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

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.

Caroline Zimmermann: Lahaina Galleries Solo Show

Caroline Zimmermann’s Lahaina Galleries Solo Exhibition, February 27, 2016

Information and enquiries:

Lahaina Galleries At Fashion Island
1173 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
800.788.5008/949.721.9117
www.lahainagalleries.com   lgi@maui.net

Click on any image to enlarge:

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Florentine Treasures

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Since the era of the Medici and the Renaissance, Florence has been famous for its artisans, artists and crafts people who have created many of art history’s finest treasures. My numerous visits to the museums of Florence have inspired me over the years as I view the countless masterpieces of Renaissance art, and noting with little exception, the magnificence of their frames.

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It has been one of my greatest pleasures as an artist living and working in Tuscany for the last 20 years to collaborate with several frame makers in Florence that are still creating frames in the fine Florentine tradition. (These paintings will be available at the Lahaina Galleries Holiday Show from November 20 at the Newport Beach gallery.)

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These wonderful frames are custom made for me in the handmade tradition by the Mazzocchi family who are located in the heart of Florence.

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As a painter, I am infinitely fascinated by the possibilities of using their traditional forms to create paintings that speak to me of my contemporary aesthetic.

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They echo the past and resonate with the creative expressions of today’s Florentine artisans. These works are intimate tableaus that can be presented on a wall or placed on a surface. I like the idea that they can be easily moved and positioned around the home. Please come Lahaina Galleries Holiday Show to see these little treasures in person.

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It is a delight to present these works to Lahaina Galleries. I hope you enjoy them as well.

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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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Fresh Paintings at Graham Fine Art, London

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London in April. A visit to Crouch End and Graham Fine Art.
I consider myself very fortunate to do business in one of the greatest cities on Earth, and delivering paintings to Graham Fine Art is an excellent excuse to spend a week there.

zimmermann-bird-and-davisFirst stop was to deliver my paintings to be stretched at Bird and Davis, one of the UK’s oldest and leading art stretcher manufactures.

"Asparagus Standing"  Oil on Board  15cm x 15cm

“Asparagus Standing” Oil on Board 15cm x 15cm at Graham Fine Art

On this visit I’ve brought some fresh produce paintings, springtime florals and summer sunflowers.

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“Mallorca Blues I” oil on canvas 100cm x 100cm at Graham Fine Art

I have also brought the latest in my series of Water Paintings, this large piece is entitled “Mallorca Blues I”.

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Curator and proprietor Graham Powell has kindly made a comfortable space for me to paint right in the gallery, and meet and greet those who visit.
It’s great fun and I so enjoy meeting the locals of Crouch End and receiving response from my work.
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“White Daffodils” oil on panel 25cm x 25cm

 

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“Tuscan Violet Artichokes” oil on panel 10cm x 30cm

 

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“Produce Provencal” 10″x 10″ oil painting at Graham Fine Art

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“Summer’s First Sunflowers” Oil on Linen 75cm x 61cm

The highlight of the weekend was presenting a commissioned painting to clients who live in London, but requested a California seascape.
They selected a sunrise view of Bulito Beach of the Hollister Ranch.

“Tara’s Morning Tide” at Graham Fine Art

“Tara’s Morning Tide” is a wedding present from a thoughtful fiance’ to a very lucky bride. Congratulations to Tara and Ricardo!

“Poppy Portrait I ” Oil on Board
15cm x 15cm at Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portrait II”
15cm x 15cm at Graham Fine Art

“Poppy Portrait III”
15cm x 15cm at Graham Fine Art

“Bundle of Asparagus” Oil on Board 14cm x 20cm at Graham Fine Art

“Cut Citrus” Oil on Board 15cm x 15cm at Graham Fine Art

 

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If you are interested in any of these paintings please don’t hesitate to contact Graham at Graham Fine Art.

