Ready for the off

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

Good morning from virtual Italy! And a warm welcome to Pisa to the 120 people signed up for our unique, online, interactive ‘virtual’ Watermill painting week. We are looking forward to a fun time with an international group of painters.

Our group will be arriving this afternoon and we are going to be sketching and painting around this charming statue in the Piazza dei Miracoli, in which you will find the cathedral, the baptistery and the Leaning Tower.

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

It is probably now a little late to commit to joining our guests for the seven daily sessions, painting along with Mike Willdridge at the Watermill and beautiful locations in the local area. (But if you are keen to do so, please contact us personally at info@watermill.net and we’ll welcome you to the party.)

Perhaps, instead you’d like to join our next online session, with the exciting American watercolourist Randy Hale, whose Whistle Stop railway siding is just waiting for you to paint it.

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

You can find out all about Randy’s session, which takes place on Thursday 10 December, by clicking here. We’d love you to join us!

Meanwhile, we will keep you posted of progress at Posara on our ‘virtual week’. Have a good weekend – and happy painting!

Virtual painting sessions turn into real greetings cards

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

Here’s a pleasant idea: why not use the Watermill’s online painting sessions to help you create festive greetings cards for your friends.

That is just what Hilary Frame did, with the results seen in our picture above. Hilary was one of the participants in a recent online, interactive session with Mike Willdridge, when the subject was a vase of roses. Here is another of Hilary’s cards:

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

Mike’s next sessions are in our ‘virtual’ painting week at the Watermill: seven days in which you will paint along every day for two or three hours with him, ‘visiting’ the glorious locations around the Watermill, which we use during our ‘real’ painting holidays. We are sure they will provide plenty of material for colourful festive cards, as well as providing fun and camaraderie for all the participants.

Some 120 people have now signed up for this week, which begins on Saturday 28 November, so if you would like to join this ‘international painting club’ (people come from all over the world for our online sessions) there is still time to register. You can register by clicking here.

Come and join us, banish the coronavirus blues, send greetings to your friends – or perhaps book yourself a real Watermill painting holiday with Mike or any other of our inspiring tutors, and give yourself a Christmas present!

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
Mike’s picture of the River Rosaro, which runs beside the Watermill.

We are looking forward to a busy, but creative, week, where you will not only be painting in and around the Watermill with Mike, but also enjoying mouth-watering recipes from our kitchen, reading background notes to the stunning locations we will ‘visit’, a daily gallery of everyone’s paintings – and a chance to win one of Mike’s wonderful Watermill watercolours.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s watercolour of our millstream bubbling back towards the river

Every day for a week you’ll join Mike Willdridge online and paint along with him in real time as we make ‘virtual’ visits to the stunning locations we enjoy during our Watermill painting holidays: an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a sunlit café by the harbour in a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background. We have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with pictures of these lovely locations, which you can see by clicking here.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days.

And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting’. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory. There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Fivizzano market, where you will pay a ‘virtual’ visit on Tuesday.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge works 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. A comment from a previous painter: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive. Another said: “Mike is a superb tutor and his online, interactive painting sessions our inspiring and fun.” 

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

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 Breckon will be on hand to feed your questions. Each session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike will supply a photograph, a practice painting, and, if appropriate, a drawing of what is going to be painted, plus a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these 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 you will also be able to see the paintings sent in by the participants.

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouth-watering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from Gorgonzola soufflés to Capri chocolate cake; from tasty appetisers to succulent chicken involtini.

And there is even more: At the end of the week we will put all the participants’ names into a lottery and the winner will be sent one of Mike’s original paintings from the online course. (To comply with the law there has to be an element of skill in a lottery these days, so were going to ask you a question about the Watermill and its painting locations. Readers of this newsletter will have a head start: the question is what is the name of the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint on market days on Tuesdays?)

The cost?

It obviously takes a good deal of time and effort to organise the sessions and in administration and personal communications with each of the participants. So we think the virtual painting week at the Watermill is incredibly good value for money: £70 (English pounds) for all seven daily sessions and all the add-ons. That’s just £10 for each one of these inspiring, interactive online sessions. (This is a block booking:If you can’t make it each day, you will still receive access to all the videos, the daily gallery and have an entry into the lottery for your chance to win Mike’s original paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You could win a painting like this.

