Archives for June 2018

Symbolic spaghetti sums up the atmosphere of a Watermill creative week

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

Our thanks to guest Emily Muhlberger for the picture.

Here’s a picture of a bowl of spaghetti all pomorodoro, simply made with fresh ingredients, cooked perfectly al dente. Behind it, a glass of crisp white local wine. Behind that, unseen, 15 guests on a Watermill painting course savouring the tastes, sights and sounds of a traditional Italian trattoria, the Locanda al Castello, in Verrucola, where we go to paint the castle and the village on Mondays.  Beyond them, Italian workmen enjoying their pranzo di lavoro: fresh ingredients, simple recipes, perfectly cooked.

We’re looking forward to our spezzatino alla Romana, a beef casserole Roman style, accompanied by the masterpiece of Mauro, the chef: a puree of fava beans with butter and parmesan cheese.

Yes, good food looms large on our Watermill weeks, whether it is in traditional local restaurants and cafes or in the dining room at the Watermill, as well as good company and inspiring teaching from internationally renowned tutors.

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

Come and join us and savour the magic of the Watermill.

We’ve only a few places left in 2018 (see below) and we’re already taking bookings for 2019: we’ve sold some 85 places out of a potential 250, so if you want a particular course, a specific week or your favourite bedroom, no is the time to book for next year. (and there’s a 2019 at 2018 prices’ offer.) Again, links below.

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

2018 places left:

Painting:

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 one or two places
Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)

To learn more about Terry, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça
1-8 September 2018 one or two places
Pastels 

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

 

On our Writing your Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 two or three places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 
one place
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

** We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

 

A trip to the marble quarries of Carrara: brace yourself and have fun!

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

Picture: Ray Warren

Watermill non-painting partner Ray Warren fancied a trip to the marble mountains of Carrara while his wife Carole was enjoying her painting course with Andrew Geeson. We fixed him a trip to the marble quarries with the Cave di Marmo tour company which, he says, was “excellent and expertly done.”

Here’s his report: From Carrara Avenza Station the trip in the Landrover Defender weaves through the streets past the 17 individual factories that shape and polish the marble. They operate individually but cooperate when large orders need to be filled. A sort of strange broken family who begrudgingly help each other out as often as they step on each other to win the business in the first place. In typical Italian style our driver described it as a mother in law to daughter in law relationship where cooperation is needed but contact not sought. 

“It takes about 15 minutes to reach the shop, the starting place for the tour proper and where our vehicles were allocated. The journey up starts with steep hairpin bends on firm roads but soon we were on rough marble and rocks. The road getting ever steeper and the drop off over the side ever more sheer. The Landrover is the best tool for this terrain and eats up the ground quickly and noisily. Then you remember that the lorries with tons of marble use the same roads. This is dangerous work and surely very skilful. 

“At the first stop we saw the village below that once housed the workers. Some still live there but it is now open to others and seems to be a thriving place. The views down the valley were wonderful with the green of vegetation split by huge white fissures of marble quarry. 

Picture: Ray Warren

“The second stop allowed our guide to explain the cutting and harvesting process. Drilling and diamond encrusted cables are used to saw and separate the blocks which are then hauled down by huge earth shifting tractors operated by drivers with the skills of surgeons. Intricate moves and precise grabs have the block falling into soft dust beds to then be dragged away and trucked down to the factories. The process runs 24/7 and demands skill and judgement from seasoned quarry foremen.

Picture: Ray Warren

“Our guide is an expert driver as well as an experienced and knowledgeable person. She needs to be as the slope down seems more steep, more rocky and more sheer than on the way up. The Landrover laps it all up.” 

“A great trip. A definite choice if you love a little science mixed with some adrenaline inducing driving. Worth the time to understand the history, economics and importance of Carrara in Italy as well as the world of marble distribution. Brace yourself and have fun.”

Thank you for your intriguing report, Ray. This is just one of the many activities we offer non-participating partners on watermill creative courses. Find out more by clicking here.

Why not join us next year for one of our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring courses? If you book now, there’s a special offer (until 1 September): book a place on any of our 2019 creative courses at 2018 prices. For a preview of our 2019 courses, please click here.

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

A wonderful picture by Watermill guest Ron Ploeg

A colourful start with Andrew as his students loosen up

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Here are some of Andrew Geeson’s students settling in for their first session during his inspiring watercolour week and beginning to learn the secrets of his loose style. Thanks to Emily Muhlberger for the picture.

