Archives for September 2019

Seventeen words sum up Vicki’s painting (and teaching) philosophy

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

Our exciting painting tutor Vicki Norman, who will be with us for a week’s course in oils and watercolours en plein air, can sum up her painting philosophy in a few words: “I just love to paint. And I love to travel. And to teach other people to paint.” She adds: “That’s it really.

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

After graduating in Fine Art, Vicki studied with master painters from Italy and the USA, all the time searching for traditional skills and methods which can be applied to paintings of a modern world. She says: “My fondness for travelling and painting has naturally led me into the world of plein air painting. Working quickly on location to capture the essence of a time and place encourages a looser, more impressionist style of painting.

“This puts an emphasis on atmosphere rather than detail, and colour is the vehicle through which I seek to capture light and place. Colour is everything, the harmony of colours together on the canvas and the thick, creamy blobs of paint on the surface inspire me every time. I really do just love paint and I love making paintings.”

Vicki’s oil painting above is an olive tree in the gardens of the Convento di Carmine, an ancient monastery which is one of our venues during our painting weeks. Here’s another stunning plein air painting by Vicki: a study of the Apuan Alps near the Watermill.

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

Vicki says: “The bright yellow of the ginestra at the front contrasted beautifully with the lilac of the marble- capped mountains behind. I knew if I could capture the colours of the moment, I could use them for subsequent studio paintings at home.

You, too, will be painting those sensational mountains on Vicki’s course. She will be with us for a week teaching in oils and watercolours* from Saturday 20 June to Saturday, 27 June 2020. You can find out more by clicking here. *The course is primarily in oils and watercolours, but Vicki is happy to teach in other mediums, too.

Here’s a comment from one of our guests on Vicki’s week at the Watermill last year: “Thank you for giving us such a lovely time at the Watermill: it was way beyond my expectations and Vicki’s tuition took me out of my comfort zone, which is what I needed. I’m looking forward to putting my new plein air skills to practice.”

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation. You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Painting by Vicki Norman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A lazy afternoon at the Italian seaside, by Vicki Norman

We already have four people booked into Vicki’s 2020 course, so now really is the time to reserve your place, especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer if you book now: there is a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on Vicki’s painting holiday at the Watermill if you book before 31 December 2019.

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses at https://watermill.net/. (Or just type ‘watermill.net’ into your search engine)

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

Raining at a Watermill painting location? It ain’t necessarily so when Sandra Strohschein is about!

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

I’ve always loved this dynamic watercolour demonstration painting by one of our most popular tutors Sandra Strohschein. It’s a view through one of the gateways from the imposing castle of Verrucola and the village nestling around its 13th Century walls. This is our painting venue on Mondays, before enjoying an authentic Italian lunch in the trattoria beside the bridge.

The picture purports to illustrate the consequences of a sudden rain squall, with our painting guests huddled under their umbrellas while another umbrella spins topsy-turvy on the ground

Sandra is very proud of this dramatic watercolour, and so she should be. But one small meteorological point: it didn’t rain at all during that morning painting session! Sandra simply wanted to show her students techniques for capturing the effects of wind and rain on the landscape, so she made up the whole watery scene, wind, umbrellas and all. All great art is an illusion and what a fine example we have in Sandra’s demonstration picture. We liked it so much it’s now hanging in the Watermill’s inspiring picture gallery on our sitting room wall.

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

Sandra Stroschein is one of our longest serving and most popular painting tutors. I’ve lost count of the number of times she has run sun-filled (but it does rain occasionally!), fun-filled painting weeks, but it must be round about 10 by now.

And we’re looking forward to welcoming her back again in 2020, for not one, but two glorious weeks in 2020. Her courses in watercolour will run from Saturday 30 May to Saturday 6 June 2020 and from Saturday 6 June to Saturday 13 June 2020. We would be delighted if you could join us for one or both of them. You can find out more about Sandra and her course(s) at the Watermill by clicking here.

Here’s another Sandra Strohschein (sunlit) picture, of the view down the valley towards Posara from the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano, where we go with our groups not only to paint but to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the weekly market.

