Cynthia will show you how to capture happy memories from the joyous Tuscan scenery
We are looking forward to welcoming Cynthia Armstrong back to the Watermill 2023 after her first successful painting week here this year. Her students loved it. Here are a couple of the comments:
“Cynthia is the best kind of painting teacher - equally proficient and talented in painting and in teaching! She prepares carefully and adapts lessons to fit the needs and interests of her students.”
“I took a week-long class with Cynthia at the Watermill in Italy. She recognized my strengths and inspired me to move in directions that led to better painting. She is a superb teacher. I can’t recommend her highly enough:”
Cynthia will be back with us next summer*, from Saturday 19 August to Saturday 26 August 2023for her lovely course in Travel Painting in Watercolour and Gouache. *Everything will be Cool and Green at the Watermill, all our bedrooms, public rooms and the studio have air-conditioning, powered by our hidden array of photovoltaic panels, which make us self-sufficient in electricity.
Cynthia Armstrong has been a freelance illustrator/artist for more than 25 years and a teacher for almost as long. A professional illustrator, she has travelled and journaled extensively throughout her career, with a client list that includes the New York Botanical Gardens, the U.S. National Park, Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the California Native Plant Society. Through exercises, demonstrations and gentle critiques, students will develop confidence in a variety of watercolour/gouache techniques and applications,
Cynthia’s course here will offer you insights on how to paint the flora, fungi and the rural scenes around us, including tips on how best to capture Tuscan architecture. Cynthia has been experimenting with a variety of techniques including wet-into-wet for a looser, more impressionistic style she says: “After all, this is a holiday painting workshop, not a drafting class.”
Come and join us: it will be the holiday of a lifetime.
Don’t forget our Early Bird special offer: if you book before the end of this year, there is a £75 (British pounds) discount on any of our 2023 painting courses.
Our inspiring 2023 painting courses
Here’s a list of all our inspiring painting tutors for next year, with current availability of our courses.
You will see that some of our painting weeks are already fully booked, but if you fancy that particular week or that particular tutor, don’t despair: there are often cancellations. Please get in touch via the Watermill Contact Form (by clicking here) and we will put you on a waiting list
Don’t forget our Early Bird offer: if you book before 31 December 2022, there is a £75 (British pounds) discount on every one of our courses.
15 - 22 April 2023 - still plenty of places
To learn more about Harry and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
22 - 29 April 2023 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Ali and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
13 - 20 May 2023 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
20 - 27 May 2023 - two places available
Watercolour and gouache en plein air
To learn more about Pamme and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
3 - 10 June 2023 - one or two places available
To learn more about James and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
10 - 17 June 2023 - two places available
To learn more about Herman and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
Maggie Renner Hellmann
24 June – 1 July 2023 - two or three places available
Oil and watercolour (acrylic, pastel)
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
1 - 8 July 2023 - still plenty of places
Painting en plein air (oil, acrylic, watercolour, pastel)
To learn more about Fiona and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
8 – 15 July 2023 - still plenty of places
To learn more about Belinda and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
19 - 26 August 2023 - still plenty of places
Watercolours, Travel painting in watercolours and gouache
To learn more about Cynthia and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
26 August - 2 September 2023 - still plenty of places
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
9 - 16 September 2023 - one or two places available
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
Brienne M Brown
16 - 23 September 2023 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
23 - 30 September 2023 - four or five places available
Watercolours (acrylics and oils)
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
30 September - 7 October 2023 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
7 - 14 October 2023 - two or three places available
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
Knitting (and singing) for victory
First World War knitting songs.
Photo: Karen CK Ballard
In my search to find new knitting tales to entertain you in our newsletter, I came across this fascinating story in the UK Guardian newspaper, on ‘knitting for victory’, or how knitting gave women on the home front a vital role in two world wars -- and how specially written songs inspired their endeavours.
Donna Ferguson says: “Written to keep women’s spirits up as they knitted clothes – particularly socks – for British soldiers during the two world wars, songs about knitting were once hugely popular all over the UK and around the world. But after the second world war ended, these knitting songs – an important oral record of how hard women worked to support the war effort – were put away and forgotten.”
But now a British music historian and opera singer Melanie Gall has unearthed more than 100 wartime knitting songs. She told The Guardian: “As soon as the first world war was declared, knitting songs started being written. But since most people didn’t own gramophones, these were songs that could be taken home as sheet music... Someone would play the song on the piano and sing, and everyone else would sing along and work.”
