Renowned British artist Michael Kitchen to lead painting course in Tuscan watermill

 A unique setting for inspirational teaching

Learning a new skill, or trying to improve on what you've already learned, can be daunting - especially if it is painting, where your emotions are on paper for all to see. But what if you were to be in the safe hands of a professional artist who has an innate ability to teach?

Michael Kitchen is one of those rare people who combine painting skill - primarily in watercolours, although he also works in oils and pastels - with a natural capacity to convey this expertise to others.

Next summer Mike will lead a week-long painting holiday at the historic Watermill at Posara in Tuscany, Italy, where he and his students will be inspired by the stunning scenery in the unspoilt region of Lunigiana.

Mike has been teaching people how to paint and how to improve their artistic skills for nearly two decades. He says: "Helping and encouraging others, sharing my own knowledge and experience - and then seeing this translated on to paper as people improve - gives me huge satisfaction."

After a career as an army officer (and passionate painter during his spare time), Mike left military service early to become a professional painter. He gave himself a year to make the grade – and 18 years on, he’s still painting - and teaching.

The balance between time spent painting on one’s own and that spent in teaching others is very important, he says: “I get enormous satisfaction from helping and encouraging others - and I find sharing my knowledge and experience is inspiring for my own work."

Mike describes his teaching style as “straightforward and easy-to-understand” and he is well-versed in helping beginners and experienced painters alike. For many years he has run painting holidays in Scotland and in numerous countries around the Mediterranean. He also tutors watercolour painting on some of the world’s most famous cruise liners.

A unique setting for inspirational teaching

Michael Kitchen will be leading his painting holiday at the Watermill at Posara from 11 June to 18 June 2011.

The mill’s owners Bill and Lois Breckon have been running creative holidays there for 20 years. Bill says, "We select our tutors carefully for their empathy and teaching skills and many, like Mike, return year after year. This is his sixth visit!

“For our part, we aim to provide a stunning setting, old-style hospitality and, of course, wonderful Italian food and wine. In addition to painting at the mill and in its grounds we visit locations in the glorious Tuscan countryside: hilltop villages, mountain views, walled medieval towns.”

Prices on Mike’s week-long course start at £1,116 per person (for two people sharing a room) or £1,194 for single occupancy. And there’s a generous £200 discount for non-painting partners who share a double room with a painting student.

Everything is included in the cost of the course: accommodation; pres-dinner aperitifs; all meals (at the mill or in charming local restaurants); local transportation (including transfers to and from Pisa airport); an excursion by train to the walled city of Lucca or the stunning fishing villages of the Cinque Terre. All guests have to do is get themselves to Pisa - the watermill people do all the rest.

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About the Watermill at Posara

The historic watermill stands beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. The watermill is secluded and peaceful, set at the edge of the village in a valley with mountain in the background. It is near the medieval town of Fivizzano, in the unspoilt Tuscan region of Lunigiana.

There are actually two ancient watermills in the complex (one built in the 17th century and the other in the 19th) plus an elegant three-storey Tuscan house. There are sun-filled apartments and bedrooms with views over the river, the valley and the mountains in the background.

The process of restoration and improvements continues and next season Lois and Bill will see the inauguration of a lovely dining room overlooking the courtyard, and new bedrooms with en suite bathrooms.