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

If you fancy capturing the stunning Tuscan countryside, rain or shine, now is the time to book, particularly with our Early Bird Discount Offer: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 painting holiday.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You can be sure of a sunny welcome from Sandra and the Watermil team.

The Watermill scriptwriting course: we just can’t wait for the sequel!

We have just completed a highly successful week-long Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks and here’s the happy group posing in the courtyard on the last evening after spending a week listening to Laurence, and discussing the art and craft of scriptwriting for stage, screen and radio.

They enjoyed it so much, and learned so much, that no fewer than five of them have already booked in for our scriptwriting course next year, when Laurence will be joined by his writing partner, Maurice Gran.

They will be with us from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. We are delighted to welcome them both: we know them as entertaining and inspiring friends, but the British Comedy Society describes them as ‘living legends!’

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Listening to words of wisdom on theWatermill vine verandah.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Laurence and Maurice are famous for such TV hits as Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, The New Statesman and Shine on Harvey Moon. And in a new incarnation, they’ve written hit stage musicals, such as Dreamboats and Petticoats and Save the Last Dance for Me, as well as film scripts and award-winning stage, TV and radio plays. And it’s not just comedy: Marks and Gran are producing serious dramatic works as well. They are currently engaged in writing a series, with Michael Dobbs, (the creator of House of Cards) on Winston Churchill’s secret and mysterious wartime valet!

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

Their unique course at the Watermill will give you insights into writing comedy and drama for TV, stage and screen and it will help you to craft your work from original idea to final script. While the course will focus on scriptwriting, the insights into structure, plotting, characterisation, dialogue etc. are applicable to any genre.

Laurence and Maurice promise that you will leave the Watermill a considerably better writer than when you arrive.

But if you want to bag your place, you’d better get your skates on (That’s enough mixed metaphors, LM). Not only do we have those five re-bookers, but we are also expecting an article in the UK Sunday Times very soon, which is also likely to engender a great deal of interest.

So if you would like to learn the secrets of scriptwriting from the Masters, now is the time to book your place, especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) off this inspiring creative writing course if you book before 31 December 2019. (But as we said, it is probably wisest to book now, since we are expecting heavy demand.)

If you are an aspiring scriptwriter, or indeed, would like to write in any dramatic genre, Laurence and Maurice’s course is the place to be, and they promise you will leave a much better writer than when you came!

To recap: our Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will run from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. Come and join us on the road to scriptwriting success.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Maurice and Laurence: Come and join us

Watermill painting tutor Mark Warner, experimenting with colour, light and line

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

We are delighted to welcome back Mark Warner to the international team of inspiring and sympathetic watermill painting tutors. Mark was with us a few years ago and made some wonderful paintings capturing the atmosphere of the Watermill and its surroundings of the unspoiled countryside of Tuscany. His picture above is of the River Rosaro, which runs beside the mill.

His course next year is called Colourful Acrylics/Drawing/Pen & Wash and those are the mediums in which you will be working. Mark’s course will run from Saturday 11 July to Saturday 18 July 2020. You can find out all about Mark and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Here is another colourful picture by Mark, of the Watermill buildings seen from the walled garden.

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

Mark Warner, from Shropshire in England, loves working outside – and he leads by example, creating a relaxed and encouraging environment for his students. He developed his passion for landscapes growing up in the West Wales and then moving onto the rolling hills of Shropshire enabled him to experiment further with colour, light and line. Mark says: “I adore using colour while interpreting the light, weather and a love for the materials. I work directly in the field (literally on many occasions!) and from sketches created outside as well as notes/photographs taken on location.”

Sketching is at the heart of Mark’s work: “This is important in the development of a piece and on many occasions, forming an integral part of the painting itself.” Here is a page of his sketchbook, made in Lucca, the wonderful Italian walled city which is one of our venues for our Wednesday excursions.

