Archives for February 2020

Watermill guest Otto Meth-Cohen has his own personal story about the ‘stumbling stone’ memorials

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

After my blog and Facebook post last week about the stolpersteins, (stumbling stones), small brass plaques set into the pavements of Florence, commemorating those who were taken by the Nazis and deported to concentration camps in the dreadful days of 1944, I received a moving note from Otto Meth-Cohen. Otto, with his wife Jean, was our guest on a painting course at the Watermill some years ago.

Otto tells me: “I came to England in 1939 aged 4 on the Kindertransport, while my loving mother ended up in Auschwitz sadly.
“Not too long ago I returned to Ulm on my 80th anniversary of leaving, where Gunter Demnig laid three Stolpersteins – for my mother, stepfather ….. and for me – outside where we had lived in Ulm, Germany. I think I might be the only person with a memorial while still alive!”

“Encouraged by Bill’s writing endeavours I’ve written the whole story in a short book – The nearly man – published by Amazon.”

Otto was the offspring of a doomed love affair between a Jewish girl and a Nazi young man. He arrived in England alone in June 1939. Brought up in turn by a Christian family, an orphanage (he was a Barnardo’s boy) and a Jewish hostel, he was on his own again at the age of 17, but by grit, intelligence and determination, he ended up as a research chemist, professor and author. It was a privilege to meet Otto and his wife Jean and to hear his inspiring story.

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

Che figata! It’s rocambolesco on our Italian language course

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

We are looking forward to another Italian language course, soaking up knowledge in the dappled sunlight under the vine verandah and making forays into the towns and villages surrounding us, to learn Italian from the Italians. We’ll even try to find you some ripe figs in the garden and in the local market. And talking of cool, don’t forget the mill is fully air-conditioned, powered by our hidden photovoltaic panels, which make us self-sufficient in electricity. Che figata, indeed!

We have teamed up again with the Florence language school Langues Services and our old friend Francesca la Sala to bring you a unique course which is both fun and illuminating. I have made one of those fun, 30-second slideshows on Facebook, which you can see by clicking here.

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-

We already have eight students booked into our unique language course at the end of August, so we have room for three or four more. You can read all about it by clicking here. It will be rocambolesco.

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

Langues Services and Francesca La Sala

22-29 August 2020

Learning Italian with the Italians Three/four places left

To learn more about Langues Services and Francesca, please visit their Tutor Profile Page by clicking here.

Another fabulous picture made from a photograph

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

A couple of days ago we shared with you a sneak preview of a page from Milind Mulick‘s soon-to-be published book on painting watercolours from photographs. And to show just how effective this can be, here’s a painting of the Watermill walled garden, with the mill buildings in the background, made by another of our tutors Randy Hale.

Randy is a great advocate of painting en plein air, but in this case, we know he can’t have done that, since he hasn’t even been here yet! He’s joining us for the first time this June, when, no doubt, he will be capturing the Watermill and its gardens and grounds, as well as the glorious scenery surrounding us, at first hand.

Randy’s watercolour course is already completely booked up, but there may be cancellations, so if you’re interested, please get in touch and will put you on a waiting list and let you know the moment the space becomes available. You can find out more about Randy and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Many of our other painting courses are also fully booked, or very nearly so, so if you’d like to join us now is the time to reserve your place. Here’s the latest availability of all our 2020 painting courses:

Carl March

Carl March
18 – 25 April 2020 – one or two places
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
25 April – 2 May 2020 – fully booked, waing list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Brienne M Brown

Brienne M Brown – fully booked, waiting list open
16 – 23 May 2020
Watercolours
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
30 May – 6 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
6 – 13 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Randy Hale

Randy Hale
13 – 20 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
20 – 27 June 2020 – 1/2 places left
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mark Warner

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – places available
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – two or three places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – one or two places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
12 – 19 September 2020 – places available AND 19 – 26 September 2020 – places available
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – one or two places
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 – one or two places
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Tim Wilmot

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


And, thinking of the last tutor above, Tim Wilmot, here is a similar painting of the Watermill garden, made by Tim on his last visit here. Your turn next!

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

Olive trees, vineyards, mountains, ancient buildings: come and capture the atmosphere of unspoiled Tuscany with Vicki Norman

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

The vibrant oil painting above is of an olive tree in the gardens of the Convento di Carmine, an ancient monastery which is one of our venues during our painting weeks at the Watermill. This is just one of the stunning locations in unspoiled rural Tuscany we will be visiting with Vicki Norman during her week-long painting course, in oils and watercolours en plein air, next June. I made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows which you can see by clicking here.