Here’s how to register

Please register for Mike’s virtual online, interactive painting week at the Watermill from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020  by clicking here.

After a week online, why not also paint with Mike at the Watermill for real next year?

Mike Willdridge 

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 AND Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

You can also learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

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

Why our Italian roast pork is all Greek to me

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

Our friend Freya Middleton, who runs the best tour agency in Florence (see http://www.freyasflorence.com/), recently published a blog about the wonderful Tuscan roast pork called arista, a classic Italian dish we serve at the Watermill.

It reminded me of my own research into the history of this tasty dish, particularly in the pages of Pellegrino Artusi’s famous classical Italian cookbook, L’arte di mangiar bene. Why call it arista?.  It would seem to make more sense to call for this arrosto (roast) or even arrostito (roasted).

But Pellegrino says: “During the [Church] Council of 1430, convened in Florence to resolve some difference between the Roman and Greek churches, this dish, known by another name at the time, was served up to the bishops and their entourage. When they found it was to their liking they began to cry ‘arista, arista’ (good, good).”

Actually, if the Byzantine bishops were speaking Greek, they would have said aristos, which means excellent or optimal, from which we get aristocracy, ‘the rule of the best.’  No matter, the Italians, thinking the Greeks were describing the dish, heard it as arista and continue to call it so to this day.  There are those who question this story and say the Florentines called the dish arista well before the ecumenical council, but I like Pellegrino’s story better.

We use tender pork loin to produce this dish every week for our creative courses. Come and try it for yourself. We think you’ll find it aristos.

Incidentally, we are thinking of producing a series of online videos presenting some of the Watermill’s favourite recipes. Is this something in which you would be interested? If so, please let us know, by commenting this blog. Thank you.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

A new, exciting Watermill watercolour online painting tutor: Randy Hale

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

We are honoured to welcome the exciting American watercolourist Randy Hale to the Watermill online team. Randy will be joining us for real in Tuscany, Italy next summer, but in the meantime, we are looking forward to his first interactive online session with us, on 10 December 2020.

The theme will be painting negative shapes in watercolour and the session will start at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, British time. (5 o’clock in the afternoon European time; 9 o’clock in the morning in Denver, Colorado, USA where Randy lives.) Please note that this is a little later than our normal Thursday online session, to allow more of Randy’s compatriots in the United States to take part. The session will last two to three hours.

Above is Randy’s trial picture of the subject, a quiet American railway siding. He calls the painting Whistle Stop. We suppose he means it more in the American sense of a small, unimportant town on a railway, rather than a rush-about whistle-stop tour, because you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Randy’s demonstration, as well as painting along with him.

The subject is a railway siding, where trains will be loaded with coal to haul down the track. Randy says: “It’s winter, so I figured I’d add snow-covered peaks as a background: I wanted to work with some basic cube shapes.”

Randy says: “I’ve had several requests recently on how to use negative shapes to create strong value contrast.” So he has made this small graphite value study (a thumbnail without much detail) to help him work out where he wanted to save white spaces and where he needed to place darks.

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

Randy says: “Planning is all about making choices, visualizing, painting the painting in my head before I every put brush to paper.”

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

Before the session Randy will supply the photograph above, together with a preliminary drawing, 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 Randy’s step-by-step teaching. There will also be a gallery of paintings sent in by participants.

The online sessions, which will be hosted by Lois Breckon, will be full of inspirational tips. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions during the demonstration as well as painting along with Randy. Please register by clicking here.

When you register, we’ll send you a link to the Zoom session and to a suggested materials list and colours for your palette. All those who register for Randy’s course will also receive, after the event, a link to a video of the session, for you to revisit his tutorial in your own time. You will also receive a link to a gallery of participants’ paintings.

When you register for the session you will be asked for a donation. Our Zoom painting demonstrations do take quite a bit of time in preparation and administration and your support is very much appreciated. With your generosity we can plan and run further sessions and, more importantly, provide a regular meeting place for creativity, camaraderie and fun. We hope that you enjoy the international, online painting community that we have created.

To recap: Randy Hale’s watercolour session ‘Whistle Stop’, emphasising the importance of negative shapes, begins at 4 o’clock in the afternoon British time on Thursday 10 December 2020. That registration link again: just click here.

