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. Continue reading “Waves of Inspiration: Sunflowers”

Water Paintings

I really could not wait to get started. But where to begin? I combed through my countless photos of the waters of my recent trip to the Turquoise Coast.

Mesmerized by the radiance, the glow emanating from the sea.

I have this recurring dream where I am underwater… sometimes its a pond, sometimes the lineup at Mākaha on a flat day, or sometimes simply a pool. In my dream I am always calm, floating in the water, perfect temperature… womb-like.

caroline zimmermann under water, 15-years-old
Glass Pool, Vegas, 15-years-old

The curious thing is that I look up, see the light of day above me. But I never want to leave. I am perfectly and simply happy to be amongst the rocks, the fish, plants or whatever is on the bottom. I think of Bjork’s The Anchor Song

When I was going through chemo I had recurring dreams of water… that radiant, glowing blue of the tropics… and my desire to get in. I had my shortboard, and all I wanted was to duck-dive under a wave.

Photo: Bernie Baker

Water over my head, its all I wanted… cool my body, comfort my soul.

My water paintings are countless…  they began on my first trip to Barbados and the Grenadines in 1989. I spent some days on Palm Island in the Windward Islands.


There I felt my first enchantment with that color blue. Was it Turquoise blue or Cerulean?

No, Turquoise is truly what I saw in Turkey.

At last,  the final paintings….

“Turquoise Blues I” 40×40″
“Turquoise Blues II” 40×40″
“Turquoise Blues III” 40″x40″

View these paintings and others available for purchase on Caroline’s Virtual Gallery
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Izmir to Berlin in three hours… flying across time and cultures to meet John and Renzo… why not?

While we were off in Turkey, John spent September in Berlin, working on the final edit of our film Terroir at studios in Prenzlauer Berg.

It was Sandra’s first trip to Berlin, but certainly not my first.

At the age of 17, my mother escaped from the former East Germany through Berlin. Leaving her family and friends behind, she embarked on a daring journey with only a suitcase and fled on a ship to Canada.

I traveled with my mother to visit relatives in East Germany several times over the years and was in East Berlin in October of 1989, just days before the wall came down. I returned twenty years later and finally made my peace with all the heartache and trauma that tormented my mother’s side of the family.

It was only fitting that now, on this trip and with my mother in mind, I would return again with a bittersweet joy.

My mother would have marveled at the nature of the city’s renaissance. Berlin is a tribute to the re-generative spirit of human kind – to be able to rise out of the rubble of destruction and boldly live again.

Creativity abounds here… the city itself is an open-air exhibition of ideas and innovation, truly anything goes.

“At Rocco’s, Berlin”
oil on canvas 2012 Caroline Zimmermann

Our days were spent perusing galleries and museums in Kreutzberg and Mitte…

Johnny dragging us all across Berlin…

“Berliner Kaffee”
2008 Oil on Wood, Caroline Zimmermann

…but pausing often for kaffee.

“The Barrista”
2012 Oil on Canvas, Caroline Zimmermann

A highlight for us when in Berlin is visiting with our dear friend and truly local artist Bernhard “Vinz” Steuernthal.

His home/studio in Charlottenburg is a work of art in itself and is nothing less than fabulous.

He is currently working towards shows in Hannover and in China, and having a very successful year.

It was Vinz who years ago introduced us, through friends, to Molino, our home in Tuscany.

Always a treat to have a “Helles” with him, good conversation about his life and art in what is truly a “world city”.

Leaving Berlin, our BMW packed full!

Cousin Michael and Marc Zimmermann, Stuttgart
On our way back to Molino, stopover at the Zimmermann’s…as Always, a pleasure!

Visit the Website of Bernhard Steuernthal.

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Lasting Impressions

My trip to Turkey left me with so many lasting impressions. Countless questions whose answers only begat more questions. I have yet to realize how this trip affected me, and with time, how it will influence my work.

During our lunch at a nomad’s village we conversed with Mehmet about recent archaeological discoveries in the southern parts of Turkey. New “wonders” of the ancient world, their excavations along with the many living cities jeopardized by impending war.

The cycle of growth and destruction… ancient ruins clearly demonstrate how quickly we forget the ravages of war.