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

If you fancy capturing the stunning Tuscan countryside with your pen and brush, now is the time to book, particularly with our Early Bird Discount Offer: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 painting holiday.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Painting by Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Another atmospheric painting by Mark Warner, this time of the Malvern hills, near his home in Shropshire, England.

Introducing our first Indian painting tutor, Milind Mulick: pouring heart and soul into his colourful watercolours

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

We are delighted to welcome Milind Mulick, a watercolour artist from Pune in India, to the international team of Watermill painting tutors. Milind has gained a remarkable reputation in his own country and, increasingly worldwide, for his atmospheric paintings.

That is one of them above: Wildflower Fields. And below, Milind’s take on one of the sensational seaside villages of the Cinque Terre, one of the venues for our Wednesday excursion during our painting weeks.

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

Milind has been painting in watercolours for more than 30 years, his artistic journey beginning in childhood, following his father, also a painter. As well as being influenced by the great British watercolourists like Edward Wesson and Edward Siego, Milind has absorbed the styles of Indian artists too. He has won many awards and written a dozen books on watercolour painting.

Below is a very atmospheric painting from his native India: Milind calls it Wet Road and he says: “I like to paint what I see…but scenes like this when you are in a hurry to go someplace noise, rain and irritation … who would want to paint it? But when I first discovered the possibility of painting such a scene, it was a eureka moment. To maintain the feeling of hustle and bustle of the city and yet not making an overworked attempt was a challenge here. The rain was on my side, giving reflections on the road and creating a monochrome misty atmosphere.”

Milind has also been teaching for many years. “Teaching gives me great pleasure: I love meeting new people and helping them realise their artistic potential.” As a previous student says: “Milind pours his heart and soul into his paintings and believes in spreading his knowledge.”

Milind will be with us for his course, which he calls Colourful Watercolours, from Saturday 3 October to Saturday 10 October 2020 and already we have five people booked in! So, if you’d like to join us now is really the time to reserve your place, particularly since we have an enticing Early Bird discount offer of £75 (English pounds) if you book before 31 December 2019. You can find out more about Milind and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest! Here is another exhilarating Milind Mulick

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

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Passionate pastellist Mary Padgett: another inspiring tutor for 2020

Mary Padgett, from Syracuse, New York, USA, is not only passionate about pastels, but remarkable for her use of colour and for her enthusiasm for painting on location. She says: “There is no better way to visit Italy than as a plein air artist! We’ll focus on observation with all our senses; looking, listening, and smelling the unique character of the Tuscan landscape to create drawings and paintings from the experience.  Our time in Italy will be richer than that of most tourists who simply pass through.”

Mary’s plein air pastel above, A Tuscan Hillside, celebrates the rhythmic pattern of dark vertical cypress juxtaposed against soft, organic blue-green olive trees, and the geometric shapes of terracotta roofs. Below is another subtle pastel, San Martino a Mensola, inspired by “bright spring light bouncing through the sky and the exquisite asymmetrical balance of the two cypress with the larger church building.”

Mary’s students love her teaching. As one of them says: “Your gentle nudges have given us all better way of seeing.”  Another says: “You went out of your way to help beginners as well as more advanced artists.” Mary says: “My role is to create a supportive working environment, encouraging creative exploration, and furthering each participant’s evolution as an artist.”

Mary’s week-long course in pastels* will run from Saturday 26 September to Saturday, 3 October 2020. *While pastels are her passion (and she will work in soft pastels during her week-long course at the Watermill), Mary is also happy to teach in other portable media, too, such as oils and acrylics, in which she is also a skilled practitioner.

You can learn more about Mary and her course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Although this course is more than a year away, we are already taking bookings for 2020 and our creative courses for next year are filling fast. So if you want to be sure of your place, now is the time to book, especially as we have an Early Bird discount of £75 per person (English pounds, about $90) on all our 2020 creative courses if you reserve your place before the end of this year.

Come and join Mary in the glorious Tuscan countryside. We would love to welcome you here. Here is another glorious pastel, of an Italian terrace, to whet your appetite.

