Neat knitting in the round: a tip from Sarah

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a topical winter knitting tip from our talented Watermill knitting Tudor Sarah Hazel. She says: The winter months are a popular time to knit hats, gloves and snoods. When you work in the round there are no ugly joins and sewing up is reduced to a minimum.

“Often a pattern will direct you to cast on and join in the round without twisting your stitches. My preferred method is to work two rows straight, check that all the stitches are sitting in one direction and then lift the last stitch of the row over the first and slip what was the first stitch to the position of the last stitch.

“Place a marker between these two stitches and you will find that you have a lovely neat join!”

A renowned knitting designer, Sarah will be with us next May for her third inspiring course at the watermill. Here’s what one guests had to say about her course last year: “Thanks for such a wonderful week!  It had everything:  fun, knowledge, good food and drink.  It was like a week out of time.”

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

Sarah shows how it’s done! Picture Phil Wright

 Sarah’s main project for the week next May is in response to feedback from our previous guests. She says:I am aware that lots of knitters want to understand how they can alter an existing pattern to get a better fit. I’ve devised a project to do just that.” Sarah’s project will show you how to make a simple garment to fit your size and body shape, based on one of Sarah’s most successful designs, the Phoebe Poncho. She says: “This is a relaxing knit that will help you to acquire some technical expertise along the way!”

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

We call Sarah’s week Knitting and La Bella Vita’ and you will have a relaxing holiday in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, with leisurely knitting days, wonderful food and wine, as well as learning new skills from Sarah. We have nine people booked for Sarah’s course one of whom is a non-knitting partner, so we have room for three or four more knitters.

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

4-11 May 2019

Knitting and La Dolce Vita

To learn more about Sarah and her knitting week at the mill, please click here.

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

Through the arch and down the valley: final winners of the Watermill Photographic Competition

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.The sparkling view in the photograph above is through an archway in the ancient village of Verrucola, our Monday location on painting holidays. It won Lani Chaves one of the runners-up prizes in the Watermill Photographic Competition. I don’t know were all the painters are, but judging by the neatly stacked chairs by the bridge, I suspect there are all in the trattoria, enjoying a delicious Italian lunch.

And the final runner-up, Kathie George’s picture of a painter on the mediaeval walls of the nearby town of Fivizzano, looking down the valley of the river Rosaro towards the village of Posara.

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

We hope you enjoyed the photographs and thanks again to all of you who entered the competition. Many of you are returning to the Watermill next year and we look forward to welcoming you again.

You can find out more about all our Watermill activities by clicking here.

A photo reflecting hopes and dreams

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Retired general practitioner Jules Foster won one of the runners-up prizes in the Watermill Photographic Competition with the atmospheric photograph above, which captures the spirit of a knitting course in unspoiled rural Tuscany.

She says: “When I was planning my retirement, I had some life coaching, and was asked to choose an image which would encapsulate all my hopes and dreams for the future. I knew immediately that it would be this photo.”

Thank you for sharing that with us, Jules – and we look forward to meeting you again next year. Jules is coming to Sue Ford’s painting course here next year to fulfil another of her retirement dreams.

There’s more about all our creative courses – painting, writing, knitting and Italian language – on the Watermill website. Please just click here.

Chiaroscuro wins Steve a Watermill Photographic Competition prize

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

This photograph, by Steve Harger, is of a group of our painting guests sitting in the shade in the Watermill courtyard. The judges of our painting competition like the interplay of light and shade – chiaroscuro, you could call it – and awarded Steve one of the runners-up prizes in our Watermill Photographic Competition. Congratulations to Steve, who was a non-painting partner on one of Sandra Strohschein’s painting courses last year. Again, it’s a photograph that sums up the relaxed atmosphere of creative courses at the Watermill.

Mind you, our students can be active, as well as relaxed. We find they have many diverse talents and interests and are willing to share their enthusiasms. That was certainly true during Sandra’s week with us, when painting guest Pam Paszke, ably assisted by another guest, Lesley Dench, organised impromptu pre-breakfast Tai Chi sessions on the roof terrace above the courtyard dining room. And here is Steve’s picture of some of the group in gentle action:

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

Impromptu Tai Chi on a Watermill roof terrace

We can’t promise you Tai Chi every week, but we can promise you sun-filled, fun-filled, stimulating and inspiring creative weeks, whether it’s painting, writing, knitting or learning Italian. Come and join us in 2019!

