The Donatello bedroom: cosy and bright and with a terrace with wonderful views over the garden and mountains

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

The Donatello bedroom, appropriately enough, is next to the Brunelleschi, for Donatello was for many years his apprentice and accompanied Brunelleschi on their celebrated trip to Rome, where they rediscovered the secrets of classical architecture and sculpture.

Habakkuk: almost alive

Donatello’s sculptures, in both marble and bronze, were revolutionary, notably his St George for the Orsanmichele in Florence and his irrepressible bronze David, commissioned by Cosimo the Elder. Both can be seen in the Bargello museum and herald the rebirth of classical sculpture. My favourite Donatello sculpture is the grizzled Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, who Donatello nicknamed ‘pumpkin head’ and talked to it as if it were alive while he was carving it.

I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows with pictures of this bedroom, which you can see by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

Not by Donatello, but Rinaldi’s sleeping Chatsworth Lion will keep you company in the Donatello bedroom

The Watermill bedrooms: Brunelleschi, towering genius of the Renaissance

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

Today’s Watermill bedroom is the Brunelleschi, named after Filippo Brunelleschi, one of my great architectural and artistic heroes.

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

Brunelleschi not only constructed the massive dome of Florence’s cathedral but also reinvented linear perspective. In fact, he is one of the characters in my historical detective novel A Matter of Perspective, set in Florence in 1425. He was also the mentor of Donatello, who reintroduced classical sculpture into Western art. That is Brunelleschi’s statue on the right, gazing up at his mind-boggling cupola.

The bright and airy bedroom has views over the Watermill courtyard and a terrace (which it shares, appropriately, with Donatello next door) looks out over the Watermill walled garden and the high peaks of the Apennine mountains beyond. You can see a Facebook slideshow of the Brunelleschi bedroom by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and choose your favourite bedroom. You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

The Watermill bedrooms: celebrating Fra Angelico, a rare and perfect talent

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

Our Facebook tours of Watermill bedrooms continue today with Fra Angelico.

Painting in the early 15th century, this Dominican friar is perhaps most famous for his sublime frescoes in the monks’ cells in the monastery of San Marco in the centre of Florence. Vasari describes him as having “a rare and perfect talent,” adding: “It is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.”

Our bright and airy bedroom is rather less pious and rather more fun than the monks’ cells in San Marco. They didn’t have a modern en suite bathroom, either!

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

And we are not quite sure what Dominican Friars would have made of this watercolour by a friend of ours, David Jones, which shows the 19th century Impressionist painter Toulouse-Lautrec at work in his studio, with a 1960s girl in a pale blue dress sitting in front, looking out at us.

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

What does it mean? Come and see for yourself and let us know your thoughts.

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and choose your favourite bedroom. You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

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

Make your own memories on Carl March’s pleasurable painting course this spring

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

I really like this atmospheric painting by Watermill tutor Carl March, which he calls Gateway to memories. Carl will be with us this spring for a course called ‘Drawing and Painting for Pleasure’. It will run from 18-25 April 2020. Why not come and join him and make your own memories of the Watermill, its gardens and the stunning unspoiled countryside of rural Tuscany which surrounds us. And, being spring, there should be plenty of daffodils:

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

There are more details about Carl’s course below, but if you’d like to book you’ll have to hurry: Eight people already booked in so we only have room for four or so more painters (and their non-painting partners, if they’d like to join them).

Drawing and design are Carl’s passions: he likes to experiment with various drawing mediums, combining them with traditional watercolour painting processes to create distinctively subtle works. They are regularly to be seen at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions in London.

Like most of our tutors, Carl likes to carry a sketchbook with him wherever he goes. Here a rural view. (I like the horse!)

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

Carl is also a great teacher. He says: “I love the genuine satisfaction in passing on my knowledge to others. For example, demonstrating a ‘step by step’ exercise, then witnessing students repeat the exercise for themselves. Suddenly the penny drops, and it all makes sense. Surely this is the real reward for any teacher.”

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

Here’s a comment from a previous student: “Carl has a gentle but effective way of teaching and we have learnt a lot from. Most importantly, however, under his guidance the class always becomes a very sociable and happy group. Quite simply, his classes are not only well planned and informative but also great fun.” 

And another says “When I went on my first painting holiday with Carl, I had never picked up a paintbrush other than to paint a ceiling. But within a day I had produced my first ever watercolour and the result was beyond my wildest dreams. Since then I have spent two further holidays under Carl’s tutelage, each time learning new skills as well as refreshing my knowledge of basic techniques. Thanks to Carl’s endless patience and encouragement I have become an enthusiastic watercolour painter and look forward to further enjoyable holidays led by this inspirational teacher.” 

