Watermill painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann


Maggie Renner Hellmann

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Painting by watermill tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann


Acrylic on panel

This is a Quick Plein air Demo I painted on one of our Watermill outings. The views of distant villages perched on the hillsides and big mountains in the distance captured my awe about Tuscany. The foreground, middle ground and background set up a wonderful perspective and sense of distance, while the color choices arose from a real joy and thought out plan. I often use smaller plein air studies made on location to create my larger studio paintings. During this workshop we will create many plein air studies that you may choose to elaborate on later in the studio

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellmann a tutor at the watermill in Italy

Patch of Beauty

Oil on canvas

It was a glorious day out exploring and painting when I came upon this window thru the trees to this gorgeous patch of farmland. I started on a white canvas this time and painted with gusto! Beginning with a juicy under painting of vibrant color, I then fine tuned with some thicker paint and just alittle more form and detail. It’s this excitement and exploration that fuels great painting. I try to fuel that excitement in my students as well as teach them the foundations of painting that happen with some forethought behind the scenes.

Painting tutor at the watermill in Italy Maggie Renner Hellmann


Oil on canvas

This is a larger studio painting 24x30 inches from an 8x10 inch plein air study I did while on location. The overlapping shapes created a wonderful interweave of landforms that caught my heart. Since I already had an exciting composition and color worked out with my plein-air study, my goal here was to create a larger painting that shared that majesty in a bigger way. The challenge now, was to keep it loose and lively. Abstracting forms and using large brushes help!

Painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann at the watermill in Italy

Field to Table

Oil on panel

Coming from parents who grew up on farms, old barns and farm equipment are seductive to me, speaking of times past and simpler ways of life. While this was painted from a current working farm, I felt the old barns charm. I used artistic license in the placement of the rows of crops and used many contrasting hues here to give more drama to my composition.

Course dates

Course Completed


‘Courageous Color Workshop’

Your choice: in oils, acrylics, pastels and/or watercolour and ink travel sketches

Maggie Renner Hellmann is a contemporary California artist who paints with love, passion and energy. Her work is characterized by a unique blend of loose, energetic brushwork and strong compositions of exuberant color. She says: "I love the joy of color and the poetry of brushwork". Classically trained, Maggie received her bachelor’s degree with Honors in Art, Illustration & Design and continued on with intensive painting studies at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Art Institute in Florence, Italy as well as with Master Painters, Ovanes Berberian and Calvin Liang.

Maggie has been painting for more than 40 years and her work reveals a confidence and a joy in her creative process. She has painted in many juried and invitational plein air events and exhibits, winning multiple Best of Show and Artist Choice Awards. Maggie’s work has been featured in ‘The Artist’s Magazine’ and fine art calendars.

Inspired by the French Impressionists and plein-air painters, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Toulouse Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, and early California impressionists and American plein-air painters Edgar Payne, Seldon Gile, William Wendt, Maynard Dixon, and John Singer-Sargent, Maggie has that element of the impressionist in her sights, as well as that of the expressionist and the colourist.

Maggie is also a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tutor. She’s been teaching for more than 15 years – and she loves it! Her years of experience in painting in many mediums have distilled her teaching to the core fundamentals that will help guide any painter toward success. She will encourage the beginner and challenge the more advanced.

Maggie’s painting course at The Watermill

Maggie says: “In this plein air Courageous Color Workshop, we will paint in various spectacular Tuscan locations. Our emphasis will be on learning and practicing the core elements of successful paintings - Color, composition, focal point, light source, values, positive & negative shapes, volumes, edges, brushwork & perspective, as well as how to use contrasts to give excitement and drama to your paintings and much more!”

All levels of experience are welcome. The medium is your choice. Maggie will share with you her craft & knowledge of painting. She will help you to free yourself from old patterns and move toward more exciting colour choices.

