You are spoilt for choice on your Watermill excursion

Painting by Chris Franklin, a guest atThe Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

It is excursion day on Wednesdays during our creative courses and we offer you the choice of either going to the quintessential Italian walled city of Lucca or to the delightful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, linked by clifftop paths.

It’s a major dilemma, and one best solved by coming to the Watermill twice, so you can enjoy Lucca one time and the Cinque Terre on your next visit! That’s just what Watermill guest Chris Franklin has done. He has been not only on painting weeks but also on our Italian language course. Chris has just sent me some of the pictures he painted on his visits here. Above, a street scene in Lucca and below, a picture of one of the villages of the Cinque Terre. Thank you for sharing these with us, Chris.

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

You’re spoilt for choice, too, when it comes to this season’s creative courses painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Although many of our courses are already full, we still have spaces on a wide range of different courses.

Here are the creative courses where we still have places available at present. Following that there is a list of fully booked courses. (If you’re interested in one of these, please let us know, as there are often cancellations. We will put you on a waiting list.)

Painting course availability at 23 January 2020


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

Carl March
18 – 25 April 2020– still a few places
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Vicki Norman
20 – 27 June 2020 – still plenty of places
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – places available
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – still a few places
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – still a few places
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Maggie Renner Hellmann
12 – 19 September 2020 – places available places AND 19 – 26 September 2020 – places available
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020 –  – places available
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 – still a few places
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 – still a few places
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Knitting course availability at 23 January 2020

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

Louisa Harding
23–30 May 2020 — 1/2 places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Louisa Harding
27 June-4 July 2020 – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Knitting Retreat
4 – 11 July 2020 – two places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview Page.


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

Renée Callahan
15 – 22 August 2020  – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Renée and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Creative writing course availability at 23 January 2020

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

Jo Parfitt
2 – 9 May 2020 – still one place left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Italian language course availability at 23 January 2020

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

Langues Services and Francesca la Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2020 course at the mill, please click here.



These are the courses that are currently fully booked. But if you are keen to come please let us know and we will put you on a waiting list.

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

Grahame Booth
25 April – 2 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Brienne M Brown – fully booked, waiting list open
16 – 23 May 2020
Watercolours
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Sandra Strohschein
30 May – 6 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
6 – 13 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Randy Hale
13 – 20 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
2 – 9 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Shady and cool along the Millstream. Picture: Alistair Macfie

How to paint a vibrant watercolour landscape: Step-by-step with Milind Mulick

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

Watermill watercolour painting tutor Milind Mulick, who will be joining us in glorious Tuscany, Italy this autumn, shows you how to create a stunning landscape painting, step-by-step. Milind used Daniel Smith watercolours for this picture and our thanks to them for the preparation of this blog. I also made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here. The scene is the town of Valdemossa in Mallorca, Spain and the painting is a studio version of Valdemossa Light, painted from a photo reference.

Milind says: “Most of the time when I paint in-studio from a reference photo, I refer to some sketches done on the spot or rely on my memory of the feel of the place.” He adds: “As I had already almost a finished painting on the spot itself, the feel of the location was easy to recollect. The photo reference will give you all the information needed but I think the experience which we have with all our five senses … smells, sounds, etc. are also important. These things that we recall make a difference in the painting.”

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

Stage 1 – Pencil sketch

“I blocked in the major shapes of the scene. Usually my pencil work is quite random and more of a loose approximation. I am not that patient, so rather than spend a lot of time doing the pencil work, I prefer to focus on the general space division, a general movement, and interlocking of shapes in the painting.”

Stage 2 – Laying out my colours for the painting.

“Here I lay my colours in the palette…. though I have all the paints of my choice in my box , I still like to use limited shades for every painting in a separate palette. If I need any extra accents, I keep a standard box of paint alongside for easy access. The shades here are Cobalt BluePhthalo Blue (Green Shade)Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade), Permanent  Alizarin CrimsonBurnt Sienna and Hansa Yellow Light.”

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

Stage 3 – Starting with basic washes.

“The basic wash starts from the top with mix of Cobalt Blue and a touch of Phthalo Blue (GS) blending with Burnt Sienna and bit of orange created by mixing Hansa Yellow Light and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Below that I add a fresh green, obtained by Hansa Yellow Light and Phthalo Green (YS) in different  proportions. Further down I add hints of a reddish yellow and some neutral achieved by blending Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue.”

