Frame The World, Differently! September Workshop-Volterra, Italy


A Watercolor Workshop -with Focus on Compositions

Volterra, Italy


Conducted by the visual artist Majid Modir

Guest artist: Kelly Medford

Welcome to a creative workshop in the heart of Tuscany, Volterra!
 5 days with drawing and painting in good company, learning watercolor technique and some ways to achieve good compositions. Meanwhile meeting interesting people and taking the pulse of the Italian lifestyle, eating and drinking Tuscan delicacy, enjoying the harvest season in September and swim in the Mediterranean sea.

Simply a delightful experience and a memory for life!

Watch a glimpse of the event here !

Apply by the end of August!
 Contact for information and a registration form.


Primary Aims

Normally the most common compositions (regardless skill or technique) are wide angle views with lots of information outright in a single image. Sometimes we don’t need to report whatever happens around us -as a mirror which reflects everything with no filter! Instead we can create an interesting art piece with certain choices which tells more about the artist’s ability to transform an average environment or object into something unique….By Selection!

Learning goals

– Choosing motifs with delicacy.

– Obtaining ingenious and surprising compositions by looking from another point of view or different perspective – rather than the expected view.

– Cropping the composition with care.

– Deciding that the drawing or the painting should have an artistic value in the end, as well as the enjoyment of the experimentation during the process.

– Testing the above points using thumbnail drawings, and continuing with watercolor.

– Learning and upgrading watercolor technique, tools, and discovering tips & tricks.

Workshop location

Historical city of Volterra, Tuscany, Italy.

Hosting institution: Villa Le Guadalupe is an association dedicated to arts by German dramaturg Wolfgang Storch and Klaudia Ruschkowski that hosts workshops in arts, theatre, design, and music, with an international program. The association is located in XIX° century villa with a view on the southern hills of Volterra, beautiful gardens around, interiors covered with frescos and a private chapel from 1850.


The workshop starts every day with lecture and demo followed by field trips to sketch and paint on location.

Morning: 3 hours (10:00 -13:00) / Afternoon: 3 hours (16:00-19:00)

Lunch break and own time between 13:00 -16:00

Day review 18:00-19:00

20:00 supper in Villa Le Guadalupe

Language: English 

Number of participants: 10-15

Any level of experience is welcome!

Supply list: A list will be provided for participants.

Fee: € 400 – including:
– Approximately 30 hours of tutoring / 5 days

– Meals (5 picnic lunches + 5 dinners)

– All transfers to the daily locations, as well as the first and last transfers between town and the villa

– Hahnemuehle Watercolor papers, a Moleskine pocket sketchbook, and a handmade viewfinder.


Lodging in Villa Le Guadalupe as extra cost: double room at 58 €/night and

single room at 38 €/night.

(3 double and 2 single rooms available, first come first served!)
  Breakfast included.

Flight and transport between the airport (Pisa, Florence) and Volterra are not included.

(There are buses from Pisa or Florence to Volterra, about 1.5 hour trip)


Daily Schedule

Day 1. (Tuesday 19 September)

How to simplify detailed views -by selection!

– Gathering and registration in the Villa’s studio at 10 am.

– Introduction, lecture and showing examples followed by the first watercolor demo.

– Discovering the Villa Le Guadalupe (outdoors, the garden and the chapel) and sketching /painting.   – Lunch in the garden followed by an afternoon pause.

– Continuation of exploring the villa (indoor, the rooms and the details around)

Day 2. (Wednesday 20 September)

How to crop compositions –by getting closer!

– Lecture and demo of the day at the studio.

– Sketchwalk in the city of Volterra, trying to find and capture own views.

– Before noon:  The impressive church of San Giusto.

– Picnic lunch and afternoon stay: The archeological site Parco Fiumi.

– Early evening sketch/painting at the city walls with views above the roofs and great Tuscan    landscape

Day 3.  (Thursday 21 September)

Using values to design balanced and harmonious compositions

– Lecture at the studio by the guest teacher.

– Demonstration on location.

– We will spend the day focusing on designing compositions at different spots in the ancient convent of Badia Camaldolese, the associated sculpture garden and the view point over the Balze (dramatic clay badlands).

 – Picnic lunch and afternoon stay in the same area.

Day 4.  (Friday 22 September)  

How to make fast decisions in an uncomfortable context (for instance weather conditions) -by killing the darlings!

– Lecture and demo of the day at the studio.

– Finding interesting elements in the nature and practicing watercolor during a seaside trip in Baratti beach area.

– Picnic lunch (and swimming for the brave ones :-))

– Early evening visit in the picturesque Etruscan city of Populonoia, the castle and the great view over mediterranean sea.

Day 5. (Saturday 23 September)

How to define and limit wide and infinite views -by framing with care!

 – Lecture and demo of the day at Majid’s studio in the neighborhood (we meet at the villa and take a 15 minute walk downhill).

– Visiting my residence located in the middle of Tuscan hills and capturing interesting spots in 360 degrees view.

– Picnic lunch at the pool (and swimming for the brave ones :-))

– Optional (in case we have time) for those who prefer unknown adventure: Field trip to the abandoned ex hospital building (also in the neighborhood), which provides a lot of interesting and storytelling spots to capture.

– The afternoon we prepare the exhibition of our works during the week which will be hold in the city at Volterra-Detroit Foundation Canter.

– Public opening at 18:00.

Locations might change depending on weather conditions as well as according to participants‘ wishes.

Location maps: To be announced!

Additional activities/trips:

– Visiting local artists and artisans studio

– The natural reserve of river Cecina with Masso Delle Fanciulle

– Final works Exhibition open to the public


About the instructors

Majid Modir

Majid Modir is an artist, photographer and graphic designer, born 1961 in Iran, moved to Sweden 1986 and 2016 to Italy. He graduated in Graphic Design & Illustration (MFA) at The Swedish University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack). As creative director he runs his own design studio and teaches motion graphics at The College of Design (Beckmans) in Stockholm. He is a member of Swedish Artist’s Association (SKF), Swedish Center of Photography (CFF) and a jury member of the European Broadcast Design Award (BDA & Promax). Multiply awarded, he has been showing his watercolors and other works in a number of separate and group exhibitions in Scandinavian countries during last 30 years. His special skills are: watercolor technique, tools and supplies, composition and layout, color palette.

Selected watercolors: Flickr

Art works in general:  Artist Website

Other Links:

Latest workshop in Volterra “Frame the World Differently” May 2017

Previous workshop editions in Volterra (with Simo Capecchi):
 2014 / 2016

Majid Modir’s watercolors from Volterra.


Kelly Medford is an American artist who has been working as a plein air painter in Italy since 2005 after attending the Florence Academy of Art. She paints and sketches the streets of Italy daily as a way of getting to know the country, its culture, people, art, history and places. In 2012 she started Sketching Rome Tours as a way of offering this experience to everyone.

You can see her work on her website


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