Here’s a watercolour sketch by Carl, called Sarah’s Lilies, a study showing great spontaneity.

We already have eight people signed up for Carl’s 2020 course at the Watermill, so if you’d like to join us, now really is the time to book. And don’t forget our Early Bird discount offer: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 painting holiday.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and local transportation. You get to Pisa, we do the rest!

You can find out more about Carl at his course at the Watermill by clicking here. We would love you to join us.

Painting by Carl March, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
This garden walk was painted by Carl on a recent visit to Muscat, Oman.

The Gentileschi bedroom: celebrating a 17th century female painter who achieved fame in a man’s world

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

Our Facebook tours of Watermill bedrooms continue today with the Gentileschi: celebrating the life and work of Artemisia Gentileschi, an early 17th century Baroque painter working in Florence, at a time when female painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community, nor by patrons. But she was highly successful and was the first woman ever to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Designo.

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

Artemisia has become a feminist’s favourite and while I appreciate her skill, I’m not the greatest of fans of Baroque painting in general. But in the naming of our bedrooms, it is good to celebrate women artists as well as the more well-known men of the Renaissance and Early Modern period.

We should celebrate two other artistic women, too: Vivienne White, our friend and interior designer, and Lois Breckon, who chose the colours and painted the animated freeze of dandelion puffballs.  The paintings above the bed are by a contemporary male artist, Michael Willdridge, and are part of a series of 100 paintings he painted in 100 days last year.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here and you can see slideshows of our other bedrooms on our Facebook page: please just click here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci
The door to the Gentileschi bedroom is open to welcome you in.

The Ghirlandaio bedroom: ceiling beams and wonderful river views

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

Our Facebook tours of Watermill bedrooms continue today with the Ghirlandaio: Domenico Ghirlandaio was a late 15th century Florentine Renaissance painter, famous for his frescoes. Those in the Sassetti Chapel of the Santa Trinità church, with scenes from the life of St. Francis, are a knockout. I particularly like the miracle of the raising of the fallen boy, with its wondrous depictions of Florentine daily life.

The Ghirlandaio is in the recently restored 17th century mill, with exposed wooden ceiling beams, period features and wonderful views down the river. You can see the Ghirlandaio slideshow by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

*If you would like to see slideshows of some of our other bedrooms, you can see the Bronzino by clicking here and the Ghiberti by clicking here.  

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

Take a look round the Ghiberti bedroom via our Facebook slideshow

In the coming days, we would like to show you round our attractive (and quirky) Watermill bedrooms, named after famous Florentine artists.

Today we’re looking at the Ghiberti bedroom: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s baptistery doors in Florence are rightly hailed as one of the great Renaissance creations. The enormous bronze doors were described by Michelangelo as the Gates of Paradise and their 10 relief panels are recognised as masterpieces Renaissance sculpture.

We’ve gone for cool colours and a simple rose-stem frieze. You can see the effect in the Facebook slideshow by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you to the Watermill for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Stylish, classic Italian posters adorning a Ghiberti wall

Come and take a peek at the Bronzino bedroom via our Facebook slideshow

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

Over the coming week or so, we would like to show you round our attractive (and quirky) Watermill bedrooms. First up: the Bronzino, the great late Renaissance portraitist. You can see the slideshow by clicking here.

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here.

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

In the fresh air or in jail? Be careful when you tell the Italians you’d like to be al fresco

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Enjoying lunch in the fresh air at the Al Vecchio Tino restaurant during one of our painting courses

It’s commonplace or us expats to use the phrase al fresco when we want to eat or enjoy an aperitivo at tables outdoors. Since fresco means fresh, it seems to make sense that we’re asking to dine or drink outside in the fresh air. But be warned, fresco as an adjective usually means ‘chilly’ or ‘cool’, and as a noun it is used to describe a cool place: Metti il vino bianco al fresco, put the white wine somewhere cool. And the phrase al fresco is used colloquially to mean ‘in prison’.

So, potremmo essere al fresco? might just be translated as ‘Could we be cool?’ but is more likely to be understood as ‘Could we be in jail?’

