Archives for January 2015

Mike’s forgotten sketchbook: part three

Sketch by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.You may remember we recently showed you some lovely drawings from a sketchbook our English painting tutor Mike Willdridge made during one of his weeks here in 2013. Today, we’ve a final selection, of simple portraits of our guests – and one of our ‘Girl Friday’ that year, Rachel Brown, seen in the pencil sketch above.

And here’s one of our May 2013 students, in watercolour and pencil:

Mike 2013 sketchbook 13

And one of a non painting partner (watercolour and pencil):

Mike 2013 sketchbook 14

Mike says: “There’s always something for a non-painting partner to do” and he made this quick pen and ink sketch to prove it.

Mike 2013 sketchbook 6Talking of non-painting partners, there is plenty for them to do. We’ve a whole list of suggestions in our Activities for Partners programme, which you can see by clicking here. Of course, none of it is obligatory: partners may care to accompany painters out to the fabulous locations and on the excursion to Lucca or the Cinque Terre – or simply just relax in the peaceful, beautiful gardens and grounds of the mill. And don’t forget, there’s a £(GBP) 200 discount for non-painting partners sharing a room.

Mike new head and shoulders FINALMike Willdridge will be with us for another great painting course from Saturday 27 August to Saturday 3 September 2016  Mike will concentrate on watercolour and drawing, but is also happy also to teach in gouache, oils and acrylics.

Mike especially values drawing as a way of recording/responding to everyday events and makes constant use of a sketchbook, as you can see. He’ll encourage you to do the same and to take a sketchbook on location, building up a journal of memories of your time at the watermill and in the unspoilt countryside of Lunigiana.

To find out more about Mike and his course at the watermill next year, please click hereAnd to enquire about availability and/or reserve your place, please click here

 


Mike’s forgotten sketchbook: part two

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy. You may remember we recently showed you some lovely drawings from a mislaid sketchbook that our English painting tutor Mike Willdridge made during one of his weeks here in 2013. Today, we’ve another selection, made during the tutor’s ‘day-off’ in the fabulous fishing villages of the nearby Cinque Terre. The watercolour and pencil sketch above was made in our favourite of the five villages, Vernazza. And here it is again:Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.

And here’s a great sketch, in watercolour and felt tip, of some of our guests waiting for the train in the Cinque Terre.

Mike 2013 sketchbook 11

Mike new head and shoulders FINALMike Willdridge will be with us for another great painting course from Saturday 27 August to Saturday 3 September 2016  Mike will concentrate on watercolour and drawing, but is also happy also to teach in gouache, oils and acrylics.

Mike especially values drawing as a way of recording/responding to everyday events and makes constant use of a sketchbook, as you can see. He’ll encourage you to do the same and to take a sketchbook on location, building up a journal of memories of your time at the watermill and in the unspoilt countryside of Lunigiana.

To find out more about Mike and his course at the watermill next year, please click hereAnd to enquire about availability and/or reserve your place, please click here

Mike Willdridge’s forgotten sketchbook re-emerges: part one

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.Our enthusiastic, sympathetic and inspiring English painting tutor Mike Willdridge has recently been setting up his new website (http://www.mikewilldridge-artist.com) and in the process, he tells me, he re-discovered a sketchbook from a painting week that he ran at the watermill a couple of years ago. Mike says: “As sketching will play a big part in my courses at The Watermill next year, I thought people might be interested.”

We certainly are. As Mike sent us a lot of different sketches, I decided to split them up into two or three parts — and the first is of sketches around the mill and the surrounding area. The one above is the view towards the nearby walled town of Fivizzano. Mike says: “This sketch, in watercolour and pencil, was drawn on an early morning (optional) painting trip to watch the sunrise over the mountains behind the town.”

This is a simple sketch (watercolour and pencil) of an old building near The Watermill:Painting by xxxx, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.

And here’s an off-shoot of the river running past The Watermill (watercolour and pencil):

Mike 2013 sketchbook 3While this is one of the arches of the old mill, again drawn in watercolour and pencil:

Mike 2013 sketchbook 4

 

Mike new head and shoulders FINALMike Willdridge will be with us for another great painting course from Saturday 27 August to Saturday 3 September 2016  Mike will concentrate on watercolour and drawing, but is also happy also to teach in gouache, oils and acrylics.