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

Stage 4 – Adding the background.

“Here I’ve started with background cluster of distant buildings. If you notice it is one uniform variegated wash. I have used a transition of warm and cool colors, a warm mixture of Burnt SiennaHansa Yellow Light and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and a cool mix mainly using Cobalt Blue and Permanent Alizarin CrimsonPermanent Alizarin Crimson being the common color in warm and cool, but not showing anywhere in an isolated hue. Care was taken in leaving the shining roof shapes alone.”

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

Stage 5 – Building up areas.

“At this stage there is a slow and deliberate build up of the shadow areas of the trees and foreground buildings and a mountain behind. While a transition of warm and cool shades, tonal variation is important here…. mostly leaving accurate negative shapes (or positive) of light areas is the most important thing here. Most of the painting is accurately built here and all that is needed further is the details.” 

Painting by Milind Mulik, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
“Valdemossa Light”, Milind Mulick

Stage 6 – Final touches

“Tiny additions of dark windows and accents, with some sharp line work. Consciously keeping the economy of details and yet not making an understatement is the challenge at this stage. The darks are created using either Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Blue (GS) which is warmer or Phthalo Green (YS) and Permanent Alizarin Crimson for strong cool dark.”

We are delighted to welcome Milind Mulick, a watercolour artist from Pune in India, to the international team of Watermill painting tutors. Milind has gained a remarkable reputation in his own country and, increasingly worldwide, for his atmospheric paintings.

That is another of them below: Wildflower Fields.

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

And here is Milind’s take on one of the sensational seaside villages of the Cinque Terre, one of the venues for our Wednesday excursion during our painting weeks.

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

Milind has been painting in watercolours for more than 30 years. His artistic journey began in childhood, following his father, also a painter. As well as being influenced by the great British watercolourists like Edward Wesson and Edward Siego, Milind has absorbed the styles of Indian artists too. He has won many awards and written a dozen books on watercolour painting.

Milind has also been teaching for many years. “Teaching gives me great pleasure: I love meeting new people and helping them realise their artistic potential.” As a previous student says: “Milind pours his heart and soul into his paintings and believes in spreading his knowledge.”

Milind will be with us for his course, which he calls Colourful Watercolours, from Saturday 3 October to Saturday 10 October and already we have seven people booked in, so we have room for four or five more painters (and their non-painting partners, if they’d like to join them) this. You can find out more about Milind and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Make your own memories on Carl March’s pleasurable painting course this spring

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

This atmospheric painting by Watermill tutor Carl March, which we used in a blog and Facebook post a few months ago, proved so popular, especially on Facebook, that we make no excuse for using it again. It is called Gateway to memories and it certainly certainly seemed to evoke lots of fond memories among our fans and followers.

I have another, ulterior, motive for using it: tidiness! We only have one bedroom left for Carl’s course here this spring and I would love to fill it. We can take a painter on his/her own, or even more fun, you may like to bring a partner, whether or not he or she is a painter.

Carl’s course is called ‘Drawing and Painting for Pleasure’ and it will run from 18-25 April 2020. Eleven people are already booked in, so why not come and join us and make your own memories of the Watermill, its gardens and the stunning unspoiled countryside of rural Tuscany which surrounds us? Being spring, there should be plenty of daffodils:

Painting by Carl March, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A watercolour of daffodils by Carl

Drawing and design are Carl’s passions: he likes to experiment with various drawing mediums, combining them with traditional watercolour painting processes to create distinctively subtle works. They are regularly to be seen at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions in London. Like most of our tutors, Carl likes to carry a sketchbook with him wherever he goes. Here a rural view. (I like the horse!)

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

Carl is also a great teacher. He says: “I love the genuine satisfaction in passing on my knowledge to others. For example, demonstrating a ‘step by step’ exercise, then witnessing students repeat the exercise for themselves. Suddenly the penny drops, and it all makes sense. Surely this is the real reward for any teacher.”

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

Here’s a comment from a previous student: “Carl has a gentle but effective way of teaching and we have learnt a lot from. Most importantly, however, under his guidance the class always becomes a very sociable and happy group. Quite simply, his classes are not only well planned and informative but also great fun.” 

