By far the best part of my trip to Italy to paint and learn about the culture, has been the local painters and fellow artists I met here.
How did I find them? Well actually the first thing I did is google “plein air Rome” until I found the blog of a transplanted U.S. painter, Kelly Medford. Kelly was very helpful answering some pre–arrival questions and a couple of weeks after my arrival we met for a painting day. I ended up painting with her a lot while I was there, and a couple other painters in her circle: Marco Corloni and Giovanni Ragone.
She also mentioned the SketchCrawl Roma (Rome) Facebook group, and said they had regular outings. I probably would have gone along with her, but one day when I was painting they found me! A couple of the people involved with the group spotted me painting, notably Sonia Cipollari, who invited me to a Sketchcrawl Roma outing at the Terme Caracalla.
A good first step for finding painting comrades when getting to a new city or place is to look for one of these groups: SketchCrawl or Urban Sketchers. Sketchcrawl is an international group started by an Italian artist who had transplanted to San Francisco. Urbansketchers is actually a larger group with many organized groups in many cities all over the world.
Google both groups and add the name of the city or country. If it is a language you don’t understand, running words through Google translate will get you at least the gist of the meaning. Often members post information about open participation outings.
I know that if I was in my usual home base of Chicago and a visiting artist contacted me about painting together, I would be happy to meet them and show them around a bit. I found that in Rome, also In Naples and many US cities. Just Google landscape painting or plein air painting and the name of the town and you’ll often get some results, especially in the US.
Rome was a bit of an exception, perhaps. I met a group of really dedicated painters. But in Naples I met Simonetta Cappechi, who gives workshops to Urbansketchers for sketchbook drawing and watercolors. I got her on a busy week right before she was giving a workshop, but she still took the time to help me find a place to stay for a month in Naples and invited me along to some open events involved in her workshop. It also shows what a small world this is that I met to people at that workshop in Naples (artists and teachers Lapin and Mathew Brehm) who knew my friend Don Colley from Chicago.
So don’t be shy. Just like you would be at home, they will be thrilled to see you!
Also relevant to this topic might be a post I did on a listing of open life drawing venues in the USA.
Kelly Medford and Marco Carloni both teach workshops in Italy. Kelly is American so speaks fluent english and Marco is Italian, but speaks some english. They both have a lot to offer.