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New Paintings at Lahaina Galleries

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“Mediterranean Reflections” 38” x 40” Oil on Canvas

An exhibition of new works by Caroline Zimmermann at the Lahaina Galleries in Newport Beach, California from March 7, 2015.

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“Cloud Sky II” Maldives  – Oil on Canvas 30″ X 30″

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“Chianti Harvest Colors” 30”x40” Oil on Canvas

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“Vintage Crystal Cove” Laguna Beach  30″ X 40”  Oil on Canvas

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“Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths”  47” x 36”  Oil on Canvas

“Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths”
47” x 36” Oil on Canvas

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“Beyond Crystal Cove” Laguna Beach  20”x 59” Oil on Canvas

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“North Shore Blue Wave” 36″ X 48″ Limited Edition Print

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

"Return to Wood's Cove" 17” X 40” Oil on Canvas

“Return to Wood’s Cove”
17” X 40” Oil on Canvas

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“Poppies and Grain” 30”x40” Oil on Canvas

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“Sunflowers in a Summer Breeze” 24”x40” Oil on Canvas

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“The Conversation” 40”x40”  Oil on Canvas

“The Conversation”
40”x40” Oil on Canvas

“Little Drake”  20”x16” Oil on Canvas

“Little Drake”
20”x16” Oil on Canvas

To enquire about any of these paintings please don’t hesitate to email Lahaina Galleries or call (800) 228-2006.

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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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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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Caroline Zimmermann at Lahaina Galleries

The End of Summer 2013’s most welcome news is my being taken on by Lahaina Galleries for representation. 

Callie Wray and her fantastic team at their Fashion Island gallery have made me feel most welcome.
My work has never been more beautifully displayed, I am honored to be included with such a great group of talented artists.

“Summer Evening Tide, Hollister Ranch” 16″x39″

I look forward to working with the Lahaina Ohana and greatly anticipate their upcoming events.
Click here to view my work at the gallery.
An introductory show on the 7th of December… check back for further details!

Tuscan Poppies: The Chelsea Collection at Graham Fine Art

March and April showers have made for a remarkably wet and rainy spring for us here in Tuscany.  After last year’s drought and extraordinary heat, this May is completely different; the Tuscan countryside has exploded in a lush green-ness that we haven’t seen in years.

Molino in primavera

Gratitude for the corn poppy or papaver rhoeas, whose annual display brings a visual relief to what I call “green fatigue” in the Tuscan primaverile  landscape.

Tuscan poppy fields, near Siena

Conveniently, and not only for my eye, Nature has brought a pleasing compliment to ease the annoyance of these endless shades of green with swaths of the scarlet poppy.

Now, painting the Tuscan countryside in May delights me to no end. Our travels through Tuscany reveal breathtaking fields of poppies that vary in location from year to year.

I’ve just sent off fresh poppy paintings to Graham Fine Art in London, in time for the gallery’s annual homage to the Chelsea Flower Show.
The “Chelsea Collection 2013” will feature some of my most recent poppy paintings, as well as new citrus and coffee still life pieces.

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

If you are a “Facebook-er” visit Graham’s Facebook page for an inside look as to the goings on of the Graham Fine Art gallery.

“Small Wonder Poppy Landscape Painting II” 14x 19.5 cm
Graham Fine Art

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

“Poppy Portrait 1” 15cmx15cm
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“Poppy Portrait 3” 15cmx15cm
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“Poppy Portrait 2” 15cmx15cm
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“Siena Poppies” 12″x24″
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“Florentine Poppies” 12″x24″
Graham Fine Art

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

I’ve read that Michelangelo said “If you don’t like green, don’t visit Tuscany in spring”… As for myself, these gorgeous poppies are every reason to visit Tuscany in spring!

Homage to a Wisteria

This time of year the wisteria is a phenomenon here in Tuscany. It is a breathtaking spectacle seen throughout the region as the carefully maintained blooms adorn grand villas and bring their elegant grace to the most rustic of farm houses.