You can find details of all our creative courses by clicking here. And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird offer: there is a £75 discount on all our 2019 courses if you book before the end of this year.

The Watermill Photographic Competition – we have a winner!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Many thanks to all the people who took the trouble to enter the Watermill Photographic Competition. The quality of the entries was very high indeed and our four judges, painting tutors Sandra Strohschein, Maggie Renner Hellman, Tim Wilmot and Mike Willdridge had a hard time deciding on the winning entry and the four runners-up. But after some deliberation, they decided on the winning photograph above. It is by Val Joplin and the judges felt it perfectly summed up the ethos of the Watermill painting holiday: a wonderful view and a blank sheet of paper just waiting for inspiration.

Val will be joining us next year, claiming her first prize of a free creative holiday at the Watermill. She’s chosen to come on Sue Ford’s inspiring painting course next summer – and she’s bringing quite a few of her friends too. You may care to join them: you can find out more about Sue’s course by clicking here

Our judges chose four runners-up pictures and we will share them with you over the next few days. For today, here’s one of them, by Lani Chaves, a sparkling view through the arch of the castle walls in the village of Verrucola, our Monday location on painting holidays. Note the folding chairs: I suspect our painters are enjoying a delicious lunch in the trattoria!

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

Bookings for our courses next year are coming in fast. We are approaching the 200 mark out of a potential total of some 240/250 places. So now is the time to book your creative holiday at the Watermill for 2019, especially since we have an enticing Early Bird discount offer: £75 the cost of any creative holiday if you book before the end of this year.  We’d love you to join us – and bring your camera!

You can find out more about everything by clicking here.

Beijing’s Forbidden City inspires Jude’s romantic watercolour

Painting by Jude Scott, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.This gentle watercolour of peonies bursting from a jug is by our Australian Watermill painting tutor Jude Scott, who will be joining us for two inspiring weeks next year. Her painting has just been selected for the 3rd Biennale of the International Watercolour Society of Vietnam next April.

Many congratulations, Jude. She tells us: “I’m so happy. It will be on my demonstration list for the Watermill when I join you next August.” The painting already has an Italian connection: it is painted, in transparent watercolour, on Fabriano paper, made just south of us in the Marche area.

Jude says that in Perth, Western Australia, where she lives the climate is not conducive to growing peonies. But when she was invited to paint for a week at a university in Beijing, she took a trip to the Forbidden City. She says: “In one of the ancient gardens there, there they were, en masse. Fabulous! I was so excited to see them for the first time and paint that was an exciting challenge.” She calls the painting ‘Romance’.

We do grow peonies at the Watermill, among the plethora of flowers and shrubs tended lovingly by our gardener Flavio Terenzoni, but they’re not entirely successful. You will, however, find many other flowers to paint, as well as the unspoiled scenery surrounding the Watermill – and castles and convents and ancient villages dozing in the sunshine…

Roses in the Watermill garden.

Jude will be joining us for two weeks next summer, teaching in watercolours (& acrylics and oils) from Saturday 17 August to Saturday, 24 August 2019 and from Saturday 24 August to Saturday 31 August 2019. Her second week is already fully booked, but we do have some places on the first week. You can find out more by clicking here.

Jude tells us that she loves watercolours particularly, for “their immediacy, unpredictability, translucency, dazzling colours and powerful tones,” but she also paints in, and is happy to teach in, acrylics and oils. She says: “I love a new challenge and paint all subjects.” 

We love the watercolour below, called Riverside. Jude says:A trip down to the river with the grandies resulted in this painting-they were having such a marvellous time spotting the enormous jellyfish! Sketches on site were used for a painting the next day. I began drawing the figures first from photographic references, flooding the background and foreground with water, dropping in the colour and allowing to dry. Then the figures and the shadows were painted and, after drying the darks were strengthened.”

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

As for teaching, Jude says: “I love sharing what I have learnt over many years of painting and it is always a thrill watching ‘the artist within’ emerge from each individual student. I strongly encourage students to develop their own unique style of brush strokes and mark making: just relax, be brave, don’t forget to breathe and the rest will surely follow.”

