Archives for February 2017

The Good, Bad and the Ugly: a painting checklist from Charles Sluga

Charles Good Bad and UglyOur talented and inspiring Australian painting tutor Charles Sluga has posted this interesting tip in a recent newsletter. He asks: Basically, how do you know if your painting is good, bad or ugly?”

Charles says; “Here is a little checklist:
The Good
Your painting is pleasing to look at and has a simple clear message.
The colours are in harmony – meaning they sit well together and you haven’t got too many unrelated colours.
There is an overall tonal pattern, with a dominant tone.
You have a combination of soft and hard, or lost and found edges.
It isn’t complicated by unnecessary detail.
You have eliminated what is not needed for the ‘story’.
It has the mood you wish to convey.
You want to continue looking at the painting.

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

The Good

The bad and the ugly
Charles says: “When a painting is bad it is often also ugly, but not always. It can be pretty, but a bad painting. So let’s combine the two – Bad and Ugly.”

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

The Bad and the Ugly

Charles says; These are the indications that you have a bad and/or ugly painting.”
The Bad and Ugly
Lacks a clear concept.
Visually displeasing.
Too many hard or found edges.
Too many unrelated colours.
Bad design.
No clear tonal pattern.

Charles adds: “Look at the two very quick studies (both unfinished) here and see which of these you can apply. Note that these conditions also apply to an abstract. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, but how it is designed that matters.”

Charles Sluga is a highly respected and sought-after watercolour artist in Australia who has gained a reputation for his versatility in both his technique and choice of subject matter. Charles is also skilled in acrylics and oils and is happy to teach in those media, too. Charles not only teaches technique, but also how to think and see as an artist, which he considers just as important. His friendliness, sense of humour and willingness to impart his knowledge makes his classes relaxed, informal and inspiring.

Here’s what some previous students had to say: In addition to being a very talented artist, Charles is an extremely capable and professional teacher: we all benefited from his instruction and guidance during the week.” The most relaxing holiday I have had for a long time: lovely accommodation and exceptional food.”

At the moment Charles’ course is fully booked, but there may be cancellations and we can put you on our waiting list.

Charles New photo 2012Sluga Fivizzano belltower demo pic30 September-3 October Watercolours (and acrylics and oils)

with Charles Sluga

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

Come and be good The Watermill!

Painting by Charles Sluga, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.

Why Tuscan roast pork is all Greek to me – but we cook it deliciously at the Watermill

arista_1Continuing my wanderings along the delightful byways of Pellegrino Artusi’s famous classical Italian cook book, L’arte di mangiar bene, I came upon a solution as to why the Italian’s call their wonderful Tuscan-style roast pork dish arista.  It would seem to make more sense to call it arrosto (r0ast) or even arrostito (roasted).

Artusi H&SBut Pellegrino tells us: “During the Council of 1430, convened in Florence to resolve some difference between the Roman and Greek churches, this dish, known by another name at the time, was served up to the [Greek] bishops and their entourage. When they found it was to their liking they began to cry ‘arista, arista’ (good, good).”

Actually, if the Byzantine bishops were speaking Greek, they would have said aristos, which means excellent or optimal (from which we get aristocracy, ‘the rule of the best.’)  No matter, the Italians, thinking the Greeks were describing the dish itself, heard it as arista and continue to call it so to this day.  There are those who question this story and say the Florentines called the dish arista well before the ecumenical council, but I like Pellegrino’s story better.

The Watermill’s Tuscan cook Mirella Musetti uses tender pork loin for this delicious dish and we serve it every week on our creative courses and we’ll also produce it – and tell you the secrets of its preparation — during our unique cookery week at the Watermill this Summer, called L’arte di mangiar bene, after Pellegrino’s famous cookbook.arista_tuscan_roasted_pork-1024x682

L’arte di mangiar bene, the art of eating well, lies at the heart of the Italian lifestyle — and that’s just what you’ll enjoy on The Watermill’s first-ever cookery week. ITINERARY page Mirella in kitchen croppedYou’ll learn the secrets of healthy eating from Lois and The Watermill team, among them an Italian grandmother (Mirella, to the right), an organic farmer and our gardener’s wife! You’ll choose freshest local ingredients (we’ll pick many of them ourselves each day) and prepare them deliciously for the table.