And another says “When I went on my first painting holiday with Carl, I had never picked up a paintbrush other than to paint a ceiling. But within a day I had produced my first ever watercolour and the result was beyond my wildest dreams. Since then I have spent two further holidays under Carl’s tutelage, each time learning new skills as well as refreshing my knowledge of basic techniques. Thanks to Carl’s endless patience and encouragement I have become an enthusiastic watercolour painter and look forward to further enjoyable holidays led by this inspirational teacher.” 

Here’s a watercolour sketch by Carl, called Sarah’s Lilies, a study showing great spontaneity.

So why not help me tidy up my booking form, grab the last place(s) on Carl’s course and make your own springtime memories in glorious Tuscany?

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday: tuition, accommodation, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and local transportation. You get to Pisa, we do the rest!

You can find out more about Carl at his course at the Watermill by clicking here. We would love you to join us.

Painting by Carl March, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
This garden walk was painted by Carl on a recent visit to Muscat, Oman.

The latest availability on our 2020 creative courses

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

Update at 20 January 2020

Our 2020 creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language — are filling fast: we already have some 215 bookings out of projected total of 250. So now is the time to secure your place with your favourite tutor, at your favourite time, in your favourite bedroom. You will see below that a fair number of our courses are already booked up, but if you are particularly interested in that specific week, please let us know. There are often cancellations and we will put you on a waiting list and let you know immediately if a place becomes available. We do hope we’ll be able to welcome you here on one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring courses. And don’t forget that as well as a warm welcome, we are also Cool and Green! All our bedrooms and public rooms have air-conditioning, all powered by the sun: our hidden array of photovoltaic panels ensures that we are self-sufficient in electricity generation.

Here is the current availability of our 2020 creative courses.

Our inspiring painting courses

Carl March

Carl March
18 – 25 April 2020 – one or two places
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
25 April – 2 May 2020 – fully booked, waing list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Brienne M Brown

Brienne M Brown – fully booked, waiting list open
16 – 23 May 2020
Watercolours
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
30 May – 6 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
6 – 13 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Randy Hale

Randy Hale
13 – 20 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
20 – 27 June 2020 – still a few places
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mark Warner

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – places available
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – still a few places
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – still a few places
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
12 – 19 September 2020 – places available places AND 19 – 26 September 2020 – places available
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020 –  – places available
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 – still a few places
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 – still a few places
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enticing knitting courses

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
23 – 30 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
NEW week 27 June – 4 July – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Knitting retreat

Knitting Retreat
4 – 11 July 2020 – two knitting places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about this retreat, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview Page.


Renée Callahan

Renée Callahan
15 – 22 August 2020  – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Renée and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
2 – 9 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
2 – 9 May 2020 – still one place left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our illuminating Italian language course

Francesca la Sala

Langues Services and Francesca la Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2020 course at the mill, please click here.


The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Shady and cool along the Millstream. Picture: Alistair Macfie

Join Mary and learn the secrets of successful plein air painting

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

What is a ‘successful’ plein air painting? That’s the question that our enthusiastic new painting tutor Mary Padgett has been asking. And when we have come up with an answer, how can we achieve success?

Mary says: “Success for me means making a painting that captures and communicates certain characteristics of a place.” It is not necessarily a three-dimensional representation, but rather bringing out the qualities of the scene that appeal to the artist, continually evaluating and interpreting your response to what you see. It is also important, says Mary, a passionate pastellist, to preserve the aesthetic integrity of the medium in which you are working.

The most important criterion for success is choosing the right subject: one that appeals to you on a personal level. The two pictures above are good examples. They are paintings of the trees at the southern end of Cazenovia Lake, in Madison County, New York. Mary says: “I’ve painted this scene many times, the juxtaposition of the trees in front of the lake and sky appeals to me.” In the upper painting, made in August, Mary felt intuitively that the monochrome green trees made the composition rather dull, “though the bright yellow green cedars on the far right provide some relief. The painting’s interest comes from the formal play with the placement of those trees. Yet the painting feels static and weighty to me.

“Far more successful in my opinion is the lower painting, done a few months later as the leaves were changing.” The variations in the trees enabled Mary to choose colour and value options that captured the energy of the landscape. She says: “I had better raw material to work from. The painting is more dynamic and the technical handling of my medium much more interesting.”

Contrast is another secret of success. Below are two of Mary’s recent favourites, where the combination of dark values light ones, and architecture with nature gave her an opportunity to broaden her palette with different colours and values, and to vary shapes within the composition.

