The return to Coombe Farm Studios in August signalled the end of my summer painting season. After the hot July, the August course felt indeed more like the beginning of autumn with sunny, but somewhat cooler temperatures, very unusual for this time of year. The mainly sunny weather meant we were enjoying painting outdoors around the various buildings, walled gardens and views of the old dovecote. The doves, perched on their little slate ledges in diverse poses – heads tucked in, wings wide spread or proudly raised beaks- were made to be painted.
Staying with the subjects of our feathery friends, we ventured out one day to the River Dart, where we found a flock of wild geese grazing on the glistening estuary. From our vantage point at Jilly Sutton's ( the sculptress mentioned in July news) amazing garden we could observe the geese with leisure, while painting the view across the water towards the distant hills.
Boats, not birds greeted us half way through the week at the edge of Dittisham with its harbour scenes and long jetty seemingly reaching out to the headland opposite. We hurried home after a lovely mornings painting and picknick lunch, as some rather dark looking clouds appeared suddenly. So we had an extra afternoon painting in the spacious studio at Coombe Farm. But we needn't have worried, it never rained.
The following day was also spent in the studio this time to paint flowers. It is always inspiring to capture the delicate colours of flowers, loosely arranged in various vases and rustic pots and surrounded with other still life objects for extra interest. This time the bright yellow sun flowers captured our imagination, but the little bunch of sweet peas made as good a painting as any bouquet of roses.
So came our last day with another fantastic display of our paintings in the evening and our last sumptuous meal lovingly prepared by the fabulous Lauren. Lauren is not only a great cook but she also is a wonderful yoga teacher and the class she gave earlier on was good fun. Despite feeling very sad to have to leave the next morning, we all enjoyed the last night. My husband James was able to join us with his guitar and I accompanied him on my Ukulele to the delight of everyone.
Thanks again to all of you for showing such dedication and for producing your very best,
Non stop Mediterranean sunshine for a whole week in Devon – what a treat! Lunches under dappled light in the Provençal-style courtyard at Coombe Farm made us all feel as if we were sitting in the South of France. The nearby garden just above the stream provided fresh veg. for our excellent cook Lauren, who produced outstanding meals throughout the whole week.
Viewed through the wooden gate, the flowers in full bloom and various colourful vegetables were irresistible to the paintbrush. The courtyard itself with its stone walled buildings, archways and lush trees also made a wonderful subject to paint on the first day.
The warm welcome from the now extended Riley and Lloyd family was another pleasure. To my surprise there was a delightful baby, Rosa, who had arrived only a couple of months earlier. Her sister Sasha, at 4 years of age already proves to be a great painter and eagerly drew a delightful poster for my bedroom door.
After exploring the area around Coombe Farm we were invited to paint at Jilly and Pedro Sutton's fantastic garden by the Dart Estuary. Jilly, a wonderful sculptor, was just getting ready for a show, and despite her schedule found the time to get things ready for us. Her comment after thanking her for her generosity: "always lovely to have straw hats and easels around the garden - beautiful !
The little harbour of Dittisham was our next port of call, and luckily the tide was out most of the day for us to paint by the beach. Dittisham is a charming village, not only featuring scenery and boats bobbing on the water, but also plenty of live models and a café with delicious ice creams and Devon teas. For non-painters it is also the spot from where to take a ride on the ferry to Dartmouth or just across the water to Agatha Christie's house and gardens.
Then it was high time for a painting trip to the seaside. BlackPool Sands is a secluded private beach near the coastal area of the Slapton Ley nature reserve. It has a big Pine tree for shade, dramatic cliffs and excellent facilities including a café and colourful beach huts. Needless to say it was a most enjoyable day painting the scenery and enjoying the fresh sea breeze.
The painting week was rounded off by another day at Coombe Farm and finished with a show of all our paintings produced during the course. With a glow of achievement and the happy feeling of newly formed friendships we settled down to the last of Lauren's delicious dinners afterwards. Luckily I will return to another course in August and hardly wait to return.
Wishing you all an enjoyable, creative summer,