A gossipy street by Varvara Neiman

Painting by Varvara Neiman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Watermill painting tutor Varvara Neiman has captured the animation of a village street in this amusing picture. She says: “I witnessed a morning scene of the local ladies meeting in the street discussing last night’s village party and their pets having a gossip on their own. They were part of a beautiful mosaic of morning colours, so clear that I painted the whole thing full of humour.”

You, too, can capture the vibrancy and humour of village life, as well as painting in the unspoiled rural scenery of Lunigiana, which surrounds the Watermill, when Varvara returns for another painting course next year. Varvara, who tutors in water-based oils, acrylics and watercolour, will be here again from Saturday 31 August to Saturday 7 September 2019. More details below.

There will be plenty of gossip, for example, at the weekly market in the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano, where we go to paint on Tuesdays.

Painting by Varvara Neiman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Male bonding in the main square in Fivizzano on market day. I wonder what, or who, they are gossiping about?

As well as plein air painting, Varvara specialises in portraiture and moving figures in watercolour and she is also famous for her cityscapes, capturing fleeting moments.Here are some more umbrellas in the rain.

Painting by Varvara Neiman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Varvara Neiman, who lives in Buckinghamshire, England, was born into an artistic family in St. Petersburg, Russia, where art and teaching were professions passed on from generation to generation. Her work combines classical discipline with a modern imagination. She is enthusiastic about painting en plein air and passionate about Cezanne’s famous quote: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensation.” 

Varvara has been a popular and inspiring teacher for many years. She is skilled in oils, acrylics and watercolours and will teach in any of those mediums. (Water-based oils for easier transportation.)  During her course there will be group demonstrations as well as one-to-one guidance. Varvara likes to create a friendly atmosphere in the group, encouraging students to share their experiences. A couple of comments from Varvara’s previous students: I have been coming to classes with Varvara for almost 10 years and she never ceases to amaze me both with her artistic knowledge and range of techniques. “Not only is she excellent teacher she is also good artist… there is no-one better to teach you.”

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Varvara Neiman
31 August – 7 September 2019 – still plenty of places
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird discount offer: if you book now you can enjoy Varvara’s inspiring week with a £75 discount. The offer runs until the end of this year. Come and join us! And enjoy a good gossip!

Before you paint: stop and think why, says Keiko Tanabe

Painting by Keiko Tanabe, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Keiko’s wonderful watercolour from the hilltop village of Monte dei Bianchi, one of our Watermill painting locations

Our delightful Japanese watercolour tutor Keiko Tanabe is returning next year for her fourth visit to the Watermill and we are delighted to have her back. Keiko will be with us for a special week-long course in watercolours from Saturday 18 May to Saturday 25 May 2019. There are more details below.

When people come on a Watermill painting course, they are always keen to put brush to paper to begin to capture the glorious scenery of the mill at the surrounding Tuscan countryside. But, says Keiko, just take a moment’s pause before you start.

Painters, she says, choose to spend a lot of time in their lives, um, painting. They have an innate passion for the process itself, the sheer act of painting, which drives them on.

 Keiko says: “So let’s make the time spent painting really worthwhile before we actually do it by thinking why: Why do we choose a particular subject?  Why is it so appealing?  Why do we think it’s worth our time (or life, really)?  She adds: “We all can, or should, take a moment before putting anything on paper or canvas, to think what is really inspiring us to spend the next hours of our life with.  Knowing that also helps us make an even stronger statement in our painting as it should be a focal aspect of our visual expression.”

Painting by Keiko Tanabe, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

A rainy day in Fivizzano where we go to paint on market day

Painting by Keiko Tanabe, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Keiko Tanabe was born in Kyoto, Japan but now lives in San Diego, California. Her paintings show stories of everyday life in different corners of the world. Keiko is a much sought-after instructor and has led more than 130 workshops around the world.

She says: Watercolour painting is a vehicle to communicate my artistic vision on the joy of living and the ingenuity of human creations.”

Keiko is also an inspiring and sympathetic tutor. Her workshops at The Watermill are designed for students who would like to gain a better understanding of methods and techniques to make watercolour paintings that are full of light and atmosphere.

Here’s what one student had to say: What a wonderful and memorable week I have had!! The ambiance was just perfect, and Keiko was a wonderful teacher.”  Another added: “Keiko is a fabulous artist and I learned a lot with her…  I had a truly wonderful week at the watermill. It was perfect in every sense… a magical experience.”

Painting by Keiko Tanabe, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Evening light on the Watermill vine Verandah: an idyllic setting for aperitivi.

