Aloha Big Island

Back in my studio and in front of my gray computer, I’m thinking back to my last week in Hawaii….

….recalling the distantly familiar, aching feeling of leaving a place of such profound beauty and inspiration….

Oh, how I wish I was there! 

It was my first visit to the Big Island, and I was enticed to stay for three days with a show at Lahaina Galleries’ beautiful Mauna Lani venue.

I felt wholeheartedly embraced by gallery Director Chris Cornis and sales consultants Kim Norman and Stephanie Ansley.
The spacious gallery is situated in the Shops at Mauna Lani and beautifully presents Lahaina Galleries’ many talented artists.

Mahalo to Chris, Kim and Stephanie for an exciting and successful first visit to the gallery!

Chris Cornis, Lahaina Galleries Mauna Lani Director

The Island of Hawaii impressed me with its wide open vistas and immense natural diversity.

It is the third largest island in Polynesia, and with the lava flows of Mauna Loa and Kilauea, it continues to grow larger every year. 

I am awestruck by the vast history of this planet and how the dynamic forces of nature conspire to create life. Last summer in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides I touched some of the oldest rock formations on the planet.

Now I was walking amongst lava flows just a few years old, and fresh coral beaches in the making.

And Life seizes at the opportunity to establish a foothold….

with time and the elements forming the splendid beaches, forests and grassy hillsides of all but four of the planet’s climate zones.

Sun lounging sea turtle on Puako’s beach

Hawaiian sea turtles grazing on the reefs of Puako

Although my first visit was only three days, I was able to get a glimpse of the amazing beauty of this island and feel a profound sense of human and natural history.

It is easy to see how the original inhabitants of this island found all they needed to survive, and thrive to further settle the rest of the Hawaiian islands. 

The view was as splendid then as it is now…..

The ancient fish ponds of Mauna Lani, still in use to this day.

Aloha Island of Hawai’i…

My first visit was too short but abundantly sweet.

Sunset in Hawi town

You are indeed the Big Island with enormous natural diversity, a deep culture and big hearted people, all of which I encountered, and left me so beautifully inspired.

Mahalo, I’ll be back c:

“Hawaiiana Red Ginger II” 28″x16″ oil on canvas at Lahaina Galleries

“Hawaiiana Red Ginger I” 28″x16″ oil on canvas at Lahaina Galleries

Hawaiian Sunset Bliss 12″x4″ oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

“Hula Heaven Hibiscus” 20″x20″ oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

“Kona Coffee” 10″x10″ oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

“Trade Wind Palm” 16″x8″ oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

Reflections of Venice 2016

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I first saw Venice at night. It was a chilly November eve and the city was shrouded in a silent, insulating fog. Sounds of water lapping on the canal walls echoed a melancholy that accompanies a late autumn mood in Italy. The summer sun had gone and with it the hoards of tourists; it seemed as if the life of the city was turning inward. Saint Mark’s square was empty save for the last pigeons working overtime, and in the distance someone was playing violin.

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Even in darkness the city revealed itself through shifting light… reflections mirroring empty bridges, sleeping gondolas, quiet alleys and closed cafes. All of it was so dreamlike, ephemeral and seemingly impossible to comprehend.

"Peace Laundry" oil on linen

“Peace Laundry” oil on linen

That first visit was 20 years ago and the photographs I took with my still camera inspired some of my most memorable paintings.

“The Blue Wall, Venice” oil on Linen

The November light of Venice had captured me, but the beguiling memory of that magical first visit keeps calling me back. zimmermann-venice2011

I have since returned to Venice many times and always with a sense of amazement and awe. zimmermann-venice2013This November we returned once again to that place of water and wonder, and gorgeous cold, crisp, sunny skies welcomed us back.zimmermann-venice2024

It amazes me how humans can forge an existence with such grace and elegance in such an improbable place. How decay, corrosion and erosion etch the most beautiful patinas of time on structures built in the unlikely medium of salt water. Slowly, relentlessly and like rust, never sleeping, water works to reclaim all that Man has done and return it to the briny deep.zimmermann-venice2009

 Like water, it is best to let yourself flow through the city, resist direct and clogged routes, and get lost – give it over to the spirit of discovery and the unexpected.
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It is easy to get lost in this amazing place…
zimmermann-venice2007…and losing oneself in Venice can be one of Life’s greatest pleasures.
Perfection in a cup, a morning cappuccino by the Rialto

Perfection in a cup, a morning cappuccino by the Rialto

When in Venice do as the Venetians do: Spritz Campari, please

When in Venice do as the Venetians do: Spritz
Campari, please

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That view, that cafe, that little trattoria will find you, and claim you for its own. It will be your view, your cappuccino, your place in Venice, not just for sharing with the world, but comforting your soul.