And when you have enjoyed painting along online with Randy, why not join him for his fun-filled, sun filled, inspiring week-long course at the Watermill at Posara next summer?

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

Randy Hale 

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

We would love to welcome you here.

I have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows, with more of Randy’s paintings, which you can see by clicking here.

Painting by Randy Hale, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Randy’s impression of the Watermill seen from the walled garden.

A Century Not Out! Thanks for your support

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
Mike’s picture of the River Rosaro, which runs beside the Watermill.

More than 100 people have signed up for Mike Willdridge’s ‘virtual’ online painting week at the Watermill. Our thanks to everyone for their support. We are now looking forward to a busy, but creative, week, where you will not only be painting in and around the Watermill with Mike, but also enjoying mouth-watering recipes from our kitchen, reading background notes to the stunning locations we will ‘visit’, a daily gallery of everyone’s paintings – and a chance to win one of Mike’s wonderful Watermill watercolours.

Our virtual week begins next Saturday, so there is still time to join us and savour the delights of a Watermill painting week, albeit vicariously. Sign up to enjoy a few hours painting every day for seven creative days, beating the coronavirus blues and enjoying the lively company of an international group of like-minded people. You can register by clicking here.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s watercolour of our millstream bubbling back towards the river

Every day for a week you’ll join Mike Willdridge online and paint along with him in real time as we make ‘virtual’ visits to the stunning locations we enjoy during our Watermill painting holidays: an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a sunlit café by the harbour in a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background. We have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with pictures of these lovely locations, which you can see by clicking here.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days.

And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting’. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory. There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Fivizzano market, where you will pay a ‘virtual’ visit on Tuesday.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge works 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. A comment from a previous painter: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive. Another said: “Mike is a superb tutor and his online, interactive painting sessions our inspiring and fun.” 

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

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 Breckon will be on hand to feed your questions. Each session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike will supply a photograph, a practice painting, and, if appropriate, a drawing of what is going to be painted, plus a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these 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 you will also be able to see the paintings sent in by the participants.

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouth-watering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from Gorgonzola soufflés to Capri chocolate cake; from tasty appetisers to succulent chicken involtini.

And there is even more: At the end of the week we will put all the participants’ names into a lottery and the winner will be sent one of Mike’s original paintings from the online course. (To comply with the law there has to be an element of skill in a lottery these days, so were going to ask you a question about the Watermill and its painting locations. Readers of this newsletter will have a head start: the question is what is the name of the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint on market days on Tuesdays?)

The cost?

It obviously takes a good deal of time and effort to organise the sessions and in administration and personal communications with each of the participants. So we think the virtual painting week at the Watermill is incredibly good value for money: £70 (English pounds) for all seven daily sessions and all the add-ons. That’s just £10 for each one of these inspiring, interactive online sessions. (This is a block booking:If you can’t make it each day, you will still receive access to all the videos, the daily gallery and have an entry into the lottery for your chance to win Mike’s original paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You could win a painting like this.

Here’s how to register

Please register for Mike’s virtual online, interactive painting week at the Watermill from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 by clicking here.

After a week online, why not also paint with Mike at the Watermill for real next year?

Mike Willdridge 

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 AND Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

You can also learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

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

Another inspirational online pastel session with Rebecca

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Our heartfelt thanks once again to Rebecca de Mendonça for a lovely online session last Thursday on the art of pastel painting. More than 150 people participated, many of them trying pastels for the first time.

Here are a few comments from participants:

Thank you for the fantastic and very informative lesson. I hope to join you again.

A big thank you to you & Rebecca for today’s workshop. Really informative.

The street scene looked so complicated, but Rebecca made me feel it was doable, so I’m really looking forward to having a go tomorrow, watching the recording. Having this will be so helpful, to pause, go back etc. I hope you get lots of donations.

I found it fascinating watching the picture build up and learned a lot, particularly about leaving stuff out & not following colours too slavishly.

I don’t normally work in this medium, but I really enjoyed the session. I so enjoyed it today and hope one day to actually see you in your beautiful home.

Fascinating, and a technique I hadn’t seen before.  I must get out my very underused set of pastels straight away.

Thank you – this has been fascinating & encouraging.

The subject was an Oxford (England) street scene. That’s Rebecca’s demonstration above and below is a montage of a few of the paintings sent in by participants at the end of the session. I am afraid I haven’t room for all of them, but many thanks to those who sent them in.