We’ll visit markets, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards. The Italians are the healthiest people in Europe and this is due not just the quality of the food, but to la bella vita italiana, the relaxed lifestyle which means taking Panzanella 1time to talk to friends and to enjoy their company, not least in convivial meals around the dining table. You’ll be savouring all that, too.

Over the years Lois Breckon and The Watermill team have built a reputation for theThe Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy. quality of their food and we’re keen to share our secrets with you, from antipasti to dolci – and dozens of mouth-watering, freshly prepared, health-promoting dishes in between.

 

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italypanzanella19-26 August – L’arte di mangiar bene 

with Lois Breckon, Ingrid Fabbian and The Watermill team

To learn more about this delicious cookery course, please click here

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

 

Italenglish and the Academy of Bran

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.I enjoy Dot Wordsworth’s weekly column Mind Your Language in The Spectator. Dot, as her nom de plume implies, is a whizz with words and each week she makes a foray into the linguistic landscape, remarking on origins and changing meanings.

In a recent column, she discussed the Italians’ predilection for using English words to appear cool and fashionable: columns in La Repubblica’s weekly magazine are headed (in English) Beauty and Lifestyle for instance.

vocabolario_accademia_cruscaDot says: “This is the sort of thing that drives the Accademia della Crusca into a frenzy. The academy has been making judgements since its foundation in 1583 on the use of the national language. Crusca means bran and the academy likes to sift out indigestible foreign bran from the fine home-grown flour.”

Despite their efforts, however, many English words have crept
in, like smoking for a dinner jacket and footing, meaning jogging. And a spider is a sports car, derived from the Fiat Spider of the 1960’s, but now generic for all convertibles.

I particularly like andare in tilt, which means to go haywire, or on your computer, to crash. And the expression fare tilt means to become incoherent. It all implies that too many Italians misspent too much to their youth playing pinball machines in their local café!

Freya footingRest assured that on the Watermill’s elegant* Italian Language course you won’t fa tilt, but become even more coherent in one of the more beautiful languages in the world. *We’re elegant, but you won’t need your smoking and you can go footing in the beautiful countryside if you want.

Come and join us for la lingua e la bella vita italiana! 

This year’s Italian language course runs from Saturday 29 April to Saturday 6 May 2017.

langprog-head3This really is ‘a course with a difference.’ Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we also make trips and excursions to savour 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, speak Italian, and practise what we’ve learned.

We’ve teamed up again with the prestigious language school in Florence Langues Services to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever.

You’ll meet Italian people and interact with their daily lives. 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.

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.

 
language shoppingSaturday 29 April to Saturday 6 May 2017

Langues Services Italian Language course

Please click here to learn more about out Italian Language course at the mill, including the itinerary for the week.

Langiage Castello

 

Al dente and digestion: the gospel according to Pellegrino

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Spaghetti al ragu

In case you missed it in the Watermill February newsletter*, here’s another interesting snippet from L’arte di mangiar bene, the Art of Eating Well, the famous Italian cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi, published more than a century ago. It’s one of the inspirations for our exciting, enticing and appetising cookery course, which will run from Saturday 19 August to Saturday 26 August 2017.

The cookbook, as well as containing many classic Italian recipes, is full of amusing asides and anecdotes, which we have been sharing with readers of the Watermill bog from time to time. For instance, do you know your salsa from your sugo? Please click here to learn more.

Artusi H&SAnd here’s Pellegrino musing on making sure your pasta is not overcooked: “Pasta must not be overcooked, but let us meditate a little on this.  If the pasta is al dente, it will be more pleasant to the taste and more easily digested.  This may seem paradoxical, but so it is, for when pasta is overcooked, and not sufficiently chewed, it goes down in a lump, weighs heavily on the stomach and becomes an indigestible mass.  Whereas, when it can only be chewed, the mastication produces saliva, which contains an enzyme called ptyalin, and this enzyme helps to break down the starch, turning it into sugar and dextrin.

“Saliva has a very important physiological function not only because it helps to soften and break down food, but also because it facilitates swallowing.  Furthermore, its alkaline nature promotes the secretion of gastric juices in the stomach while the food is being swallowed…”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Tagliatelle ai funghi porcini, a Watermill speciality

Pellegrino adds: “It is said that Neapolitans, great consumers of pasta, always drink a glass of water with it to aid digestion.  I do not know if in this case the water acts as a solvent, or if it is helpful because it is easier on the stomach than the glass of wine or similar substance which it replaces.”

