Calamansac1 2017 review

Friday March 17th – Friday March 24th – 2017

Calamansac house and grounds lived up to all our expectations and more. We couldn’t have asked for a better base or a more perfect location for our holiday. A secluded 50 acre estate on the edge of the Helford river, close to Port Navas, with views of Frenchmans Creek. A very beautiful part of Cornwall, hidden away, and yet only 30 minutes from Falmouth and fifteen minutes from Helston.

The unique colonial style bungalow was built in the 1920s by returning world travelers and has been tastefully updated to a very high standard. With handcrafted furniture in the bedrooms, custom made fittings in the kitchen and lounge, and a fresh modern decor throughout, makes it a most pleasurable environment. We have the use of a large playroom, equipped with table tennis tables, which converts into a spacious studio (not in use for course 3).

We always knew the weather would be unpredictable at this time of year and so booked both wings of Calamansac knowing we could use the games room as a studio. Even though the week started off misty and drizzly with the occasional break in the clouds, we managed to walk the grounds, the surrounding quayside and along the beach. On our door step and visible from the studio was an amazing wood of twisted “Turkey Oaks”. So unusual, with their incredibly tortuous trunks and branches, they were truly breathtaking. We managed a few sketches and captured many of the views on camera or iPad to take back to the studio.

Keeping a keen eye on the forecast we planned our visit is to St Michaels mount and St Ives to coincide with the best of the weather. We headed off to Marizion to spend the day sketching and painting St Michaels mount. Last year we braved the weather and sat on the beach and drew it from a distance. Knowing the light was better from North of Marizion we opted to find a new view. Our choice couldn’t have been better, we found a tiny pub with a beer garden that had the greatest view of St Michaels mount (see the above photo taken here by one of our guests). They kindly allowed us to work in the garden for over an hour while the light and the weather was at its best.

We headed inside the pub, and after sandwiches and cups of tea we traveled back to Calamansac inspired by the fabulous morning. This visit albeit short really fired everyone into action and became the basis of some lovely sketches and paintings by the group (see the gallery of guest work below).

We also set the group a challenge for the week which was to paint or draw a portrait. We gave detailed instruction on how to achieve a good likeness. This was a demanding task as the results are very telling but everyone rose to the occasion and their subjects were recognizable.

We chose the best day weather-wise to visit St Ives. It was warm and sunny with dramatic clouds and fabulous light and we spent the morning drawing the St Ives cob and lighthouse from the main beach. We focused on getting a good composition looked at using aerial perspective to give a sense of distance. We all tucked into freshly cooked fish and chips for lunch — delicious! The afternoon was spent sketching boats, people, children and dogs with lots of drawing tips and skills covered. A productive day and lots of fun too.

The Calamansac garden is beautifully planted with colour to flower all year round, there were bushes and bushes of Camellias and Azaleas in bloom.  Some of the Rhododendrons had already finished but several Magnolia trees, in full flower, were dotted around the garden. There were Daffodils, Primroses, and wild flowers a plenty and even though  the trees were bare their shapes were fascinating and fun to sketch.

We are looking forward to our second visit in May to see how the garden changes and we are so pleased with the venue we hope to run a third course in June.

A selection of guest paintings from the March 2017 trip.

Click on a thumbnail to see the full image.