Murano sunset on a canal of glass.

Murano sunset on a canal of glass.

A trove of Venetian sea glass c:

A trove of Venetian sea glass c:

Contemplating dinner.

Contemplating dinner.

Shimmering reflections of the sea

Shimmering reflections of the sea

"Venetian Espresso" 6"x6" oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

“Venetian Espresso” 6″x6″ oil painting at Lahaina Galleries

"Reflections"

Summer 2016: Skye Larking and Stone Standing in Scotland

Throughout Scotland I’ve experienced a sense of wonder and awe for the relentless forces of nature that created such haunting beauty and continue to shape the dramatic landscape to this day.

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Low tide at Castle Eilean Donan

Nowhere in Scotland is that more evident than on the Isle of Skye. Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_6049
The locals tell me the word Skye comes from the old Norse word “Sky-a” meaning “cloud island”. The clouds that enshroud the landscapes certainly do claim their dominion. Their shifting shadows and enveloping mists add to the sense of mystery as the scenery evolves with the changing light of day.
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The cool coastal air inspired us to hike many of the beautiful trails that lead to spectacular and breath-taking vistas. The most dramatic is the amazing rock formation called the “Old Man of Storr”.
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In my mind I keep thinking: how will I be able to paint any of this… and could I ever capture such dramatic beauty?
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“The View Toward Siena”

I’ve always been attracted to moody landscapes with cloud-filled skies, misty horizons and soft shadows.

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“A Path to the Sea” at Lahaina Galleries

Dappled light that shifts through the forests and trees.
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“Reflections of Lake Como I”

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“Reflections of Lake Como II”

Reflections of subdued light on calm and tranquil Italian lakes

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“Pines by the Sea”

My years in Tuscany have offered numerous occasions to paint the land and seascapes in their contrasting tones.

But the most challenging aspect of the Scottish summer landscape is the persistent presence of all that green.
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As I have stated in the past, green is the most problematic color for me to paint with. I am never quite satisfied with the shades of green as they appear on the canvas, they never look quite right. This will be my a challenge when I begin painting what I have seen in Scotland, as there is no avoiding the green here. However, I do look forward to it: As a painter I love new challenges, new subjects and new sources of inspiration.
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Our skylarking on Skye not only rewarded us with scenic landscapes, but also delicious meals of locally produced and sourced ingredients at some of the island’s fabulous restaurants.

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Locally produced cheeses from the Isle of Skye, the Skye Bar at the Flodigarry Hotel

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 And of course a sampling of Skye’s most legendary elixir: the Talisker Single Malt Whisky.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_4354
This was a Talisker 18-year-old single malt; delicious, soul warming and evocative of all the sensual elements of Skye.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_6146Our days on Skye went much to quickly and other islands of the Hebrides beckoned us….

Moving on to the more remote islands of the Outer Hebrides we were struck by the enigmatic traces of ancient human habitation in the form of standing stones. Their placement and meaning eludes us to this day.

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 This is the wonder of the Callanish Standing Stones set before a dramatic backdrop of clouds of a passing summer rain storm. 
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As a painter, I am rarely preoccupied with the longevity of my work over time. I paint on fabric, and the chances that my creative expressions would last 6000 years are quite slim. It amazes me when I look at these stones that something someone shaped and manipulated with their hands so long ago can communicate to me so effectively and profoundly over the great distance of time.pictish-stone-dunfallandy
Of course I am left wondering, “what were they trying to say”? It is especially puzzling with the later standing stones – as with this Pictish Dunfallandy stone near Pitlochry. These carved symbols tease the imagination.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_0920.v1
There are many of these stone rings, or arrangements, that have been recently discovered and excavated. I can only imagine how many more lie sleeping under Scotland’s centuries of peat.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_4526
I would have loved to tour this countryside one Standing Stone group at a time, letting them guide me through this magical and wonder-filled land.
Perhaps on my next visit to Scotland, I will….Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_6220

Summer 2016: Scotland… of Water Fairies and Sea Kelpies

Water is everywhere in Scotland…

Falling from the sky, flowing into the rivers, cascading from the waterfalls, then to the lochs, and returning eventually to the sea.

