Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hidden Naples. Drawing and discovering in the South of Italy

An urban sketching workshop
with Simo Capecchi, Lapin, Caroline Peyron and Laura Scarpa

May 30 - June 2, 2013

This second edition will offer a deep immersion in the city of Naples to all the sketchers who have always dreamed of visiting the South of Italy. Locations will be selected among private houses and gardens that normally are not open to the public where we will meet local activists and artists who have a story to be recounted. Participants will be guided to discover Naples through different approaches to urban sketching. Field sessions will be led in turn by Simo Capecchi, an architect who likes to paint; Laura Scarpa, a comic artist who has always kept a graphic diary;  Caroline Peyron, an art teacher and artist;  Lapin, a French illustrator and indefatigable urban sketcher.
The aim of the Neapolitan days is to experience that, while we draw from real, we should go beyond a simple aestethic or naturalistic result. Psychological and social investigation, but also personal sensitivity and imagination can enrich location drawings that depict, reflect and elaborate reality. We observe to understand and to create.
Watch this past edition slideshow.

workshops / instructors
Urban perspectives with Simonetta Capecchi
Vintage cars and dinosaurs with Lapin
Ligh and shadows with Caroline Peyron
Tell the story with Laura Scarpa

Urban perspectives with Simonetta Capecchi
Naples has intrigued Simo Capecchi since her first visit, twenty years ago. Amazing panoramas and narrow perspectives force a sketcher to adapt the eye to rapid changes of light and direction. She has portrayed the city in sketchbooks and on long narrow single sheets of accordeon-type folded sketchbooks, or joined paper, to obtain circular panoramas or to recount a long vertical sketchwalk. In her experience, composition is 90 % of the success of a drawing. Participants will be guided to choose the best layout and to fit their urban perspectives in a long and narrow rectangular drawing. Location will be chosen to alternate broad views and panoramas with narrow streets and public stairs perspectives, so as to alternate extremely horizontal to vertical views.

Learning goals: To practice basic freehand perspective and to focus on drawing differently according to distances, in order to suggest depth; to learn how to be accurate but selective, trying not be overwhelmed by details; to focus on adding people and annotation on the page, in order to complete the drawing with a storytelling value.

Vintage cars and dinosaurs with Lapin
A new place can be intimidating and the first page of a sketchbook is hard for everyone. Warming up with your favourite subject, makes it easier. For Lapin, who grew up in the 80’s with plastic dinosaurs toys and who loves old Fiat 500 and Citroën 2cv design, a good sketchbook must contain at least one dinosaur or a vintage vehicle. Follow him while, in Naples for the first time, he'll be looking for Tyrex and Vespas, at the University Museum of Paleontology or along the city streets, to be depicted as contemporary icons in his unmistakable drawings.

Learning goals: Participants will be guided to find the best point of view to represent an object, to be precise but essential in describing its details, to master perspective and eventual distortions fitting the subject into the page, and to add annotations or graphics to the drawing, looking for a recognizable personal style.

Light and Shadows with Caroline Peyron
In Naples the contrast between light and shadows is magnified by the narrowness of certain streets where direct sunlight almost never arrives, or arrives only when the sun’s rays strike the black basalt pavement stones at a perpendicular angle, opening onto enormous hidden spaces: gardens, courtyards, the interiors of houses. The paradox of darkness outside and light insides. Liquid shadow and material light. In various locations participants will experiment with two different techniques - oil pastels and China ink, which highlight the strong contrasts between light and shadow in this city, at both a literal and metaphoric level.

Learning goals: To work with light and shadows using opposing techniques and to explore the correspondences between black&white and colors; experimenting with the 
fluidity and nuances of China ink and substance and contrasts of oil pastels.

Tell the story with Laura Scarpa
Cities are stories, made by people but also made by signs left on the streets. Contemporary stories or stories from the past. Words or traces on walls, objects, faces, gestures. Standing in a cafè, in a market or by a street corner we can capture fragments of life and report them in our sketchbook. A city like Naples is full of stories that deserve to be discovered and told. We will meet artists in their studios, artisans in their workshop, vendors in the streets around the historical center of Naples to interview them to create a graphic reportage.

Learning goals: To sketch people quickly, adding details and voices even from memory, to create a short story; to focus on storytelling value of drawing, with the addition of "voices" and annotations on the pages.

Hosting institution
Riot Studio is a space and an association dedicated to creativity, research and innovation that is both working space and exhibition space for events/workshops in art, cinema, design, music, new media with an international program and context. Riot Studio is located in an historical building in the center of Naples, with ancient frescoes and a beautiful inner garden.

Workshop Schedule
participants will be divided into three groups and will meet each instructor in turns. 

