Archives for February 2018

Maggie, sunflower petals and an Italian mathematician

Painting by Maggie Renner Hoffmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.I used this wonderful sunflower painting by watermill painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellman (with due accreditation) in an article I’ve just written for the English-speaking newspaper The Florentine about an Italian mathematician called Leonardo Fibonacci.

Next time you see one, count a sunflower’s petals, and invariably you’ll find there are 34 or 55 or 89. And look at the spirals of seed pods in the head: they usually come in sets: 21 one way with 34 the other; or 34 and 55; or 55 and 89; or even 89 and 144. All these are Fibonacci Numbers, part of a sequence of numbers discovered by the 13th Century Italian mathematician. Each number in the ‘Fibonacci Sequence’ is the sum of the previous two: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377… These numbers keep cropping all over nature, not just in sunflowers. I’ll tell you more when The Florentine article is published.Sharon tuscan wild flowers

It’s going to be a little early for sunflowers during Maggie’s course here this May, but there’ll be plenty of other flowers to paint. The photograph above of Tuscan wild flowers was taken near the Watermill in May.

So why not join us? We’ve only one room left on Maggie’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring course, so hurry if you’d like to come. (I’ll show you Fibonacci numbers in an apple and a banana as well!)

We can promise you bright days and enthusiastic and inspiring tuition when Maggie joins us here again this May for another of her Courageous Colo(u)r workshops.

Here’s what some of her guests said about her course here last year: Maggie is good at teaching in all mediums and with all levels.   She did wonderful demos in watercolour, acrylic, pastel and oil.  Every day we did critiques together and learned from each other. I highly recommend this art workshop as well as the most wonderful accommodation with great food and wine. A little piece of heaven in experiencing Italy.”

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

Out on location in the glorious Tuscan countryside

Another commented: “Our experiences at the Watermill were definitely the highlights of our tours! Maggie’s gentle and helpful manner coupled with technical skill and aesthetic sense opened the gates of motivation for students, making them comfortable in their new surroundings and primed for an exciting creative experience in those beautiful hills of Tuscany. I also appreciated Maggie’s husband, Lou’s ready assists for our physical comforts. What a dream adventure, the two of you, along with Bill and Lois, prepared for all of us!”!

Maggie Monte 2

Here’s a lovely oil painting by Maggie, of the village of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre. It is based on a sketch she made there during her week here and completed in her studio:

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy

Maggie Renner Hellmann is a contemporary California artist who paints with love, passion and energy. Her work is characterized by a unique blend of loose, energetic brushwork and strong compositions of exuberant colour. She says: “I love the joy of color and the poetry of brushwork.”

Maggie is also an enthusiastic tutor who has been teaching for more than 15 years – and loves it! Her workshop will cover oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolour. She will encourage the beginner and challenge the more advanced painter. Maggie says: “In this plein air workshop, we will paint in various spectacular Tuscan locations. You’ll learn about, and practise, the core elements of successful paintings – color, composition, focal point, light source, values, positive & negative shapes, volumes, edges, brushwork & perspective, as well as how to use contrasts to give excitement and drama to your paintings and much more!”

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitivi, 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!

maggie plus pic

9-16 May 2018 

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolours

One place left (or two people sharing)

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

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

Aphrodite kidnapped. A bust of the goddess, normally in the Watermill sitting room, placed artistically in the walled garden.

 

 

Come and meet the flower sellers of Fivizzano with Terry

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.This gentle watercolour of a market place flower seller is by watermill painting tutor Terry Jarvis. The soft colours and subtle shading produce a charming stillness.

You can join Terry and paint the flower sellers of Fivizzano, the walled Medieval market town near the Watermill where we go to paint on market day during our week-long courses.Laraine flower market - Copy

Of course, you don’t have to paint the market stalls. There are plenty of other inspiring subjects, like the church belltower.

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

Terry is one of our most popular painting course at the Watermill. Why not join him here for a fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring week, with all the renowned Watermill food and hospitality? We’d be delighted to welcome you here.

