Time to stop being stufa (or stufo, come to that). Escape for a creative week at the Watermill

Picture: The Local

The Italians have a word for it, that feeling of being fed up, sick and tired of the situation, which I guess many us us have been feeling for many months now. And Italy being Italy, you can also make an expressive gesture while saying it, breathing out first syllable in exasperation: “stoof-o.

Sono stufo or Sono stufa: I’m fed up. (It depends on whether a man or a woman is talking.)

Stufo (masculine) or stufa (feminine), comes from the verb stufare, to stew, and you may have seen a stufado, a stew, on a restaurant menu. We serve a delicious stufatino alla romana, a little Roman beef stew, on one of our Watermill creative course outings to a local trattoria. As a noun, a stufa is a stove.

We are grateful to Jessica Phelan, editor of The Local Italy, our online English language newspaper, for reminding us of the word, which seems particularly apposite after months of our lives being curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sono stufo. Picture: Daily Italian Words

But now we are beginning to see a vaccinated light at the end of the gloomy tunnel, there is no need to be stufa or stufo anymore. Now is the time to cast off those coronavirus blues, booking a glorious release in a creative course at the Watermill. We promise you inspiring tuition, stunning surroundings, warm hospitality delicious food and the convivial company of like-minded people on a week you will remember with pleasure for years to come.

Sono contento. Did someone mention food? Picture: The Atlantic.

The Watermill is planning a ‘grand re-awakening’ of sun-filled, fun-filled courses in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, starting in the middle of June and we would be delighted if you could join us.

Our inspiring painting courses:

Here is the complete list of our painting tutors for next year. You can find out more about each of them by clicking on their Profile page link in their entries below.


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

Mike Willdridge
12 – 19 June 2021
Watercolours
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page


Paul Talbot-Greaves
19 – 26 June 2021 
Watercolours
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
26 June – 3 July 2021
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.


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

Vicki Norman
3 – 10 July 2021 
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.


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

Carl March
10 – 17 July 2021 
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Randy Hale
21 – 28 August 2021 
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Mike Willdridge
28 August – 4 September 2021 x places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Mike Willdridge
4 – 11 September 2021
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
11 – 18 September 2021 
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Brienne M Brown
18 – 25 September 2021 
Watercolours
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.


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

Tim Wilmot
2 – 9 October 2021 
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


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

Ali Hargreaves
9 – 16 October 2021 
Watercolours
To learn more about Ali and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.


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

Grahame Booth
23 – 30 October 2021 x places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.



Our enabling writing courses:

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
24 – 31 July 2021 
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill course at the mill, please visit their 2021 Tutor Profile Page.


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

Jo Parfitt
14 -21 August 2021
Writing your life stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Tutor Profile page.



Our relaxing knitting weeks:

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

Knitting retreat
17-24 July 2021
Knitting and la Bella Vita To learn more about our knitting retreat, please click here



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

Louisa Harding
7 – 14 August 2021
Knitting and la Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please visit her 2021 Profile page.



Our enhancing language week:

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

Francesca La Sala
16-23 October 2021
A novel approach to learning Italian
To learn more about Francesca and her course at the mill, please visit our Language Programme Page



“Her wonderful paintings are an inspiration.” Vicki Norman joins the Watermill online painting team

Vicki’s practice oil painting of the view down the valley towards the Watermill.

We are delighted to welcome the renowned UK painter Vicki Norman to the team of talented Watermill tutors who are providing our inspiring online, interactive sessions.

On Vicki’s first session with us, on Tuesday 16 March 2021, you will be able to paint along with her, reproducing the lovely scene above, of the view down the Valley of the River Rosaro towards the Watermill from the walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano. You can paint along with Vicki in oils, or in acrylics, if you prefer.

Vicki specialises in painting on location, seeking to capture the essence of the day and the sense of place through colour and the play of light. As one of our guests on her last painting course at the Watermill said: “Vicki was excellent as a teacher: Her wonderful paintings were an inspiration.”

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

Vicki’s Zoom session is live on Tuesday 16 March at 3:30 pm Italian time. (2:30 pm UK time. We know this may be a little early in the morning for those of you in United States of America or Canada, or in the middle of the night if you live in Australia or New Zealand, but even if you can’t make the live session, you can still register and receive an edited video of the demonstration to paint along in your own time. See below.)