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

So that you can see them a little larger, I made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with these images. You can see it by clicking here.

Rebecca’s next online, interactive pastel session will be on Thursday 19 September. The topic will be ‘A wintry scene with figures’. You can register for this online workshop by clicking here

But why not also try the ‘real’ thing and join Rebecca for her week-long course in pastels at the Watermill next year. We would love to welcome you here.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy
Rebecca’s lovely pastel of the view down the Valley of the river Rosaro towards Posara.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Rebecca de Mendonça  

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here

A bright and summery Sue Ford collage to warm your winter days

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

It has turned rather chilly in Italy in the past few days: there is snow on the high Apennines above the Watermill and here in Florence, where we are effectively locked down, a sharp wind blows round the ancient buildings and ruffles the feathers of the pigeons in the broad piazzas.

So I thought we all needed cheering up with a bright and summery Italian picture. And who better to provided it than our versatile and talented Watermill tutor Sue Ford. Her collage above, of a village in the Cinque Terre, hangs in the Watermill sitting room.

And here’s another cheerful fishing village, this time in the North of England.

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

Sue has experimented with almost every conceivable media in her career. Sue says: “I just love creating pictures in any medium – and I love passing on what I’ve learned to other people, helping them to release their creativity.”  . Here’s Sue’s watercolour of the river Rosaro, which flows past the Watermill.

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

Sue’s week-long course, in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic, will run from Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021.

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

She says: “Each student will be guided carefully throughout the day, from initial demonstration to ‘getting started’, followed by patient, professional tuition.

“The aim is to stretch all students, regardless of their ability, in a relaxed learning environment, giving them a foundation of artistic techniques, as well as developing their own style.

I want 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.”

Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Sue’s sketch of the village of Verrucola, where we go to paint on Mondays.

A guest on Sue’s previous painting course here said: “I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! A wonderful experience that I will treasure. Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

I have made one of those fun Facebook slideshows with more of Sue’s paintings in different mediums, which you can see by clicking here.

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

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 (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 you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

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

Sue Ford 

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Come and join us and make 2021 a year to remember.

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

An exotic visitor enjoys our golden fruits. Surround yourself with nature on a Watermill creative course

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

You may recollect that a couple of weeks ago we told you about the harvest of our cacchi, persimmons, golden orbs of delicious fruit. Lois picked 100 or so of them, which we’ve enjoyed for breakfast and given to our friends here in Florence, to brighten their locked-down days.

We are not the only ones to savour the cacchi: numerous birds have enjoyed the high-grown fruits beyond our picking reach, most commonly sparrows and black caps. But our most exotic visitor has been a usignolo giapponese, a Japanese nightingale, seen above. Our gardener, Flavio Terenzoni, captured his/her visit (you see how good my ornithological knowledges!) on a short video, which you can watch by clicking here.

As we have no doubt mentioned before, The Watermill is surrounded by two environmentally protected areas: The National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the backbone of Italy, and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, home of the marble mountains of Carrara. The air and the water are pure and unpolluted, and the area abounds in wildlife. With his night-vision camera, Flavio has recently videoed a large stag, porcupines and a fox going about their nocturnal activities, which were the subject of previous blogs.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A swallowtail butterfly at the Watermill, photograph: Lara Breckon

As well as this mammalian wildlife (there are badgers and wild boar, too) we have a plethora of birds, which make the springtime dawn chorus quite noisy, and many species of butterflies and bees. I particularly like the swallowtail butterflies and am intrigued by the hummingbird moths, which can actually fly backwards.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A hummingbird moth in the Watermill courtyard. Picture: Ron Ploeg

As for the Japanese nightingale, I must confess I know little about it, so if anyone’s got any information, please tell us more.

So, as well as our inspiring teaching, our beautiful setting, our delicious food and wine, and our warm and welcoming hospitality, you will also enjoy communing with nature during your creative course at the Watermill.

Our 2021 courses are booking fast: we have more than 215 bookings for next year out of a theoretical total of some 250/260. So why not beat the coronavirus blues and book your place and enjoy pleasant anticipation during the winter months? Below is the latest availability of all our creative courses for 2021.

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

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2)  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mike Willdridge  Recently opened, places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics.)