Painting by Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Andrew can capture anything from pears to piazzas with deceptively simple strokes (and blobs!)  and we are looking forward to seeing the results of his influence in our mini-exhibition at the end of the week.Painting by Andrew Geeson, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Meanwhile, you might think of joining us for one of our world-famous painting courses, this year or next.

We’re pretty full up this year, but due to a double cancellation, we have a couple of places suddenly available on Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça‘s wonderful pastel course from 1-8 September 2018.To learn more, please click here.

 

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

Nel at work on one of our roof terraces

And if you can’t make that, we’d love to welcome you here in 2019. We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

Sudden availability of two places on our magical pastel course

Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Because two people have had to cancel their bookings on Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça’s outstanding pastel course, we now have two bedrooms available for this inspiring week from Saturday 1 September to Saturday 8 September 2018. We’d love you to join us. That’s Nel above last year, capturing the early morning light on one of our roof terraces looking out on the Apennine Mountains.

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 and Rebecca 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.ukand 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 last year, 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 plus pic

Pastels

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

1-8 September 2018

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

A flowery farewell to a Watermill painting course

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.This colourful and flowery painting is the joint production of Sandra Strohschein’s lovely group last week. And they’ve donated it to the Watermill, so son it will be framed and gracing our walls. Thank you very much everyone –and for your excellent company.

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

Some of the group add their personal touches. Pictire Keith Strohschein

 If you fancy a collaborative effort on your last afternoon, following a fun-filled, sun-filled week with inspiring teaching, you can join Sandra for one (or both!) of her painting holidays here next year. We’d love to welcome you here.  It’s also a grrat place to amke new friends, like Veronica and Sandhya here. (And thank you Sandhya for the delicious and fiery Indian pre-dinner nibbles!)

Picture: Keith Strohschein

We are already taking bookings for Sandra’s courses in 2019. She’ll be here for two weeks next year, from Saturday 1 June to Saturday 8 June 2019 and from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019.

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

A welcoming smile from Sandra

But it looks like you’ll have to get your skates on to be sure of a place: we already have eight bookers for the first week in 2019 and four people are booked in for the second, plus two enquirers. So, as they say, ‘book now to avoid disappointment’, especially as there’s a 2019 courses at 2018 prices offer until September this year. You can find out more about Sandra’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring weeks and all our other creative courses in 2019, by clicking here.

Tai Chi on the terrace: just the way to start the painting day

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.With all the diverse talents and interests of our guests at the Watermill there is never a dull moment conversation-wise – and from time-to-time, activity-wise as well.

That was certainly true this week, when painting guest Pam Paszke, ably assisted by another guest, Lesley Dench, organised impromptu pre-breakfast Tai Chi sessions on the roof terrace above the courtyard dining doom. Above are some of the group in gentle action. Our thanks to Steve Harger, a non-painting partner, for the picture. Not a bad way to start the day, especially with stunning views of the Apennine mountains, the backbone of Italy, in the distance…

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.We can’t promise you Tai Chi every week, but we can promise you sun-filled, fun-filled, stimulating and inspiring creative weeks, whether it’s painting, writing, knitting or learning Italian. Come and join us this year or next: We’ve a (very) few places left this year, and we’re also taking bookings for 2019: there’s a link below, too.

Painting:

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 Two or three places
Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)
To learn more about Terry, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

Nel and Bec mountains cropped

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

1-8 September 2018 One place or two sharing          Pastels

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

 

On our Writing your Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 Two or three places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 One place
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

** We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

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

Picture Keith Strohschein

 

ShareThis

A wonderful interplay of light and dark

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.I love these bright, light shapes as the sun shines through the arches of the nearby Convento del Carmine, where Sandra Strohschein’s painting group spent this morning on location. Here a few of them concentrate on the difficult perspectives of the vaulted cloisters.

This is Sandra’s last week (or four) with us this year and we have had a wonderful, inspiring month. So, our heartfelt thanks to Sandra who, as well as being a great painter, is a magnificent teacher.

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

A welcoming smile from Sandra on location at Verrucola-

We are already taking bookings for Sandra’s courses in 2019. She’ll be here for two weeks next year, from Saturday 1 June to Saturday 8 June 2019 and from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019.

Painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.But it looks like you’ll have to get your skates on to be sure of a place: we already have eight bookers and one enquirer for the first week in 2019 and two people are booked in for the second, plus two enquirers. So, as they say, ‘book now to avoid disappointment’, especially as there’s a 2019 courses at 2018 prices offer until September this year. You can find out more about Sandra’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring weeks and all our other creative courses in 2019, by clicking here.