Thursday, May 30
            3.00 / 4.00 pm  reception and introduction (Riot Studio, palazzo Marigliano).
            4.00 / 7.00 pm Demos and warm up drawing session:
            Lapin: Portraits / Simo Capecchi: Watercolors / Caroline Peyron: China Ink
Friday, May 31
            10.00 am /1.30 pm  Simo Capecchi / Caroline Peyron / Lapin
            2.30 / 6.00 pm  Laura Scarpa / Caroline Peyron / Lapin
Saturday, June 1
            10.00 am /1.30 pm  Lapin / Simo Capecchi / Laura Scarpa
            2.30 / 6.00 pm  Simo Capecchi / Caroline Peyron / Laura Scarpa
Sunday, June 2
            10.00 am /1.30 pm  Simo Capecchi / Caroline Peyron / Lapin / Laura Scarpa
            4.00 / 8.00 pm  open Portrait Party and public exposition of workshop's results 

            in Riot Studio, garden of palazzo Marigliano

Supply list

Any supplies participants normally use are fine, sketchbook and loose papers included. We'll use pen, ink, colored pencils, brush pen and watercolors.
Caroline supplies: China Ink + bamboo nib and big Chinese brush, oil pastels + hair spray or fixative spray. Have a look at Lapin "secret" gear and Simo sketching gear.

Sponsorship: Moleskine will provide 2 sketchbooks
 (Japanese + Watercolor large).

Workshop fee
200 €  /  students discount: 180 €
to apply email to: simo.capecchi(at)

Maximum number of participants
30 partecipants maximum, any level of drawing experience welcome 

(minimum 12 participants)

Workshop MAP for hotels - sketching locations will be announced later on.
**We suggest Tribù B&B to meet other participants - eventually you can share a room or an apartment**

About the instructors:

Simonetta Capecchi completed her PhD degree at the University of Naples (Italy) in Architectural Drawing and she 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 exihbit 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. She contributes to Urban Sketchers from Naples, where she lives and has been an instructors in three past Urban Sketchers Symposiums.


Lapin is a French illustrator, an artist, an urban sketcher working for fashion, advertising and editorial houses who lives between Barcelona and Paris. Lapin can be defined as a mobile illustrator who carries his sketchbook and a compact sketching gear to the street, to a bar, to a metro, to Istanbul or Tokyo. Sketching is a way for him to record every second of his life and feel alive. Lapin teaches the art of "sketching" during workshops in universities and in art schools, participates in exhibitions around Europe and shares his day to day sketches on his blog He is a correspondent for Urban Sketchers blog and has been instructor at the Portland Urban Sketchers Symposium.

Caroline Peyron is a French artist living in Naples. Personal exhibitions of her works have been held in Naples at the Grenoble Institute, Biblioteca Nazionale, Castelnuovo and Museo Archeologico Nazionale and in Rome at the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica. She has been an art teacher and has held workshops for private schools and public institutions for over twenty years. She gives art classes for children, adolescents and adults both in private schools and in cultural institutions like the Museo di Capodimonte and Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Naples. Meet the instructor.

Laura Scarpa is a comic artist born in Venice now based in Rome who manages to juggle balance between comics, children's illustration, writing and editing. She has published in numerous magazines and comic books, has written and illustrated stories for children and adults and curated comic magazines. She has published L'arte della sceneggiatura, and Caffè a Colazione (a collection of images from her sketchbooks). She has held workshops and conducts comic courses and she is chairman of ComicOut, a non-profit cultural association. 
Meet the instructor.

*In italian on Simo Capecchi's blog

**Thanks to Franco Lancio for workshop logo 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Watercolor Sketching in Historic Montreal with Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf

August 2–4, 2013, Montreal, Canada

SOLD OUT! - We are happy to announce the Montreal watercolor sketching workshop is now full. (Well, sorry for everyone who didn't get in :), but you know what I mean :) If you are interested in signing up for a waiting list please mail marc.taro(at) and we will contact you in the event any current students have to cancel. We'll make sure people on the waiting list get notified when we put on future workshops. (Plans are not set, but will be summer 2014, unless people in southern countries want to reach out to us for winter 2013).

Thanks! ~Marc and Shari


Join Urban Sketchers Montreal founding members Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf for a weekend of drawing and painting in historic spots around Montreal.

We’ll begin in the Old Port of Montreal — a historic district of cobbled streets and 400-year old buildings that’s unique in North America for its vibrant French flavor and colorful history. Spend a few minutes in Jacques Cartier Square, the area’s historic and cultural heart, and you’ll understand why. The square teems with cafés and restaurants, with strolling Montréalais and visitors from every corner of the globe.

Venture a few streets over, and you’ll find a quiet, intimate ruelle seemingly untouched by time. Or walk a few blocks south to the quays on the St. Lawrence River, which was the city’s economic and cultural artery connecting Montreal to the Old World. Tall ships are often in port, while the north side of rue de la Commune is lined with Sixteenth and Seventeenth century warehouses that once stored the valuable furs that built the city’s economy.

It's easy to lose sight of where you are — just half a day's drive from Boston or NYC — and imagine you're in one of Europe's historic capitals.

En plein air

The workshop will be an introduction to capturing this extraordinary environment by drawing and painting in watercolor en plein air.