As you probably know, our Watermill online session have proved a great success, with more than a hundred participants painting along with our inspiring tutors every Thursday afternoon. We really do seem to have created an international community of like-minded people, who spend a couple of hours or more in each session, not only painting along and learning new skills, but also establishing that camaraderie and a sense of purpose in these difficult times. Our guests have called them ‘morale boosting’ and ‘a wonderful distraction’.

Registration for this exciting online, interactive session is through the Eventbrite platform and you can join up by clicking here. Come and join us online next Tuesday and enjoy painting the unspoiled delights of rural Tuscany with Vicki.

Unlike many online painting programmes, Vicki’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 Vicki 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, Vicki will move onto the next part of the process. Lois Breckon from The Watermill at Posara will be on hand during the session to feed your questions. The session will last a couple of hours.

When you register for the session you will be asked for a donation. (If you prefer to donate by direct bank transfer, please let us know.) People often ask how much is acceptable. Our answer? It’s like a Scottish house dram of whisky: it neither offends the guest nor the host!” But the most important thing is to donate whatever makes you feel comfortable. 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.

Once you have registered you will be provided with two links. The first is the Zoom link for you to join the session. Please note that the start time is 4pm (UK time). The second link is where you will find the photograph that you will paint, a practice painting, and a list of equipment and colours for your palette.

The reference photograph for your painting of the valley view.

After the event, you are invited to email us with your painting to add to the online Gallery. In addition, we will send you a link to an edited video of the demonstration that will enable to you revisit Vicki’s step-by-step teaching.

When you’ve painted with Vicki online, why not join her for real at the Watermill in Tuscany Italy next summer? Vicki will be with us for her course, in oils and watercolours (and other mediums), from Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021. You can find out more by clicking here. We would love to welcome you to the Watermill.

Painting by Vicki Norman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Here’s another lovely Vicki painting, entitled first light on the vineyard

I have made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows with more of Vicki’s exciting paintings which you can see by clicking here.

In the meantime, come and paint along online with Vicki. That Eventbrite link again: just click here.

This time tomorrow this is where you could be, painting under the Tuscan sun

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
The sunny street in Pisa where you could be painting tomorrow. How can you resist?

Yes, on the latest Watermill online interactive ‘virtual’ painting week you can spend a couple of hours every day painting in glorious locations in sunny Tuscany Italy. And within a short time of your arrival you will be painting this sunny street scene in Pisa. Then, during the week, you will capture with your brush the two ladies gossiping in a town square, as in the picture below; visit a market in the wonderful walled town of Lucca; enjoy the tranquillity of an ancient convent; savour the history of a thousand-year-old village with soaring mountains in the background; and paint in the warm and welcoming Watermill courtyard.

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

Your guide and guru for the relaxing and inspiring interactive painting week will be the celebrated English watercolourist Mike Willdridge. It will run from Saturday 20 February to Friday 26 February inclusive. So you have just two days left to make sure of your place under the Tuscan sun. You will find details below of how to make your reservation.

Mike calls it a ‘great adventure’ and it will certainly add spice to your life: painting along with him, learning more about the techniques of watercolour painting and, perhaps above all, enjoying the international camaraderie of like-minded people. We are expecting 100 people or so to join in, from various parts of the world.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
The warm and welcoming Watermill courtyard, another painting venue during your week.

The response to our first online, interactive ‘virtual’ week at the end of last year was overwhelming. As one participant said: “It was a fabulous week and over all too quickly. I can’t tell you how much I am missing being in Tuscany! It was the best thing I have done all year. Mike’s demonstrations were so clear and informative. I felt I learnt more in seven days than I have in seven years!”

Each daily session will last two-and-a-half 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: “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.”

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You will paint this flowery market in Lucca on Wednesday.

To help give you the real flavour (pardon the pun) 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.

A montage of some of the Watermill recipes you can cook during our second ‘virtual’ painting week.

I have also made a short Facebook slide show with these images, so you can see them a little larger and tempt your palate even more. Just click here.

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.

You could win a painting like this
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. 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 are inspiring and fun.” 

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s demonstration painting of the village lane from the Watermill, made during our first virtual week.

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.

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from amaretto mouse ice cream to baked salmon with a pistachio crust.

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.

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.

Here’s how to register

Please register for Mike’s virtual online, interactive painting week at the Watermill from Saturday 20 February to Friday 26 February 2021, using our online events organiser, Eventbrite. Just click here.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
The scene on your last painting venue of the week.

When you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real, on his Watermill course next year?

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

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!

Come and join us! For more about 2021 painting holidays, please click here.