Knitting was deliberately represented in the songs as a sexy activity for a young woman. “Back then, women who were going to get married and have kids suddenly weren’t – because there was a war on. It was all postponed and they were spinsters at 21... “Because they were knitting, they were doing something sexy.”
Their work was genuinely vital to the war effort, as warm clothing and fresh, dry socks were desperately needed in the trenches. Trench foot, and the gangrene associated with it, is said to have killed 35,000 British troops during the First World War.
But after the war it was the sacrifice of the men that was mainly remembered, and the knitting songs were put away.
In the Second World War, knitted items were once again needed by the men at war, leading to another number of songs but says Melanie Gall: “For the most part, the World War Two knitting songs were less novelty songs and more big band songs. And they were more sentimental.”
The Guardian reports that Melanie hopes one day to publish a songbook of all the knitting songs she has collected: “These songs aren’t catalogued, they’re not in databases or libraries, a lot of them are just sheet music from someone’s piano bench they were kind enough to send to me. There’s no record of them anywhere – some of them are handwritten. I’ve spent years tracking them down, one by one, and I would love to publish them, because if my house burns down, they’re lost.”
She urges anyone who has a knitting song in their private collection to get in touch via her website, melaniegall.com. “I know of at least three I don’t have, from finding the lyrics. So there are more knitting songs out there and it would be amazing to find them.”
If you know any knitting songs, please send them to Melanie – and bring them along on one of our convivial knitting weeks at the Watermill. We’ll have a singalong too!
We still have some spaces available, on the additional week we have just opened up for the exciting British designer Georgia Farrell and on the Watermill’s own knitting retreat.
Georgia Farrell is a British designer with a passion for creating architecturally inspired design for hand knitting and beyond. Her additional week at the Watermill Knitting and La Bella Vita will run from Saturday 29 April to Saturday 6 May 2023.
With a background in textiles, Georgia skilfully translates her passion for architectural details into textured knitted fabrics. From there she crafts and builds collections of accessories, garments and homewares, to be knitted, worn and enjoyed.
For each of her weeks at the Watermill, Georgia has created a sampler style project to take you through some of the different techniques and stitches she uses to create her architecturally inspired textured patterns, giving you a real insight into the way she works. You will also spend creative time with architectural inspiration and collage, before translating your creations into knitting, by combining colour and texture. Details and a link below.
There are also still places on our unique Watermill knitting retreat next year. Instead of having a tutor, individual guests will bring their own projects to knit during the week.
The rhythm of the week will be much the same as usual, with morning and afternoon sessions on the vine verandah or in the Watermill sitting room, where you will enjoy convivial like-minded company in the peaceful ambience of the Watermill.
And, of course, we will have on outings to savour the beautiful unspoiled surroundings of the mill in the environmentally protected area of Lunigiana. We will take you to a nearby ancient village with its imposing 13th century castle, to market day in a nearby walled mediaeval town, to a tranquil monastery where you can knit in the shady cloisters or the enchanting gardens, to a 1000-year-old hilltop village with stunning views of the Apuan Alps, the marble mountains of Carrara. And we’ll organise an excursion for you to the beautiful Ligurian fishing villages of the Cinque Terre or to the quintessential walled Italian city of Lucca.
Add to that the wonderful food, both at the Watermill and at typical local Italian restaurants and we think this will be a week to remember. Next year’s Watermill Knitting Retreat will run from Saturday 15 July to Saturday 22 July 2023. (Details and link below) And, since there is no official tutor, we are offering a special blanket discount of £200 per person.
29 April - 6 May 2023 - newly opened, still plenty of places
6 - 13 May 2023 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Georgia and her course at the mill, please visit our 2023 Tutor Profile Page.
Watermill Knitting Retreat
15 - 22 July 2023 - still four places (two suites available, each suitable for a couple, or friends sharing)
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about the Watermill Knitting Retreat at the mill, please visit our 2023 Retreat Page.
Don't forget your partner!
And don’t forget that your friend or partner doesn’t need to participate in the creative course, whether it’s painting, language or writing.
We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2023 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.
A writing tip from Ernest Hemingway: Be prepared to waste paper (and excuse the language)
Here is an earthy writing tip from that ‘tough guy’ Ernest Hemingway.
“Write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
-- Letter from Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
While the language may be a little crude, the sentiment is absolutely correct: to be a writer, you must write. Try to get a few hundred words every day and don’t worry about whether there are ‘good’ or not. Just get it down on paper. And remember what Hemingway also said: “The first draft is always sh*t.”
I think the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne put it a little more elegantly when he said that the secret of writing was to put black on white. In other words, to get ink on paper.
