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.
This last weekend I had the honour of exhibiting my work at Lahaina’s 39th Anniversary Show. Along with seven other master artists, we celebrated with some of Lahaina Galleries’ patrons and collectors at a private unveiling the evening before.
All of the works were carefully hung and veiled to provide maximum excitement and anticipation…
After a wonderful introduction from the Lahaina Team, I spoke briefly about my newest creation…
My “Blue Mediterranean” Triptych was then unveiled.
“Blue Mediterranean” made a long journey to be included in this unveiling. I began working on the painting in my studio in Tuscany and continued to work on it throughout the summer in my pop-up studio in Oxford.
This is truly why I do what I do: Pure Joy. I was thrilled to be able to meet the new owners of my “Mediterranean Blues: Cleopatra’s Baths” and “Mediterranean Blues Beach”. Both pieces are going to an excellent home.
Many compliments to Jim and Nancy Killett for their 39th year of beautifying the world with Lahaina Galleries. I’ll do my best to help them with their efforts for many many more!
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)
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.
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:
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.
Bees representing Ephesus? Beasts for Diana the huntress?
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.
How much human energy spent on creating civilizations, and how much energy spent on destroying them?
Dead Can Dance’s recent song “Amnesia” keeps resonating in my mind…
“History is never written
By those who’ve lost….”
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.
A much appreciated respite from the crowds and the blazing sun are the Terraced Houses in their active excavation. Fascinating glimpses of patrician life:
“… 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…
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.
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
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.
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.