Come and join us!

Are you a writing gardener or an architect? Find out more with Jo

A lot of gardening went into Game of Thrones

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

Picture: Gage Skidmore

George RR Martin, the highly successful author of Game of Thrones, reckons there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. He says: “The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be.

“They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what the seed is, they know if they planted a fantasy seed or a mystery seed or whatever.

“But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Jo Parfitt, our inspiring writing course tutor, seems to be a bit of both, and during her week-long Writing you Life Stories course here she’ll help you both with your writing gardening and your storytelling architectural design!

The gardening bit: Jo says: I always include plenty of spontaneous exercises where I present an idea and immediately give students five, 10 or 15 minutes in which to write something. I give them with a seed of an idea, let them start gardening and just see where it takes them; how it grows. For me, I start with the germ of an idea, one that is not yet fully formed, put fingers to keyboard and go with the flow, writing from my gut until my ideas run out. I work out what I am going to say while I am writing it.”

The architect bit: Jo says: “After a break (a few hours or more) I return to the piece to put some structure onto it, adding subheadings if I feel I need them, maybe moving the text around a bit and cutting unnecessary words. I always ensure I include some kind of insight or takeaway because I like my readers to feel that my words are worth reading enough to come back again.”

Jo adds: It makes no difference whether you are a gardener or an architect, or, better still a bit of both. It is okay to start off with a detailed plan or with just a seed. What matters is that you accept who you are and learn to craft your natural style into a coherent piece worth reading.”

Learn more and be inspired on Jo’s wonderful Writing your Life’s Stories week here. Jo says: “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.”

She adds: “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 and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

A safe haven in the Watermill Walled Garden. Picture: Sandra Strohchein

One of the best way to begin writing is with stories from your own life, whether it’s for a short blog or  full-blooded memoir. Or just a record for your grandchildren to enjoy and to understand what you did and how it was when you were younger. You’ll need motivation and courage, but the rewards will be great. 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 and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Writing under the Vine Verandah

Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, but we still have a few places on her second Write Your Life Stories course, from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018.

Jo Parfitt has published 32 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 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

Write Your Life Stories
Jo Parfitt

18 August to 25 August 2018 two or three places left

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

Find out why William returns to the Watermill again and again – and again!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.This man deep in concentration on his painting is William Shand, a retired eminent surgeon, an English gentleman and a true friend to the Watermill. He has been on painting courses with us no fewer than 15 times and this week he is with Sandra Strohschein. We must be doing something he likes. And we love his unfailing enthusiasm and impeccable courtesy.

Not only that, he shares a passion with me for the poems of Hilaire Belloc and, suitably prompted, we can be prevailed upon to recite after dinner some of the master’s witty and amusing poems, which are old-fashioned in having both meter and rhyme.

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

Picture Keith Strohschein

Why not come and see for yourself why William loves the Watermill so much. We’re now taking bookings for 2019.The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

***STOP PRESS: William has just booked for Sandra Strohschein’s week from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019! Come and join him for a fun-filled inspiring painting week – and probably Hilaire Belloc, too.

An artistic Watermill get-together – and the masterly result

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a lovely idea. On the last afternoon of her week-long painting courses, Sandra Strohschein encourages member of her group to paint a picture together. Above are some of them, enthusiastically at work in the riverside gardens. And here’s the finished picture. Rather good, I think.

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

Here’s some of the group relaxing after their efforts.

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

Picture Keith Strohschein

And here’s the group photo in the Walled Garden. There were eight painters and two non-paining partners.

Here’s painter Polly Moseley with Sandra’s husband Keith.

This week is Sandra’s last week with us as painter in residence and our new group seem just as much fun. We’ll keep you posted!

We are already taking bookings for Sandra’s courses in 2019. She’ll be here for two weeks next year, from Saturday 1 June to Saturday 8 June 2019 and from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019. But it looks like you’ll have to get your skates on to be sure of a place: we already have eight bookers and one enquirer for the first week in 2019 and three people have just expressed an interest in the second. So, as they say, ‘book now to avoid disappointment’, especially as there’s a 2019 courses at 2018 prices offer’ until September this year. You can find out more about Sandra’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring weeks and all our other creative courses in 2019, by clicking here.

Come and join us!

 

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