You can find out more about Keiko and her course at the Watermill by clicking here.  We already have eight painters booked in for this week, so we still have room for four more (and their non-painting partners if they’d like to come). And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird 0ffer: there is a discount of £75 if you book this or any of our other 2019 creative courses before 31 December 2018.

Come and join us for a magical week with Keiko!

Keiko Tanabe
18-25 May 2019

Watercolours
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please click here.

 

Start telling the stories only YOU can write! (and damn the consequences!)

Here are two pieces of very good advice on writing from masters of the craft. “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.”

That comes from Neil Gaiman, best-selling American author of The Sandman and Stardust.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.You can learn how to write about the real you, as only you can do, on Jo Parfitt’s unique Writing Your Life Stories course at the Watermill next June. If you’ve been itching to write some of the stories of your life, as a full-blooded memoir, a shorter journal, over a series of anecdotes or even a blog or two, we’d be delighted to welcome you here. Here are some comments from guests on Jo’s course at the Watermill earlier this year: Thank you so much for the most magical trip to Tuscany, which will stay with me forever!”   “The Watermill is a very special and beautiful place, and everything was organised so perfectly. Everyone was so hospitable, and Joe is a brilliant tutor. Thanks again to you and your team for such a life affirming week.” “What a joyful and inspiring world you have created there… magical days.”

The Write Your Life Stories creative writing course is designed to help you produce your best work, to find your true writer’s ‘voice’ and to write authentically. Among other things, you’ll discover the secret of SPICE, the seven steps to writing life stories. Jo says: “The course at the Watermill will provide a safe haven in which to unlock your creativity, write from your heart and hone your writing craft. Sessions at the mill will empower students to write in a compelling way that makes real experiences come to life.”

Jo Parfitt is an author, journalist, teacher, blogger, conference speaker and poet. She has published 32 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. She’s an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.

Jo will be with us again from 15-22 June 2019 and we’d be delighted to welcome you on her course. And don’t forget, if you book now you can take advantage of our enticing Early Bird offer. Yes, there’s a £75 discount if you book on this inspiring writing course before 31 December 2018. You can find out more about Jo and her course at the Watermill by clicking here.

And that second piece of writing advice? It comes from the inimitable American author Mark Twain, who said: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

So, the Duke of Wellington said “publish and be damned!”, but Mark Twain says: “undamn and be published.”  I suspect in this day and age, however, where we are used to much stronger language in print and elsewhere, that our editors would leave in the damns so it’s up to you to delete the verys.

Learn more about the fascinating craft of writing with Jo Parfitt this June.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Some of our guests on Jo’s Summer 2018 creative writing course.

Looking again at familiar sights on a Watermill painting courses

Painting by Robert Christopher, a guest at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

I’ve just made slideshow on Facebook using some of the charming pen and watercolour drawings made by one of our Watermill painting course guests Robert Christopher. They capture some of the sights you can see during our creative courses here. One of Robert’s skills is to take a slightly different viewpoint from other people and to make one look again at familiar sights.The picture above is of a quiet corner of Fivizzano, the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint during the Tuesday market. Here’s another of his pictures looking at a scene in a different way:

Perhaps more conventional, but no less charming, here’s a study of the recently restored 17th-century watermill.

Perhaps more conventional, but no less charming, here's a study of the recently restored 17th-century watermill.

You can see all of Robert’s pictures on Facebook slideshow by clicking here.

Robert is returning to the mill for Charles Sluga’s painting course next October and if you’d like to join him and enjoy the gardens and grounds of the Watermill, the sleepy towns and villages of our area, as well as the unspoiled grandeur of our scenery, we’d love to welcome you here. We We already have eight bookings on Charles’s course, one of whom is a non-painting partner, so we have room for four more painters (and their non-painting partners if they would like to come). You can find out more about Charles’s course by clicking here.

And, while our other painting courses are booking up fast, we still have availability on several of them. Please click here to view our painting programme for next year and if you’re keen, send us an enquiry and we will do our best to find your place.

Meanwhile, enjoy this quirky-angled Robert Christopher watercolour of a wooden bench on one of the watermill’s riverside terraces. We liked it so much, we bought the picture!

 

 

Mike’s halfway through his 100 paintings challenge

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Our friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge is just about halfway through his fascinating 100 paintings challenge. He has set himself the task of producing 100 paintings in the last hundred days of this year. The painting above is number 47.

Mike says: “For a long time I’ve enjoyed looking at abstract art and wanted to move in that direction myself but found it difficult to move away from my representational style. Now that I have given up most of my teaching, I’ve found a renewed energy towards abstraction.”