That maybe so ,ut here at the Watermill we are sticking to a glass (or two) of the fine red wine made by our friends in Chianti. We promise to serve our pasta al dente to add to your enjoyment and aid your digestion, as well as sharing the secrets of healthy Italian eating with the freshest local ingredients (we’ll pick many of them ourselves) prepared deliciously for the table.

Panazanella al mulino, another Watermill speciality

Panazanella al mulino, another Watermill speciality

We’ll visit markets, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards. Over the years, Lois and The Watermill team have built a reputation for the quality of their food and we’re keen to share our secrets with you, from antipasti to dolci – and dozens of mouth-watering, freshly prepared, health-promoting dishes in between.

The Italians are the healthiest people in Europe and this is due not just the quality of the food, but to la bella vita italiana, the relaxed lifestyle which means taking time to talk to friends and to enjoy their company, not least in convivial meals around the dining table. You’ll be savouring all that, too.The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italypanzanella19-26 August – L’arte di mangiar bene 

with Lois Breckon, Ingrid Fabbian and The Watermill team

To learn more about this delicious cookery course, please click here

 *You can subscribe to the Watermill newsletter (it’s free), and find our about all our latest activities, by clicking here

 

Come and loosen up in the Tuscan landscape with Tim  

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

Tim’s watercolour of a vineyard and the Apuan Alps near the Watermill

During our week-long painting course with inspiring English painting tutor Tim Wilmot this Autumn you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Lunigiana, the unspoilt part of Tuscany that surrounds the Watermill. We promise you river valleys and craggy mountains, vineyards and olive groves, convents and castles, hill-top villages and walled medieval towns. And with Tim as your guide, you’ll learn now to loosen our style and capture the essence of the wonderful scenery with your brush. More details of Tim’s watercolour week at the Watermill below.

While he’s dabbled with portraits and still lifes over the years, Tim is inexorably drawn to landscapes. He says: “I’m an outdoor person rather than an indoor person. For many years I’ve taken a sketch book on my travels and I quickly scribble scenes in a shorthand sort of way. Then, returning home, I recreate those memories with paint and brush.” And you’ll be able to do that, too, in the Watermill studio, overlooking the river and the walled garden with the high Apennines beyond.

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

Tim’s impression of the riverside by The Watermill

Tim says: “There are all sorts of reasons for coming on a painting holiday — it might be to improve your drawing skills, loosen up your style, learn how to incorporate figures in a landscape — and it’s my job to try to find what your personal objectives are and help you achieve them. Ohand have fun with like-minded people on the way.”

Every day we’ll paint outside as much as possible and Tim will try to do two demos during the day. He says: “During the demos I’ll welcome questions, such as ‘Why did you choose that scene?’ ‘What brush are you using there?’ ‘What colour combination did you just use?’ and so on”.

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

Two country houses in France

After the demonstration, everyone can have a go at replicating that scene. Tim says: “I will be on hand to look over your shoulder and give some words of encouragement and try to give advice on what, in my opinion, does work and what doesn’t. We can also have all our work displayed together and go through a brief critique and compare our experiences.

“If we’re in the studio, no problem. There will be opportunity create some watercolour landscapes from some reference photos and we can do exercises on figure work, and getting things like cars or boats into the landscape.

“We all want to take away many things from our time at the Watermill and then the key is to IMPLEMENT at least one thing you have learnt.”

A comment from a previous student: I’m quite impressed with how you transform a dull image into an impressionistic and beautiful study of light and shadow. You’re great tutor!”  Another said: Like most, I struggle with too much detail. This will help me to “loosen up”. I like how methodical you are and how you capture the light in your paintings. I also find it interesting how your figures are always walking towards the viewer. Seems like most watercolourists have them walking away from the viewer. I think your way brings your paintings to life.” 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhttp://watermill.net/painting-holidays/painting-holidays-tutor-tim-wilmot17.php7-14 October 2017 Watercolours

with Tim Wilmot

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

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

Tim’s painting of a city gate in Ancona, Italy