“…when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy…” Antipater of Sidon, Greek Anthology (Wikipedia)

The Temple of Artemis, note stork nest on column

In his Anthology, Antipater of Sidon stated The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus to be one of the “seven wonders” of the ancient world. It is now a large sunken expanse of rubble, with one column cobbled together of odds and ends pieces. The original structure dates back to the 7th century BC, many historians believe it to have been rebuilt three times.

One can see in the above photo where the remains of this wonder went: to the St John’s Basilica, now a ruin, the fortress of Selçuk above and the Isa Bey Mosque below.

View of St John’s Basilica

Perhaps the strongest impression that remains with me now is viewing the numerous “Lady Artemis” statues at the Ephesus Museum.

I took my time observing the fascinating details, which to this day inspire mystery and controversy:

An early depiction of Zodiac signs

The “crescent moon” breast decoration, denoting fertility and a possible precursor to the crescent and star motif of Constantinople, later the Ottoman Empire and now the majestic symbol of Turkey.

Perhaps the goddess “fell from the sky” as suggested by myth with earlier statues carved of meteor material.

The intriguing multiple “breasts” or “eggs” or “bulls testicles” which all suggest fertility.

Bees representing Ephesus? Beasts for Diana the huntress?

Her crown represents Ephesus’ walls or the wondrous temple itself?

Mother Goddess or according to early Christians “Demon Artemis”?

After experiencing the Temples of Artemis in Ephesus, the “Virgin Mary House”, and later the Artemis statues at the museum, I could not help but feel a strong presence of a pervasive female benevolence.

This presence was most alive as we viewed recent and antique masterpieces of Turkish crafts at the Bella Hotel’s Divan Arts gallery.

Carpets and textiles crafted by women…all gathered here in a wonder-filled collection…testaments to the countless hours and the tireless working of  unnamed hands..

Tangible expressions of their Life’s stories- of Love and of Loss… their hours and days forever woven into these objects of beauty. I reflected on my process and the hours I invest into my work. I hope that my paintings will, ultimately, speak for themselves much as these carpets and textiles do.

Şirince, A charming village minutes away from Selçuk, our last afternoon in Turkey.

Walking the streets, the “Nike Shwoosh” according to our Ephesus guide, now a potted plant.

Enchanting Şirince

How much human energy spent on creating civilizations, and how much energy spent on destroying them?

Kayaköy. Adopted by the UNESCO as a World Friendship and Peace Village.

Dead Can Dance’s recent song “Amnesia” keeps resonating in my mind…

“History is never written
By those who’ve lost….”


A little movie


Muse and News Blog: Istanbul

Muse and News Blog: The Turquoise Coast

Muse and News Blog: Of Ephesus: Efes

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Of Ephesus: (Efes)

When Lord Byron saw Ephesus in 1810 very little of its former glory was evident; only bits of the ancient amphitheatre and stone stairways leading to nowhere. Two hundred and two years later, tremendous work has been done, yet archeologists claim that only 15% of the ancient city has been excavated. What is there now to be seen is indeed worthy of a visit. Yes, it’s a pity… that this excavated fraction of what was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire attracts such hoards of tourists. The shock of seeing such waves of people inspires panic…leaving curiosity crumbled along with the fabulous rubble as impulse dashes you towards the exit of the city. But such is travel and touring in the 21stcentury and truly I’ve learned to get over it, on with it and try to take some inspiration from these great wonders of the ancient world despite the masses of what my friend Camilla says “human flesh”… Sandra and I hired a guide, which in the case of seeing Ephesus I would strongly advise. Mehmet was excellent and ushered us around the throngs of people, to quieter corners of the excavation site, revealing interesting and amusing details I would have surely missed.