We have six bookings for Jude’s first week (17-24 August 2019), two of whom are non-painting partners, so we have room for seven or eight more painters. Currently, as I said, Jude’s second week (24-31 August 2019) is fully booked, but there may be cancellations, so if you’re interested in that week please also let us know and we will put you on the waiting list.

 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! 

And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird discount offer: If you book before 31 December 2018 there’s a £GBP 75 per person discount on this fabulous 2019 painting holiday.

And finally, here’s a wonderful landscape by Jude called Evening-Pentecost River, in the Kimberley region of West Australia. We’re looking forward to seeing how Jude, and her students, capture the Watermill’s flowers and the wonderful scenery of Tuscany. Why don’t you join her and us?

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

 

 

 

And a river runs by… Claire Warner at the waterside

Painting by Claire Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a vibrant and colourful watercolour of the Watermill, made from the gardens of the river Rosaro which flows past us. It’s from our inspiring English painting tutor Claire Warner, who we’re happy to say, will be joining us again next year. She will be with us for her week-long course in watercolours from Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 September 2019.

We had great fun on Claire’s painting course this year. Here’s what one of our guests had to say had to say: “The accommodation was superb in such a beautiful location and nothing was too much trouble for our hosts, everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The group was mixed in terms of ages and abilities, some people came alone and some as pairs, but the mixture was great and we had a lot of fun in amongst the tuition. Claire organised for us to go out to a variety of wonderful places to sketch and paint and you were comfortable taking things at your own pace, in your own way. I really like Claire’s relaxed approach, so you don’t ever feel under pressure!” She added: “It was probably one of my favourite holidays.”

Claire Warner is a professional artist and an experienced tutor, having taught all age groups and abilities for more than 25 years.  She will demonstrate in watercolours on this holiday, but is happy to help with those choosing oils or acrylics as their medium. All levels of artists can benefit from her teaching, and she offers plenty of individual attention.

She says: “My aim is to teach and encourage each student gradually to build up knowledge and the confidence to create their own style. I’ll demonstrate step by step with explanations — and offer plenty of individual attention when and where needed. I like to tease out their full potential with patience and a sense of fun.”

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

Claire’s watercolour above is called Early Morning, Ullswater. She says: The still calm waters of the early morning, create fascinating reflections. The silence is broken only perhaps by birds marking their daily territory.”

Claire Warner
14 – 21 September 2019 – still plenty of places
Watercolours, oils and acrylics

To learn more about Claire and her course at the mill, please click here. 

And don’t forget our Early Bird discount: if you book before 31 December 2018 there’s £75 off this fabulous 2019 painting holiday. Come and join us and watch the river run by…

 

A fruity pastel from Sue: paint it and eat it!

Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a fine pastel demonstration by our delightful and versatile painting tutor Sue Ford of a selection of fruits that look more than good enough to eat. It also demonstrates Sue’s mastery of many painting mediums, from pastelsto watercolours, from acrylics to collage, and much else in between. We are looking forward to Sue’s week with us next summer and to her warm and sympathetic teaching.

Sue Ford loves creating pictures in any medium – and she loves passing on what she’s learned to other people to help them release their creativity. She will with us from 13-20 July 2019 and will teach in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic. Below is of one of her colourful, vibrant collages:

 

As well as a multitalented, multimedia artist Sue is a very keen teacher. One of our previous guests on a previous course  at the Watermill said: “Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

Sue says: “Each student will be guided carefully throughout the day, from initial demonstration to getting started, followed by patient, professional tuition. I aim to help my students to create paintings which will give them the confidence in their abilities and help them to develop their own artistic vision.” Below is a sketch by Sue of the village and castle of Verrucola, where we go to paint on Mondays during our courses:

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

And what about the Watermill setting? One of our guests on Sue’s previous painting course at the mill said: “I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! Utterly wonderful. It was an experience that I will treasure.”

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

You can find out more about Sue and her course at the Watermill by clicking here.

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! 

And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird discount offer: If you book before 31 December 2018 there’s a £GBP 75 per person discount on this fabulous 2019 painting holiday.

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A sunny courtyard for inspiring painting tuition with Mike

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Here is our inspiring watercolour tutor Mike Willdridge preparing to make another demonstration picture in the Watermill courtyard on his course last year. As ever, we had a sun-filled, fun-filled week with Mike and his delightful wife Sue, who will be joining us too next year.

