Archives for January 2020

Enjoy watching Tim painting a historic Watermill interior

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

If you enjoy watching a talented painter creating a stunning picture, look no further than Tim Wilmot’s latest YouTube posting. Tim is demonstrating how to paint indoors, often regarded as rather difficult, by creating a picture of the interior of the 19th century Watermill here in Posara.

As you can see above, the end result is a great picture, and it’s fascinating to watch the whole process of how it’s built up. So, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, put your feet up and click here to enjoy the creation of a mini-masterpiece.

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

And why not join Tim and paint in and around the Watermill yourself? He will be back with us for another of his inspiring watercolour courses, from Saturday 3 October to Saturday 10 October. We would love to welcome you here. Here’s one of Tim’s paintings of the riverside gardens at the Watermill.

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

Tim Wilmot is an artist from Bristol in the South-west of the UK, specialising in vibrant watercolours, using tone and light to bring out the best in the medium. Tim paints in a loose, impressionistic style.

As well as an exciting artist, Tim is also an inspiring teacher. He demonstrates regularly in England and, has more than 15,000 followers of his demonstrations on YouTube. He loves personal interaction with his students: “There are all sorts of reasons for coming on a painting holiday — it might be to improve your drawing skills, loosen up your style, learn how to incorporate figures in a landscape — and it’s my job to try to find what your personal objectives are and help you achieve them. Oh, and have fun with like-minded people on the way.”

Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Tim’s watercolour of a vineyard and the Apuan Alps near the Watermill

Some comments from some of Tim’s previous students: “I’m quite impressed with how you transform a dull image into an impressionistic and beautiful study of light and shadow. You’re a great tutor!”  “I really like your loose style.” “Like most, I struggle with too much detail. This will help me to “loosen up”. “I can’t help being inspired by the careful and wonderfully measured strokes of a genius” 

We already have eight people booked into Tim’s course, including one non-painting partner. So, we have room for three or four more painters (and their partners if they would like to join them).

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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 – still a few places
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


How to paint a vibrant watercolour landscape: Step-by-step with Milind Mulick

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

Watermill watercolour painting tutor Milind Mulick, who will be joining us in glorious Tuscany, Italy this autumn, shows you how to create a stunning landscape painting, step-by-step. Milind used Daniel Smith watercolours for this picture and our thanks to them for the preparation of this blog. I also made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here. The scene is the town of Valdemossa in Mallorca, Spain and the painting is a studio version of Valdemossa Light, painted from a photo reference.

Milind says: “Most of the time when I paint in-studio from a reference photo, I refer to some sketches done on the spot or rely on my memory of the feel of the place.” He adds: “As I had already almost a finished painting on the spot itself, the feel of the location was easy to recollect. The photo reference will give you all the information needed but I think the experience which we have with all our five senses … smells, sounds, etc. are also important. These things that we recall make a difference in the painting.”

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

Stage 1 – Pencil sketch

“I blocked in the major shapes of the scene. Usually my pencil work is quite random and more of a loose approximation. I am not that patient, so rather than spend a lot of time doing the pencil work, I prefer to focus on the general space division, a general movement, and interlocking of shapes in the painting.”

Stage 2 – Laying out my colours for the painting.

“Here I lay my colours in the palette…. though I have all the paints of my choice in my box , I still like to use limited shades for every painting in a separate palette. If I need any extra accents, I keep a standard box of paint alongside for easy access. The shades here are Cobalt BluePhthalo Blue (Green Shade)Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade), Permanent  Alizarin CrimsonBurnt Sienna and Hansa Yellow Light.”

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

Stage 3 – Starting with basic washes.

“The basic wash starts from the top with mix of Cobalt Blue and a touch of Phthalo Blue (GS) blending with Burnt Sienna and bit of orange created by mixing Hansa Yellow Light and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Below that I add a fresh green, obtained by Hansa Yellow Light and Phthalo Green (YS) in different  proportions. Further down I add hints of a reddish yellow and some neutral achieved by blending Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue.”

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

Stage 4 – Adding the background.

“Here I’ve started with background cluster of distant buildings. If you notice it is one uniform variegated wash. I have used a transition of warm and cool colors, a warm mixture of Burnt SiennaHansa Yellow Light and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and a cool mix mainly using Cobalt Blue and Permanent Alizarin CrimsonPermanent Alizarin Crimson being the common color in warm and cool, but not showing anywhere in an isolated hue. Care was taken in leaving the shining roof shapes alone.”

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

Stage 5 – Building up areas.

“At this stage there is a slow and deliberate build up of the shadow areas of the trees and foreground buildings and a mountain behind. While a transition of warm and cool shades, tonal variation is important here…. mostly leaving accurate negative shapes (or positive) of light areas is the most important thing here. Most of the painting is accurately built here and all that is needed further is the details.” 

