for those who are already arrived
(workshop really start next morning)
Thursday, October 8 
10 am to 1 pm  Caroline Peyron: colored shadows in the castle, after Gabriele Mattera
2 to 5 pm  Simo Capecchi, in Grand Tour artists footsteps: from Pescatori's beach
Friday, October 9
9.30  to 12.30 am  Caroline Peyron, textures in the castle vegetables garden 
2 to 5 pm  Simo Capecchi, in Grand Tour artists footsteps: from Scogli Sant'Anna
Saturday, October 10 
9.30 to 12.30 am  Caroline Peyron: transparency, the sea floor seen from the Castle
2 to 5 pm  Simo Capecchi, an Aragonese Castle sketched itinerary
7pm: workshop final exhibit in Aragonese Castle, open to the public
Sunday, October 11 
9.30 to 12.30 am  Botanical sketching tour in Negombo garden (all instructors)
14 - rest of the day: open Sketchcrawl in Negombo thermal park, everyone invited.

Thanks to the Negombo Thermal Bath for their collaboration and hospitality
* Thursday/Friday and Saturday Kelly Medford will demonstrate oil painting technique.

More on the workshop. We'll also organize a boat tour around the castle island and bay to see and sketch the submerged ruins of ancient Aenaria settlement. There will be an exposition in an Art Gallery nearby the Castle where participants could exhibit their drawings and travel sketchbooks. We'll be hosted for one day to paint in Negombo, a botanical garden and thermal bath designed by Ermanno Casasco, famous landscape designer.

Oswal Achenbach, Ischia and its Castle, 1870. Haseltine William Stanley, Coastal Cliffs in Ischia, 1880.
Picturesque deconstructed with Simo Capecchi
The Aragonese castle has been a perfect subject for painters in the late eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century. It well corresponds to the aesthetic ideal of "picturesque" adopted at that time, when artists disregarded symmetry and perfect proportions, while focusing more on "accidental irregularity," and start traveling in search of ruins and savage landscapes. The contrast between the dramatic profile of the Aragonese Castle's cliff with its ancient churches and architectural ruins and the quiet atmosphere of the beach below, with swimmers and fishermen at work produced the desired “roughness and sudden variations, joined to irregularity of forms, colors, and lighting”.

In past images (etchings, watercolors and oils), the castle is represented mainly from a distance, as a background of the Pescatori's Beach or framed by Sant'Anna's rocks with the foreground filled with groups of fisherman and barefoot kids. Is it possible to deal with such a "picturesque" scenery in a contemporary manner? We will paint it from the same points of view, trying a deconstruction of a typical picturesque composition, each of us with our own sensitivity.
The Castle's island and its interiors on the contrary have almost never been represented: bombed by the British in the early nineteenth century and became a prison for most of the century, was inaccessible at the time of the Grand Tour. We will be the first to depict this varied microcosm, creating a sequence of drawings for a possible sketched guide/itinerary to the Castle, from the entrance by the sea level, to its highest point overlooking Naples Gulf, with its olive trees, vineyards, panoramas and ancient architectures.

Simonetta Capecchi completed her PhD degree at the University of Naples (Italy) in Architectural Drawing. She currently works as an illustrator. Since 2006, she has curated four editions of "In viaggio col taccuino", an exhibition on travel sketchbooks with conferences and workshops. A selection from this exhibition has been published in book form (Sguardi su Napoli, 2009). Simonetta's sketchbooks have been included in many international exhibitions and featured in edited collections such as Danny Gregory’s An illustrated life (2008). She contributes to Urban Sketchers from Naples, where she lives.  

Gabriele Mattera, Tende, 1985-1990

On Gabriele Mattera footsteps  with Caroline Peyron
We will work inspired by a cycle of paintings by Mattera from late '80, originated by the observation of light colored reflections and the changing forms taken by the curtains in his studio at the Aragonese castle. Deployed as large sails in the sun, or rewound through a system of cables, those tents still protect the studio from direct light. His son Nicola remembers when, as a child, helped the artist to shoot photos of sheets hung out to dry at different times of the day and night, studies that long after generated this series of paintings. In this operas there is a progressive abstraction, both in forms than in the use of the color itself, when the white of the tent breaks down into pure colors. An extreme synthesis that comes from a deep and "silent" observation of reality and well transmits the sense of suspended time that we perceive inside the castle. 
We'll dispose some sheets in various places of the castle garden, fixed on bamboo poles that grows on the spot, to work on the colorful vibrations that are created between the white tent and surrounding colors, using ink and oil pastels or collage. Another source of inspiration will be the rocks and marine vegetation as seen watching the sea from the top of the Castle terraces, which create interesting shapes, transparencies and color variations.


Caroline Peyron is a french artist living in Naples. Personal exhibitions of her works has been held in Naples at the Grenoble Institut Français, Biblioteca Nazionale, Castelnuovo and Museo Archeologico Nazionale; in Rome, at Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica and in Paris. She has been an art teacher and has held workshops for private schools and public institutions for over twenty years now. She has art classes with children, adolescents and adults both in private schools and in cultural institutions like Museo di Capodimonte and Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Naples. She is currently publishing her works with "Il filo di Partenope" art editions.

First steps in Oil Painting
Everyday there will be oil painting demos by guest artist Kelly Medford. Participants will be guided in turn to try this technique en plain air, divided in small groups, for a 3 hours session. 

Kelly Medford is an American working as a plein air painter and living in Rome since 2005. She has been painting and sketching out on the streets of Italy daily, as a way of getting to know the country, its people, history, culture and sights. In 2012 she started Sketching Rome Tours as a way to offer this experience to everyone. Web site:

Registration fee 
€ 240. To apply, email to: simo.capecchi(at)
Participants: max 30, min 12. Any level is welcome! This workshop is about sharing and getting a stronger motivation to paint and draw.

Supply list 
Any supplies participants normally use are fine. We'll use pen, ink, colored pencils, pastels, brush pens and watercolors. Ink, ink pens, colored pencils, glue, cutter for Caroline's workshop. A painting oil kit will be suggested later on by Kelly Medford. Sponsor to be announced.

See Naples Workshop past editions photos: 
2014 Collect the city
2013 Hidden Naples
2012 Panoramas, fragments and stories