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

Mary says: “The moral here is to spend time carefully looking for a subject and then to maintain an active dialogue with it determining what to include and what to exclude. All the while listening to the voice we have inside!”

Mary Padgett, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mary Padgett is a passionate advocate of painting en plein air. And she will undoubtedly find many subjects were successful paintings full of contrast and energy, in the unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana surrounding the Watermill. And she is keen to help you to do the same and to produce your very best painting. Mary’s students love her teaching. As one of them says: “Your gentle nudges have given us all better way of seeing.”  Another says: “You went out of your way to help beginners as well as more advanced artists.” Mary says: “My role is to create a supportive working environment, encouraging creative exploration, and furthering each participant’s evolution as an artist.”

Mary will be tutoring a week-long course in pastels*, from Saturday 26 September to Saturday, 3 October 2020. *While pastels are her passion (and she will work in soft pastels during her week-long course at the Watermill), Mary is also happy to teach in other portable media, too, such as oils and acrylics, in which she is also a skilled practitioner. You can find out more about Mary and her course by clicking here. We already have eight people booked into Mary’s course, three full non-painting partners, so we have room for another five or so painters (and their non-painting partners, if they would like to join them).

Here is a Tuscan hillside that Mary painted in a previous visit. This one celebrates the rhythmic pattern of dark vertical cypress juxtaposed against soft organic blue-green olive trees, and the geometric shapes of terracotta roofs.

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

No prizes for guessing where Mike is!

Our friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge is visiting his grandchildren at the moment and, practising what he preaches, taking his trusty sketchbook with him everywhere. He has just sent me one of his latest sketches and there are no prizes for guessing where he is!

Mike tells me: “This was drawn at St George’s, Sydney whilst waiting for the outdoor film showing of ‘Judy’. The rain (welcomed by almost everyone) had just started and soon we were all to be covered in white plastic sheets. Soon the audience looked like something from. Ku Klux Klan gathering.

“So, with just under half an hour to spare before the screen seemed almost to rise out of the sea and with an imminent downpour, there was plenty of time and encouragement to make a drawing. I used only a water-soluble pen and a small rigger brush – water was freely available!”

As we have often said, Mike is a great believer in carrying his sketchbook with him everywhere and he will encourage you to do the same when you join his Watermill week here with us this year. Mike will be back with us from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September 2020, and we’d love you to join us for his fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring week. There are more details and links below.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Here are a few of his sketches, made when out ‘on location’ during one of his courses, one for each day. Each was painted rapidly, merely to give an impression of the scene. First, here are some houses in our village of Posara: we paint in and around the mill on Sunday.

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

The sketch below, in watercolour and Indian ink, was made on Monday, when the group goes out to paint at the castle and village of Verrucola.

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

On Tuesdays we go to the nearby walled Medieval town of Fivizzano to enjoy the sights and sounds of the weekly market there.

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

Wednesday is excursion day, when you have a choice of going to the seaside villages of the Cinque Terre or the quintessential walled Italian town of Lucca.

Houses in Lucca’s imposing piazza del anfiteatro

Below is a sketch in the tranquil monastery of the Convento del Carmine, a few miles from the Watermill, where we take you to paint on Thursdays:

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy
Mike’s sketch of the peaceful Convento di Carmine, where we go to paint on Thursday during our week-long courses.

And here is a striking sketch, in watercolour and Indian ink, of olive trees besides the hilltop village of Monte dei Bianchi, where we paint on Fridays before enjoying lunch in a gourmet restaurant with wonderful views over the mountains.

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

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.

Some comments from previous guests: “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.”

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!

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

29 August to 5 September 2020 

Mike Willdridge

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and paint with Mike for creativity, conviviality – and fun!

Chatting in the sunlit Watermill courtyard.

Don’t be a pantofolaio: expand your horizons on the Watermill Italian language week

Picture: Unsplash

We were remarking in our latest newsletter that there are quite a few words in Italian that cannot be precisely and simply translated into English. One such word is pantofolaio — a ‘slipper wearer’: someone who stays at home and rarely goes out (the word come from pantofole, slippers).

We’d like to recommend that at you cast off those slippers and come and join us our unique Italian language course this autumn.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Learning the language under the shade of the vine verandah. You won’t need your slippers.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Enthusiastic teaching from Francesca.