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The Falls of Arrochar

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Tarbet, Loch Lomond

My many travels as a surfer have taken me to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I never expected the beaches of Scotland to be some of the most impressive.
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Dunure, Ayreshire

Of course Scotland, with its many islands, inlets and bays, has infinite coastlines, all unique and different from each other, but one thing they have in common from my observation:
In summer the beaches are almost empty.
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South Beach of Ayr

What a delight to find vast stretches of sand and shores deserted, serene and quiet in the middle of summer!
The quiet calm offered me numerous occasions to partake in one of my favorite past times, beach combing.
So often in my travels I have been on coastlines of stunning surf, fabulous waves and fantastic vistas when my eye inevitably returns its gaze to the ground as I compulsively scan the beach for my own personal treasures.
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 The beaches of Scotland offered up many many fascinating objects, most of which I must return to the sea…IMG_5881…but some, really unique in their forms. After years of tumbling on the shores, broken crockery and glass are beautiful to behold and pique my curiosity.

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My beachcombing obsession proved infectious with our little crew… and at our last supper together we covered the kitchen table with our own personal discoveries…
Truly one man’s trash is another’s treasure!!!

Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_5877 Glimpses into the past: I wonder how these objects looked intact, who made them, who used them, and what for? and what caused their ultimate demise? A slip, a fall, a chip or a nick and then no longer useful, they are cast into the wastebin of history.

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This was one of my personal favorites: A piece of bone found at Shandwick beach during low tide. I picked it up and immediately felt that it could be a handle of some kind.

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Shandwick, Easter Ross, Highlands

The site of numerous battles throughout history, Shandwick is now tranquil and serene. My imagination wandered…I could not help but wonder was this a dead soldier’s cast away cutlass handle or the residue of some holiday maker’s picnic lunch???

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In any case, the bone is a keeper, as are the other small wonders: a plush toy (now washed and cleaned) for Murphy, IMG_5577_2
 
And yes, a brick! Our Mill house in Tuscany is called Piccolo Molino… Little Mill. And thanks to our Italian friends Gaetano and Fabio it was portaged to Italy, where it will live somewhere in our garden.
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All these questions, musings and images add to my creative inspiration. The deep sense of history in this land cannot be ignored. It reveals itself in the marvels of nature and in the marks of man.

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Dunure Castle, the Labyrinth

Myth and legend combine to add to the magical sense of this place of wonder and awe. Stories of Sea Kelpies, Water Fairies, Blue Men, Mermaids and Mermen… it is so easy to let the mind wander and be driven to flights of fancy…
Murphy's first sea ferry.. to the Outer Hebrides

Murphy’s first sea ferry.. to the Outer Hebrides

Our travels have now led us to the Outer Hebrides – on the isles of Lewis and Harris, the location for John’s latest film project.

At Latitude 57, it is the furthest north I have ever been. The islands are sparse in vegetation and dominated by the stretches of peat which cover the land.

Luskentyre Beach

Luskentyre Beach

But the beaches here were what lured me… as did the Seonaidh
or Shoney… the water spirits of ancient Hebredian lore.
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It was Luskentyre beach that enchanted us most… and with it, the legend of the Fairy Hound, whose large paw prints can be seen on the beach and then mysteriously disappear.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_0109
Certainly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. IMG_6192_2 IMG_6189_2 Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_6194Miles of  pristine, white and pink sand perfection, and spans of emerald green turquoise water.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_0178_2
And like most Scottish beaches, dog friendly.
Murphy was in his element, our own little Fairy Hound!
My Shoney.. Johnny the Blue Man and Little Fairy Hound Murphy

My Shoney.. on location with Johnny the Blue Man and Little Fairy Hound Murphy

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The light here changes from moment to moment, as the Isles are so exposed to the open waters of the Atlantic.  Clouds and weather come and go, making for countless wonderful compositions for me to paint.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_1057

I could have stayed on Harris for an entire summer… but my photographs will remind me of the wonder and majesty of these shorelines. Zimmermann-Luskentyre-2 I will revisit them with joy as I paint.

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Scarista Beach, Harris

 
 Such a perfect place for me,Zimmermann-Luskentyre

the Crab, as I must always return to the the Sea.

"Tropical Cloud Sky" 30"x30" at Lahaina Galleries

“Tropical Cloud Sky” 30″x30″ at Lahaina Galleries

“Western Isle Beach”
at Graham Fine Art

Summer 2016 in the UK: Solstice in Scotland

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The Labyrinth, Castle Dunure

Summer of 2016, and somehow, all our roads have led us to Scotland.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_5636Joined by our dear friends Gaetano and Fabio, we shared in a week of travels through mythical Alba and experienced inevitable adventures together.

