USK Workshop: Where is my focal point?

Regarding the circumstances around COVID-19 we have postponed these 2 workshops (May & September 2020) to next year: May & September 2021! It will be the same period, place, topic and arrangement though with new dates (and with reservation for possibly new guest teachers). Please stay tuned and don’t hesitate to send your expression of interest or questions to:


Plein-Air Watercolor Workshop with MAJID MODIR 

September 13-20 – 2020 May & September 2021


In association with Urban Sketchers 

Join a creative adventure in the historical town of Volterra located in the heart of Tuscany and bring a lot of pleasant memories and some vibrant paintings back home!

You will learn different watercolor techniques and plein-air sketching & painting methods with focus on capturing the perfect Motives and finding the Focal Point in your chosen scenes.

We will explore various locations every day: the old Etruscan town as well as surrounding hills with cypress trees, nearby picturesque villages and pine woods at the seaside.
In order to capture the essence of moments and spaces you will discover the stunning views and give them eternal life by bringing them into your drawings.
There will be a lot of demos, instructions, exercises and reviews, both individual and in the group, so you will feel confident to find your own way and express your feelings.

Meanwhile we will experience spending time and sketch with like-minded participants, meet interesting local artists, taste the Tuscan food & wine and have a touch of Italian lifestyle, maybe even a swim in the Tyrrhenian sea.
Simply a joyful and rewarding adventure and a memory for life!

A whole week within 5-days workshop arranged by The Watercolor School IL PUNTO, in collaboration with the Volterra-Detroit Foundation, hosted by Villa Mascagni and in asssocation with USK.
Lead by the Swedish visual artist, urban sketcher and watercolor instructor Majid Modir, and accompanied by guest teachers for a day:

Catalina Rodríguez from Madrid and Marion Rivolier from Paris!

Watch a glimpse of our latest workshop HERE!


We see a lot of sketches & paintings which looks fine but we actually don’t know where to look and focus our eyes on. It’s a common thing -out of habit- to report everything we see with the same value overall which don’t give the viewer attention to any particular area of the sketch or painting.

“The focal point of a painting is an area of emphasis that demands the most attention and to which the viewer’s eye is drawn, pulling it into the painting. It is like the bullseye on a target, although not as overt. It is how the artist draws attention to the particular content of the painting and is often the most important element of the painting.”

Primary aims & Learning goals 


    Capturing the soul and beauty of a certain place by finding a unique angel and interesting point of view, and putting it in a good composition. 


    Discovering the most interesting spot in the chosen view and focusing on it by studying its structures, dynamic lines and transforming these on the paper as a sketch. 


    Finding the Values in it and working on Contrasts as the basis and going on with colors by making different level of contrasts in the focused area and its surroundings. 


    Thinking “out of the box” and working “selectively” with a “tailor made” image by minimizing the details and removing unnecessary elements. 


    In order to use the watercolor technique, keeping pure transparency and making a good balance between wet-in-wet and dry brush -by varying the amount of adding water and also the waiting time between each wash. 

Volterra sketches

Workshop location & accommodation 

Historical town of Volterra, Tuscany, Italy.

Workshop hosting (for in-door activities): Volterra-Detroit Foundation 

Accommodation hosting: Villa Mascagni



Number of participants 

Minimum 10 participants, Maximum 15 participants
All levels are welcome (preferably with basic experience of water color painting).

Supply list 

Each participant will be provided with a basic water color kit: Paper block, Paint box, Brush set and drawing pen & pencil.
And a list of suggested advance supplies will be send to the registered participants.


7 days of accommodation including 5 workshop days. 

6 hours session per day with a lunch break.