We have teamed up again with Langues Services and our old friend Francesca la Sala for a week in which you can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever, meeting Italian people and interacting with their everyday lives. Not only will there be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speaking Italian, practising what we’ve learned.

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.

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

You will have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people learning and improving their Italian language skills… and enjoying unspoilt Italy and, of course, fantastic food and wine. When it comes to speaking Italian, you will find that Francesca knows her chickens

Picture: The Huffington Post

Our Italian Language week will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 29 August 2020. You can find out more by clicking here. We already have eight people booked into this course, so we only have room for four or so more. If you’d like to join us and be sure of your place, now is the time to book.

PS: The Watermill is some 300m above sea level, so it is much cooler than the Italian cities and high summer. You will certainly be Fresco e Verde, here: All our bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our photovoltaic system, which makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. The sun keeps us Cool and Green!

It will be rocambolesco.

Picture credit: The Huffington Post

‘A perfect blend of art adventure with a delicious Italian immersion into the Epicurean joys of life.’

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

We produce a Watermill blog every day, many of them telling you about our inspiring painting tutors and their sun-filled, fun filled week-long course is with us. I thought it might be fun today to look at one tutor’s courses from a different perspective: her own!

So instead of writing about Maggie Renner Hellmann’s courses (she’s coming for two weeks in September) I thought I’d let her tell you about them in her own words. This is what she says on her own website:

“Ever wanted to paint Tuscany without the crowds of tourists?

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

We will paint mediaeval castle towns, walled Tuscan villages, ancient monasteries perched above olive groves, alongside gentle rivers. We’ll paint majestic views of Tuscan alps above charming hillside villages. Each painter also has the choice on Wednesday to go either to the Cinque Terre or to Lucca, to add even more excitement to the week-long fun adventures!”

You’ll enjoy all this, says Maggie, as well as learning:

How to increase your colour courage and improve your paintings through colour harmony and colour contrasting techniques. “

She adds: “It’s a perfect blend of art adventure with a delicious Italian immersion into the Epicurean joys of life. Truly a bucket list experience.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Students on one of Maggie’s courses showing off some of their work.

Maggie says: “Beginners, intermediate and advanced painters welcome. Working your choice of medium. Mediums to consider: Oil, Acrylic, Watercolour. I will demo in oil, acrylic and watercolour but can assist and teach in all mediums. No experience necessary! Spouses and partners welcome! Only 12 spots available! Our emphasis will be on learning the core elements of successful paintings: colour, composition, focal point, light source, values, positive and negative shapes, volumes, edges, brushwork and perspective – and much else beside.”

She adds: “I will share with you my craft knowledge of the important foundations of painting and help you to free yourself from stagnant colour choices. I will also share with you colour theory and the concept of using colour contrasts to push and pull elements of your painting. Each day we will have the opportunity to paint in different beautiful Tuscan locations.”

And of the Watermill itself she writes: “Comfortable and beautiful modern rooms with private bathroom and showers. All meals included: gourmet cuisine, farm to table, wine, aperitifs, after-dinner digestifs, and all local transportation and instruction included. You get to Pisa, Italy! We will take care of the rest!”

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Maggie’s watercolour demonstration of a sunny corner of the Watermill courtyard.

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

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

Maggie’s week-long courses in oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels will run from 12 September to 19 September 2020 and from 19 September to 26 September 2020.   

You can see more about Maggie and her course of the Watermill by clicking here.

The first glimpse of Renée’s beautiful brioche hat: a project for her knitting course at the Watermill.

Here’s the first picture of Renée’s Callahan’s lovely brioche hat, one of the exclusively designed projects for her knitting holiday at the Watermill this August. Here’s another shot:

Now Renée’s is busy on other projects to captivate her students on her Knitting and La Bella Vita Italiana week. There are more details below.

When you have produced the beautiful hat above, you will want to make sure it’s even more perfect by ‘blocking’ it, in order to make the knitting look as even and tidy as possible. Here’s Renée’s recipe for success:

First the ingredients: one freshly knitted hat, one tumbler and one soup bowl.

The method:

  • Give your hat a gentle wash in lukewarm water with a little bit of wool soap or a tiny bit of shampoo.
  • Squeeze the excess water out of the hat and roll it up in a towel. Press the rolled towel with your hands, or you can even walk on it to get more water out of the hat.
  • Place the damp hat over the soup bowl and allow it to dry completely.

