Archives for July 2020

Reflections on Mike’s latest inspirational, interactive online session

holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s demonstration painting for our latest online session.

We are delighted that our guests are continuing to have a marvellous time on Mike Willdridge’s free, interactive, online painting sessions. Hosted by Lois Breckon, the latest session was painting figures on a beach, with particular emphasis on reflections. Some 130 people joined in. Here are a few of the comments:

I had great fun and enjoyed creating a vibrant Watercolour with you all following Michael’s lead. Absolutely loved it. I used my original box of water colours that I have had for 25 years. Purely because it had all Michael‘s colours in one place, but nice to use it again.

 I can’t tell you how much these sessions have helped me and have given a lot of encouragement! Again many thanks to you both!

Thanks very much once again for a marvellous painting session.

I compliment Mike for being such a terrific artist and for sharing his knowledge.

When I saw the photo of the subject, I thought that this was an unpromising project but, as always, Mike brings it to life and each lesson helps me to develop more knowledge and skills which is the whole point.

That was a wonderful class and I’m looking forward to next week and the moving water. 

Many of the participants sent in their paintings and I’ve chosen just a few of them (at random) for the montage below.

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

You can see an edited version of this session on water and reflections by clicking here. (You’ll see the video ‘play’ line is separated into Mike’s various steps, which allows you to revisit more easily the section you need.  Please ‘subscribe’ where you see the button (underneath the video) so that you will automatically see any new videos as I add them.  Please do encourage everyone you know to watch the video right through because we are rated by YouTube on the cumulative hours watched.  It might be fun to apply to be a YouTube Partner one of these days! If you would like to revisit Mike’s palette, find out more about his brushes, see the painting demo that he created, as well as some of the paintings that were created by others in the session, you can find pix (available for the next seven days) by clicking here: If you’ve sent us your painting but you don’t see it shared on this link, please do forward it to Lois again.)

We have organised more of these inspiring sessions, each of which can now take up to 500 people. They are designed to help you brush up your painting skills, and they are completely free, though many of our guests have generously sent us donations, for which many thanks. If you would like to donate (it is purely voluntary), Lois will tell you how to do so when you sign up for one or more of the sessions. (Details below.)

Mike’s next session is on moving water in a landscape Thursday 6 August at 2.30pm UK time, when the theme will be moving water in a landscape. As the source photograph photograph from the internet of a waterfall in the Brecon Beacons, Wales.

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

Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Please get in touch with Lois by using the Watermill contact form, which you can find by clicking here. Mark the topic as ‘Mike’s free interactive sessions.

Unlike many online painting programmes, Mike’s will not expect you to ‘look over his shoulder’ for a long demonstration, and perhaps be allowed to ask the odd question or two. No, you will be painting along at more or less the same time, trying out the watercolour techniques that Mike has shown you, step-by-step. He will demonstrate some basic techniques for only a few minutes before you start painting the same subject at home. Then, after you have had your turn, Mike will move onto the next part of the process. Lois will be on hand to feed your questions. The session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike supplies a photograph of what is going to be painted, and a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these beforehand to all the participants in the session. After the session we will send you a link that will enable to you revisit Mike’s step-by-step teaching.

And when you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real, on his Watermill course this August/September?

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s painting group last year, not being too serious!
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge’s course, in watercolours and drawing (and gouache and acrylics) will run from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September. Details and link below. Why not give yourself something to look forward to and join Mike here? We are sure that everything will be back to normal by then, but don’t forget the Watermill’s coronavirus promise:

  • Rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course until 2021.
  • If a workshop is cancelled, rather than just being postponed, we will refund any payment in full.
  • If a workshop is postponed and you cannot make the new dates for the tutor you have chosen, we will offer you alternative courses with others inspiring tutors.

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

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.

Grace’s figs, with a little artistic licence

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

After I posted a picture of some fresh figs, picked from beside the Watermill millstream, Grace McKee, who has been on several painting courses here, accompanied by her husband Philip, sent me the delightful watercolour above.

She notes that she has taken a little artistic licence with the original photograph below, but I think it is an improvement. Thank you for sharing your charming picture with us, Grace.

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

Come and join us to re-energise your creativity, tickle your tastebuds and enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. We have two more painting courses this year to enable you to do just that.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.

From an Italian Watermill to an ancient Livery Company in the heart of the City of London

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

It may seem a far cry from the Watermill at Posara to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, one of London’s livery companies (ancient trade associations or guilds) but today we celebrate another achievement of a man who links those two.