Backgammon type game board carved in marble paving
The Goddess Nike, and the origins of the corporate “schwoosh” logo?
The famous “Brothel Sign” carved in paving marble.. an advertisement for pleasure “this way”
Senator’s Latrines? (if only our politicians communed in this way, they could actually get something accomplished)
The Celcus Library built in 117 AD…
With “Sophia” the virtue of wisdom

A much appreciated respite from the crowds and the blazing sun are the Terraced Houses in their active excavation. Fascinating glimpses of patrician life:

Dining Hall with its Italian marble
Kitchens with central heating
Mosaics beautifully restored

“… he was not

Himself like what he had been; on the sea

And on the shore he was a wanderer;

There was a mass of many images

Crowded like waves upon me, but he was

A part of all; and in the last he lay

Reposing from the noon-tide sultriness

Couched among fallen columns,in the shade

Of ruin’d walls that had survived the names

Of those who rear’d them…

Lord Byron, the Dream 1816


Muse and News Blog: Istanbul

Muse and News Blog: The Turquoise Coast

The Turquoise Coast

I have always painted water… my many years in Search of Surf began with my family and throughout my life led me to most of the Seven Seas.

Waltraud, my mother, me the little towhead, my sister Heidi with ponytail. Catalina Island 1968

With that came the appreciation for the infinite variations and shades of blue.

My terrestrial years spent in Tuscany make me long for oceans and vistas of open waters and endless horizons. My desire to return to the water drove me to join Sandra and Saim on this trip.

Seven days on a Turkish sailing vessel, or gulet, sailing the Turquoise coast.

Three delicious and fresh meals a day, high tea and Turkish coffees. 10 painters.

Exploring ancient abandoned villages…  Melancholy Kayaköy

Lydian ruins

Lycian tombs

Cleopatra’s baths

Locals making their lives in the 21st century 

Sleeping on deck under the stars, lulled to sleep by gentle breezes, the tinkling of the halyards, a silent falling star. Waking up in the middle of the night to see Orion wheeling overhead.

All the while my mind in the waters… three glorious swims a day.

This may sound a dream out of Homer or Byron, but now looking back, it seems that perhaps only the tale of this being Cleopatra’s baths were a fiction. They say Cleopatra and Marc Antony spent their honeymoon cruising these waters… and all coves along this coastline claim to have at some time harbored their love boat.

Captain Can (pronounced John) Taner and his son were gracious hosts.


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A moment at the Eyup Mosque.

After a summer in Tuscany and California, my dear friend and fellow artist Sandra Jones Campbell and I packed up our studios and found ourselves on a plane to Istanbul.

It was the first time for me, and my first new travel adventure in 16 years.

Sandra lived in Turkey as a teenager for a year. She and the organizer of our trip, painter Saim Caglayan set everything up for me.  Four days and nights in Istanbul, then a week aboard a Turkish “gulet” sailing the Turquoise Coast with 8 other painters. All I had to do was book a ticket over and they took care of the rest. What I call a true vacation!

I had no expectations, I read nothing in advance nor did I go online to do research. I only had a distant recollection of the Hagia Sofia from my art history classes, some dim knowledge of Constantine, the Ottoman Empire and had on many occasions around the world eaten the ubiquitous doner kebab.

The Blue Mosque at night.

It is rare, but after leading so many workshops, I enjoy traveling like this…. Almost like a child.  All senses open to take in completely new sensations, my mind a blank slate eagerly absorbing information first hand. Learning from people’s words directly, gathering my thoughts as I go.

Topkapi Palace, Harems and ancient trees.

This journey was a tribute to my mother, who passed away in June. Her adventurous spirit and joy of living was with me every step of the way, and I believe I honored her well.

Everything in Istanbul is the stuff of fables. Hagia Sofia, called Aya Sofia in Istanbul.

Words can only fail me.

The Cisterns… magical and mysterious.

Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Shop Abdulla for the most exquisite hand fabricated Turkish towels and linens.

Every corner of the Old City a delight for the senses. The songs of the muezzin, which like the church bells in Italy, structure the day.

The fragrances of spices and roasted coffee inspire the appetite and meals do not disappoint.

The freshness of the cusine… with its meze, fish from the Marmara sea… very good wines from the south of Turkey.

What impressed me most of all, was the youthful energy of Istanbul’s people. We were constantly greeted with kindness, curiosity and a willingness to help.

Even late at night, on our way back to the hotel from dinner, kicking chestnuts at the Hippodrome… we felt safe.

Tesekkur Ederim to Saim and Sandra who brought me here.

To Serdar at the Ferman Sultan Hotel, the good people with great taste in cuisine and music at the Sokullu Restaurant, and best baklava dessert with cat entertainment at Mozaik, all Old City.


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