Sunday, August 23, 2015

CAPTURING CHAOS: Drawing a crowd

New Workshop dates added:

Friday November 6th, 2015
Berkeley, California (exact location in the city TBD)
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
$40 per person to be sent in with a completed registration form

Saturday November 7th, 2015
Los Gatos, California (exact location in the city TBD)
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
$40 per person to be sent in with a completed registration form

To register
e-mail Suhita: suhita(at)gmail(dot)com for information and registration. (Title your email 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'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 ( 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 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:

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:

*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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Painting in Ischia Island, around Aragonese Castle.

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

guest artist: Gérard Michel and Franco Lancio

*this workshop is sold out!!

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.

Il programma in Italiano qui.

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! 
UPDATE: Monastero rooms are sold out. 

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 plein 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. Email the hotel for more details: ilmonastero(at) 

Gabriele Mattera painting in his studio, 1985.

Wednesday, October 7
     5 pm - early check-in and welcome in Aragonese Castle

Thursday, October 8 
     9.30 am to 1 pm  (divided in three groups)
Caroline Peyron, On Gabriele Mattera footsteps, in the castle gardens
Simo Capecchi, Picturesque deconstructed. The Castle from Cartaromana beach
Kelly Medford, Introduction to sketching in oils, in the castle gardens and courtyards
    2.30 to 5.30 pm  (all together)
Naturalistic itinerary inside the Castle - sketching and painting in different spots with all instructors

Friday, October 9
    9.30 am to 1 pm  (divided in three groups)
Caroline Peyron, On Gabriele Mattera footsteps, in the castle gardens
Simo Capecchi, Picturesque deconstructed. The Castle from Cartaromana beach
Kelly Medford, Introduction to sketching in oils, in the castle gardens and courtyards
   2.30 to 5.30 pm  (all together)
The Castello Aragonese from Pescatori beach, Sketching and painting with all instructors

Saturday, October 10 
   9.30 am to 1 pm  (divided in three groups)
Caroline Peyron, On Gabriele Mattera footsteps, in the castle gardens
Simo Capecchi, Picturesque deconstructed. The Castle from Cartaromana beach
Kelly Medford, Introduction to sketching in oils, in the castle gardens and courtyards
   2.30 to 5.30 pm  (all together)
Architecture itinerary inside the Castle - sketching and painting in different spots with all instructors
6.30 pm: final exhibit in Aragonese Castle, open to the public

Sunday, October 11 
   10.00 am to noon  
Open Sketchcrawl and Botanical sketching tour in Negombo garden* 
open to the public, guest sketchers are welcome! 
Please email to marco(at) to get the entrance pass.

*Negombo, is a botanical garden and thermal bath designed by Ermanno Casasco, famous landscape designer. Thanks to Marco Castagna and the Negombo Thermal Bath for their collaboration and hospitality.

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.

Introduction to sketching in oils with Kelly Medford 
Though there are many aspects to putting together an oil painting, we will focus on values and color.
After lightly sketching out the main shapes with a neutral mixture, we will work with big shapes, massing in our darks, lights and middle tones and adjusting from there.
Values mean the steps from light to dark on the gray scale. This is the first thing to think about in a painting before color - how light or dark is something in relation to the overall scene.
Most paintings, even the most masterful, incorporate approximately five values, seven at most. Even though variation is included in each of these values, unity must be maintained in order for the tone to stay firmly in its place on the grey scale and relate to its surroundings. This exercise also has an added benefit: it helps us to start thinking in blocks of value shapes rather than lines.
The main thing that we will be focusing on with color is how to make your mixtures lighter or darker and warmer or cooler. Using only primary colors will help immensely in your color experiment and exercises, harmonising and unifying them more readily, making the mixtures related and tie together.
We will practice how to make our color mixtures be in sunlight versus shadow - sunlight is warm and shadows are generally cool - and to create distance going away from us in space.

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: thanks to Moleskine for the sketchbooks donation!!

See Naples Workshop past editions photos: