Watermill painting tutor Mary Padgett


Mary Padgett

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Painting by watermill tutor Mary Padgett

A Tuscan Hillside


This plein air pastel celebrates the rhythmic pattern of dark vertical cypress juxtaposed against soft, organic blue-green olive trees, and the geometric shapes of terra cotta roofs.

Painting by Mary Padgett a tutor at the watermill in Italy

San Martino a Mensola


A plein air pastel inspired by bright spring light bouncing through the sky and the exquisite asymmetrical balance of the two cypress with the larger church building.

Painting tutor at the watermill in Italy Mary Padgett



A plein air painting that emphasizes the dynamic strokes possible with pastel to capture the qualities of the windy sky, choppy water and the essence of the boat forms.

Painting tutor Mary Padgett at the watermill in Italy

Terrace at Via Gino Capponi


A plein air pastel record of a peaceful, shaded and contemplative spot.

Course dates

Course Completed


Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

Mary Padgett is a passionate pastellist from Syracuse, New York, USA. She is noted for her use of colour and for her enthusiasm for painting on location. Her students love her teaching. As one of them says: “Your gentle nudges have given us all better way of seeing.”

Mary works primarily with soft pastel and additionally with acrylic, oil, and glass. She is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and has been featured in American Artist and Pastel Journal magazines. Her paintings are in numerous private and public collections, including Towers Perrin, Takasago International, and the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She has participated in many local and national exhibitions, with awards from the Pastel Society of America, the Fenimore Art Museum, and the Finger Lakes Plein Air and Frank Bette Plein Air Painting Competitions. Mary was educated at Boston University and received her MFA from Syracuse University. For many years she has taught painting and color courses for Syracuse University and Cazenovia College and currently conducts workshops across the United States and abroad.

Mary’s teaching style

Mary says: “There is no better way to visit Italy than as a plein air artist! We’ll focus on observation with all our senses; looking, listening, and smelling the unique character of the Tuscan landscape to create drawings and paintings from the experience. Our time in Italy will be richer than that of most tourists who simply pass through!"

Her teaching style is to work one-on-one, giving participants technical information and the support to develop their own style and personal vision. Throughout the week, the group will come together for discussions and critiques. Mary says: “I will emphasize the fundamentals of good design, color handling including its interaction and temperature, and the unique mark-making qualities of the pastel medium. I will be working with soft pastel, a medium I prefer for its immediacy, brilliant color, and portability. Participants may also work in other media (watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, etc.), for which I will offer individual feedback and assistance in developing a personal style."

“My role is to create a supportive working environment, encouraging creative exploration, and furthering each participant's evolution as an artist.”

Praise from previous students

I so enjoyed the week of painting with you as our instructor...You were instructive, helpful and inspiring as a teacher. You went out of your way to help beginners as well as more advanced artists with technique and enjoyment of the process. I was so impressed with the work we all did, and your critiques were positive and informative. I learned a lot! IS

I especially liked the evening critiques. You are a marvellous teacher and analyst of art, and it was really eye-opening and interesting to hear what you had to say about everyone’s art... KA

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your time and experience with us again this fall. It is so refreshing to get out of my studio to be among other artists ... learning from each other... and to share in your supportive and creative direction. It was eye-opening to do the B&W value study before diving into color... I have often used the B&W conversion feature on my camera, but the sketching process was much more effective for me. I have read that many artists include this step, and now I have a greater appreciation for the exercise. It has given me a tool to overcome my dilemma with comparative values among different hues... thank you. BF

Your gentle nudges have given us all a better way of ‘seeing’. This is my philosophy teaching young kids... I try and teach them how to ‘see’ in art class with activities to increase this valuable ability... and their work, is, I think, incredible!!! You seem to use this method with all of us and what incredible results... DD

You are such a great teacher and guide, Mary. You had a way of seeing into me when we spoke together about creating art. It made for me a deep resonant connection with you and your vision of art and artists. JP