Painting by Milind Mulik, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
“Valdemossa Light”, Milind Mulick

Stage 6 – Final touches

“Tiny additions of dark windows and accents, with some sharp line work. Consciously keeping the economy of details and yet not making an understatement is the challenge at this stage. The darks are created using either Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Blue (GS) which is warmer or Phthalo Green (YS) and Permanent Alizarin Crimson for strong cool dark.”

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 another of them below: Wildflower Fields.

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

And here is 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 began 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.

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 and already we have seven people booked in, so we have room for four or five more painters (and their non-painting partners, if they’d like to join them) this. 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!

Join Mary and learn the secrets of successful plein air painting

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

What is a ‘successful’ plein air painting? That’s the question that our enthusiastic new painting tutor Mary Padgett has been asking. And when we have come up with an answer, how can we achieve success?

Mary says: “Success for me means making a painting that captures and communicates certain characteristics of a place.” It is not necessarily a three-dimensional representation, but rather bringing out the qualities of the scene that appeal to the artist, continually evaluating and interpreting your response to what you see. It is also important, says Mary, a passionate pastellist, to preserve the aesthetic integrity of the medium in which you are working.

The most important criterion for success is choosing the right subject: one that appeals to you on a personal level. The two pictures above are good examples. They are paintings of the trees at the southern end of Cazenovia Lake, in Madison County, New York. Mary says: “I’ve painted this scene many times, the juxtaposition of the trees in front of the lake and sky appeals to me.” In the upper painting, made in August, Mary felt intuitively that the monochrome green trees made the composition rather dull, “though the bright yellow green cedars on the far right provide some relief. The painting’s interest comes from the formal play with the placement of those trees. Yet the painting feels static and weighty to me.

“Far more successful in my opinion is the lower painting, done a few months later as the leaves were changing.” The variations in the trees enabled Mary to choose colour and value options that captured the energy of the landscape. She says: “I had better raw material to work from. The painting is more dynamic and the technical handling of my medium much more interesting.”

Contrast is another secret of success. Below are two of Mary’s recent favourites, where the combination of dark values light ones, and architecture with nature gave her an opportunity to broaden her palette with different colours and values, and to vary shapes within the composition.

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

Mary says: “The moral here is to spend time carefully looking for a subject and then to maintain an active dialogue with it determining what to include and what to exclude. All the while listening to the voice we have inside!”

Mary Padgett, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mary Padgett is a passionate advocate of painting en plein air. And she will undoubtedly find many subjects were successful paintings full of contrast and energy, in the unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana surrounding the Watermill. And she is keen to help you to do the same and to produce your very best painting. 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 will be tutoring a week-long course in pastels*, 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 find out more about Mary and her course by clicking here. We already have eight people booked into Mary’s course, three full non-painting partners, so we have room for another five or so painters (and their non-painting partners, if they would like to join them).

Here is a Tuscan hillside that Mary painted in a previous visit. This one celebrates the rhythmic pattern of dark vertical cypress juxtaposed against soft organic blue-green olive trees, and the geometric shapes of terracotta roofs.

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

Don’t be a pantofolaio: expand your horizons on the Watermill Italian language week

Picture: Unsplash

We were remarking in our latest newsletter that there are quite a few words in Italian that cannot be precisely and simply translated into English. One such word is pantofolaio — a ‘slipper wearer’: someone who stays at home and rarely goes out (the word come from pantofole, slippers).

We’d like to recommend that at you cast off those slippers and come and join us our unique Italian language course this autumn.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Learning the language under the shade of the vine verandah. You won’t need your slippers.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Enthusiastic teaching from Francesca.

We have teamed up again with Langues Services and our old friend Francesca la Sala for a week in which you can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever, meeting Italian people and interacting with their everyday lives. Not only will there be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speaking Italian, practising what we’ve learned.

Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.

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

You will have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people learning and improving their Italian language skills… and enjoying unspoilt Italy and, of course, fantastic food and wine. When it comes to speaking Italian, you will find that Francesca knows her chickens

Picture: The Huffington Post

Our Italian Language week will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 29 August 2020. You can find out more by clicking here. We already have eight people booked into this course, so we only have room for four or so more. If you’d like to join us and be sure of your place, now is the time to book.

PS: The Watermill is some 300m above sea level, so it is much cooler than the Italian cities and high summer. You will certainly be Fresco e Verde, here: All our bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our photovoltaic system, which makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. The sun keeps us Cool and Green!

It will be rocambolesco.

Picture credit: The Huffington Post

‘A perfect blend of art adventure with a delicious Italian immersion into the Epicurean joys of life.’

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

We produce a Watermill blog every day, many of them telling you about our inspiring painting tutors and their sun-filled, fun filled week-long course is with us. I thought it might be fun today to look at one tutor’s courses from a different perspective: her own!

So instead of writing about Maggie Renner Hellmann’s courses (she’s coming for two weeks in September) I thought I’d let her tell you about them in her own words. This is what she says on her own website:

“Ever wanted to paint Tuscany without the crowds of tourists?