William Shand is one of the great supporters of the Watermill and has been with us on more than a dozen painting holidays. We are looking forward to meeting up again next year when he is coming with his son, James.

William, a retired surgeon, is a Past Master of the Society and, together with a former Registrar and Clerk , Andrew Wallington-Smith, is publishing a book called Heraldry and Stained Glass at Apothecaries’ Hall.

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

The Society was founded as long ago as 1617 (a few decades before the first Watermill at Posara). While the Watermill was going strong in the middle of the 17th century, the Apothecaries’ Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but rebuilt almost immediately afterwards. The oldest surviving Livery Hall in the City Of London, England, it is renowned for its stained glass and its heraldic emblems. This copiously illustrated book is a fine record of these historical artefacts.

So, while the subject of William’s book may be a little esoteric, we are delighted to celebrate its publication and we look forward to welcoming our old friend to the Watermill in the not-too-distant future. And I am sure he will bring a copy of his book for us all to admire.

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

Early evening on a Watermill terrace. Time for an aperitivo!

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

As good as my promise, I collected my Hilary Mantell, put on the ice-making machine and spend a pleasant hour or so on our riverside terrace involved the machinations of Thomas Cromwell at the court of King Henry VIII. And then, as the shadows lengthened it was time for that ‘king of aperitivi’, a Negroni, invented by the Italian Count of that name. So you see, la Dolce Vita is alive and well and living in Italy!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The scene pre Baron Cromwell and Count Negroni

Wish you were here? There is still time to do so. We have two of our inspiring painting courses running, one at the end of August/beginning of September and the other in October.

Come and join us to rekindle your creativity, tickle your tastebuds and enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.

Early afternoon sun on a Watermill terrace. Time to read my book!

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

This was the scene on the Watermill’s riverside terrace this afternoon. I just skipped away to find my Hilary Mantel and re-immerse myself in Henry VIII’s court. It will soon be time for an aperitivo: a Negroni tonight, I think! I’d better put the ice-making machine on, too.

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

Wish you were here? There is still time to do so. We have two of our inspiring painting courses running, one at the end of August/beginning of September and the other in October.

Come and join us to rekindle your creativity, tickle your tastebuds and enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.

Be in the vogue! Come knitting at the Watermill with Norah

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

Many congratulations to 2021 Watermill knitting tutor Norah Gaughan, who has just been appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting, the premier knitting publication in America.

As Art Joinnides, President of the company which publishes Vogue Knitting, says: “Norah needs no introduction—she is the best of the best. An editor, merchandiser, and designer, she has a passion for and true understanding of today’s knitter.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
An example of Norah’s work: Mollina

For our part, the Watermill team is looking forward very much to welcoming Norah here for her course next Spring. It is called Knitting and La Bella Vita and will run from Saturday 24 April to Saturday 1 May 2021.

Norah Gaughan is an independent knitting designer working out of her studio in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA. She has spent her life immersed in knitting, including stints as design director at JCA and Berroco.

She says: “I’m inspired by nature and science, while at the same time keeping an eye what’s happening in the fashion world. My teaching style is rather relaxed. After I’ve explained the basics, students dig in and start knitting. I’ll give pertinent information as we go along, and questions will spur on more advice. My goal is to have the class be fun and interesting.”  

Norah will bring two special projects for guests to knit with her during her week, based on her new book, Twisted Stitches, which will be out in 2021. You can find out more about her at norahgaughan.com.

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

And as ever, your knitting week at the Watermill will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food and the delightful ambience of the Watermill, it’s gardens and riverside walks, and outings into the surrounding unspoiled countryside of Lunigiana in Tuscany Italy.

Full details of all our 2021 sun-filled, fun-filled creative holidays will not be up on our website until September 2020, but you CAN book this 2021 week now, at 2020 prices, by going to our 2021 Preview page, simply by clicking here

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.

Fresh from the tree: the figs couldn’t be better!

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

One of the many delights of summer at the Watermill is picking fresh figs from the trees which grow beside the millstream, with overhanging fruit-filled branches in our walled garden. They taste wonderful and we are only sorry that you are not here to share them with us.

We also enjoy delicious sweet tiny plum tomatoes from our garden, together with crispy lettuce and plump zucchini. And, of course, we grow our own basil, to make our own fresh pesto.

I suspect the figs will be finished by the time we run our final painting courses this year, but I’m sure will find some tasty tomatoes for you and, of course, serve you the most delicious pesto you’ve ever tasted.

Come and join us to rekindle your creativity, tickle your tastebuds and enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.