An ancient hilltop village, spectacular mountain views – and an Italian washing line! The final venue on our exciting ‘virtual’ online painting week

Mike’s demonstration painting for the final day of your ‘virtual’ week at the Watermill.

On the last day of both our ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ painting weeks we visit the village of Monte dei Bianchi, hardly changed through a thousand years of history. There are spectacular views of the towering Alpi Apuane, the marble mountains of Carrara.

But what attracted Mike’s attention (as it has done for many of our other Watermill artists) was the colourful line of washing, as seen in his demonstration picture above.

And that is what you will be painting on the last day if you join us and our Watermill ‘virtual’ online, interactive painting week with Mike Willdridge. It will run from Saturday 20 February to Friday 26 February inclusive.

It follows the great success of our first ‘virtual’ week at the end of last year, when more than 120 people painted along with Mike each day for seven days. They ‘visited’ the stunning locations we enjoy during our ‘real’ 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 that hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background.

And their response was overwhelming. As one participant said: “It was a fabulous week and over all too quickly. I can’t tell you how much I am missing being in Tuscany! It was the best thing I have done all year. Mike’s demonstrations were so clear and informative. I felt I learnt more in seven days than I have in seven years!”

Encouraged by your enthusiasm, we decided to do it again, visiting the same exciting locations* but with completely different subjects to paint. If you have been before you know how much fun it is, and how inspiring: join us again for more camaraderie and new exciting painting subjects; if you haven’t been before, now is the time to find out what the fuss is all about! (*Except that on Wednesday we will ‘visit’ the wonderful walled town of Lucca, rather than the Cinque Terre.)

Come and join the adventure! And enjoy painting Italian washing.

You can register for the event by clicking here.

*I don’t want to overburden you with words, but just in case you don’t know all about our renowned interactive weeks, you can find out all the details by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Here is what the scene looks like without the washing…

Let’s paint in Pisa on the first day of our Watermill ‘virtual’ online, interactive week

In normal times most of our painting course guests fly into Pisa, where we pick them up in one of our minibuses and transport them to the mill (with spectacular views of the white marble mountains of Carrara on the way.)

So for the first adventure on our next exciting Watermill ‘virtual’ online, interactive painting week, tutor Mike Willdridge thought we might just stop for a couple of hours or so in Pisa and paint an Italian street scene. That’s Mike’s demonstration drawing above.

Yes, the next Watermill ‘virtual’ online, interactive painting week with Mike Willdridge will run from Saturday 20 February to Friday 26 February inclusive. We can’t welcome you here in person at the moment, of course, although we do hope you be able to join us for one of our renowned painting courses later in the year, but you will have an inspiring online adventure with a convivial group of like-minded people, painting at wonderful Italian locations from the comfort of your own home.

This follows the great success of our first ‘virtual’ week at the end of last year, when more than 120 people painted along with Mike each day for seven days. They ‘visited’ the stunning locations we enjoy during our ‘real’ 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.

And their response was overwhelming. As one participant said: “It was a fabulous week and over all too quickly. I can’t tell you how much I am missing being in Tuscany! It was the best thing I have done all year. Mike’s demonstrations were so clear and informative. I felt I learnt more in seven days than I have in seven years!”

Encouraged by your enthusiasm, we decided to do it again, visiting the same exciting locations* but with completely different subjects to paint. If you have been before you know how much fun it is, and how inspiring: join us again for more camaraderie and new exciting painting subjects; if you haven’t been before, now is the time to find out what the fuss is all about! (*Except that on Wednesday we will ‘visit’ the wonderful walled town of Lucca, rather than the Cinque Terre.)

Come and join the adventure!

You can register for the event by clicking here.

*I don’t want to overburden you with words, but just in case you don’t know all about our renowned interactive weeks, you can find out all the details by clicking here.

Sneak preview: a little white chapel in the nearby village, which we will paint on Monday during our ‘virtual’ week.

Randy shows how painting from photos can be fluid and spontaneous, in our next online, interactive session

Randy’s practice painting next Thursday’s session.

The Watermill’s next exciting live, interactive painting session is with the renowned US watercolourist and Watermill tutor Randy Hale. It is on Thursday 11 February at 5:00 pm European time. (Obviously, due to the inexorable laws of physics, this will be early in the morning in some parts of North America and late at night in Australia. If you can’t make the live session, you can still register and receive an edited video of the demonstration to paint along in your own time. See below.)

