Watermill painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann


Maggie Renner Hellmann

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Painting by watermill tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann

Last Light Tuscany

Acrylic on panel

Rural Tuscany spoke to me in this scene with echoes of long ago families and their everyday lives. I painted in acrylic on a white 11x14 inch panel. I wanted the Tuscan mountains and valley to dwarf the village, but yet, have the village be my focal point. Using complementary colors is one of my favorite ways to accomplish this. The 'little bit' of red in a predominately green scene gave me the drama I wanted.

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

The Embrace

Oil on canvas

Experiencing the energy and beauty of the powerful waters off the California coast inspired this plein air painting. I was painting with friends at a private location and just feeling immersed in the glory of sunshine, cliffs and rolling sea! Intense complementary colours helped me to capture the dramatic energy in this sunny scene. Also, by using the direction of the brushwork, I was able visually to describe the movement of the water as well as revealing the form and the cliffs and grasses.

Painting tutor at the watermill in Italy Maggie Renner Hellmann

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 Maggie Renner Hellmann at the watermill in Italy


Oil on panel

My desire to portray the pure magic of Venice at dusk was the driving force behind this painting. I used plein air studies and photos to create this composition and mood. St Mark’s Basilica, the Lion of Venice and Venetian gondolas figure prominently in the glowing lights of dusk and convey the location in all its evening splendour. The big challenge here was including some of the beautiful details of the unique architecture while remaining a bit impressionistic in style as well.

Course dates

Course Completed


‘Courageous Color Workshop’
Your choice: oils, acrylics, pastels and/or watercolour travel sketches

Maggie Renner Hellmann is a contemporary Californian artist who paints with love, passion and energy. Her work is characterised 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, Ray Roberts, 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, Berthe Morisot, Toulouse Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, and early California impressionists and American plein-air painters Franz Bischoff, 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 20 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:

  • Overcoming fear in painting. How to make it work FOR you!
  • 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, surface 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’s husband, Lou Renner, also an accomplished artist, will be on hand to assist as well.

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 for Maggie’s previous courses at the Watermill

What a great week full of Art, wonderful company and mouth-watering food & wine in a picturesque location in Tuscany!! Thank you, Bill & Lois for your hospitality - everything was superb and we were looked after so well by you and your team throughout the whole stay. Many thanks to Maggie and Lou for such a great inspiration and instruction - you are such a beautiful and talented couple!! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to enjoy the best of Tuscany and improve their art skills! AK

First class accommodation the hosts couldn't do enough for their guests, the food was well beyond expectations and the day trips along with the excellent art tuition made it a holiday to remember. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending The Watermill. Thank you to all at The Watermill. CD

A lovely holiday, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Excellent tuition from Maggie. Superb scenery. Delicious food. Many thanks for everything. SH

Praise from some of Maggie’s previous students

“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!!” PM

“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.” LN

“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.” LS