The results have been sensational and you can see the paintings on Mike’s website by clicking here.  Even better, you can see some of his work yourself by coming on his inspiring painting course at the Watermill next summer. We’ve already purchased three of these exciting paintings and we’re looking forward to the fourth tomorrow. It’s Lois’s birthday and, sight unseen, we are buying painting number 49, which Mike will produce on November 9! That painting and the three earlier ones we bought will be displayed at the Watermill.

As Mike said earlier, he’s now given up much of his teaching but one place he cannot resist returning to is the Watermill at Posara. He says: “Over the years, I’ve tutored on painting holidays in several countries and many different locations. Now I tutor just once a year and am always delighted to be asked back for another year. The Watermill is the best painting holiday I’ve experienced: it’s such a tranquil venue, the organisation and staff are outstanding and the daily variety of painting locations are wonderful. I’m so much looking forward to returning in 2019 and 2020.” 

Mike will be with us in June/July next year and there are more details below.

And you won’t have to go abstract (unless you want to!): Mike will help you to capture the inspiring sights in and around the Watermill and the stunning scenery of Lunigiana, the unspoiled region of Tuscany which surrounds the mill. Mike is a great believer in drawing and carrying a sketchbook with him wherever he goes. He will encourage you to do the same as well as helping you to develop your painting style.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike’s sketch of one of the small wooden bridges across the millstream at Posara

Mike Willdridge works and in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics too.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.

A demonstration painting by Mike of a waterfall beside the river Rosaro near the mill

A comment from a guest on one of Mike’s previous courses at The Watermill: “A wonderful holiday. You were such generous and friendly hosts and Mike was an excellent painting tutor.”  Another said: “The food was exceptional and the mill itself is great, in such a beautiful setting. A truly wonderful week in every respect.”

Mike Willdridge
29 June to 6 July 2019
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)

To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please click here.

And there’s an enticing offer for people who book before the end of 2018. Our ‘Early Bird’ discount gives you £75 off the cost of your holiday if you book before the end of the year. But we recommend that you reserve your place as soon as you can. We already have eight people (two of them non-painting partners) booked in for Mike’s course, but there are lovely bedrooms and a self-contained apartment suite still available.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.

 

In-depth reports from Claire’s inspiring painting holiday

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

A colourful corner of the walled garden,

Our enthusiastic English painting tutor Claire Warner has just sent me two reports from guests who came on her watercolour (and acrylics and oils) week at the Watermill this year. They’re quite detailed, but I think they really capture what’s on offer here with great tutors like Claire.

The first report comes from Karen Beaney, who writes: “I didn’t really know what to expect from this trip. Would it be an intense and exhausting ‘art… art… art…’24/7 kind of thing? Or would it just be a regular holiday, albeit with a bunch of strangers with the odd bit of art thrown in?

“Thankfully, the balance on this adventure was spot on – yes, lots of great art as you would expect but set in a wonderful villa and with plenty of time to relax and unwind and really enjoy the wonderful sights and atmosphere of Tuscany. Inspiration for our artistic endeavours was certainly not in short supply – from the fantastic grounds of the villa with hidden treasures such as a river and watermill and its own intriguing architecture to the day trips we went on, each providing the perfect balance between nature, history and the everyday hustle and bustle of Tuscan life.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Away from the hustle and bustle: the Watermill riverside

“The instruction from Claire, our tutor, was spot on and covered everything from technique to practical tips on how to set up and work outside, something I’d never previously done. I particularly enjoyed the review of the group’s work each evening, where we could share experiences and get feedback on our efforts. All in all, it was a great experience and one that I can’t wait to repeat again.” Here is a painting of a café by Claire Warner:

 Painting by Claire Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Another guest, Bex Foy, writes: “I had been looking forward to my painting holiday with Claire Warner at the Watermill for what seemed like ages and it didn’t disappoint; it was probably one of my favourite holidays.

“The accommodation was superb in such a beautiful location and nothing was too much trouble for our hosts, everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The group was mixed in terms of ages and abilities, some people came alone and some as pairs, but the mixture was great and we had a lot of fun in amongst the tuition. Claire organised for us to go out to a variety of wonderful places to sketch and paint and you were comfortable taking things at your own pace, in your own way. I really like Claire’s relaxed approach, so you don’t ever feel under pressure!”

Here’s Bex, feeling no pressure at all after a hard day at the painting coalface. The bottled beer is purely coincidental!The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Our warm thanks to Karen and Bex – and if you’d like to find out what all the fuss is about, please come and join us for Claire’s course next year. She will be with us  from Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 September 2019.

