Flower Power in Provence

Provence in Spring and once again we find ourselves here in pursuit of poppies.
Carolibe-Zimmermann-poppies-1209aWhen in Nice, the Marché Aux Fleurs at the Cours Saleya is a must see. A daily market that is one of the most spectacular in the South of France.

Caroline_Zimmermann-Provence-1207An overwhelming visual feast for the senses… the sights and fragrances of the many purveyor’s exquisite goods… the best of local Provencal produce and spring flowers which are at their peak of this year’s season.

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Countless subjects for my next paintings… and most importantly… our next meal.

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“Bundle of Asparagus” Graham Fine Art

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“Asparagus Standing” Graham Fine Art

Caroline-Zimmermann-Nice-0904This year’s poppy hunt takes us back to some familiar countrysides of the Luberon, with a stop in Aix en Provence along the way.Murphy-in-Aix-1029

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We returned to Bonnieux, one of the most charming of the Luberon’s hilltop towns.
The views are fabulous, and from that strategic location we could scope out potential poppy fields in the distance.
They were there and the hunt was on!

Zimmermann-poppy-fields-0028_2Our efforts were rewarded with some spectacular fields and ideal conditions.

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“Scarlet Poppies” 30″x40″

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

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“Poppies, End of May” 12″x20″ Graham Fine Art

Seeing these poppies in such a magnificent setting always takes my breath away.
It is rare in Tuscany to find such vast swaths of poppy fields these days, as many farmers are using herbicides that eradicate the poppies as well as countless other beneficial wildflowers and weeds.
In Britain the poppy is a symbol of remembrance, yet it is being wiped out by the increase of herbicide use by farmers.

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But here in Provence, with their shocking scarlet the flowers still set the landscapes on fire, making our visit one of the most memorable yet.

“Return to the Poppy Field” 25”x31” framed

“Return to the Poppy Field”
25”x31” framed

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“Poppies and Grain” 30″x40″ Lahaina Galleries

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“Poppy Portait I” 6″x6″ Graham Fine Art

Long live the Poppy!Zimmermann-poppy-fields-0007_3 We hope to see you again next year….

Title: Poppies in a Tuscan Breeze Medium: Oil on Board Image Size: 25.5cm x 25.5cm

Poppies in a Tuscan Breeze
Image Size: 25.5cm x 25.5cm

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The Isles of Gold and Mediterranean Blues

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Over 20 years ago, during my first visit to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, I saw a painting that has inspired me ever since.
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“Les Iles d’ Or” or “The Islands of Gold”, created by Henri-Edmond Cross in 1892 as he was living on the Cote d’ Azur of Southern France.
This pointillist work continues to resonate with me after all these years with its scintillating dots of colors and light.
It is a painting that evokes my fascination with water; the myriad shades of blue, the dance of light and shadow on the sea floor, and the play of reflections on the water’s surface.

Mallorca seascape painting by Caroline Zimmermann

“Mallorca Blues” by Caroline Zimmermann    100cm x 100cm Graham Fine Art

Earlier this May we spent a week on the Cote d’Azur that so influenced Cross and many other Impressionist painters…

Zimmermann-water-paintings-19Stopping along the many beaches and harbors, taking in the views and the occasional aperitif of a good Bandol rose…

Caroline Zimmermann in Sanary sur Mer, France

Sanary su Mer and its delightful harbor. Future paintings waiting to happen!

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"Mediterranean Reflections" painting by Caroline Zimmermann, showing at Lahaina Galleries

“Mediterranean Reflections II” by Caroline Zimmermann    38″x40″ at Lahaina Galleries

Zimmermann-water-paintings-23Living in Tuscany is bliss, but every so often I need to return to the sea.

Zimmermann-water-paintings-22 Zimmermann-water-paintings-17 Zimmermann-water-paintings-12Collecting sea glass is one of my many forms of meditation and there were so many treasures to be found.

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We then discovered the island of Porquerolles, with its beautiful beaches and sheltered coves.

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“Mediterranean Blues V” painting by Caroline Zimmermann, available at Lahaina Galleries

“Mediterranean Blues V” by Caroline Zimmermann
34”x 48” Lahaina Galleries

Then the Henri-Edmond Cross painting came to life:

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Truly where Art meets Life! Over a hundred years after the painting was created, I could visualize what Cross saw as he painted.

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Murohy von Mülheim on Porquerolles Island, France

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I have always lived by the sea. caroline-zimmermann-boat

My many years spent chasing waves kept me constantly in and around salt water.Of course I had to take a swim.

Caroline-Zimmermann-swimming-the-MedAlthough the water of the Med in May is chilly, it felt great to be in such beautiful clear water. It was much like the waters off the coast of Turkey with the amazing shades of blue.

“Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths”  47” x 36”  Lahaina Galleries

“Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths”
47” x 36” Lahaina Galleries

The Little Crab always returns to the sea… It was good to be back. 
Caroline Zimmermann on Porquerolles Island

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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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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
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“Poppy Portrait 2” 15cmx15cm
Graham Fine Art

“Siena Poppies” 12″x24″
Graham Fine Art

“Florentine Poppies” 12″x24″
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“Poppies, End of May” 30cm x51cm
Graham Fine Art

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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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Harvest of Lavender in Tuscany and Provence

Caroline Zimmermann, Provence 2011

June at the Molino is a glorious time in the garden with long sunny days that, this year, have brought our lavender into an early bloom.

I rarely get to harvest our own lavender as typically we leave in June for the summer months to return to California. This time, however, because of the warm spring, most of the blooms were ready for cutting… and little Renzo was eager to help….

The next day we were off to Provence… and first time to Valensole….. the lavender fields absolutely stunning…

Lumiere du Lavande ”24”x36”

(“Lumiere du Lavande” is available at Graham Fine Art in London)

“Late June Lavender & Grain” Provence 16”x24”

Click here to continue reading this post on my old blog. To see more of my lavender paintings pleased visit my Provence page.