Here’s what our guest said: I wanted to thank you for a most wonderful stay at The Watermill.  Your treatment of us was terrific.  Six stars doesn’t come close!  I enjoyed every minute. Terry’s course was great.  He is an excellent teacher – very encouraging and knows how to bring out the best in his students.  He has a great personality.”

Terry Jarvis is one of Australia’s leading watercolour artists. The son of a goldminer, he was inspired at an early age to draw and paint the landscape, as well as people and animals Terry also works in oils, pastels and acrylics and is happy to teach in those media too. He loves drawing and helping his students to develop their drawing skills.

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

terry plus pic7-14 July 2018 

Terry Jarvis

Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)

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

Come and join us and enjoy a six-star, sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring week!

Terry rose demo POV

Pastel happiness is dirty hands!

Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

If happiness is watercolour painting, as Sandra Strohschein said yesterday, then part of pastel happiness is getting you hands dirty. That certainly seems to be the case for our pastel tutor Nel Whatmore. That’s Nel above, having just finished a floral pastel at Harlow Carr Rhs garden, the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden in North Yorkshire, England, where she is artist in residence.

Here’s Nel’s finished pastel (the flower is Iris reticulata)

Nel iris

The beauty of pastels is that you hold pure pigment in your hand,” says Nel, who ran a wonderful pastel course at the Watermill last year with her colleague Rebecca de Mendonça“The unadulterated colour has an intensity I can’t match in any other medium. The textures you can achieve and the gorgeous array of colour is just fabulous.”

Come and see Nel at work – and try pastels for yourself. Nel and Rebecca will be back next year for another colourful pastels course, from Saturday 1 September to Saturday 8 September 2018. There are more details below.

Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.We already have 11 bookings on this course, three of whom are non-painting partners, so we have room for three or four more painters. To whet your appetite, here are some pictures from Nel of last week’s course. Isn’t the one above incredible? It is Nel painting on a Watermill terrace early in the morning as the sun burns off the mist. Later on, some of the group joined her:

Painting by Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

And here’s a picture of Rebecca demonstrating in the ancient village of Verrucola, where we go to paint on location on Mondays.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

 Talking of locations, here’s a view of the Apuan Alps, where we go to paint on Fridays:

Nel and Bec mountain view - reduced

You can even pick our grapes, like Bec: Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça, tutors at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça have created The New Pastel School after years of friendship and mutual respect for each other’s work. These two experienced pastel artists share the tuition, combining their expertise and great enthusiasm for this versatile and exciting medium. See www.rebeccademendonca.co.uk and www.nelwhatmore.com for more about them).

They’ll help you to see that there are always diverse ways to do things, even when working with the same pastels. Of their first visit to The Watermill, they say: We and our students were made so welcome. It was really lovely to savour so many aspects of Italy, including lots of delicious food!”

The course will include some plein air painting, studio based work and also trips out. Nel and Rebecca say: “We want to offer a new experience of using pastels outside and to introduce the joys of exploring how inspiring another country’s landscape and countryside can be. The atmosphere will be relaxed with one-to-one help, demonstrations. Join us and try something different.”

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!

Nel and Bec mountains cropped

Pastels

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

1-8 September 2018

Three or four places

To learn more about Nel and Rebecca and their course at The Watermill, please click here.

 

Happiness is watercolo(u)r painting, says Sandra Strohschein

Painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.A few days ago, we showed you a lovely new watercolour (above) of a vase of flowers by Watermill ‘Painter in Residence’ Sandra Strohschein. It brightened our day,

Sandra has sent us a few thoughts about why she was inspired by the flowers – and why she called her painting Happiness. She says: “When I was in the middle of a busy day I happened to look over at a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter. Next to them, were some old grapes and a couple of tangerines.

“The sun was striking them in a way that just filled me with a surprising moment of happiness: that wonderful moment: when you see something completely random and it stops you in your tracks, where the only thing you can do is pause for a moment and appreciate the beauty. This for me is the essence of happiness: not contrived, but casual and spontaneous.”   

Sandra adds: “Maybe this is why I like watercolor so much: the spontaneity. We all talk about it but how to create it? Therein lies the challenge!   