In all my travels I have never been this far North on the planet. It is indeed wonderful to be at this latitude on the longest day.Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_4003

The light here is soft and ever changing, delighting my painter’s eye. The palette leans towards greys and greens, and the shades and tones are infinite.
Clouds and water create shifting light that spans the spectrum of grays. Certainly I could list more than 50 shades…
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In the Scottish Highlands magic and mystery reveals itself around every corner of the bend.
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Loch Ness is truly deserving of its mythical place in Scottish lore. Cutting a large diagonal through northern Scotland on the Great Glen Fault, it is the second largest and deepest Scottish loch.
I had no idea how truly dark and deep a body of water could be, but the presence of peat in the water stains it a deep stout beer color and makes for a perfect place for Nessie to hide.
Castle Urquhart presides over Loch Ness echoing a past of conflict and strife which now, except for the summer hoards of tourists, seems so peaceful.
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can you spot her ? c;

No visit to Loch Ness is complete without a Nessie sighting photo.
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Boleskine’s cemetery being witness to some interesting personalities who have been drawn to this “quiet” and less travelled side of Loch Ness for a variety of reasons.
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Reflections of a Ruin, Boleskine

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Our day spent at Loch Ness presented us with a fabulous place to celebrate the beginning of summer with a
wee Scottish picnic…
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Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_3982In the pleasant company of Nature’s most wild and wonderful creatures and geological formations….
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The Loch offered us some amazing beach combing treasures…
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Caroline-Zimmermann-Scotland_0032Murphy is in good form, loving the great outdoors and looking dapper in his Barbour jacket…
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Boleskine

Truly, the shores of Loch Ness resonate with myth and mystery….
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found in Boleskine… golf anyone?

…leaving me very much inspired yet pondering so many unanswered questions…

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Our longest day ended later that eve further North on the coast in Tain. After a day like this day, I was left feeling a deep connectivity to the Earth and the seasons. I could imagine how people of ancient times believed in the magic of Nature and lived with a daily sense of wonder, reverence and awe. Slowly and if by magic a solstice sun descended onto the horizon, offering a gorgeous extended sunset that was literally breath-taking. Gratitude for the Sun, this day and the very fine company… c:

Twenty Studio Stories….

I’ve painted outdoors and I’ve painted indoors… on location and in studios all over the world. People often ask me: Which do I prefer? Is one more authentic? Is the other easier? Over the years I’m thinking it is all up to the individual, what gets you stoked as a painter, what inspires your process.

MFA Studio: Oakland, CA

MFA Studio: Oakland, CA

I suppose that when it comes to art studios, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in some amazing spaces in the world. Some were corners in a room, others covered patios, basements, cantinas, spare rooms, garages and shared spaces with other artists. Some spaces I have lived and slept in, some had great surf and snowboarding right outside the door. Some studios have been the backdrop for tea parties, holiday parties, and art shows…others transformed into movie sets for numerous film projects. From the ancient olive mill in Tuscany to the the old Del Monte Cannery in San Francisco, all these spaces impart their energy into my work and inspire in their own unique ways.
In this, my 30th year as a professional artist, I’m looking back at those places with many fond recollections. The hundreds if not thousands (!) of paintings I have created over those years!
Click on any of the images below to view the slideshow.. and please check back to read more blog posts about each location, what kind of inspiration it brought to me and how it affected my work.
The studio, that space with all the energy it brings to me is a silent collaborator in my creative process, looking back at these images there is no doubt in my mind about that. My special thanks to the best studio mates ever: John Charles Jopson, Sandra Jones Campbell, Ratso, Renzo, Murphy…and of course, the first of my many Muses, Bird.

Live from London, It’s Caroline Zimmermann

Caroline-Zimmermann-Painting_1441London, calling once again!

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For the second summer in a row I’ve had the pleasure and honour of painting “live” at the Graham Fine Art gallery in London’s Crouch End.

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Live demonstrations are a wonderful opportunity to get to know the gallery’s clients and for them to see my process.

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“Summer’s First Sunflowers I and II” 75cm x 61cm ea.  Sold seperately or as a pair at Graham Fine Art

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It’s also a nice change for me to leave the seclusion of my Tuscany studio and soak up the vibrance and energy of London and the Crouch End neighbourhood. My live-painting sessions at Graham Fine Art bookend my pop-up studio time in Oxford this summer.

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Caroline Zimmermann avocado painting

“Avocado Quartet” 4″ x 12″ Available at Graham Fine Art

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This year my painting process has been delightfully documented with a series of short videos, created and produced by talented gallery assistant Carolina Maggio and Team GFA.

Rose Arbour painting by Caroline Zimmermann

“The Rose Arbour” 100cm x 80cm    Oil on Canvas    Available at Graham Fine Art

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GFA’s own Graham Powell and Carolina are attentive to all details of running and managing a gallery… and of course keeping things exceedingly fun & lively.