Vicki’s paintings seek to capture the essence of the day and the sense of place through the colour and play of the light. You can see this in the Italian study below, of the Apuan Alps, the stunning marble mountains of Carrara, which you will also paint during your Watermill week with Vicki. She says; “I wanted to record the colours of the hills as they receded. 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.

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

Vicki specialises in painting on location. She will teach primarily in oils and watercolours, but is happy to help with other mediums, too. Her paintings seek to capture the essence of the day and the sense of place through the colour and play of the light.

Painting by Vicki Norman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
An oil painting by Vicki called September in Posara
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Why don’t you come and find a shady spot and paint the glorious Tuscan countryside bathed in sunlight? Vicki Norman will be with us from Saturday 20 June to Saturday 27 June 2020, tutoring in oils and watercolours (and other mediums on request). You can find out more by clicking here.

Here’s a comment from one of our guests on Vicki’s week at the Watermill last year: “An excellent painting and holiday week. All the trips out to painting locations were well organised and Vicki was very good as a teacher and an inspiration due to her wonderful paintings.”

Painting by Vicki Norman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Vicki’s vivacious painting of Laundry Day.
Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
20 – 27 June 2020 – 1/2 places left
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

A mini-masterclass from Milind on painting from photographs

Painting by Milind Mulick a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Milind’s picture of a corner of the square of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, painted from a photograph.

Our inspiring new watercolour painting tutor Milind Mulick is in the middle of preparing a new book on painting from photographs. If you come on his week at the Watermill, you will, of course, be out in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, painting en plein-air. But taking photographs is a great way of recording the scene, so that you can finish off your work in the Watermill studio later in the day, or even when you get home after your holiday. Many of our guests tell us that they re-live the memories of a Watermill week by painting more pictures from photographs later in the year.

Milind has given me a sneak preview of his book and I thought I would just show today one of his mini-masterclasses in how to convert a picture into a painting masterpiece. The photograph, below, is from Vernazza, a village in the Cinque Terre, one of the locations for our Wednesday excursion.

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

Milind says: “The weathered wall has a lovely texture , there is a pattern of windows and diagonal shadows, there are hanging clothes… what more can an artist ask for?” He adds: “Sometimes we get bored of those vanishing lines and aerial perspectives and prefer a straight two-dimensional design. Such scenes look simple to draw but believe me they are not, when shapes of windows and shadows are integrated, and when we want to keep a balance in design.”

Milind says that the success of the painting will be determined by the capacity to put ‘life’ into the shadows. Also, he felt the sunlit road was a little boring, so a vignette was needed. Milind says: “The man looks very lonely, so we better find him good company!”

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

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

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.

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. We now have 13 people booked into this course, three of them non-painting partners. We only have one bedroom left, the Bronzino, which is ideal for a couple or two people sharing, although we are quite happy with single occupancy. You can find out more about Milind and his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Painting by Milind Mulick a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A shiny bicycle on a rainy day.

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!

Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 – 1/2 places
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Writing ugly, a first step to beautiful prose

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

Writing tutor Jo Parfitt has a new phrase* to help you improve your writing skills: Write Ugly! (*The phrase originated from Keri, one of the people that Jo mentors, which she gratefully and graciously acknowledges.)

Writing ugly is about writing a scrappy, illegible table of contents for that book on a piece of paper you tear from the back of a book.
 
Writing ugly is about setting the timer for ten minutes and making yourself write with no particular direction in mind, again longhand, just to see where the words take you.
 
Writing ugly is about chucking random phrases down, one on each line and calling the result a poem on short lines, like novelist Catherine Cookson did.
 
Writing ugly is about ‘putting your pen on the paper and just going’, as Natalie Goldberg instructs in her seminal book on speedwriting, Writing Down the Bones.

Writing ugly is about sending your sabotaging inner perfectionist on a long hike.

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

Jo says: “Without the pressure of the knowledge that what you put down has to ultimately be useable, you can let rip. What does it matter if what you throw at the page never actually turns into a draft of something? “
 
She says that writing ugly is akin to limbering up, flexing your writing muscles, simply getting words down on paper and out of your head. Jo took the new phrase for its first outing in a recent newsletter. She asks: “What do you think? Will it catch on?”

Let us know! And you could talk more to Jo about writing ugly (and writing beautifully, of course) on her Write Your Life Stories course here, from Saturday 9 May to Saturday 16 May 2020. You can learn more by clicking here.

