Watermill painting tutor Rebecca de Mendonça


Rebecca de Mendonça

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Painting by watermill tutor Rebecca De Mendonça

Sitting on the Steps

Pastel on Colourfix primer 56cm x 42 cm

This pastel is all about the light and shadows. For reference, I used photographs that I took on a Winter afternoon when the sunlight was very low. To emphasize the quality of light I used a contrast of yellow ochres and lilacs. To give a sense of distance, I used more detail on the figures in the foreground, as well as strong tonal contrasts. I softened these contrasts in the distance, and lightened the tones.

Painting by Rebecca De Mendonça a tutor at the watermill in Italy

Quick sketch of the Watermill Stream

Charcoal and soft pastel, 16cm x 20 cm

This quick sketch was started in charcoal standing on the bridge over the stream. I then finished it with soft pastels in the studio, but I deliberately worked quickly to capture the feeling of the water bubbling over the rocks. I started with the dark colours of the rocks, and then worked the lights and the water over them.

Painting by Rebecca De Mendonça a tutor at the watermill in Italy

Gateway to Verrucola

Soft pastel and Conte crayon, 47cm x 38 cm

I love the stonework at Verrucola, and the alleyways that twist and turn as you climb the hill to the castle. This sketch was completed in the studio after doing initial drawings standing on the bridge at the entrance to the village. I started with Conte crayon and then worked with soft pastels, on a board painted with Colourfix primer. I like to let the colour of my surface be part of the palette of the final piece. On this day I particularly liked the blue shadows which I used to emphasize the brightness of the sunshine.

Painting by Rebecca De Mendonça a tutor at the watermill in Italy

A Hot Summer, Dartmoor

Soft pastel on Colourfix Primer 57cm x 40 cm

This studio piece was completed using several photographs as reference. I love walking in the great outdoors, sketching and taking photographs, and then trying to capture the atmosphere when I am back in my studio. I like to include animals or people in my landscapes to give them a sense of scale, and on Dartmoor the ponies are an integral part of the landscape. I used strong contrasts of light and dark to convey the heat of the sun.

Course dates

Saturday 14 September to Saturday, 21 September 2024


Pastels and mixed media

Pastellist Rebecca de Mendonça’s unique style is the result of a varied career in the arts. After gaining her degree in Theatre Design, she worked on projects ranging from Harrods Food Hall to the Phantom of the Opera.

As a pastel artist and teacher, she has an international following; she shares her enthusiasm for the media through her online teaching, and her writing. Her book ‘Pastels for the Absolute Beginner’ has been reprinted many times.

Rebecca is delighted to be returning to the Watermill, where she loves to share her enthusiasm for pastels with students in this beautiful and relaxed setting.

In this course she combines pastels with other media, and helps students to find their own style as they capture the wonderful locations we visit. She is very sensitive to the level of experience of each student, giving the appropriate guidance and support. Rebecca is also very aware of the challenges that working ‘en plein air’ presents, and has lots of tips and advice to help students gain confidence when working outdoors.

Rebecca’s friendly and generous approach to teaching helps her students to relax and really achieve their potential.

Course outline

Rebecca will demonstrate how to capture the architecture and landscape of the beautiful Watermill venues with a combination of materials. Soft pastels, pen and ink, Conte crayons and pastel pencils will be used separately and in combination to achieve lively sketches and finished pieces. She will show how we can vary our materials to suit the subject matter that we are observing and the size of our work.

From landscape and water, to figures and architecture, Rebecca will give informative instruction and demonstrations, showing how she draws and paints with life and atmosphere.

The course will include some en plein air painting, studio-based work and also trips out. Rebecca seeks to offer a new experience of using pastels outside and to introduce the joys of exploring how inspiring another country's landscape and countryside can be. As ever the atmosphere will be relaxed with one-to-one help, demonstrations and lots of lovely food! Rebecca seeks to inspire you all to join her and to try something different.

Praise for Rebecca’s teaching

‘It really was one of the best courses I've ever attended. No, I’ll amend that, it WAS the best. Good company, but above all, I felt Rebecca really cared that we all really achieved something during our time with her.’ JH

‘Your teaching plan is extremely well thought out and balanced; it is highly intensive but you reach out to your students on so many levels, adding layers of experience and competence with every session. The interactive classes had us all totally engaged and we learned so much more from discussing how to finish your picture. You are a professional with a capital ‘P’ and you give of your best in everything that you offer your students in terms of materials, food and of yourself.’ CB

'You took so much time and always with such good humour to make me feel a worthy participant. Certainly the best instructional workshop I have attended stretching from the North of Scotland to Penzance! CR

Praise for the previous pastel course at the Watermill

We both had a fantastic time at the Watermill. I really didn't know what to expect from such a holiday, I have to say it exceeded my expectations! From the minute we arrived we were made to feel very welcome, our room ' Botticelli' was lovely (especially the bed), the food was first class, location was just so peaceful, the company fun and the pastel tuition was just outstanding. I've learned a huge amount and now all I have to do is put it into practice! VJ

Thanks for a magic week. The memories linger long. K O’R