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

We will paint mediaeval castle towns, walled Tuscan villages, ancient monasteries perched above olive groves, alongside gentle rivers. We’ll paint majestic views of Tuscan alps above charming hillside villages. Each painter also has the choice on Wednesday to go either to the Cinque Terre or to Lucca, to add even more excitement to the week-long fun adventures!”

You’ll enjoy all this, says Maggie, as well as learning:

How to increase your colour courage and improve your paintings through colour harmony and colour contrasting techniques. “

She adds: “It’s a perfect blend of art adventure with a delicious Italian immersion into the Epicurean joys of life. Truly a bucket list experience.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Students on one of Maggie’s courses showing off some of their work.

Maggie says: “Beginners, intermediate and advanced painters welcome. Working your choice of medium. Mediums to consider: Oil, Acrylic, Watercolour. I will demo in oil, acrylic and watercolour but can assist and teach in all mediums. No experience necessary! Spouses and partners welcome! Only 12 spots available! Our emphasis will be on learning the core elements of successful paintings: colour, composition, focal point, light source, values, positive and negative shapes, volumes, edges, brushwork and perspective – and much else beside.”

She adds: “I will share with you my craft knowledge of the important foundations of painting and help you to free yourself from stagnant colour choices. I will also share with you colour theory and the concept of using colour contrasts to push and pull elements of your painting. Each day we will have the opportunity to paint in different beautiful Tuscan locations.”

And of the Watermill itself she writes: “Comfortable and beautiful modern rooms with private bathroom and showers. All meals included: gourmet cuisine, farm to table, wine, aperitifs, after-dinner digestifs, and all local transportation and instruction included. You get to Pisa, Italy! We will take care of the rest!”

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellmann, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Maggie’s watercolour demonstration of a sunny corner of the Watermill courtyard.

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

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

Maggie’s week-long courses in oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels will run from 12 September to 19 September 2020 and from 19 September to 26 September 2020.   

You can see more about Maggie and her course of the Watermill by clicking here.

Warm hospitality, cool rooms: all part of the plan to make the Watermill green.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The river-facing south façade of the Watermill. The photovoltaic panels are well hidden.

The Watermill at Posara is renowned for its inspiring creative courses, its beautiful setting, its delicious food, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. But we are also working hard to make the Watermill Cool and Green!

We are now busily putting in air-conditioning units in all our bedrooms and public rooms (the dining room, the sitting room, the studio) and they should be in place well before the beginning of our season, at the end of April. They will all be powered by our array of photovoltaic cells, installed last summer, which are already making more than enough power to ensure that we are self-sufficient in electricity. You’ll have to work hard to see our photovoltaic panels which are on the south-facing roofs of the 19th century mill and on the studio, looking out towards the river. You can hardly see them in the picture of the south façade. Here is a better shot from above the 19th century mill.

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

We have a neat little app on our mobile phones, which shows us how much electricity is being generated at any given time, so Bill is likely to exclaim ‘7.63 kW’ while having coffee in the local café, adding to his reputation for eccentricity. We’ve certainly lightened our carbon footprint, having saved more than five tons of CO2 production already! (‘5.6 metric tonnes’, mutters Bill, while ordering his brioche.)

Here’s a snapshot of our app (an app-shot?) on a cloudy evening in the middle of January, not the ideal time for electricity generation!

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

Nonetheless, we have already generated more than 8000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the seven months from the middle of June 2019 to the middle of January 2020. We’ve done the sums and we reckon we should be able to generate nearly 14,000 kWh in the whole year. This should be considerably more than our consumption, even with all those new air-conditioning units.

As part of our greening campaign, we have also taken steps to slash our use of plastic, notably in the plastic water bottles we used to provide for our guests when they went out on location. Lois demonstrates the solution below.

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

We bought a couple of dozen robust stainless-steel vacuum flasks and mark each one with a number. We loan a specific flask to each of our guests for their creative week.

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

Then they fill up from our fancy plumbed-in water-dispensing machine in the communal kitchen. At the touch of a button, it will dispense filtered water, either still or fizzy, either chilled or at ambient temperature. Each week the flasks are sterilised in our dishwasher, for re-use by the incoming guests.

It’s just a bit more of a faff than plucking a plastic bottle from the fridge. But we reckon it’s worth the (slight) effort. We hope you agree!

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

You will have to search hard to see our photovoltaic panels, but to enjoy our other environmental efforts, you won’t have to lift a finger! Just lean back in your chair on the vine verandah and contemplate the fact that we are surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps. The air and the water are pure and unpolluted, and the area abounds in wildlife.

Gaze about you at the sensitive restoration of historic mill buildings, which has incorporated modern energy-saving construction methods in the upgrading process, from insulated roofs to double-glazed windows. As you tuck into one of our delicious meals, prepared by Lois and our Italian cooks, remember that we source all our food locally wherever possible, growing some of our own and using local suppliers and producers. There is one deprivation, however, that you will have to live with: sorry, there are no Yellow plastic ducks in our bathrooms! But you will be Cool and Green.

These are the only ducks you will see:

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