We already have 11 people booked into Jo’s course so we only have room for one more person. Now is your chance to grab the opportunity of becoming the writer you always wanted to be. Jo says: “You will be empowered to write in a compelling way, bringing your experiences to life.”

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

Jo Parfitt is an author, journalist, teacher, blogger, conference speaker and poet. She has published 32 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. Jo’s a compassionate, inspiring, and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.

 The workshop will include several methods and genres 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.

As a guest on one of Jo’s previous courses at the Watermill said: “It is a very special and beautiful place, and everything was organised so perfectly. Jo is a great tutor and we all had an amazing time.” Another said: “It was a great week: “Beautiful setting, perfect weather, delicious food and some super outings, who could ask for anything more — and I did quite a bit of writing!”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Sharing your experiences on the vine verandah

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!

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
2 – 9 May 2020 – one place left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Louisa’s fabulous knitting projects at the Watermill – in her own words

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

Our lovely new knitting tutor Louisa Harding will be with us for two inspiring weeks this year. Her first week, in May, is completely sold out, and seven people are already booked into her second week, from Saturday 27 June to Saturday 4 July 2020. There are more details and a link below.

Louisa has been musing about the contents of her knitting weeks, particularly the projects she will be working on with her students. Here are her thoughts.:“Day-dreaming in my office watching the Yorkshire drizzle make snaking patterns on the window it is easy to transport myself to The Watermill at Posara. Lois and Bill have informed me that June is the perfect month for a knitting retreat, the weather warm enough to sit under the dappled tree shade on the veranda listening to the garden wildlife accompanied by the background soundtrack of needles clicking and gentle laughter.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
Knitting under the shade of the vines in the Watermill garden. Photo: Phil Wright.

Louisa adds: “The idea of a knitting retreat is to gather like-minded knitters, share skills, inspire and encourage. I have spent a while contemplating the structure our week, how the time needs to be mindful and relaxing but still stimulating and interesting.

“My first project of the week will be a stitch sampler worked either as a cowl in the round or scarf knitted in rows. Your colour and yarn choice will be inspired by elements from The Watermill environs. I shall be bringing with me a selection of yarns, including the beautiful Yarntelier Cashmere and to complement these there will be yarns of varying textures, Kid Mohair, Chenille, Silk and Alpaca.

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

“Our Stitch Sampler will be the project we work on in our reflective moments during the week while absorbing the Tuscan sun and appreciating the delicious food, refreshing drinks and fabulous hosts. As confidence grows and the Italian inspiration muse takes hold, we will look at the creative design process. As a design student you are taught that every project starts with visual research work and having been trained in this way, I am constantly absorbing images. Originally my ideas were captured in note form in a sketch book that travelled everywhere with me, more frequently now as photographs on my phone, I will be encouraging you to take notes, sketch, collect and photograph at every opportunity and our planned excursions  I am sure, will provide plenty of inspiration.”

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

Louisa adds: “Our mid-week creative aim will be to take these points of inspiration and translate them into a shawl, scarf, wrap or cowl design where you can mix yarn types, colours and contrast stitches. With your knitting gauge less of a constraint this is the perfect opportunity to try out unusual or precious yarn combinations from the stash provided, stitch techniques and realise a creative ambition to forever remind you of your Tuscan travels. This project can be as simple or involved as you wish, after all this is a knitting retreat.”

It all sounds very inspiring and if you’d like to join us, and savour “Knitting and La Bella Vita,” now is the time to reserve your place. As I said, Louisa’s first week, in May, is already fully booked but we do have room for four or five more knitters (and their non-knitting partners if they’d like to join them) at the end of June.

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!

Come and knit with Louisa for creativity, conviviality – and fun!

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
27 June – 4 July – five knitting places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please click here.

Lunigiana is beautiful, even in the mist

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

Lois took this lovely photograph early yesterday morning as we were motoring from the Watermill back to Florence. What a beautiful sky.

The unspoiled area of Tuscany which surrounds the Watermill is called Lunigiana and is a hidden gem: little-known and all the better for it! We are surrounded by two environmentally protected parks, so as well as beautiful scenery, the air is like wine, the water is pure and there is abundant wildlife.

Here is a summer view, taken a little further down the road and looking across the vineyards to the Apuan Alps, the marble mountains of Carrara, in the distance.

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

Come and see for yourself. We would be delighted to welcome you on one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring creative courses. There are more details about everything on our website, which you can see by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Another lovely local view, thanks to the Ciao Lunigiana blog