Archives for March 2017

A masterclass in collage from Sue Ford

Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Sue Ford, our delightful and talented painting tutor from England, loves painting in any medium, but is particularly fond of collage. She just written an article about it for the May issue of Paint! Magazine (which, such are the peculiarities of magazine publishing, should be out just about now!)

Here’s a sneak preview of some of Sue’s thoughts and comments. She says: I started working in collage when looking for a technique that could utilise my drawing skills, allow for working with lots of colour and provide a modern look.”

Sue provides a step-by-step guide to making wonderful collages, like the one above of the village of Staithes in North Yorkshire. First, here’s the photo reference.Sue Blog Mar 17 original picture

The next stage is to prepare the canvas with a light orange acrylic wash and, once this is dry, to draw the picture with a black felt tip pen.

Sue Blog Mar 17 drawing

Next, start selecting suitable colours from the magazines- Sue says: “I also use specialist paper. I’ve collected from craft/paper suppliers and tissue paper and even saved sweet wrappers.” You can cut out shapes, but Sue reckons it’s far better to tear. Then build up the picture gradually, bearing in mind tonal values and balance. The picture below shows the ‘sticking’ part, ready for the drawing back in the picture with black and white felt tip pens.Sue first application (002)

And this shows detail after the pen work

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

The picture is then finished using acrylic paints, unify some parts of the picture, glazing and softening edges. Sue says: “I always like to stand back from my picture to see if the balance of the painting is working. Sometimes I use acrylic to alter colour. It all depend, some collage pictures have very little paint. For this picture I painted in the sky with Naples yellow and white, and for the beck, turquoise blue and white.”

She adds: “If you find creating the whole picture in collage too much, I suggest partial collage within your acrylic paintings.”

You can learn more when Sue returns to the Watermill this Summer. She says This is one of my favourite venues. My last course here, in 2015 was a great success: a lovely group of people and Bill and Lois made us very welcome. The authentic local food and the accommodation were beautiful — and we enjoyed fabulous days our paining on location.”

Her students enjoyed their Watermill week with Sue, too: One said: I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! Utterly wonderful. It was an experience that I will treasure. Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

Sue with studentsSue’s inspiring week-long painting course is in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic will run from Saturday 15 July to Saturday 22 July. More details below. Sue says: “I just love creating pictures in any medium – and I love passing on what I’ve learned to other people and to help them release their creativity.”

sue plus pic15-22 July Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

with Sue Ford  Three or four places left

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

Take rosemary to your hearts when you join our unique cookery course

Rosemary 2There’s an old English saying “Where Rosemary flourishes, the Woman rules” and it was believed that rosemary would not grow well in a garden unless the mistress was the master. Well, thanks to Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni (and presumably his wife Marida and my wife Lois), rosemary flourishes in the Walled Garden of the Watermill. (Flavio and I are not commenting!)

Sage, basil, mint, thyme, chives and other herbs also grow well here and we use them daily in our cooking. We’ll also be picking fresh aromatic herbs and using them during our unique L’arte di mangiar bene cookery course at the mill this Summer (details below).

In the Tuscan kitchen we tend to use rosemary to flavour meat and potato dishes, but Lois and Ingrid Fabbian, who will be running the course along with some fabulous local Italian cooks, including Marida, Mirella and Angelina, will also be showing you how to bake a moist and delicious apple and rosemary cake.

apple and rosemary cake

Here’s the recipe, to whet your appetite:

190g plain white flour
1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
85g unsalted butter, room temperature
85g dark brown sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 eggs
1½ tbsp olive oil
240g peeled and cored Bramley cooking apples, very finely diced+ (optional) 
one extra apple just sliced into thin slices either with a mandolin or carefully 
with a sharp knife.
½ tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
More sprigs of rosemary & a couple of pinches of brown sugar for topping 
& a handful of oats (optional too)
One 23cm round cake tin OR 10 individual cake tins,well greased with olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan assisted.
Whisk together the flour, spices and baking powder to ensure they are evenly 
mixed. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – approximately 
4 minutes. 
Beat in the eggs, then add the oil and beat to incorporate. 
Mix in the diced apple and chopped rosemary, then fold in the dry 
Transfer into the prepared cake tin/s, lay the slices of apple on top,sprinkle 
with oats 
If using and brown sugar & press the extra rosemary into the top.
Bake for around 15 mins for mini cakes and 25-30 minutes for a larger cake – or until 
firm in the centre and a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely, or serve warm.

Put a sprig of rosemary on top, too – and, gentlemen, have a good sniff: A man who is indifferent to the fragrance of rosemary is unable to give true love to a woman and those who smell rosemary frequently will retain their youth.Rosemary 3

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 Marida. 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

A colourful corner of the walled garden

A colourful corner of the walled garden