Molino 2012

Molino’s ancient wisteria is ill.  It should be in full glorious bloom, but this year it seems the excessive rains have rotted its grand old roots. Its blossoms are few and wan, desperate bees attempting to pollinate are confused, as are we.

Molino 2008

It saddens me deeply to see what was such a vigorous plant over the years now look weak and sickly.
The highlight of spring has always been its prodigious blooming over our loggia with heady fragrance and spectacular color. John spends many hours trimming back the vines during the course of year as it has always been such and active plant, and now it seems so quiet and still.
Over the years, our wisteria’s blossoms inspired my many paintings with its sensuous textures, beguiling shapes and fascinating patterns.

“Lilac and Wisteria Symphony” oil painting 24″x 28″

“Wisteria Doorway” 24″x 30″ oil painting

Somehow, our garden here at Molino always teaches us lessons which are relevant to the grander scheme of our lives.
Deep inside this Ciuffenna river valley is a little microcosm of Nature, and in this place over 500 years ago man interjected his will to live. Someone chose this spot to build our house, using only the native stone, sand and wood that they found in the vicinity.
Nature is constantly trying to reclaim Molino, the animals and plants surrounding us eager to fill in the little vacuum of order we attempt to maintain.
It makes me think of my high school physics lessons where I learned of entropy.
Simply put, it’s that law of thermodynamics and how the universe works to constantly bring disorder out of order. Yet, observing disorder is a matter of perspective, someone’s disorder is another’s order.
So why am I constantly fighting this urge to make my human order out of an overwhelmingly powerful Nature, who has ideas of what she considers order?

Ratso and Johnny’s water sculpture 2005

It may be a bad year for our wisteria due to the wet winter, but it is by far the most glorious year for our lilacs. The cherry trees are exploding with blossoms. The wildflowers spectacular.
I find such satisfaction in this as I gather lilacs for my next still-life paintings, and a silent prayer of healing for our wisteria.
The wisdom of our little garden speaks, sometimes so softly, I’ve only to listen.

Renzo, 2012

“Settignano Wisteria” 24″x28″ oil painting

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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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Amber: Autumn Inspirations in Tuscany 2012

Amber: It is the color of a Tuscan autumn, when all is bathed in a gorgeous honey light, gilded in gold, sweet, liquid, overripe, on the verge of decay.

“Twilight Toscana”

Shadows become longer, days shorter and the Tuscans increasingly maudlin and all goes quiet: Winter is approaching.

“Autumn’s Gold, Chianti”

This light turns all of the stone buildings to gold, makes every farmhouse a temple of radiance, their thick walls keep the warmth of summer for as long as they can before the cold of winter drains it from them.

Keith Carradine, on set for “Terroir” Villa Petrolo

Like hothouse flowers, Italians need light. Their Latin skins can handle any amount of sunlight dealt to them, and they absorb each sunny day like the sunflowers that blanket their landscapes in summer.  Over the years spent here, I’ve observed that melancholy seems to be embraced by the Italians. It is a source of inspiration. Unlike Americans, Italians do not strive for happiness at all times, indeed, happiness and bliss are not the state of perfection, as it is considered in America. The Dark Ages in Italy were times where sadness, grief and devastation were the status quo. The escape from these conditions inspired the renaissance, and like a long dormant winter, Italy burst forth with an amazing spring. Happiness is bittersweet, it comes at a price. Each joy encountered is a treasure, to be cherished, to be stored in the banks of memory, kept ready and polished to be brought forth in times of reminiscing with friends over a glass of wine.

“Sangiovese e Parmigiano”

With this in mind we set out with our friends from California on a three day wine and olive oil tasting tour of Autumno in Toscana

Renzo enjoys the view from the top of the Galatrona, an ancient tower overlooking the estate of Villa Petrolo.

First stop, a revisit to Villa Petrolo, our fabulous location for filming Terrior and famous for one of the best wines in Tuscany, the Galatrona, a pure Merlot.