You will learn much more about the craft and art of writing on Jo Parfitt’s renowned Writing Your Life Stories course at the Watermill. And don’t worry about the paper. We’ll make sure there is a copious supply (and you can always recharge your laptop).
Jo’s advice will be given
a little more politely than Ernest’s
Jo’s creative writing course is designed to help you produce your best work, to find your true writer’s ‘voice’ and to write authentically. Jo says: “You will be empowered to write in a compelling way, bringing your experiences to life.”
We have tremendous feedback about the excellence of Jo’s weeks. Here are just a couple of previous participants' comments: “It was just wonderful. The setting magnificent, food sublime, and our hosts charming. The attention to detail and beauty are a sure recipe for a wonderful stay. This week has been an absolute delight. Your hospitality has known no bounds, and Jo has been an inspirational teacher. I am heading home with a head full of writerly plans.”
Enjoy the convivial company
of fellow writers
“I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”
Jo Parfitt will be with us in June next year (details below). Her course is the perfect first step for any writer wanting to develop the skills and confidence necessary to move into writing memoir, non-fiction, articles or blogs. It’s designed to help both enthusiastic beginners and more experienced writers. Many of her students have gone on to publish full-length books.
*Don’t forget our Early Bird special offer: If you book before the end of this year, there is a £75 (British pounds) discount on Jo’s 2003 writing course.
17 – 24 June 2023 - four places available
Write your life stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2023 Profile Page.
Why you’ll never forget your Watermill Italian language course
Soaking up the evening sun and the Italian language in the Watermill walled garden
We have just had a lovely comment on TripAdvisor about our Italian Language course at the Watermill, for which many thanks. “I went on an Italian Language week. My bedroom was spotless and so comfortable. The water in the shower was always hot. The food was delicious. We were taken to one or two other venues for meals and to a gourmet restaurant. Nothing compared to the food at the Watermill. Everything was handled with competence and warm hospitality. Lois and Bill, together with Karsten were superb hosts. I will never forget my week at the Watermill. It was one of the highlights of my life.”
Why not make next year’s Italian Language course at the Watermill one of the highlights of YOUR life? We still have places left on the course next October (details and link below) and we will be delighted to welcome you here.
Our unique Italian courses suitable both for beginners and for those with more knowledge of the language, because we use a special method of teaching a foreign language to adults which is focused and fun and enables each individual not only to learn from our teacher, (the wonderful Giulia Balestri), but from each other.
But don’t take my word for it. Lois talked to a few of this year’s participants on our unique Italian Language course: click here to see what they thought.
We use the special approach of the Langues Services language school in Florence, who initially developed the workshop for the Watermill. The philosophy and method are inspired by Professor Bertrand Schwartz of Paris University, who overturned the concept of teaching to adults, with a method that not only develops theoretical knowledge, but practical expertise as well. Well before the course we will quiz you about your interests and aspirations and integrate your answers in the week’s tuition.
The aim is to enhance the personal qualities of each student, tailoring the teaching to their needs and ambitions, establishing active and confident relationships, where the student is the true protagonist in the course
This really is a ‘course with a difference.’ Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah and walled garden (some 20 hours in the week), but you also make visits, guided tours and excursions to savour the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area around the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speak Italian, and practise what you’ve learned.
The Watermill has teamed up again next year with Giulia, to produce a week in which you can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are. As another course participant said: “A super language week: well organised, giving us a taste of the ‘real Italy.’ Despite the disparity in ability our tutor managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously.”
And don’t forget our special Early Bird offer: if you book or any of our other 2023 creative courses now, there’s a £75 (British pounds) discount. The offer runs until 31 December 2022, but to be sure of a place on this popular course you need to get your booking in as soon as you can.
Our 2023 Italian Language course
14 - 21 October 2023 - still plenty of places
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Giulia and her 2023 course at the mill, please click here.
Everything's included in your watermill painting holiday, creative writing holiday, knitting week or Italian Language course
Don’t forget that everything is included in the cost of a painting holiday, writing, knitting, or language holiday: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport; an excursion by train to visit the ancient walled city of Lucca or the stunning seaside villages of the Cinque Terre).
All you have to do is to get to Pisa airport and we do the rest.
Whether you're travelling alone or with a partner you can be sure of a warm welcome, and that you'll be well looked after. We have built our reputation on the comfort of the mill and the care we provide.
We very much look forward to welcoming you to the mill and, for those of you who have already tasted the many delights at The Watermill at Posara, we look forward to welcoming you back.
With very best wishes a tutti
Lois and Bill Breckon