Morning: 3 hours (10-13) / Afternoon: 3 hours (14-17)

Daily Workshop Schedule / Learnings & Exercises 

  • DAY 1 – ARRIVAL:

    Registration & Installation at the Villa Mascagni, Welcoming Dinner 

  • DAY 2 – INTRODUCTION (at studio Volterra-Detroit Foundation ): 
    •  Lecture with the topic of the week, followed by looking at some helpful examples  
    • Basics in watercolor technique, materials and devices for plein-air works, followed by a demo 
    • Group exercise, practicing in watercolor basics & color palette 
  • DAY 3 – VIEW-FINDING & FOCUSING INSTRUCTIONS (Volterra town sketch walk): 
    • Training ”the hunting eyes” to capture the best subjects & angels, from a different point of view or perspective 
    • Exercises on how to bring attention to a specific point within a view 
  •  DAY 4 – COMPOSITION & CROPPING INSTRUCTIONS (Trip to Mazzolla -or nearby): 
    • Exercises to achieve the best compositions by drawing some fast thumbnails on sketch book 
    • Continuing with the selected sketches as paintings on watercolor paper 
  •  DAY 5 – VALUE-FINDING METHODS (Trip to Lischeti -or nearby): 
    • Exercises how achieve the best Contrasts, Color selection, Sharpness etc, in order to get the best Focus 
  • DAY 6 – FOCAL POINT (Trip to Livorno and seaside, A day with the guest teacher): 
    • Using all previous learnings and exercises of the week to achieve the optimal focal point in our works. 
    The final show with a selection of all works during the week for public in Volterra-Detroit showroom. 

 *With reservation for changes regarding the weather condition! 

Workshop Fee: 

1.950 € * (payable through PayPal or Bank Transfer)


  • 7 days of accommodation (apartments in Villa Mascagni)** 
  • Transfers between Volterra and Pisa Airport (arrival & departure), and daily trips 
  • 2 exclusive dinners (first and last suppers) + 2 picnic lunches (in traveling days) 
  • 30 hours tuition (5 days of lecture, demos, instructions and critiques 
  • Four days by Majid Modir and one day by the guest teacher) 
  • Watercolor supplies of quality brands 
  • Final show 

* 1.250 € for a non-participating partner (including the first 3 points)

** Rooms are with 2 single beds to share.
Limited single rooms with twin-bed are available with extra cost of 350€.

Pay in full by 31 December 2019 to get 10% off the price!

Apply by sending mail to:

About the instructors 

Majid Modir

Majid Modir is a visual artist 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 also teaches motion graphic at The College of Art & Design (Nyckelviksskolan) in Stockholm. He is a member of Swedish Artist’s Association, Swedish Center of Photography and a jury member of the European Broadcast Design Award (BDA & Promax).
Multiply awarded, he has been showing his works and watercolors in a number of separate and group exhibitions in Scandinavian countries during the last 30 years.

Artist website:

Selected watercolors:


Watercolors by Majid

Catalina Rodríguez Villazón (guest teacher, May edition):

I’ve been fascinated by art since I was a child. In the last few years I´ve been focusing in nurturing my creativity and knowledge on this field. I am very attracted to colours and I love watercolor painting. I am also into experimenting with black ink and oriental drawings since I want my paintings to be fresh, inpatient and experimental. My curiosity for the unknown and my reflection on the quotidian aspects are my main source of inspiration. I am convinced that creativity is contagious. I enjoy collaborating with other creators and I believe this brings a huge artistic and personal growth. At the moment I live in Madrid, where I am alsostudying a Master´s program in Fine Arts at the “Circulo de Bellas Artes”.

Artist Website:


Watercolors by Catalina

Marion Rivolier (guest teacher, September edition):

Marion began with stage scenographies with young directors she met at C.N.S.A.D for which she imagines sets and costumes. She collaborates on more experimental projects that bring her to Novgorod in Russia or to the North of France.
After an internship at the Louvre Museum, she is interested in the museographic part of her job and collaborates with several agencies where she develops permanent projects (museums, entertainment, leisure parks) and temporary projects.

In parallel, she paints. At the corner of a street corner, in a workshop, on a notebook, on a canvas, alone in nature or with a model. She detaches herself from the form to go towards sensation, without being trapped in her know-how.

She exhibits her work regularly in Paris and France. In 2018, she published “Croisée de regards”, a chronicle painted and written around artists, works and artistic installations, from here and elsewhere.

Artist website:


Watercolors by Marion

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