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In the “Mallorca” video, I am actually creating a painting from the very beginning of my process. This is the second half of the “Mallorca” diptych which took approximately three weeks to complete…

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“Mallorca Blues I and II” 100cm x 100cm ea. Sold separately or as a pair at Graham Fine Art

Caroline Zimmermann Maldives water painting

“The Maldives” 8″ x 16″ Available at Graham Fine Art

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In the gallery, inspiration abounds… as a result I’ve created numerous smaller works as well.

Caroline Zimmermann Sunflower painting

“Sunflower Portrait” 12″ x 12″ Available at Graham Fine Art

Caroline Zimmermann eggplant artichoke onion still life painting

“Aubergine, Artichoke and Onion” 12″ x 12″ Available at Graham Fine Art

Caroline Zimmermann Citrus painting

“Citrus Still Life” 4″ x 12″ Available at Graham Fine Art

“Tuscan Violet Artichokes” 4″x1 2″ Available at Graham Fine Art

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The end of this year’s summer painting sojourn was celebrated with an evening soiree with some good friends in attendance.

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Caroline Zimmermann Lavender Field painting

“Lavender En Plein Air” 80cm x 100cm Available at Graham Fine Art

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We so enjoyed our summer as Crouch End locals…. Loving every minute and looking forward to returning again next year.  Many many thanks to Graham and Carolina and all at Graham Fine Art for a fabulous summer!

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Reflections of Oxford

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July of 2015 has found us fortunate enough to be spending some weeks in the university town of Oxford.

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My latest ‘pop up’ studio here has been a quiet contrast to the buzz and excitement of painting in London at Graham Fine Art.

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As with London, the River Thames is the foundation of Oxford and its meanderings has shaped and molded its identity over the centuries. The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens which I visited last week run along the banks of River Cherwell.

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I put down my paintbrushes for a few hours to take up a boating invite with local Oxford jewelry artist Tess Blenkinsop, painter Francesca Shakespeare and her husband Christopher who expertly piloted our little punt.

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The Thames as it courses through Oxford is called the River Isis, referring to the Latin name for the river: Tamesis.

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Clearly on evenings like this the river is suitable for a Goddess…. gorgeous light and shadows which make for amazing reflections.

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It was brief cruise through the long and rich history of Oxford.  We were immersed in a lush combination of ancient trees, vegetation and countless species of birds on this tributary of the River Isis, the River Cherwell.

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Inspiration abounds as we cruise along at a duck’s eye view, each round of a bend revealing magical compositions.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Reflections_1952 - Version 2Recollections of my previous paintings of the river Arno as it meanders through the Vald’arno near our home in Tuscany.

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Some unexpected delights as well, and the infrequent encounter with a punting traffic jam.

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Christopher navigates with skill and perfection as he dodges other punters, deftly avoiding a collision that would have crushed a duck and her goslings.

Caroline-Zimmermann-Reflections_2010Murphy and I look on with grave concern.

All fine, we continue and pause for a picnic on the shores of the River Cherwell.

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The highlight of the evening was a spontaneous visit to the Magdalen College and its cloisters…

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…walking the grounds I could just imagine how inspirational it was for Magdalen alums such as Oscar Wilde.

 

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“The Illumination” 2004 by Caroline Zimmermann

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“In the summer term Oxford teaches the exquisite art of idleness, one of the most important things that any University can teach, and possibly as the first-fruits of the dreaming in grey cloister and silent garden, which either makes or mars a man …”

Oscar Wilde, review of Primavera in the Pall Mall Gazette, 24 May 1890

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“Reflections of Tuscany” Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 38” X 40” Oil on Canvas Lahaina Galleries

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My time in Oxford has been productive and full of inspiration… all feeding into my latest water, cloud and sky paintings. Truly its as Yeats states in this quote:

“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking.” William Butler Yeats, in a letter to to Katharine Tynan

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A Day at Oxford Botanic Garden

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Founded in 1621, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic gardens in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. It has one of the most diverse yet compact collections of plants in the world and contains over 8,000 different species, including… poppies!