We emphasize working quickly, entirely on location, making well-designed compositions that might hang as finished works of art.

Our demonstrations will show you how to reduce a complex scene to its essence, and how to use unified shapes to create a center of interest with strong composition, contrast and color, while preserving the whites of the paper and mixing lively washes of rich color.

Students will alternate time in small groups with each of our experienced urban watercolorists. Over Friday and Saturday, you’ll have the opportunity to paint and observe four complete demonstrations in different locations. 
On Sunday you’ll apply what you’ve seen to free sketching outdoors, with Marc and Shari circulating to give tips and comments. We’ll gather at the end of each day to show off our sketches and spend time giving critiques and answering questions.

Learning Goals

  • Distilling a complex scene to its essence in a limited amount of time
  • How to focus the eye — creating a center of interest with contrast, color and selective detail
  • Plan the painting — thinking about values and large shapes
  • Observing negative space — designing the drawing
  • Drawing expressively while getting the proportions right
  • Painting lively watercolor washes while controlling edges
  • Preserving the whites of the paper
  • Getting the values right — no more pale washed out watercolors
  • Controlling colour with limited palettes

Pre-Workshop Meet-and-Greet, Thursday Aug 1: 


If you are available the night before the workshop, we will be announcing a restaurant/pub location for a casual meet and greet. This is informal and un-instructed, but feel free to bring your sketchbooks to show around. We will likely have some fresh work from the USK event in Barcelona to show-and-tell. (The meal will be at your own expense and we’ll pick a mid-range place with casual attire).

Workshop Schedule: 

Each day we will split into two groups, half the group with each instructor. This will enable you to sketch a variety of locations, while watching both artists at work. You may ‘paint-along’  — working on the same view as the instructor, or if you wish, explore the immediate area and sketch your own views, checking in with the instructor as their demo progresses. Throughout each session we will provide individual feedback on your sketches.

Friday Aug 2:

9:00 am- 12:00 pm:  Demo / Paint-Along at Place D’Armes Square
The square is surrounded by historic buildings including the Notre-Dame Basilica and Saint-Sulpice Seminary and features a sculptural monument to Paul de Chomedy, founder of Montreal.

12:00-12:30 pm: Review

12:30-1:30 pm:  Lunch Break and walk to next location

1:30-4:30 pm: Demo / Paint-Along on Rue De la Commune / Bonsecours Market
Views of the quay, many historic facades, and the silver dome of our 100 year old public market.

4:30-5:00 pm: Review

Saturday Aug 3:

9:00 am- 12:00 pm:  Demo / Paint-Along at Place Jacques-Cartier

The square offers views of the quay, Nelson’s Column, the historic Ramsay House and views of our nearby City Hall, as well as a bustle of public life.

12:00-12:30 pm: Review

12:30-1:30 pm:  Lunch Break and short Metro ride to next location (transit pass provided)

1:30-4:30 pm: Demo / Paint-Along at Dorchester Square
This is a green space next to our dramatic Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde,  also offering a variety of statuary and other nearby churches and neoclassical facades.

4:30-5:00 pm: Review

Sunday Aug 4:

9:00 am- 1:00 pm:  Free Sketching and Critique at Square St. Louis

We will circulate around as students choose their own views, offering individual critique, and if time allows, smaller sketching demos.

The square features a Victorian fountain, busts of Octave Crémazie and Émile Nelligan, and is surrounded by notable brightly painted Victorian residences. The immediate area includes the shops and restaurants of Rue St-Denis, and the tree lined residential streets typical of our Plateau Mont Royal.

Workshop Registration and Cost:

The workshop is $300 CDN payable via PayPal. After receiving your application form, we will contact you with a PayPal request in your email.

Final Registration is July 20, 2013.

Maximum number of participants: 30 (minimum 16), All levels welcome
Workshop fee includes a 3-day transit pass to travel between locations, to hotels, or airport (on the STM 747 shuttle bus).

Contact: sblaukopf(at) for further inquiries

Cancellation Policy: 

We are only able to provide refunds for cancellations up to July 20, 2013 with a cancellation fee of $25.00. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded less PayPal fees.

Download Registration Form here
Download Supply List here

About the Instructors: 

Marc Taro Holmes

Canadian artist Marc Taro Holmes (BFA ’96) has worked as an Art Director and Conceptual Artist in feature animation and video games since 1998. He has helped design projects for companies such as Electronic Arts and Disney. Since 2011 he has been working out of his own studio in Montreal, Quebec doing urban sketching, fine art and freelance concept art.

Shari Blaukopf

A graphic designer, illustrator, educator and daily sketch blogger, Montreal-based Shari Blaukopf has been painting and teaching watercolor for many years. In fact, she began taking workshops at the age of 12 and has subsequently painted and drawn her way across several European countries and parts of North America. These days she spends her winters inside the classroom teaching graphic design to college students and her summers outdoors giving watercolor workshops and painting the urban landscape.