From plaques to plein air: the name of our new Watermill painting tutor Chris Hughes can be seen all over the world

Chris Hughes began his artistic career painting the most prestigious vases and plaques for the famous Royal Worcester Porcelain Company in England. His work, specialising in highland cattle, game birds and Worcester fruit, and signed C. Hughes, can be seen all over the world, and is often featured in antique and collectors’ programmes on television.

Chris went freelance in 1980 and since then has painted ceramics, watercolours and oils, selling different works worldwide, from birds of prey to the Middle East, cattle to the USA, exotic birds to China, still life to Australia, seascapes to Italy – and English cricket paintings to South Africa!

His watercolour above is called Sunflowers and Shadows and was painted on the Greek island of Alonissos. Below is another lovely watercolour, of a Tuscan hillside village.

Chris will be joining us for a week teaching watercolours en plein air from Saturday 27 June to Saturday 6 July 2020 and he is keen to show you the watercolour and drawing techniques that he has developed over all his years as a professional artist: “By simplifying the stages of producing a painting, I’ll encourage you to develop your own style and create your very best work.” 

As one of his students says: “Chris teaches his technique with patience, humour and generosity: he gave me the confidence to develop a style of painting I can enjoy and develop.” 

Both beginners and experienced painters will benefit from Chris’s course, through watching demonstrations and by painting together. He says: “I believe in a laid-back, non-pressurised approach — and being in the beautiful Tuscan countryside will make the creative experience even better.” You can find out more about Chris and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Below is Chris’s picture of the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. We can’t wait to see his paintings from the beautiful unspoiled countryside of Lunigiana, which surrounds the Watermill.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the Watermill: tuition, accommodation, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and local transportation. You get to Pisa; we do the rest!

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Now is the time to book your holiday next year with Chris, especially as you can take advantage of our Early Bird discount offer: £75 (English pounds) per person off Chris’s week, if you book before 31 December 2019. But don’t leave it too long: all our creative courses for 2020 of filling fast.

I wonder if we can persuade Chris to paint one of our dinner plates! Come and join us and find out.

A colourful combination of pictures celebrating a recent Watermill painting holiday

Our thanks to Pam Smart, a student on Varvara Neiman’s painting holiday at the Watermill last week, for the colourful combination of pictures above, capturing the atmosphere of the week.

Pam obviously enjoyed herself here. She writes: “I have achieved my dream of painting in Tuscany and it was everything I hoped for and much more. The locations have been stunning, the attention to detail in all aspects of the holiday have been incredible, including amazingly supportive and considerate staff, the beautiful setting of The Watermill, the attentive tutor and even the food has been ‘Art on a plate’! I’ve had the most amazing time – thank you all at The Watermill.”

We are glad you had such a good time, Pam, and thank you for your fulsome praise.

If you look carefully at the photomontage above, you will see a rather interesting picture in the top right-hand corner. It is Pam’s take on the weekly Tuesday market in the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano where we go to sketch and have lunch during our painting weeks. From the sketches she made, Pam used her imagination to envisage an aerial shot of the market in the principal Piazza. Isn’t it fun?

We liked it so much, we bought it from Pam, and we are now having it framed so it can take pride of place, the other wonderful pictures in the Watermill sitting room.

If you would like to join us for one of our painting holidays, combining inspiring tuition, convivial company, caring hospitality, mouth-watering food and stunning locations, we would be delighted to welcome you here.

There are more details of all our 2020 painting courses on our website which you can find by clicking here. And if you book now you can take advantage of our Early Bird Discount Offer: if you book before 31 December 2019, there is a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on any of our 2020 creative courses. We are filling up fast so now is the time to reserve your place. Here’s another vibrant picture from market day in Fivizzano, this time by tutor Varvara Neiman.

Randy Hale’s passions are painting and travel: join him in beautiful rural Tuscany, Italy to enjoy both to the full

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

We are delighted to welcome Randy Hale, an exciting watercolour painter from Colorado in United States, to the international team of Watermill tutors..