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Enjoying lunch inside at the Locana al Castello in Verrucola, where we go to lunch on Mondays during our courses

I’m indebted to a recent article in the The Local, an English-language Italian newspaper, which tells me that phrase stare fresco literally translates as ‘stay cool’, but in Italian it has negative rather than laid-back connotations: getting into trouble, or waiting in vain. Se continui così, stai fresco, ‘If you carry on like that, you’re in trouble’. Or Se ti aspetti che quello ti aiuti, stai fresco, ‘If you expect me to help you, you’ll be disappointed.’

If you want to be outside, it’s best to say a fuori, or perhaps all’aria aperta, ‘in the open air’.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Learning the language, a fuori, under the shade of the vine verandah-
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

You be able to distinguish between eating outside and languishing in jail, and much more beside, if you join us on our unique Italian Language course at the Watermill this summer. With the Florentine language school Langues Services and our old friend Francesca la Sala, we’ve designed 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. it will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 29 August 2020. Not only will there be formal lessons  a fuori 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.

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

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. 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.

This exciting language course is suitable for all levels of ability, because of the special approach of the Langues Services language school. Its philosophy and method are inspired Professor Bertrand Schwartz of Paris University, who overturned the concept of teaching to adults, with an approach that develops not only theoretical knowledge but practical know-how as well.

The aim is to enhance the personal qualities of each student, tailoring the teaching to their needs and ambitions and establishing mutual, active and confident relationships, where the student is the true protagonist in the course. The motto is ‘action first, knowledge after.’

One previous course participant said: “A super language week: well organised, giving us a taste of the ‘real Italy.’ Despite the disparity in ability our tutor managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously.” Another added: “Our tutor was fantastic and designed a course that we could all follow at our own level.” 

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!

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

To recap, our Italian Language week will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday, 29 August 2020 and 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 for this unique course, to be sure of your place now is the time to book especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: if you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount.

And here’s another fine piece of Italian, seen on the wall of the trattoria where we go for lunch on Mondays during our creative courses. The translation? ‘In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water, bacteria!’

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

The importance of the painted sketch on location: painting tips from Mark

Our talented and enthusiastic English painting tutor Mark Warner believes that there is nothing like painting and sketching out on location. But there are drawbacks in trying to capture the sense of a place: time is limited, weather conditions are changing, and they may not be quite enough light.

Mark says: “A lot of information can be gathered through painted sketches, note taking and photography, then used to develop a different piece later in the warm, dry and ‘coffee on the go’ confines of the studio. Personally, I like both. Creating work on location as well as developing further responses differently back in the studio.”

The images above show, on the left, a double page in Mark’s sketch book using black conte charcoal and acrylic washes. He produced a few sketches, some photographs and then returned to the studio and developed an acrylic painting entitled Orchard, which you can see above right.

Here is Mark at work in the beautiful Shropshire hills near his home in England. He says: “Once again, the painted sketch is invaluable.”

As well as the countryside, Mark says he really enjoys painting en plein air in towns and cities. Below he can be seen painting at his easel in the banking district of central London.

This painting was started – and completed – on location. Mark says: “Sometimes it can be important not to further change or alter a piece of work. I wanted to capture the colour of people moving in the city, so I left it as it was.”

Mark adds: “Whether it is a beautiful hillside village in Tuscany or the bustle of city life, the intention is the same. I now need a lighter easel!” (Don’t worry, the Watermill will provide lightweight easels for you to take out on location. So, you don’t have to worry about buying or carrying them.)

Mark Warner, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy

We are delighted to welcome back Mark Warner to the international team of inspiring and sympathetic watermill painting tutors. His course next year is called Colourful Acrylics/Drawing/Pen & Wash and those are the mediums in which you will be working. Mark’s course will run from Saturday 11July to Saturday 18 July 2020.

Mark, from Shropshire in England, loves working outside – and he leads by example, creating a relaxed and encouraging environment for his students. He developed his passion for landscapes growing up in the West Wales and then moving onto the rolling hills of Shropshire enabled him to experiment further with colour, light and line. Mark says: “I adore using colour while interpreting the light, weather and a love for the materials. I work directly in the field (literally on many occasions!) and from sketches created outside as well as notes/photographs taken on location.” Here is a lovely demonstration picture, of the River Rosaro which runs beside the Watermill, made by Mark on his last visit here.

You can learn more about Mark and his course at the Watermill by clicking here. If you fancy capturing the stunning Tuscan countryside with your pen and brush, now is the time to book, particularly with our Early Bird Discount Offer: If you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount on this fabulous 2020 painting holiday.

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!

M ark’s sketch of the Watermill from the walled garden