Claire Warner is a professional artist and an experienced tutor, having taught all age groups and abilities for 25 years.  She will demonstrate in watercolours on this holiday, but is happy to help with those choosing oils or acrylics as their medium. All levels of artists can benefit from her teaching, and she offers plenty of individual attention.

She says: “My aim is to teach and encourage each student gradually to build up knowledge and the confidence to create their own style. I’ll demonstrate step by step with explanations — and offer plenty of individual attention when and where needed. I like to tease out their full potential with patience and a sense of fun.”

Painting by Claire Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Claire’s evocative painting of a waterfall, capturing both movement and light

Please click here to learn more about Claire and her course at the Watermill. And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird offer: if you book before 31 December 2018 there’s £75 discount on this fabulous 2019 painting holiday. Come and join us and make this your favourite holiday too.

 

 

 

Enjoy new painting challenges with Jude Scott: faces, flowers and landscapes

Painting by June Scott, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.We are looking forward to welcoming inspiring painting tutor Jude Scott from Western Australia, who is going to be joining us for two weeks next summer. Jude will be teaching in watercolours (& acrylics and oils) from Saturday 17 August to Saturday, 24 August 2019 and from Saturday 24 August to Saturday 31 August 2019 and there are more details below.

Jude tells us that she loves watercolours particularly, for their immediacy, unpredictability, translucency, dazzling colours and powerful tones,” but she also paints in, and is happy to teach in, acrylics and oils. She says: “I love a new challenge and paint all subjects.” Her favourites are serene landscapes, vibrant floral works and intriguing faces.

 The watercolour above is called Contemplation. Jude says: Faces are fascinating, and this face inspired me with my own interpretation. A large painting was my aim and I found such a large drawing to be a challenge as I always draw freehand, simply stretching far enough with the pencil was physically demanding! I begin with the eyes and work out from there, getting the angles of the face and the tones is vital, I painted with a soft dreamy palette to enhance her cool look and had fun with the textured background. This painting is now in a government collection in China.”

And I love the watercolour below, called Riverside.

Painting by June Scott, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Jude says: A trip down to the river with the grandies resulted in this painting-they were having such a marvellous time spotting the enormous jellyfish! Sketches on site were used for a painting the next day. I began drawing the figures first from photographic references, flooding the background and foreground with water, dropping in the colour and allowing to dry. Then the figures and the shadows were painted and, after drying the darks were strengthened.”

Jude Scott, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.As for teaching, Jude says: “I love sharing what I have learnt over many years of painting and it is always a thrill watching ‘the artist within’ emerge from each individual student. I strongly encourage students to develop their own unique style of brush strokes and mark making: just relax, be brave, don’t forget to breathe and the rest will surely follow.”

One of her previous students said: Jude was truly amazing, great tempo, strong knowledge base, strong interpersonal skills, just the right mix of doing and listening.” And another added: “She catered for the individual, encouraging a personal approach of expression, whilst at the same time teaching sound techniques. Her outgoing and bright personality really made her classes fun.”

You can learn all about Jude and see more of her paintings on her Tutor Profile page on the Watermill website, by clicking here.

We have already six bookings for Jude’s first week (17-24 August 2019), two of whom are non-painting partners, so we have room for seven or eight more painters. Currently, Jude’s second week (24-31 August 2019) is fully booked, but there may be cancellations, so if you’re interested in that week please also let us know and we will put you on the waiting list.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest! 

And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird discount offer: If you book before 31 December 2018 there’s a £GBP 75 per person discount on this fabulous 2019 painting holiday.

And finally, here’s a wonderful landscape by Jude called Evening-Pentecost River (in the Kimberley region of West Australia). We’re looking forward to seeing how Jude, and her students, capture the wonderful scenery of Tuscany. Why don’t you join her and us?

Painting by June Scott, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

 

 

Learn to add the ‘grace notes’ to your Italian

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Our good friend and painting tutor Mike Willdridge recently sent me this picture of another friend, Ivana Castelotti, owner of the Elvetico café in the square in Fivizzano, pointing at a sign in her café which highlights the importance of ‘grace notes’ in the Italian language.

The translation of the text is: A coffee: €3; A coffee, please: 2 Euro; Good morning. Can you make me a coffee please? €1.

The point is that these little extra linguistic twiddles are an important part of the Italian language. Most people wouldn’t think of going into a café without saying Buon giorno, and always saying please and thank you.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.You can learn more about the importance of ‘grace notes’, and much else beside on our unique Italian Language course at the Watermill next year. You learn your Italian from the graceful Francesca la Sala, another good friend of ours. That’s her above explaining the intricacies of the language on the Watermill vine verandah. You can join Francesca, soaking up Italian and enjoying la bella vita Italiana from Saturday, 11 May to Saturday, 18 May 2019.