  To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge One place available

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown one or two places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Two or three places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

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


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Two or three places remaining

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



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Are you imbottito? The Italians are in the autumn, whatever the weather

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

It’s a curious phenomenon, but every year, whatever the weather, round about the middle of October the Italians start wearing their winter clothes. It’s the cambio di stagione, the change of the season: summer clothes are banished to the wardrobe to be replaced by warmer winter outfits. And these are worn even though the weather may be sunny and mild. The official arrival of autumn means a complete cambio dell’armadio (wardrobe change).

When someone is particularly well wrapped up against the cold, we say they are imbottito.Our friends at the English-language Italian newspaper The Local, who recently made imbottito their Word of the Day, say: “It might not be the most obvious adjective to use, as it comes from the verb imbottire, similar to riempire, it means to ‘stuff’, ‘pad’ or ‘fill’ something – like a cushion, or a sandwich. “It comes from the word for barrel: una botte – imagine a fat, wooden barrel filled to bursting.”

The Local asks: “So how can this possibly be the right word to describe someone being very warmly dressed? In English, we’d hardly say someone was ‘stuffed with’ or ‘packed full of’ clothes.” But that’s exactly how it can be used in Italian: Mi sono imbottito di abiti prima di uscire’  I wrapped up well before going out.

The newspaper adds: “There is after all a reason for the snug seasonal outfits: the dreaded colpo d’aria, a ‘chill’ which, as nonna will remind you, you could easily catch if you go outside, or sit inside next to a window, without being adequately imbottito. So, if someone tells you: Imbottirsi per bene, they’re not telling you to ‘stuff yourself’, but to ‘wrap yourself up well.’”

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

Can you help us reach our century? We are ‘virtually’ there!

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

Bookings for Mike Willdridge’s inspiring ‘virtual’ online painting week at the Watermill are, like the millstream below, bubbling in. At the last count more than 80 people had signed in. Our ambition is to reach 100 participants for this unique Watermill venture, so we would love you to join us, and savour the delights of a Watermill painting week, albeit vicariously. Sign up to enjoy a few hours painting every day for seven creative days, beating the coronavirus blues and enjoying the lively company of an international group of like-minded people.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s watercolour of our millstream bubbling back towards the river

Every day for a week you’ll join Mike Willdridge online and paint along with him in real time as we make ‘virtual’ visits to the stunning locations we enjoy during our Watermill painting holidays: an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a sunlit café by the harbour in a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background. We have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with pictures of these lovely locations, which you can see by clicking here.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days.

And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting’. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory. There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Fivizzano market, where you will pay a ‘virtual’ visit on Tuesday.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge works 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. A comment from a previous painter: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive. Another said: “Mike is a superb tutor and his online, interactive painting sessions our inspiring and fun.” 

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

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 Breckon will be on hand to feed your questions. Each session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike will supply a photograph, a practice painting, and, if appropriate, a drawing of what is going to be painted, plus a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these 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 you will also be able to see the paintings sent in by the participants.

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouth-watering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from Gorgonzola soufflés to Capri chocolate cake; from tasty appetisers to succulent chicken involtini.

And there is even more: At the end of the week we will put all the participants’ names into a lottery and the winner will be sent one of Mike’s original paintings from the online course. (To comply with the law there has to be an element of skill in a lottery these days, so were going to ask you a question about the Watermill and its painting locations. Readers of this newsletter will have a head start: the question is what is the name of the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint on market days on Tuesdays?)

The cost?

It obviously takes a good deal of time and effort to organise the sessions and in administration and personal communications with each of the participants. So we think the virtual painting week at the Watermill is incredibly good value for money: £70 (English pounds) for all seven daily sessions and all the add-ons. That’s just £10 for each one of these inspiring, interactive online sessions. (This is a block booking:If you can’t make it each day, you will still receive access to all the videos, the daily gallery and have an entry into the lottery for your chance to win Mike’s original paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You could win a painting like this.

Here’s how to register

Please register for Mike’s virtual online, interactive painting week at the Watermill from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 by using the Watermill Contact Form, which you can find by clicking here. Select: Week’s online course, Mike Willdridge 28 Nov – 4 Dec.

After a week online, why not also paint with Mike at the Watermill for real next year?

Mike Willdridge 

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 AND Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

You can also learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

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