As well as his workshops in the USA, Randy has taken painting groups all over the world and he’s excited about discovering the unspoiled delights of our area of rural Tuscany. His painting above is of the seaside village of Vernazza, in the Cinque Terre, one of the locations you can visit on your Wednesday excursion during your Watermill painting week

After a successful business career, Randy returned to his first love, watercolour painting. But his true passion has proved to be sharing his knowledge as a teacher. And he loves discovering new locations in which to paint expressive watercolours and encourages students to do the same. One of Randy’s previous students said: He knows his stuff and he knows how to teach! The best watercolour instructor I have ever had!” Another said: He’s an excellent artist and instructor, offering clear and positive help.”

Here’s another of Randy’s vibrant watercolours, this time of a riverside café in Regensburg in Germany.

Randy will be with us for his watercolour course from Saturday 13 June to Saturday, 20 June 2020. We love you to join us. You can find out more about Randy and his course at the Watermill by clicking here

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

We already have nine people booked in for Randy’s course, so to be sure of a place now is the time to book, especially when you can take advantage of our Early Bird discount: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds, about $90) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 painting holiday.

As well as beautiful scenery and expert painting tuition, you’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked Italian food, convivial company and, of course, aperitivi under the vine Verandah before dinner each night. Randy’s picture below, called Happy Hour, captures the spirit.

You can find out more about everything at the Watermill by clicking here.

“Much to her mother’s indignation, the young Brienne Brown owned little clothing that was not covered in paint…” Introducing another new, exciting Watermill painting tutor

Painting by Brienne M Brown, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

From a very young age, Brienne M Brown showed talent in art and music, but wanted to pursue a career in the sciences. She obtained a Masters degree in chemistry and then worked in a toxicology lab, but as the years wore on, she realised she wanted to have more art in her life.

After leaving work to raise her first child in 2008, Brienne had the opportunity to paint more consistently. Prioritizing painting, and taking workshops from artists she admired, paid off. Soon she was not only exhibiting and entering shows regularly, but also winning awards. She is a signature member of the US National Watercolor Society.

Her painting above is called On the Porch. Brienne says: “I love painting nostalgic scenes like this.  This is the porch of a friend of mine which is not dramatic or spectacular, but special to me and therefore nostalgic.  However, what made it a great subject to paint were the shadow shapes and patterns of the chairs.  That is what I look for in a great painting subject.”

Brienne is passionate about watercolour and plein air painting. She says: “I find beauty in everyday life. Each painting reminds me of where I was, the experiences I had, the sounds, smells, and the people I met … and I enjoy sharing how I see the world.”  Brienne adds: “Painting in Italy is just a dream come true.” 

And here is another great watercolour, this one called Commerce Corner.

Painting by Brienne M Brown, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Brienne says: I loved the sun on this building and the long shadows that crossed the street I am so grateful to have painted here because this area was hit this fall by the Hurricane Michael and the entire town of Apalachicola, FL was flooded.  This street was totally under water.  This is one reason I love to paint older, historic places.  You never know how long something sill last, so I love to experience locations by painting en plein air.  The painting has so much more meaning to me.”

During her workshop, Brienne will demonstrate and explain her painting process for plein air painting, sharing some great exercises and practices that will help you become a better artist. Using strong value sketches, bold washes, and quick energetic strokes, Brienne will show you how to bring excitement into your paintings. No experience in watercolour painting is necessary, but some drawing experience is recommended.

A comment from one of her previous students: “Brienne’s workshop is great. She goes through each step guiding you through the process clearly while demonstrating her techniques and approach. I really learned a lot from her critique, as well… I would highly recommend her workshop to ANYONE, wanting to learn watercolor, beginner or advanced painter.”

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the Watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation.

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

You can find out more about all our inspiring creative courses by clicking here. (Or, just type ‘watermill.net’ into your search engine)

And don’t forget there is an Early Bird Discount of £75 (seventy-five English pounds, about $90) per person if you book before the end of 2019. We already have nine painters booked into Brienne’s course, so we only have room for three more painters (and their non-painting partners, if they’d like to join them). So, hurry now to reserve your place: you know it makes sense! We would love to welcome you here.

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