Stefano Guidi is Villa Petrolo’s inventive winemaker. He was more than generous with his time and our tour of Petrolo’s cantina as we sampled Petrolo’s various wines in the barrel.

It was fascinating to detect the influence of terroir on their various different vineyards of Sangiovese, Merlot, Canaiolo, and Cabernet. An inspired and thoroughly satisfying experience.

Keith Carradine in a scene from “Terroir” filmed in the wine cellars of Villa Petrolo.

Recently bottled Jeroboams of Galatrona: a treasure trove of the precious Merlot.

It is the end of November, and olives on the trees are fattening: shiny black, or glossy mauve and green. They will be allowed until the first freeze to collect their greasy humours before being beaten off the trees and gathered for pressing at the frantoio. The Raccolte delle Olive is an ancient tradition in Tuscany, and my absolute favorite.

A visit to our neighbor’s Tiberio and Giuliana Nocentini… they have long since finished their harvest and we happily bought our year’s supply.

“Tuscan Olive II”

“Luce d’Oro” Golden Light, San Gimignano

Off to the other side of Chianti: San Gimignano and a visit with wine maker Mattia Barzaghi.

Mattia, his horse Seven, and actor Gaetano Guarino in a scene from “Terroir”

We met Mattia last year in our search of locations for Terroir. We were so taken by him that he soon became a collaborator and actor in our film.

Mattia’s wines repeatedly have won the prestigious “Tre Bicchieri” award designated by Gambero Rosso magazine..a well deserved honor.

Mattia’s latest endeavor: creating wines with the La Mormoraia estate. We arrived just in time to witness a magnificent Tuscan sunset and take a tour of the cantinas and estate

Evenings like these are truly magical… with all the elements of earth, air, water, and fire… Juice of the Sun in the form of wine…

and the irresistible fragrance and taste the earth in Mattia’s olive oil… only pressed a few hours ago.

Fruity, bitter, earthy and spicy… two coughs after tasting is a good sign. All went down very well with Mattia’s award winning Vernaccia, a white wine particular to the San Gimignano area.

The onset of winter triggers something in Tuscans that must remind them of the Dark Times, as winters in Tuscany can be so very dark.  I suppose this is why the autumno in Tuscany is so glorious: its the last celebration, before the sun recedes.

Bittersweet, melancholic, and gold infused memories to be sipped, savored and to keep the soul warm…

“Siena Sunset”

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Salvatore Ferragamo, Terroir and Painting Azul

October has come and gone, and with it the last of Tuscany’s balmy weather… fall colors are slowly making their appearance. Now with November’s rains here in Tuscany I am able to immerse myself in the studio.. wistful, now, however for a little sunshine!

It was a glorious sunny day when we filmed out last scenes of Terroir earlier this summer at Il Borro’s Vin Cafe, an appropriate wine tasting scene which featured Salvatore Ferragamo, his friends and Terroir actor Gaetano Guarino.

After filming, Salvatore asked me if I would paint a portrait of his favorite polo pony Azul.
I’ve painted several of the Ferragamo’s hunting dogs over the years, commissions I have done with pleasure.

We first met Azul in July, where she was a scene-stealer during our principal photography with Salvatore at the Borro.

I recently spent a happy afternoon taking photos of Azul that I will use for references. Within moments she began to reveal her character, what I truly hope to capture in her portrait.

“cheeky Azul” !

Animals, and horses in particular, were my favorite subjects when I was oil painting as a kid.

Presenting a horse portrait to my Oma, above her shoulder was the first horse I had ever painted. Age 11.

To this day, I still paint animals whenever I can. Check out the animal and still life paintings in my Flora and Fauna Gallery on my website.

Portrait completed!

….and a private vernissage with Salvatore and his artist-to-be Wanda…

Commission a painting by Caroline Zimmermann

Related:

Return to Il Borro – Part One: Terroir
Thanksgiving with the Cast and Crew of “Terroir”

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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.

caroline_zimmermann_tropical_beach

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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