Maggie says: “Each day we will focus on one aspect:

  • Learn how to see more color and find your 'Color Courage’ in an outdoor landscape class.
  • Get help and immediate feedback in creating a beautiful outdoor landscape.
  • Learn more about and practice creating focal points, designing compositions, seeing values, getting the right perspective, seeing shapes and volumes, color, edges and brushwork.
  • Learn about easel options, canvas preparation, palette color layout and care of brushes."

Maggie will guide you through the painting process step by step with demos, handouts, as well as showing by example and through constructive critiques.

Maggie will demo and assist artists individually and paint for students to observe throughout the day. Group sharing and a friendly, informative critique will be offered at the end of each day

Maggie says: “Come and share in the energy and inspiration of painting the Tuscan Landscape! A perfect blend of Art & Adventure!”

Praise from Maggie’s students

Participating Artist’s Comments about Maggie’s teaching :

“Participating in a workshop with Maggie is a delight! She is one of the rare artists who like sharing her knowledge nearly as much as she likes to paint. Her demos are a delightful opportunity to be a fly on the wall as she goes through the various steps in the process while simultaneously explaining each step: composition, sketching, laying in the colors, developing a completed painting, and demonstrating and explaining her courageous use of color. Her critiques are equally helpful to the novice and the experienced artist. They are honest, very helpful, and still kind. It was great to see the improvement in each artist's paintings though out the week. These things, along with her availability to help and answer questions throughout the day are reasons I would be happy to take another workshop with her when the opportunity arises.” - Linda N

“Maggie is good at teaching in all mediums and with all levels. She did wonderful demos in watercolour, acrylic, pastel and oil. Every day we did critiques together and learned from each other. I highly recommend this art workshop as well as the most wonderful accommodation with great food and wine. A little piece of heaven in experiencing Italy.” - Lynn S

“Our experiences at the Watermill were definitely the highlights of our tours! Maggie’s gentle and helpful manner coupled with technical skill and aesthetic sense opened the gates of motivation for students, making them comfortable in their new surroundings and primed for an exciting creative experience in those beautiful hills of Tuscany. I also appreciated Maggie’s husband, Lou's ready assists for our physical comforts. What a dream adventure, the two of you, along with Bill and Lois, prepared for all of us!!”Peggy M

“I went to explore painting and I did. Your demos were a great learning experience for me. The end-of-day critique made me see more.” - Maha

Thank you for giving me one of the best vacations I have had. I really look forward to coming back. Please accept my deepest appreciation.

There are so many things I'd like to thank you for that the list might go on and on so I'll just say that I had a wonderful week at the Watermill. I just had a fabulous time and met some wonderful people. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you for everything....an art workshop in a place like that Watermill can’t get better than that, especially with you guys as host and hostess. Only the best!

And some praise from some of Maggie’s previous students:

"What I liked best about the workshop was Maggie's approachable manner and encouragement, her clear understanding about color and light, her experience in simplifying landscapes and the discipline of first studying the subject in values - and how to make poetry out of a simple landscape." - Frank S - art professor

“What I particularly like about your teaching is that you seem to be able to distil the learning into meaningful chunks that are understandable and then you demonstrate the concept and have us practice it. Your methodology is very effective. I really like getting your feedback. You give it in a very helpful and constructive way and always let us observe you painting. Thanks!" - Andrea S - former school principal

“I love Maggie's style of teaching; she gives very clear & logical instruction. She is able to distil the complexity of oil painting into an easy-to-understand and do-able step-by-step approach. Thank you so much for your patient, effective - and fun - teaching!" - Karin L - artist

"You are so talented and make everyone feel welcome to 'do' art with you. I never felt like I wasn't as good as anyone else or that I shouldn't be in the class. You really take each person at their own level and help them improve their skills." - Sharleen B - budding artist

“Painting outdoors can be overwhelming and you taught us how to zero-in on something to paint. I found that so valuable. I also learned a lot about color and already feel that my first painting after taking your class is so much more vibrant. It was also so much fun. I came home each day exhausted and exhilarated. I enjoyed every minute of it. I would recommend your class to anyone interested in painting no matter what their painting level is." - Mary G - artist