“My process for planned spontaneity happens like this. First, I do a loose gestural drawing with my pencil to get a feel for where my brushes will go.   Usually this is when I plan on where I will keep my edges crisp and sharp.  

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

In the painting Happiness, I planned these moments around the fruit at the base, the white daisy and the pink flower on the right.   With that plan I began the painting moving from one area to the next, letting colors spontaneously run together where I was not planning on a crisp edge. This all works out very well for me because I paint on dry paper.  It’s easy to hang on to edges when the paper is dry.   

“Of course, once an area is wet, that is the time to play and let colors mingle and merge. I prefer to mix colors on the paper rather than the palette.  This allows watercolor to be spontaneous.   Hopefully, if I have let watercolor be watercolor, my effort at controlled chaos will pay off. When everything is dry, I usually go back in and layer a few dark glazes to further emphasize the light and shadow. I also go in and dry brush a few things.  

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

“In the painting Happiness this is seen in the centers of the flowers and the blue lines defining the pottery. There are two moments that I love on the pottery: the way the blue line blurred at the bottom and the way the pink flower blurs into the pottery. I did not plan this, it just happened. Perhaps the paper had become a little wet and the colors ran. Instead of freaking out and trying to fix it, I just let it be.   

“I titled this work Happiness because that is how I felt when I saw the moment and all throughout the painting process. I stopped what I had been doing and immediately ran to my studio to paint what had excited me. I waited a long time to begin my life as a painter because I knew spontaneity would be a big part of it. Now, it is such a joy to be at a place where most of the time I am free to sit down and paint as the mood strikes. I hope you find yourself happy in your life as a painter too! ”   

 Sandra, our painter in residence for four weeks this Summer, will be spreading more happiness during her weeks here, painting not only flowers, but the wonderful scenery surrounding the mill. Her first two weeks are sold out, but we’ve places for the last two. Dates and detail below.

Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Sandra says: The Watermill is one of my favourite place to paint and the hospitality is out of this world. “I’ve made so many great friends there over the years and I am looking forward to meeting many of them again as well as making new friends during our painting weeks.

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

Poppies as the Watermill, a demonstration picture by Sandra Strohschein

Sandra will teach in watercolour, but she says: “Students may choose to paint in acrylic or pastel as well as, or instead of, watercolour. I can instruct on how to put together a painting as far as composition, light, values etc… I cannot handle oil as I am allergic but pencil, acrylic, pastel…perfectly fine.”

A painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor on painting courses at The Watermill at Posara, Tuscany Italy

The square in nearby Fivizzano on market day

Sandra’s first  two weeks with us, May 26 to June 2 and June 2 to June 9, are fully booked (you can join a waiting list if these are the only dates you can make.) We have two or three places left for the week June 9 to June 16 and four or five for the week June 16 to June 23, so now is the time to book on one of these inspiring courses.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.

The warm and sunlit Watermill courtyard

We had a wonderful course with Sandra last year and our guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves. A couple of their comments: “Sandra was full of enthusiasm and talent and made every day a joy.  To have two chances most days to paint was utter heaven and in such wonderful surroundings. I didn’t paint a masterpiece but thoroughly enjoyed my week.  I hope to remember some of the tricks Sandy taught us and use them in the future.”

 “Many thanks to you both for a fabulous week. Your forethought, hard work and professionalism are very much appreciated. Nothing was too much trouble and nothing was at fault. You have created a gem. Please pass on our sincere gratitude to all your lovely people.”

Sandra Strohschein from Michigan, USA, has achieved an extraordinary mastery of her medium, transparent watercolours. She works in a fast loose impressionistic style, but above all, she produces passionate, emotionally charged paintings, full of energy.

As for her teaching, people frequently tell her about how much fun they have on her workshops and how nobody ever wants them to end. Another painting guest on her course at the mill said: Watching your demonstrations was such an education and your kind and patient individual help was invaluable.”  

 Sandra plus picSandra Strohshein

Watercolours

Places left: 9-16 June AND 16-23 June 2018

Please click here to learn more about Sandra’s painting holidays at The Watermill.