Mike especially values drawing as a way of recording/responding to everyday events and makes constant use of a sketchbook, as you can see. He’ll encourage you to do the same and to take a sketchbook on location, building up a journal of memories of your time at the watermill and in the unspoilt countryside of Lunigiana.

To find out more about Mike and his course at the watermill next year, please click hereAnd to enquire about availability and/or reserve your place, please click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On location 3: a historic monastery with lovely gardens, grounds and views

Convento approach]On Wednesdays during our painting courses (and creative writing and knitting too) it is usually ‘tutor’s day off’ and we offer our guests free excursions to the wonderful Cinque Terre fishing villages in Liguria or the quintessential Italian city of Lucca. Then on Thursday we go to location no 3 during the painting week:  a 16th Century monastery called Convento del Carmine, a little beyond and above our nearby town of Fivizzano, with views over the town and the surrounding hills. Here it is:

The convent (that’s what they call it, although the inmates were monks, not nuns) is of the Carmelite order (Ordo Fratrum Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmelo) and dates back to 1568. The Renaissance-style building has cloisters with sandstone columns and lunettes decorated with murals attributed to Stefano Lemmi of the Bolognese school of artists. It is surrounded by lovely gardens and 17 secluded hectares of pines, walnut, chestnut, cypress and fruit trees, meadows and streams.

Sue Ford Joy and Sanjana at Convento

The convent, on a strategic road linking Lunigiana and Garfagnana, flourished in the 1600s and 1700s and was the home from 1660 to 1687 of the monk Angelo Paoli who was later Beatified. In the last quarter of the 18th Century the convent, like many others in this area, came under the secularising control of the Austrian Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo  (later the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II), who closed it down. All the monks were sent away in 1782 and the church was deconsecrated. Earthquakes of 1835 and 1920 completely destroyed the church. After several years of different owners, the convent was purchased at the end of the 1800s by the Adreani family of Fivizzano, who own the convent to this day.

During World War Two it was a refuge for many locals during the heavy bombing in the area and after the war, it was lived in by the contadini who worked on the land. Around 1970 the convent was partly restored by Ennio Adreani, one of Italy’s first and most-famous acupuncturists, who went to live and set up his practice there. He died in 2000 and left the convent to his nephew, our friend Giovanni Adreani, who, together with his wife Giovanna, has undertaken further restoration work. In 2008 they commissioned artists from the Botticino School and the Belle Arti Academy in Brescia to restore beautiful frescoes within the cloister.

Convento courtyard empty

Our painting guests enjoy the exclusive use of the convent and grounds on Thursdays, together with a delicious picnic lunch.

Joanne and group convent 3  SUE Convent    Humphrey Convento archway    Terry relaxing at convent

You, too, can enjoy the exclusive delights of the Convento del Carmine on a Watermill painting holiday. You can find details of all our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring painting holidays by clicking here. And don’t forget your non-painting partner, as well as enjoying a £200 discount, can have fun too. We’ve lots of suggestions for activities for partners, which you can see by clicking here.

 

On location 2: A historic Medieval city, an Italian country market and great views to paint

A painting group takes coffee in the Piazza in market day

A painting group takes coffee in the Piazza in market day

As we said before, when our painting guests are not practising their skills in the studio, or in the walled garden, or beside the river, we take them ‘on location’ to some beautiful spots nearby in the wonderful unspoiled region of Lunigiana.

On Tuesdays during our painting weeks, we venture the mile or so up the windy road to the walled Medieval town of Fivizzano, where it is market day: great for all sorts of treats to buy (including wonderful dried porcini mushrooms) and to savour the sights and sounds of an Italian country market, enjoy coffees in a café, sketch the local scenes and, after a panino lunch and a scoop or two of homemade ice cream in the gelateria, to venture on to the ancient walls for glorious views and another painting session.

A market day sketch by Watermill tutor Mike Willdrige

A market day sketch by Watermill tutor Mike Willdridge

Fivizzano is a Comune, one of 14 such administrative districts in the Province of Massa-Carrara. There are more than 100 villages in the widespread Comune (it stretches right up into the pass through the Appennines), with a total of some 9,000 inhabitants.

Now quiet and peaceful, the town has seen a fair bit of violent history (both man-made and natural) After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, with city states like Genoa, Lucca, Pisa and Milan vying for power, it became part of the Republic of Florence in the 15th century, giving the Tuscans and the Medici control over Lunigiana, a key region intersected by important trade and pilgrim routes.