At present Mike is well over halfway through his self-imposed challenge to paint 100 paintings in 100 days. Below you can see painting number 58 as Mike travels down what he called his ‘road to abstraction.’ This picture has a tragic Italian theme. Mike says: “These ‘broken’ paintings started off with memories of images seen on TV of the Morandi bridge collapse (Italy) earlier this year. In this painting broken and damaged man-made structures are now taking on the look of fissures in rocks. The bridge seems to be reverting to the earth.”

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

Mike’s is an exciting challenge and the results are amazing. We like the pictures so much that we’ve already bought four of them and they’ll be hanging in the mill when we open up next season.

So why not come and see them and enjoy Mike’s enthusiastic and inspiring tuition? Mike will be with us from Saturday 29 June to Saturday 6 July 2019, giving tuition in watercolours (and also in gouache and acrylics for those who are interested), with a special emphasis on sketching and drawing on location.

Mike is particularly keen on all forms of drawing as a way of recording and responding to everyday events. He constantly uses a sketchbook and will encourage you to do the same, gathering speedy impressions and building up a visual record of your time at the watermill and among the mountains, castles, walled towns and hilltop villages of this unspoiled region of Tuscany.

Mike Willdridge works and in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics too.

A comment from a guest on one of Mike’s previous courses at The Watermill: “A wonderful holiday. You were such generous and friendly hosts and Mike was an excellent painting tutor.”  Another said: “The food was exceptional and the mill itself is great, in such a beautiful setting. A truly wonderful week in every respect.”

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

Mike’s sketch of market day in the town of Fivizzano, near the Watermill

Mike Willdridge
29 June to 6 July 2019 
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)

To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please click here.

And don’t forget our enticing offer for people who book before the end of 2018. Our Early Bird discount gives you £75 off the cost of your holiday if you book before the end of the year. We recommend that you reserve your place as soon as you can. We already have eight people (two of them non-painting partners) booked in for Mike’s course, but there are lovely bedrooms and a self-contained apartment suite still available.

 

 

A gossipy street by Varvara Neiman

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

Watermill painting tutor Varvara Neiman has captured the animation of a village street in this amusing picture. She says: “I witnessed a morning scene of the local ladies meeting in the street discussing last night’s village party and their pets having a gossip on their own. They were part of a beautiful mosaic of morning colours, so clear that I painted the whole thing full of humour.”

You, too, can capture the vibrancy and humour of village life, as well as painting in the unspoiled rural scenery of Lunigiana, which surrounds the Watermill, when Varvara returns for another painting course next year. Varvara, who tutors in water-based oils, acrylics and watercolour, will be here again from Saturday 31 August to Saturday 7 September 2019. More details below.

There will be plenty of gossip, for example, at the weekly market in the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano, where we go to paint on Tuesdays.

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

Male bonding in the main square in Fivizzano on market day. I wonder what, or who, they are gossiping about?

As well as plein air painting, Varvara specialises in portraiture and moving figures in watercolour and she is also famous for her cityscapes, capturing fleeting moments.Here are some more umbrellas in the rain.

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

Varvara Neiman, who lives in Buckinghamshire, England, was born into an artistic family in St. Petersburg, Russia, where art and teaching were professions passed on from generation to generation. Her work combines classical discipline with a modern imagination. She is enthusiastic about painting en plein air and passionate about Cezanne’s famous quote: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensation.” 

Varvara has been a popular and inspiring teacher for many years. She is skilled in oils, acrylics and watercolours and will teach in any of those mediums. (Water-based oils for easier transportation.)  During her course there will be group demonstrations as well as one-to-one guidance. Varvara likes to create a friendly atmosphere in the group, encouraging students to share their experiences. A couple of comments from Varvara’s previous students: I have been coming to classes with Varvara for almost 10 years and she never ceases to amaze me both with her artistic knowledge and range of techniques. “Not only is she excellent teacher she is also good artist… there is no-one better to teach you.”

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!

Varvara Neiman
31 August – 7 September 2019 – still plenty of places
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

And don’t forget our enticing Early Bird discount offer: if you book now you can enjoy Varvara’s inspiring week with a £75 discount. The offer runs until the end of this year. Come and join us! And enjoy a good gossip!