Bring a pencil (and a prayer?) on Jo’s writing course

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.We’ve still a few places left on one of Jo Parfitt’s inspiring Writing your Life Stories weeks. If you’re itching to write why not join us for perfect week of work and relaxation? And to inspire you more, here are some writing tips from the celebrated novelist Margaret Atwood (pictured above). They originally appeared in The Guardian newspaper in England and they range from the practical to the spiritual, from pencils to prayer…

Margaret’s tips:

  1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­ization of the Holy Grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.So why not bring a pencil and a prayer on Jo Parfitt’s creative writing week this August? Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, so ‘by popular demand’, we’ve opened a second course: Her new Write Your Life Stories week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018. You won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

Jo’s creative writing courses are 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, and put this into practice right away. Jo Parfitt has published 31 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 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. 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.” 

Jo plus pic

Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 Still some places AND 22 to 29 September 2018 Course full Write Your Life Stories

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

And a final, not-too-serious, tip from another great writer:

chalkboard_quotes_twain

The Importance of Breathing, by yoga tutor Amy

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.Breathe!’ is the most common guidance you’ll hear in any yoga class. And for good reason, says Watermill yoga tutor Amy Rogg: “We breathe all the days we are living, so it’s an element that gets looked over, just like gravity. But there is much significance to the breath in our ability to stay aligned in our bodies and focused in the present moment”.

Amy adds: “Physically, deeper belly breaths are ideal for resetting and calming the nervous system, as shallow/chest breaths are a product of stress and a chaotic mind. Breathing slowly and evenly will also increase quality, allowing oxygen to be properly soaked up by our cells. Emotionally, the breath allows us to create a relationship with our bodies and well-being. It allows us to connect with ourselves in a more intimate way so that we may feel into any discomfort. Discomfort usually makes us want to run, but with breath, we learn we can lean into anything, that we are held and grounded in our breath/bodies no matter how intense our outer circumstance.”

Blog Amy breathe woman

“Spiritually, the breath teaches us about non-attachment and allowing the flow of the moment, however it shows up. We never overthink an inhale, nor do we get stuck on the exhale. Each flows effortlessly without much mental investment. We can practice this in many areas of our life as well.”

We are delighted to welcome Amy and her colleague Joanne Brohmer, two amazing young American yoga teachers, to The Watermill. With their students using words like ‘joy’ and ‘magical’ about them, Amy and Joanne will help you to awaken and restore your true passion and self-worth. We are sure this is going to be one of our most inspiring retreats –a sun-filled, fun-filled week where we’ll nurture your mind, body and spirit.

Amy and Joanne’s week will run from Saturday 25 August to Saturday 1 September 2018. The theme of the retreat will be Connection’ – to yourself, to others and to nature.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.Amy Rogg is a yoga teacher and movement facilitator working on transforming the human spirit through holistic arts. She is based in San Francisco, California, USA.

Amy helps people to awaken and restore their passion and self-worth, inspiring them to move towards their vulnerability and authenticity. She brings people back into their innate knowledge and wisdom, through a deeper connection to their body, breath, and personal expression.

 

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.As a healer, Joanne Brohmer offers a range of modalities that helps others enter into their own depth and set their anchor deeper, where they can begin to claim and feel what has been hard to reach. She helps bring what has been blocked forward into the safe home of acceptance and embrace. She facilitates bringing others to that soft, open, vulnerable place in a way that feels safe.

Participants on our yoga retreat with Amy and Joanne enjoy SEVEN nights at the Watermill, with full board. Everything is included in the cost of the retreat: workshops, accommodation (including all linen and towels), tours, 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). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest! You can see a draft itinerary by clicking here.

Come and practise your yoga and meditation in the tranquil heart of rural Tuscany and let us nurture your mind, body and spirit.

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

Terry captures timeless ‘buildings in a landscape’

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

I love the way our watercolour tutor Terry Jarvis captures the warm colours of the buildings in the unspoilt area of Lunigiana which surrounds the Watermill. Built largely of local materials, these ancient buildings fit into their surroundings in a way few modern buildings do. These are just a few examples from Terry’s portfolio.