Still time to sign up for Mike’s next inspiring, free, interactive painting session

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

We still have a few places left on the next of Mike Willdridge’s free, interactive, online painting sessions. Hosted by Lois Breckon, the next one will feature these figures on a beach, above, the first of three sessions with a watery theme. There are more details below on how to join these highly popular sessions, which participants describe as ‘a real delight‘, ‘great fun to take part in’, ‘a fantastic workshop‘, among many other comments..

We have organised more of these inspiring sessions, each of which can now take up to 150 people. They are designed to help you brush up your painting skills, and they are completely free, though many of our guests have generously sent us donations, for which many thanks. If you would like to donate (it is purely voluntary), Lois will tell you how to do so when you sign up for one or more of the sessions. (Details below.)

Mike’s next session is on Thursday 30 July at 2.30pm UK time, when the theme will be water and reflections, based on the picture above. The main aim of the session is to capture the watery reflections.

Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Please get in touch with Lois by using the Watermill contact form, which you can find by clicking here. Mark the topic as ‘Mike’s free interactive sessions.

Unlike many online painting programmes, Mike’s will not expect you to ‘look over his shoulder’ for a long demonstration, and perhaps be allowed to ask the odd question or two. No, you will be painting along at more or less the same time, trying out the watercolour techniques that Mike has shown you, step-by-step. He will demonstrate some basic techniques for only a few minutes before you start painting the same subject at home. Then, after you have had your turn, Mike will move onto the next part of the process. Lois will be on hand to feed your questions. The session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike supplies a photograph of what is going to be painted, and a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these beforehand to all the participants in the session. After the session we will send you a link that will enable to you revisit Mike’s step-by-step teaching.

And when you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real, on his Watermill course this September? This course is definitely running!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s painting group last year, not being too serious!
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge’s course, in watercolours and drawing (and gouache and acrylics) will run from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September. Details and link below. Why not give yourself something to look forward to and join Mike here? We are sure that everything will be back to normal by then, but don’t forget the Watermill’s coronavirus promise:

  • Rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course until 2021.
  • If a workshop is cancelled, rather than just being postponed, we will refund any payment in full.
  • If a workshop is postponed and you cannot make the new dates for the tutor you have chosen, we will offer you alternative courses with others inspiring tutors.

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

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.

‘From below upwards’, creating the illusion of space

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

Our thanks to Musei Italiani for this spectacular photograph of the ceiling of the church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, showing the saint’s apotheosis, painted by Andrea Pozzo in the 17th century

It is an outstanding example of trompe l’oeil painting known in Italian as di sotto in sù, ‘from below, upwards’, using the techniques of painting perspective and foreshortening to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

Andrea’s painting is a suitable celebration of the splendour of high Baroque, but my favourite painting in the style come from a little earlier, Andrea Mantegna’s ceiling in the Camera degli Sposi in the ducal Palace in Mantova, not least because it is a technical masterpiece, but also because it is such fun.

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

Can you see those laughing servants peering over the balustrade, ready to tumble a tub of flowers on our heads?

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

And look at those chubby naked putti clinging on, sticking out all sorts of body parts, poised for mischief.

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

We can’t promise you mastery of all the mysteries of perspective and foreshortening, but we can guarantee that you will improve your painting – and have fun – on one of our remaining fun-filled sun-filled inspiring painting weeks here at the Watermill.

Come and join us!

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.

Almost back to (medieval) normality

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

There we were having supper with friends in the Elvetico café in the floodlit Piazza Medicea in the nearby walled town of Fivizzano, when loud drumming announced the arrival of men in tights (and girls elegant in long medieval dresses, too.)

The coronavirus pandemic, and the reaction of government and public to it, has played havoc with our normal celebrations of Fivizzano’s history, like our annual archery competition where the quarters of the town compete to see who has the most accurate arrows. But the society which proudly re-enacts our ancient splendours seems determined not to be subdued. Hence, last night, the tights, the drums – and, most spectacular of all, the flags.

Fivizzano, like many ancient Italian towns, has a centuries-old tradition of spectacular flag-waving and flag-throwing and last night eight or so young men of the town joined the drummers and the girls, to give us an unexpected show. Lois captured some of them a-whirling and a-twirling, proof that the human spirit cannot be subdued.

We can’t promise you flag-waving during our two remaining painting courses at the Watermill this year, but we can promise you inspiring teaching, warm hospitality, delicious food and the convivial company of like-minded people, celebrating the indomitable human spirit. Come and join us!

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four 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.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  two or three places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



Painting by Tim Wilmot, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of an old vineyard by Tim Wilmot.

We are also planning a full series of creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – for 2021 and you can see a preview of those courses by clicking here.