Meet the instructor: Simonetta Capecchi (Naples)

This Site Has Been Archived

You're browsing an archived site from the 2011 Urbansketchers Symposium. This site is no longer active. Login and comments have been turned off to prevent spam comments and user registrations. Feel free to look around, though. Don't forget to visit our main site at for all future Symposium plans as they develop.

Simonetta Capecchi works as an illustrator, especializing in watercolored maps, architecture details and urban sketches and panoramas. She also holds drawing workshop and lectures at the University in the Architecture Faculty of Naples. 

Simonetta, 45, was was born in Milan, later moved to Bologna and studied in Venice for ten years. She has two sons, 8 and 13, and lives in Naples since 1990. She will be teaching the workshop Panoramania along with Claudio Patané. Here's our Q&A with Simo.

How did you start drawing on location?

I started in the '80 as a student of Architecture, in Venice. Everybody wanted to draw like Le Corbusier and we all had a black hardcover sketchbook. The famous historian Manfredo Tafuri obliged us to draw every building on location to pass a History of Renaissance Architecture's exam, so we had to travel with a sketchbook to Florence and Rome. I'm still grateful to him.

What’s a favorite sketching experience you like to remember?

All of my sketches are "memorable", as they bring me back to that moment. I always like the best my last drawings. Sketching in a Romani illegal settlement in Naples, drawing mountains of trash in our neighborhood or draw in L'Aquila city after the earthquake were really touching experiences but painting trees in the park with other sketchers last sunday was a very intense experience as well. I probably get a special power in drawing together since most of the example I quote here were collective experiences. When I draw alone, I probably get my best "artistic" results but this does not always become a memorable experience. Finding a personal way of expression is more important than reaching a high technical level and it probably requires a long time. Practice every day is very important but also see works by other authors helps. Drawing is pleasant, it's a way of exploring both the world and ourself and to communicate with people.

When do you normally draw?

I try to draw daily but I'm really casual about it. Sometimes I meet with friends to go to certain places. If possible, I always prefer to draw in late afternoon, I don't see well when the light is too strong. 

What’s your advice for beginner sketchers?

Drawing on location is a very personal experience that has a value, even if we may not be satisfied with the results. The way we draw correspond directly to the way we "see the world" and luckily each of us perceive it in a different way. I'm very curious of how other people draw and meeting each other to draw together it's obviously much better than watching images on our blogs. During my field session (and in my lesson too) I will share more than teach, my personal approach and my experience of urban sketching. 

Tell us about your workshop, Panoramania.

We'll have to deal with perspective, depth problems and ways of synthesize urban complexity in a few lines. On the panorama we can highlight specific spots and add any sort of notes. I will give tips and good advise but must of all we will draw together to share our different ways of portray an urban panorama. I also like the idea to draw a single collective panorama divided in parts, where in junctions there is an overlap of two hands.

What city subjects attract you the most?

I like urban skyline and panoramas. As an architect, I find it more easy to draw architectures and trees, but I'm learning to draw people as well. When I travel I draw anything that capture my attention and that I want to remember, at the same time any subject become interesting under a different light or when I'm in a different mood. 

What are your primary drawing tools?

I have used lots of Moleskine sketchbooks, Watercolor and Japanese ones. Now I prefer large to pocket size and I like the landscape kind. Only recently I started using watercolor loose papers (25x25 cm and 25x50 cm size). Like architects often do, I like to draw with a line: a pencil, a Bic Biro or a fountain pen with waterproof ink and than add watercolor. I tend to draw with a thin line and to use delicate colors so I'm still exercising in painting without a line and with stronger colors.

What else do you like to do besides drawing?

I like to travel, like every urban sketcher! I also love kayak, in lake or sea. Too bad I can't draw while I'm on it.

Follow Simonetta's work on her blog In Viaggio Col Taccuino and flickr, where you can also browse through one of her recent exhibits.

Simonetta did this sketch in L'Aquila. The city was ravaged by an earthquake in 2009.


it will be really amazing to see some of your work LIKE.

Ci vediamo a Lissabona Simo, aspetto di guardare tuoi disegni!!!

~ Ana Gil

Simo,I've admired your work in books and online for a long time. I'm giving a lecture at the symposium, so will be tagging along with your workshop as a "floater." I'm really looking forward to meeting you.

Hi Pete, me too!
Thanks Manuela, three days are a short time but we'll try to our best, sure your city deserve a longer visit.
Peng Hui, thanks, I didn't know those supply even exist!!
See you all in Lisbon,

Hi Simo, I look forward to meeting you again!

Hi Simonetta
I´ll take your workshop Panoramania. I´m sure I´ll learn a lot from you and Claudio Patané!
I´m from Lisboa and I´m sure you´ll love to sketch my beautiful city with all of us!
I admire your work.
See you in July!

Nice drawings.
I struggled with Tafuri's "Venice and the Renaissance" and it will be interesting to meet someone who knew him.

Something for the kayak:  :)