*Top tip*: “If you are in a hurry, place the freshly finished hat over the upside-down bowl dry and steam it with an iron, being careful not to touch the iron to the knitting. It dries in seconds!” 

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

We are delighted to welcome Renée to the Watermill knitting tutors team. She is a prolific knitwear designer, from London in England, who loves to combine texture and colour to create handknit-knit patterns that are not only enjoyable to knit but also remain wearable for years to come.

Renée has always loved textiles and the technical challenge of knitting: she finds a real joy in producing something both useful and beautiful. Renée studied Fashion Design with Knitwear at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College in London.

She will be with us for another of our famous Knitting and la Bella Vita Italiana weeks, from Saturday 15 August to Saturday, 22 August 2020.

As ever, your knitting week will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food, the delightful ambience of the Watermill and outings into the surrounding unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana.

. (Everything is included in the cost of your holiday: tuition, accommodation, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation. You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!)

To find out more about Renée and her inspiring week at the Watermill, please click here.

We would be delighted if you could join us!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
Knitting under the shade of the vines in the Watermill garden. Photo: Phil Wright.

Warm hospitality, cool rooms: all part of the plan to make the Watermill green.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The river-facing south façade of the Watermill. The photovoltaic panels are well hidden.

The Watermill at Posara is renowned for its inspiring creative courses, its beautiful setting, its delicious food, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. But we are also working hard to make the Watermill Cool and Green!

We are now busily putting in air-conditioning units in all our bedrooms and public rooms (the dining room, the sitting room, the studio) and they should be in place well before the beginning of our season, at the end of April. They will all be powered by our array of photovoltaic cells, installed last summer, which are already making more than enough power to ensure that we are self-sufficient in electricity. You’ll have to work hard to see our photovoltaic panels which are on the south-facing roofs of the 19th century mill and on the studio, looking out towards the river. You can hardly see them in the picture of the south façade. Here is a better shot from above the 19th century mill.

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

We have a neat little app on our mobile phones, which shows us how much electricity is being generated at any given time, so Bill is likely to exclaim ‘7.63 kW’ while having coffee in the local café, adding to his reputation for eccentricity. We’ve certainly lightened our carbon footprint, having saved more than five tons of CO2 production already! (‘5.6 metric tonnes’, mutters Bill, while ordering his brioche.)

Here’s a snapshot of our app (an app-shot?) on a cloudy evening in the middle of January, not the ideal time for electricity generation!

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

Nonetheless, we have already generated more than 8000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the seven months from the middle of June 2019 to the middle of January 2020. We’ve done the sums and we reckon we should be able to generate nearly 14,000 kWh in the whole year. This should be considerably more than our consumption, even with all those new air-conditioning units.

As part of our greening campaign, we have also taken steps to slash our use of plastic, notably in the plastic water bottles we used to provide for our guests when they went out on location. Lois demonstrates the solution below.

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

We bought a couple of dozen robust stainless-steel vacuum flasks and mark each one with a number. We loan a specific flask to each of our guests for their creative week.

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

Then they fill up from our fancy plumbed-in water-dispensing machine in the communal kitchen. At the touch of a button, it will dispense filtered water, either still or fizzy, either chilled or at ambient temperature. Each week the flasks are sterilised in our dishwasher, for re-use by the incoming guests.

It’s just a bit more of a faff than plucking a plastic bottle from the fridge. But we reckon it’s worth the (slight) effort. We hope you agree!

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

You will have to search hard to see our photovoltaic panels, but to enjoy our other environmental efforts, you won’t have to lift a finger! Just lean back in your chair on the vine verandah and contemplate the fact that we are surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps. The air and the water are pure and unpolluted, and the area abounds in wildlife.

Gaze about you at the sensitive restoration of historic mill buildings, which has incorporated modern energy-saving construction methods in the upgrading process, from insulated roofs to double-glazed windows. As you tuck into one of our delicious meals, prepared by Lois and our Italian cooks, remember that we source all our food locally wherever possible, growing some of our own and using local suppliers and producers. There is one deprivation, however, that you will have to live with: sorry, there are no Yellow plastic ducks in our bathrooms! But you will be Cool and Green.

These are the only ducks you will see:

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