The theme is painting from photographs: quickly capturing the essence of a busy scene. “It’s fun to take a photo and turn into something a bit more abstract,” says Randy. “It is also good to work quite quickly. “This is an excellent lesson in LESS is MOREWhen you work quickly and don’t think too much, the result is usually more fluid, spontaneous.” Randy’s approach is to simplify, and not get bogged down in details.

The original photo: too much detail!

Unlike many online painting programmes, Randy’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 Randy 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, Randy will move onto the next part of the process.

Lois Breckon from The Watermill at Posara will be on hand during the session to feed your questions. The session, on Zoom, will last a couple of hours or so.

Registration for this exciting online, interactive session is through the Eventbrite platform and you can join up by clicking here.

When you register for the session you will be asked for a donation. How much you give is entirely up to you. We like to think it should be like the dram of whisky you receive when visiting a Scotsman’s home: the size should neither offend the host nor the guest! 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.

When you have registered, you will be provided with two internet links. The first is the Zoom link for you to join the session. The second link is where you will find a source photograph of the subject that you will paint, a demonstration painting by Randy, to show you where you are heading, and a list of equipment and colours for your palette.

After the event, you will be invited to email us with your painting to add to a participants’ gallery. We will also send you a link to an edited video of the session that will enable to you revisit Randy’s step-by-step teaching. This will enable those in different time zones to download video and paint along at home in their own time. To enthuse you, here’s an example of a video from a previous online session with Randy.

The demonstration painting from Randy’s last session.

In these difficult times, we hope that our online initiatives may add a ray of creative sunshine. Brighten your day and paint along with Randy. That registration link again: You can join up by clicking here.

More Italian tips for daily well-being: get out and about and change your coffee-drinking habits

From Italy with love

Today is the last in our series on 10 Italian lifestyle habits that add to the quality of daily living, based on suggestions from Patrick Browne in The Local, our Italian English-language newspaper. The first is rather difficult to achieve in these restricted times; and in the UK and the USA at least, the paucity of true Italian café’s makes the second quite difficult too. Starbucks ain’t quite the same!

Habit #9: Go out and about

Patrick says: “When Italians go out, they tend to move around a lot. They don’t just head to the nearest watering hole with their friends – they actively hit many venues over the course of the evening.

While the endless debate about where to go next can get tiresome, an Italian night out is great for socializing because it brings you into contact with many more people.

It also favours the group dynamic as your itinerary will tend to take you to places that different people in your group like: introverts who like quiet bars and extroverts who love crowded clubs all get a fair kick of the ball.”

Habit #10 Italianize your coffee habits

Picture: The Local

Patrick says: “Generally speaking, having a coffee is a quick affair in Italy. You drink it standing up at the bar. Coffee culture elsewhere tends to involve long, lingering sips, where you sit down for as long as you like and get endless refills.”

And then there is the dreaded cappuccino rule: “If Italy has taught us anything at all, it’s that you should NEVER drink a cappuccino after your afternoon or evening meal. Nobody is sure why, but it’s a no-no. It just is.”

I think the reason why is that Italians feel that milk is more difficult is more difficult to digest and therefore should only be taken in the morning. Italians are becoming more relaxed, though, and accept that we mad Brits or Yanks have peculiar coffee-drinking habits and they’ll serve us cappuccino in the afternoon. I cheat by having a caffe macchiato, a black coffee with a splash of cold milk.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 10 quirky tips from Italy to add to your enjoyment of life. We are off to our local café for a morning cappuccino and a nice chat!

The Orcagna, one of our favourite Florentine cafés. Spot the dog! He’s friendly too.

I bet this picture makes you smile! Join Charles at the Watermill and smile some more.

We have just received the latest newsletter from our friend and Watermill painting tutor Charles Sluga and I couldn’t resist passing on this wonderful picture of three boys. Charles says: “One of the things I love about my paintings is that they connect with people of all ages and backgrounds.”

These three boys were allowed to purchase a print of their choice for their bedrooms. They chose “Robot”, “Biggles” and “Batman”. They had them framed by Charles’s studio and this engaging image was taken on the day they collected their prints. Charles says: “I can’t help smiling looking at this. This kind of response makes it all worthwhile – just love it!”

Well, we couldn’t help smiling, too, and we hope you’ve done the same. I particularly like the expression on the face of the boy on the right, and the socks of the boy in the middle.

There will be plenty of smiles and much laughter, too, on Charles’s watercolour painting course at the Watermill this Autumn. Come and join us for inspiring teaching, a beautiful setting, wonderful scenery, delicious food and the convivial company of like-minded people. After a difficult year it’s time to look ahead and give yourself a treat.