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"Poppy Portrait II" 15cm X 15cm Available at Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portrait II” 15cm X 15cm Available at Graham Fine Art

"Poppies in a Tuscan Breeze" 25.5 X 25.5 Available at Graham Fine Art

“Poppies in a Tuscan Breeze” 25.5 X 25.5 Available at Graham Fine Art

"Poppy Adoration" 60cm X 69.5cm Available at Caroline's online Virtual Gallery

“Poppy Adoration” 60cm X 69.5cm Available at Caroline’s online Virtual Gallery

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"White Daffodils" Available at Graham Fine Art

“White Daffodils” 25cm X 25cm Available at Graham Fine Art

"Lilacs and Wisteria" 30" X 24" Available at Lahaina Galleries

“Lilacs and Wisteria” 30″ X 24″ Available at Lahaina Galleries

"Summer Sunflower" 12" X 12" Available at Lahaina Galleries

“Summer Sunflower” 12″ X 12″ Available at Lahaina Galleries

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"The Rose Arbour" 100cm X 80cm Available at Graham Fine Art

“The Rose Arbour” 100cm X 80cm Available at Graham Fine Art

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“Hawaiian Heliconia” 2010 Private Collection

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"Plumeria for Rell" 1998

“Plumeria for Rell” 1998  Private Collection

Zimmermann tropical flower painting

“Hibiscus Leilani” 2012 Private Collection

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Autumn Reflections from a Tuscan Studio

Molino, Autumn 2014

It has been a wet autumn here in Tuscany, and that following a very wet summer. Italy has been inundated by November’s storms adding to the heaviness of an already disastrous olive harvest. Makes for a slightly maudlin mood for the locals. Rainy weather means more time for me in the studio, happily working away… of course, on my newest water paintings.

Our house was originally constructed 500 years ago as a mill, but not to grind flour. Instead the river Ciuffenna’s water was harnessed to turn machinery that somehow processed wool for felt. That medieval machine worked away hundreds of years ago in a large space under our bedroom, in the oldest part of our house. It is in this room that I work on my paintings now.

Murphy takes a taste

The Ciuffenna cascades down a series of three man-made waterfalls located in a ravine next to our home. The normally pleasant sound of the river coursing turns to a roar when there is a big rain, a thrilling energy to have nearby. In this house, you can imagine, I have many and marvelous dreams of water.

October ended with some fabulous autumn days, but that was to be short-lived. We did manage a day hike into the Pratomagno Mountains where we had a tranquil picnic by one of Ciufenna’s tributaries. All the while my mind was in the waters, becoming nostalgic for blue water horizons…

My father’s parents from Germany visit us for the first time. Laguna Beach, 1968. I’m the little one, and having the most fun…?

Being a So Cal girl, I’ve always been close to the sea. My parents enjoyed taking us for picnics no matter what time of year. It was there in Laguna Beach at an early age where I began my communion with the sea….

More fun at the beach.. Me, my father, and my sister. I’m sure my father sent numerous copies of this pic to my relatives in Germany, gloating over the November sun in California…

November sun is eluding us here in Tuscany, so I’ve conjured it up with color in my studio. Welcome to my World….

“Cleopatra’s Baths” being completed in the Studio

“Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths” Lahaina Galleries 47″x36″

Blue water Bliss: Cleopatra’s Baths on the Turquoise Coast

Blue water Bliss indeed. My weeks spent on the Turquoise Coast two years ago have inspired numerous paintings and an infinite opportunity to explore variations of blue in a painting.

Oh to be back in the water! It’s days like this when skies are gray that I yearn to be immersed and refreshed. Those days will come again, I am sure, but for now I am painting away in the gray….

“Lake Como Contemplation I ” Lahaina Galleries

The quiet calm of Lake Como’s waters provides a wonder of reflections. Ancient Roman villas on tranquil waters with graceful gardens that beckon contemplation.

“Lake Como Contemplation II” Lahaina Galleries

Bella Toscana does have its brilliant blue skies, and that is reflected in my “Autumn Reflections, Bagno Vignoni”. Gorgeous light on a gorgeous location south of Siena, the ancient baths still produce their healing waters.

“Autumn Reflections, Bagno Vignoni” Lahaina Galleries

How many shades of blue: the search continues… with a joy and delight of communing with that most fundamental of the elements.

Mediterranean Reflections 24″ x 12″ Lahaina Galleries

"Vintage Crystal Cove" oil painting 30"x40" Lahaina Galleries

“Vintage Crystal Cove” oil painting 30″ x 40″ Lahaina Galleries

The Sea continues to inspire new paintings from my earliest memories. Crystal Cove and a sunset by the Pacific. Water has always called to me, and to water I will always return.

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Lavender In Provence 2014

It doesn’t get much better than this…

Lavender in Provence.

“Lavender in Provence” at Graham Fine Art

July.

A complete indulgence of the senses.

Endless inspiration for new paintings.

“Lavender en Plein Air” oil painting at Graham Fine Art

Step right in and take a deep breath…

Hear the humming buzz of the bees.