In October 1494 the French king Charles VIII, on his way to conquer the Kingdom of Naples with an army of 30,000 men, breached Fivizzano’s walls with his modern artillery and sacked the city. This fulfilled Savonarola’s predictions that decadent Florence would pay for its sins and led to the ousting of the Medici, at least for a short time. The walls were rebuilt in the middle of the 16th Century by Cosimo de’ Medici I, first Grand Duke of the Duchy of Tuscany. The fountain in the middle of the main square was donated by Cosimo de’ Medici III in 1683.

Relaxing by the Medici fountain, a painting by Watermill tutor Trevor Lingard

Relaxing by the Medici fountain, a painting by Watermill tutor Trevor Lingard

There’s a printing museum, to celebrate Jacopo da Fivizzano, who around 1470 printed one of the first books in Italy in using moveable type; and the city was also the birthplace the mother of the Nicolas V, the great Renaissance Pope and of the 18th Century poet Giovanni Fantoni.

Fivizzano’s Augustinian monastery, which was devastated by the earthquake of 1920 (though the cloisters remain, now the town library), was one of the most important of the order in Italy and base of Leonardo da Vallanzzana, an orator much admired in the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was Leonardo who formally announced the excommunication of Savonarola. Next door to the monastery cloisters is the small but interesting Museum of San Giovanni, built over the remains of the church of that name.

During the Second World War, Fivizzano and Lunigiana were centres of resistance to the occupying German forces, which led to many horrific reprisals by the Nazis and Italian Fascists.

Among the special annual events today are the Disfida (challenge) in July, a historic archery contest, and Tangoworld, one of the largest fesitivals of Argentinian tango in Italy (how about that for cultural diversity!), as well as numerous fairs for local produce and speciality dishes.

Painting the view down the valley from the city walls

Painting the view down the valley from the city walls

You, too, can enjoy the sights and the sounds of Fivizzano and its market on a Watermill painting holiday.  You can find details of all our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring painting holidays by clicking here. And don’t forget your non-painting partner, as well as enjoying a £200 discount, can have fun too. We’ve lots of suggestions for activities for partners, which you can see by clicking here.

See where Spinetta the Great dreamed of conquest — and paint it!

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

Mike Willdridge’s sketch of the castle of Verrucola, where we go to paint on Mondays

When our painting guests are not practising their skills in the studio, or in the walled garden, or beside the river, we take them ‘on location’ to some beautiful spots nearby in the wonderful unspoiled region of Lunigiana.

On Mondays we usually go to the village of Verrucola and paint around the great castle there. First documented in 1044, there has undoubtedly been a stronghold in this strategic spot much longer and there are Roman traces at the base of the castle walls. In the 13th and 14th Centuries the castle was the family seat of the Malaspina, who controlled much of the area. The Malaspina lands, in the mountainous regions of the Apennines, gave them control of  (and tolls from) the highways linking Ligurian and Tuscan ports to the cities of North Italy, making them rich and powerful.  Verrucola commanded the road from the pass of Cerreto through the Appennines.

It was here in the 14th Century that Spinetta the Great, Marquis of the house of Malaspina, dreamt of conquering and unifying all of the Lunigiana, an ambition ultimately dashed in a bloody battle with Castruccio Castracani, Lord of Lucca.

Malaspina coat of armsThere are many theories about the origin of the name Malaspina, which means ‘bad thorn’.  The most compelling concerns the young noble Accino Marzio who in AD 540 revenged the death of his father by slashing with a thorn the throat of the sleeping Teodoboerto, King of the Franks. The dying king cried; Ah Mala spina” before expiring.

In recent times the castle was restored by the celebrated Italian sculptor Pietro Cascella, who lived there until his death in 2008. He created the beautiful fountain at the end of the Medieval bridge, a favourite subject for painting. Next to it is the Locanda al Castello, where we’ll treat you to a traditional Italian lunch.

You, too, can enjoy the splendours of Verrucola on a Watermill painting holiday. You can find details of all our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring painting holidays by clicking here. And don’t forget your non-painting partner, as well as enjoying a £200 discount, can have fun too. We’ve lots of suggestions for activities for partners, which you can see by clicking here.

Below is a painting of the Cascella fountain by Trevor Lingard, another wonderful Watermill tutor.Trevor Verucola fountain