Painting by Charles Sluga, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A painting by Charles of the demijohns in the Watermill courtyard.

Charles Sluga is a highly respected and sought-after watercolour artist in Australia, who has gained a reputation for his versatility in both his technique and choice of subject matter. The paintings above are of a quiet convent, and the wine demijohns in the Watermill courtyard.

Charles is also skilled in acrylics and oils and is happy to teach in those media, too. He not only teaches technique, but also how to think and see as an artist. His friendliness, sense of humour and willingness to impart his knowledge makes his classes relaxed, informal and inspiring.

Painting by Charles Sluga, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays, Tuscany Italy.
Lunch in Lucca by Charles Sluga

A comment from a previous student: “As well as being a talented artist, Charles is an extremely capable teacher:” Another said: “The most relaxing holiday I have had for a long time: lovely accommodation, exceptional food.”

Come and join us for inspiration and laughter. (I made a little 30-second slide show of some of Charles’s work, which you can see by clicking 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.

Get those creative juices flowing, painting with Ali

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

This is the last of our articles featuring the new inspiring tutors on the Watermill team in 2021. We are delighted to welcome an English painter, Ali Hargreaves, who will be joining us for a week-long course in watercolours and ‘mixed media’, from Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021.

Her watercolour above, of jugs on steps, captures the sunshine by exaggerating the lovely warm colours. And of the picture below, simply called ‘Window’, Ali says: “I love trying out different techniques and, in this painting, I used an old credit card to produce the textures in the stone work and to print the window frame. I’m always experimenting and believe that this is how we evolve as artists. Therefore, I encourage my students to do the same.”

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

Ali, from Poynton in the county of Cheshire in England, started her working life as a primary school teacher, but after 20 happy years, she changed direction and followed her passion for art. Ali enjoys painting a wide range of subjects and in a range of different media. Her favourite technique is ‘mixed media’, using watercolour as a base and adding all sorts, such as collage, pastel, pen, acrylic and print.  

Ali is also very keen on sketching. She says: “A big part of painting holidays is the wonderful and exciting variety of sketching opportunities. I encourage all my students to sketch as part of the course. It makes us observe what is around us and gets our ideas flowing.”

A quick sketch by Ali of some gentlemen chatting in a town square in Spain

As well as being a great artist, Ali is also an enthusiastic teacher, running classes and workshops that are fun, vibrant and informative. Here’s a comment from a previous student: “Ali is an inspiration. I love her teaching/demonstration style. I learned so much in a short time and I continue to follow her and be inspired by her. I’ve already signed up to join her in Italy next year. Can’t wait.” And from another: “As well as having contagious enthusiasm and making the work fun, Ali also has the ability to demonstrate numerous creative multimedia painting techniques. She works tirelessly on behalf of her students to provide an informative, inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable learning experience.”

Painting by Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A vibrant watercolour of some houses in Burano, Venice.

I have made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with more of Ali’s vibrant images. You can see it by clicking here.

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..

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

Ali Hargreaves  Only one place left

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.

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

Much to her mother’s indignation, the young Brienne Brown owned little clothing that was not covered in paint.

Brienne Brown, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

One of the first things we learned about our new American watercolour tutor, Brienne Brown, was the quotation above about her early life. She is still passionate about watercolours and plein air painting, though she may not spatter her paint about quite as much!

Brienne, from Pennsylvania in the USA, says: “I find beauty in everyday life. Each painting reminds me of where I was, the experiences I had, the sounds, smells, and the people I met … and I enjoy sharing how I see the world.”  Brienne adds: “Painting in Italy is just a dream come true.” 

We are delighted to welcome her for her first course at the Watermill, in watercolours, which will run from Saturday 18 September to Saturday, 25 September 2021.

Painting by Brienne Brown, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Brienne calls this atmospheric watercolour Commerce Corner.

Using strong value sketches, bold washes, and quick energetic strokes, Brienne will show you how to bring excitement into your paintings. No watercolour skill is necessary, but some drawing experience is recommended.

A comment from a previous student: “Brienne goes through each step guiding you through the process clearly while demonstrating her techniques and approach. I would highly recommend her workshop to ANYONE, be it a beginner or an advanced painter.”

Painting by Brienne Brown, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
And these are rockers on the porch.

I made a fun, 30-second Facebook slideshow of some more of Brienne’s lovely paintings, which you can see by clicking here.

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.

Brienne Brown A few places left 

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne 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