Feel the mid-summer’s breeze.

Zimmermann_Provence_0326

Lavender calms and soothes the soul.

“Lavender en Plein Air” begins here

and most of all, inspires creativity…

“Lavender en Plein Air” finished here.. London at Graham Fine Art

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Provence Poppy Bliss

At last, we return to Provence and just in time to observe the Poppy phenomenon… This year’s was spectacular!  A “riot of red” that takes one’s breath away! The swaths of poppies are elusive.. never easy to find.  More than often, they find you… It’s quite the indulgence to spend time in the fields and linger…

‘Poppy Adoration” 60cmx70cm Graham Fine Art

Taking time to observe the flowers close up, with their interesting black stamen formations, and delicate transparent petals that glow red like little stained glass windows… The French name for the poppy: le coquelicot   All the while gathering up inspiration and taking photos I will use as references for future paintings in my studio…

“Scarlet Poppies” 30″x40″ Richard Stravitz Galleries

“Tuscan Poppy Fields In Spring” 28″x40″ Lahaina Galleries

Of course, taking time also for a sip of Rose’ and the fabulous Provencal cuisine at L’Oustalet in Lourmarin…A warm goat cheese salad with hazelnut crust a fine reward for hard day’s work! Merci Nade & FiFi!

All this travel is new for our dear Murphy…

What’s not to Love about French cafe’ life!

“Small Wonder Poppy Landscape Painting I” 13 X 20 cm
Graham Fine Art

If you are a “Facebook-er” please visit my Facebook Page for constant updates with my most recent work.

Instagram @ cwzimmermann!

“Poppies” 40cm x100cm Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portraits”, intimate views of the individual flower as no two are exactly alike.

“Poppy Portrait 1” 15cmx15cm
Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portrait 3” 15cmx15cm
Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portrait 2” 15cmx15cm
Graham Fine Art

“Siena Poppies” 12″x24″
Graham Fine Art

“Florentine Poppies” 12″x24″
Graham Fine Art

“Poppies, End of May” 30cm x51cm
Graham Fine Art

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An Inspired Visit to Villa Gamberaia

“The villa stands nobly on a ridge overlooking the village of Settignano and the wide-spread valley of the Arno”

… so begins Edith Wharton’s description of the Villa Gamberaia in Florence.
 For over twenty years I’ve had with me in my studios a first edition copy of Edith Wharton’s “Italian Villas and Gardens”, published in 1904 and beautifully illustrated by Maxfield Parrish.Somehow the book survived my many moves and travels and now, 110 years after Edith’s visit, I was able to see the magnificent villa and visit its famous gardens for myself. Dear friends Laura and Valentina Boyer invited us last week  for a private visit to the grounds.
Valentina is one of Tuscany’s premier events planners and organizes all activities for the Villa. 
On this morning, after a decidedly Tuscan April shower, we were able to see the the Villa in all of its splendor, Maxfield Parrish skies included.
“The house is small yet impressive.”  declares Edith, matter of factly.
I suppose if you’re comparing it to Versailles or the estate in “Downton Abbey”, it is on the smallish side.
Built in 1610, the Villa has survived wars and occupations, but still retains its distinctly Tuscan grace and elegance. 

“The real value of the old Italian garden plan is that logic and beauty meet in it, as they should in all sound architectural work…” 
Si, Cara Edith… indeed…as they say here in Tuscany…Certo!
Grazie to Valentina for taking her time for us and Roberto and Laura for a truly inspirational day in Settignano…
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Return to the Festival of Arts

I’ve often thought of Life as flowing in a spiral current, even more so now as this summer I’ve found myself back in the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts. The decision to return was made on April 1st, and since that day I have been greatly anticipating exhibiting here once again.

I was honored to be given booth #3, one of the first exhibit spaces in the front of the show. This will be my 24th year as a Festival of Arts exhibitor, half of my summers have been spent here. This year, most notable was the change in my exhibit’s presentation:  An All Water Wall.

“Tahiti Cloud Sky” 11″x11″ tropical seascape oil painting

For the last 17 years I have been presenting my works from Tuscany. Many people  were stunned by the paintings, my most recent pieces from my travels in Bali, Tahiti, Maldives and Turkey.

It was great to see old friends, clients and acquaintances. I was sure to include some of my smaller works, those with antique frames and Tuscan landscapes.

The evening was as beautiful as it gets in Laguna Beach, the crowd lively  and dancing to the music. 

Of course my exhibit would not be complete without the presence of a Rooster….

“Turquoise Farm Rooster” 15″x15″ oil painting

New smaller tropical seascapes that comfort the soul and cool the mind.