This really is a ‘course with a difference’. Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but you will also make trips and excursions to savour the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area around the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speak Italian, and practise what you’ve learned.

The Watermill has teamed up again with the prestigious language school Langues Services in Florence to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way. Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.

A comment from a guest on this year’s course: “Our teacher was brilliant, and the lessons were always engaging, and all the other staff were remarkable in their efforts to make the week so perfect. I enjoyed every second. I loved the tranquillity and the natural beauty of the river as well as the wonderful food and convivial company…”

But don’t forget to say buon giorno to everyone you meet. Grazie mille!

Langues services and Francesca la Sala

11-18 May 2019

Italian language

To learn more about Francesca and our language team at the mill, please click here.

 

 

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: just the time to plan your 2019 creative week at the Watermill. Read all about it!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.There’s lots to read about in this month’s Watermill newsletter, from ‘notan’ to poetic reflections, and from cool water bottles to solar panels. Eclectic, or what? You can read all about it by clicking here https://watermill.net/mill-news/millnews101/millnews101.php

With so much to say we’re already looking forward to clinking glasses with you on the vine verandah. Our 2019 creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language are filling fast. Time to get your booking in, especially with our enticing £75 discount Early Bird offer. Ci vediamo!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

It may be misty now but soon there will be more glorious Tuscan sunshine for you to enjoy our stunning locations.

Architect or gardener? Try a bit of both to improve your creative writing!

Architecture…

It is said that there are two types of writers, the ‘architects’, who have everything well-planned before starting to write, and the ‘gardeners’, who have the seed of an idea and simply let it grow as they write.

… and gardening!

I suspect that the successful writer is a little bit of both: you need some sort of blueprint from which to construct your stories, but you also need to allow your creativity to flow spontaneously and let your idea flourish. During Jo Parfitt’s inspiring Write Your Life Stories course here next year she will be helping you with both your writing gardening and your storytelling architectural design!

Gardening: Jo says: “I always include plenty of spontaneous exercises where I present an idea and immediately give students five, 10 or 15 minutes in which to write something. I give them with a seed of an idea, let them start gardening and just see where it takes them; how it grows. For me, I start with the germ of an idea, one that is not yet fully formed, put fingers to keyboard and go with the flow, writing from my gut until my ideas run out. I work out what I am going to say while I am writing it.”

Architecture: Jo says: “After a break (a few hours or more) I return to the piece to put some structure onto it, adding subheadings if I feel I need them, maybe moving the text around a bit and cutting unnecessary words.”

Jo adds:It makes no difference whether you are a gardener or an architect, or, better still a bit of both. It is okay to start off with a detailed plan or with just a seed. What matters is that you accept who you are and learn to craft your natural style into a coherent piece worth reading.”

One of the best ways to begin writing is with stories from your own life, whether it’s for a short blog or full-blooded memoir. Or just a record for your grandchildren to enjoy and to understand what you did and how it was when you were younger. You’ll need motivation and courage, but the rewards will be great.

We had a wonderful Write Your Life Stories course with Joe last summer and here are some of the comments from our guests:

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Some of our guests on Jo’s May creative writing course here this year.

“What a joyful and inspiring world you and Lois have created there. Very glad to be back in touch through our shared love of writing and beauty, in which your oasis in Tuscany abounds. With great affection whenever I think of those magical days.

“I had an excellent time at the Watermill and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality and the company. It is a very special and beautiful place and everything was organised so perfectly. Jo is a great tutor and I think we all had an amazing time. Thanks for such a life affirming week.”

 “Thank you so much for the most magical trip to Tuscany, which will stay with me forever!” 

Why not hone your own writing (architectural and gardening) skills on Jo’s Write your Life’s Stories week here next year? It will run from Saturday 15 June to Saturday 22 June 2019.

Jo says: “The course at the watermill will provide a haven in which to unlock your creativity, write from your heart and hone your writing craft. It will also help to remove blocks to your writing. Sessions at the mill will empower students to write in a compelling way that makes real experiences come to life.”

She adds: “The class will include several methods and genre and is perfect for anyone wanting to write about their own lives for an effective journal, memoir or blog. If you would enjoy an injection of inspiration in a safe and supportive environment this course is for you. It is appropriate for students of any level.”

Jo Parfitt has published 32 books herself, helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. She’s an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.

Jo Parfitt

15 June to 25 June 2015 

Write Your Life Stories 

To learn more about Jo and her course at The Watermill, please click here

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Find a quiet corner to start writing your life’s stories