Don’t just pass through iconic Italian scenes: linger, observe, paint!

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

Our new painting tutor, pastellist Mary Padgett, is a passionate advocate of painting en plein air. It is the ideal way to truly experience the ethos of a place. Mary says: “Instead of passing through, the painter stops to observe. This observation isn’t just visual: stopping to create a painting gives the artists the opportunity to hear and smell and feel a place.”

Some years ago, Mary lived in Florence, where Lois and I now stay in the winter months, before coming in the spring to open up the Watermill in the Tuscan countryside for our guests and to meet and greet them when they come on our creative courses.

Today we are featuring some of Mary’s Florentine pastels. Florence, of course, is the cradle of the Renaissance, and just walking the streets as a living lesson in the history of art and architecture. During her stay Mary was particularly struck by the evolution of artistic ideas, “one artist building on another’s work.” But each artist, in his or her way, was unique and they added their contributions to our aesthetic traditions.

Mary painted the famous sites, of course, like the Cathedral, but she became most intrigued by the combination of architecture and vegetation surrounding the city: “Blue-green olive trees, emerald pines, and rich dark cypresses are so well-positioned that their overall design appears deliberate. I see juxtapositions of shape, value and colour, and contrasting textures and patterns. My aim is to translate that diversity with pastel in order to communicate the vitality and energy I see before me.”

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 will also find plenty of vitality and energy in the unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana surrounding the Watermill. She is coming to tutor 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.

Here are some Tuscan hillsides that she 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.

And below is another subtle pastel San Martino in Mensola, inspired by “bright spring light bouncing through the sky and the exquisite asymmetrical balance of the two cypress with the larger church building.”

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

As well as a passionate pastellist, Mary is also a great tutor. Her 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.”

To recap, Mary will be with us from 26 September to 3 October 2020. Come and join us and savour Tuscany at its best. Here is another glorious pastel, of an Italian terrace, to whet your appetite.

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

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