“Water’s Edge” 7″x13″ tropical seascape oil painting

One of my “Coffee” trio found a good home that eve… but the two remaining are fabulous little pieces….

“Coffee” oil painting 9″x9″

If you are in the Laguna Beach area this summer, do stop by. The Festival runs from the 30th of June to the 3oth of August. The Pageant of the Masters is a must see as an 85 year Southern California tradition. For more information please see Festival of Arts, Pageant of the Masters. See you there!

Festival of Arts Facade 2011 Artwork by Caroline Zimmermann and Marlo Bartels
Photo: Tom Lamb

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Waves of Inspiration: Sunflowers

“Sunflower Wave” 40″x40″ oil painting

Sunflowers speak to me of happy and content memories in my family’s garden in Anaheim.

As a child, I would lose myself for hours helping my mother and father with their various tasks of tending their large backyard garden.The mild weather in Southern California made for a botanical paradise for my parents. Both are originally from Europe and they would marvel at the growing conditions as all seasons of the year brought forth their bounty.

Zimmermann Family, Anaheim California

A favorite in the garden was always the Sunflower. My father would recall how he and his family grew vast fields of sunflowers in the steppes of Romania for oil. He and his family would eat the seeds as a tasty snack and at age 84 he still enjoys growing them to this day.

MFA Show California College of the Arts, Oakland 1994

This history inspired the many Sunflower Portraits I created for my MFA show in 1994. The Sunflower perfectly defines the cycle of Life and Death, and the fascinating beauty of each phase. I created over 30 12×12 inch portraits of the flower in each stage of growth, and displayed them in grid form for my Master’s of Fine Arts show.

Two years after that I went to Tuscany for the first time and had my first glimpse of those European sunflower fields much like my father described to me from his childhood.And so began my creation of larger scale field paintings… waves of golds and greens…gorgeous swaths of texture and pattern. The blooming of a sunflower field is a sign that summer has indeed arrived.

“Song of the Sunflowers” oil painting

My search for Sunflower Inspirations has led me to the back country roads of Provence and Tuscany. Every field has its character and charm, every year is different. Helianthus Annuus is native to the Americas, worshipped by the natives as food source and sacred plant. Sunflower seeds were first introduced to Europe in the 16th century, where it was grown as a source of cooking oil.

“Girasole” in Italian, “Tournesol” in French…. both names describing a “country” myth; sunflowers do not turn with the daily passing of the sun.

In most fields the flowers do grow facing east; the morning sun. The immature flower heads do track the sun, so the concept is not entirely untrue.Heliotropism is the process that causes the plants to grow in a uniform alignment facing the sun.

“Siena Sunflowers” Tuscany oil painting

I can’t help but smile, at each flower’s “face” (technically called an inflorescence) has an individual character. Even with this “uniform alignment”, some flowers grow facing sideways…

“Sunflower for Susan” oil painting

Nature begets individuality…

This is a key to my painting sunflower fields: No two flowers are ever identical. For me, each flower takes on its personality.

“Sunflowers of the Luberon” oil painting

I’ve embraced Van Gogh’s divine madness for this flower. I’ll definitely continue to ride this wave of inspiration with my latest and largest  sunflower painting “Sunflower Wave”

Related: The Elusive Sunflower and Rare Antique Frames

See Caroline’s available Sunflower Paintings on her Virtual Gallery
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Waves of Inspiration: Lavender

"Waves of Lavender and Grain" Provence Oil Painting 24"x36"

“Waves of Lavender and Grain” Provence Oil Painting 24″x36″

Our winter travels have brought us back to Tuscany and what looks to be a soggy spring. Nothing warms my painter’s heart more than recalling warm, dry summers past in Provence and the sensual experience of painting lavender.

I’ve recently completed my latest lavender painting: “Waves of Lavender and Grain” with that in mind… evoking all my heady memories of time spent in Provence in pursuit of those most gorgeous of lavender fields and that perfect light.

Lavender fields can be found everywhere in Provence…

from the famous and often photographed Sénanque Abbey near the village of Gordes in the Vaucluse region…

“Lavender of the Luberon”

to the magnificent lavender of the Luberon…

and the epic fields of lavender of the Valensole plain in the Alpes-de-Haute department of Provence.

The crisp, clean and calming fragrance of Lavender… contented buzzing of the bees… the soft textures of lavender and grain…

I pick up my brushes to paint, and I am back there again.

“Lavender Light” 30″x40″

Related: Harvest of Lavender in Tuscany and Provence

See more of Caroline’s lavender paintings in her Virtual Gallery and Provence Gallery.

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