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

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

Terry is one of our most popular painting course at the Watermill. Why not join him here for a fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring week, with all the renowned Watermill food and hospitality? We’d be delighted to welcome you here.

Here’s what our guest said: I wanted to thank you for a most wonderful stay at The Watermill.  Your treatment of us was terrific.  Six stars doesn’t come close!  I enjoyed every minute. Terry’s course was great.  He is an excellent teacher – very encouraging and knows how to bring out the best in his students.  He has a great personality.”

Terry’s week-long course in watercolours (and oils and acrylics) will run from Saturday 7 July to Saturday 14 July 2018. Here’s another great building picture, of the bell tower in nearby Fivizzano:

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

Terry Jarvis is one of Australia’s leading watercolour artists. The son of a goldminer, he was inspired at an early age to draw and paint the landscape, as well as people and animals Terry also works in oils, pastels and acrylics and is happy to teach in those media too. He loves drawing and helping his students to develop their drawing skills.

Here’s what another guest on one of Terry’s Watermill courses had to say: “Terry Jarvis was superb with people, very positive and very relaxed. I’ve been on painting holidays before and learned nothing but Terry was great. When you got stuck he’d come along with a smile – and a brush – and bring your picture to life. He wasn’t afraid to criticise your work, but he had a really positive attitude, which helped you to improve.”

You won’t just be painting buildings and landscapes, but flowers, people, gardens, rivers…

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

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

terry plus pic7-14 July 2018 

Terry Jarvis

Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)

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

Come and join us and enjoy a six-star, sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring week!Terry rose demo POV

Rebecca is shortlisted for Artist of the Year

Painting by Rebecca de Mondonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Congratulations to our lovely pastel tutor Rebecca de Mendonça, who has been shortlisted as 2018 Artist of the Year by Artists and Illustrators magazine. The picture that gained her entry (above), London Afternoon, is in the exhibition of winning entries, at the Mall Galleries in London until 24 February.

Rebecca, who ran a wonderful pastel course at the Watermill last year with her colleague Nel Whatmore, will be back at the Watermill this September. Ten people are already booked in, but we’ve still a few places left: details and links below. Why don’t you come and learn the secrets of pastel painting from these two inspiring artists?

Here’s Nel at work early one morning last year on a Watermill terrace terrace early in the morning as the sun burns off the mist:

Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Later on, some of the group joined her:

Painting by Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

And here’s a picture of Rebecca demonstrating in the ancient village of Verrucola, where we go to paint on location on Mondays.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

 Talking of locations, here’s a view of the Apuan Alps, where we go to paint on Fridays:

Nel and Bec mountain view - reduced

You can even pick our grapes, like Bec:

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça, tutors at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça have created The New Pastel School after years of friendship and mutual respect for each other’s work. These two experienced pastel artists share the tuition, combining their expertise and great enthusiasm for this versatile and exciting medium. See www.rebeccademendonca.co.uk and www.nelwhatmore.com.

They’ll help you to see that there are always diverse ways to do things, even when working with the same pastels. Of their first visit to The Watermill, they say: We and our students were made so welcome. It was really lovely to savour so many aspects of Italy, including lots of delicious food!”

The course will include some plein air painting, studio based work and also trips out. Nel and Rebecca say: “We want to offer a new experience of using pastels outside and to introduce the joys of exploring how inspiring another country’s landscape and countryside can be. The atmosphere will be relaxed with one-to-one help, demonstrations. Join us and try something different.”

And why pastels? Nel says: “The beauty of pastels is that you hold pure pigment in your hand. The unadulterated colour has an intensity I can’t match in any other medium. The textures you can achieve and the gorgeous array of colour is just fabulous.”

box of pastels

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!

Nel and Bec mountains cropped

Pastels

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

1-8 September 2018 Three or four places left

To learn more about Nel and Rebecca and their course at The Watermill, please click here.

Nel's wonderful pastel 'Star of the garden.'

Nel’s wonderful pastel ‘Star of the garden.’

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonca, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

A dynamic pastel called ‘Freedom’ by Rebecca

Enjoy a city dawn with Andrew from the comfort of your own armchair

Painting by Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a pleasant way of enjoying a colourful city dawn without getting up early or moving from your armchair. The painting above is a vibrant watercolour from Watermill painting tutor Andrew Geeson and you can see it being created in a soothing You Tube video.

So why not make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, the sit back and enjoy watching Andrew at work capturing a city dawn, by clicking here. Work in progress:

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

Better still why not come and join Andrew on his painting course at the Watermill this June. We won’t make you get up at dawn and you’ll paint rural landscapes as well as peaceful villages and market towns when the sun is well and truly up.

Andrew will be with us from Saturday 23 to Saturday 30 June 2018. There’s a link to more details about his course below. There are only a few places left.

Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Andrew Geeson, from Leicester in the UK, has been a professional watercolourist for more than 20 years. He has taught hundreds of students on holidays and in workshops and, increasingly, on-line were he enjoys a large following. He says: “I love the simplicity and joy of watercolours and my passion and aim is inspire and encourage students to paint in a loose a free manner. The joy it brings is unmatched and everyone should try it. I am keen to share my excitement with others.”  As one of his students says: Superb work. Beautiful loose style, this is how watercolours should be!”

And not just landscapes and cityscapes. Andrew’s a whizz with flowers, too:

Blog Andrew you tube purple blast 2

Andrew specialises in a wet-into-wet style of watercolours: “This quick, fun and rewarding approach to watercolour painting allows you to capture your subject, whatever it may be, in the most atmospheric way without the constraints of over detailing.  Being spontaneous, immediate and atmospheric, it allows you to express more than the subject of the painting Come along and give it a try.  I think you may find a new world of painting.”

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!

Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Painting by Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.23-30 June 2018 

Andrew Geeson

Watercolours

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

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

 

Double up on your experiences: Write your life’s stories with Jo

One of the delightful aspects of writing the stories of your life – whether it’s a full- blown memoir, or a journal, or an occasional blog – is that you can enjoy them twice.  Once when you experience them and once when you write them down.

And you’ll learn how to capture them in words in the most interesting way, both for yourself and for your audience, on one of Jo Parfitt’s Writing your Life stories courses at The Watermill. Jo’s September course is sold out, but there are still places on her earlier week, at the end of August. There are more details below.

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

Jo: looking beneath the surface.

Talking of blogs, Jo has just published an insightful blog about the French city of Reims which she visited recently from Holland, where she lives. It captures the rather forlorn, run-down atmosphere of the place and also makes us think more deeply about the past and the future.

How’s this for painting pictures with words: “The drive from The Hague took close to five hours under leaden skies and it was early afternoon when we arrived. The pleas of an immigrant beggar, his dog huddled under a blanket, greeted us as we stepped from the carpark. A homeless man pushed his bag-laden buggy across the street. A smiley lady with an Eastern-European accent rose from her park bench to ask us for a light for her cigarette, accidentally wished us good evening, then giggled at her mistake, her cold breath metallic with winey fumes.

“A clutch of teenagers, dark music emanating from some hidden speaker, carried their own soundtrack with them as they passed, squeezing us to the edge of the pavement, where a headscarfed refugee, cowed by hunger in a corner, held out her cupped palm.

“For a Saturday lunchtime the city seemed devoid of the window-shoppers and flaneurs I’d expect from France and was instead menacing enough for me to keep my hand clasped over the zip on my handbag.

“Reims was not redeeming itself.” 

Great stuff! You can read more on Jo’s blog by clicking here and you can learn the secrets of writing vivid prose with Jo at The Watermill this Summer.

As I said Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, so ‘by popular demand’, we’ve opened a second course: Her new Write Your Life Stories week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018. We’ve been told that this is an ideal time for many people, such as people who work in schools and universities, who can only take time off in the academic holidays and, of course, anyone who want to come is welcome. You won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

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

Add spice to your writing!

Jo’s Write Your Life Story creative writing courses are 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, and put this into practice right away. Jo Parfitt has published 31 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 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. 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.”

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

Enjoy your experiences twice!

Jo 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 plus pic

Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 AND 

22 September to 29 September 2018 Course full

Write Your Life Stories

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