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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spirit of St. Paul's Bay ~ Poem

I have one more swimming adventure to share with you from Lindos, Greece.

I was told to go to Saint Paul's Bay at sunrise, swim out past the rocky cliffs, the entrance to the bay, float on my back, look up and wait. I didn't know what to expect other than for sure I was going to be in the water and I would be wet! I do love surprises!!

Now I will describe to you what happened on that warm, beautiful early morning.

Spirit of St. Paul’s Bay

Sun now rises from its rest
As I drift through winding street
Village lay in quiet slumber
No soul around for mornings greet

Silently the shadows gather
As the sunlight finds its way
To filter out the darkness
Now begins a fresh new day

I must be there at dawn, they say
To see what I could see
Before the village wakens
What quiet bliss awaits for me

Experience this day anew
In a way many do not see
Arrive to rocks at St. Paul’s gate
As dawn breaks across the sea

I slip into the clear cool deep
My feet enter waters still
The calmness there infuses me
Sun warms the morning's chill

Slowly, calmly I whirl my way
To this place beyond the cliffs
Liquid mercury, a silent mirror
Reflections in these waters still

I have arrived now to this place
The sun has risen, all aglow
Waiting for the miracle
And do now what I am told

I lay my head back, close my eyes
Water’s edge is at my cheek
I hear myself inhale, exhale
Keeps time with my rhythmic beat

The sunlight but a whisper
In this early morning air
My soul is laid to rest here
Wide open, pure and bare

Eyes lifted to a glow now
High above me in the sky
Wispy feather softness
Turquoise, quiet beauty lie

And then it happened, out they came
Not a soul around but me
At first there were a few, and now
Endless fluttering wings I see

Swirling, twirling round and round
Dancing high up in the sky
They circle far above me
Calmness fills me as I sigh

Now I have learned your secret
To begin this life anew
One must open up your heart
To see all life has offered you

Drift calmly in your thoughts
Breathe deeply, you will see
Appreciate each moment
That’s been given you to be

And to this sacred secret place
I shall always keep you near
Remembering your spirit
You shared with me, oh so dear
Now I am far and many miles
Away from your rocky shores
Across this sea that enveloped me
Dreaming days to come of more

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Travelling Feet

In the past few years I have been fortunate to travel abroad with groups of artists exploring and painting our way through the foreign countryside. It's wonderful to be around like minded people - living, breathing and talking about art and life. It's also a great way to gain some self confidence as you learn about the travelling process. It can be very intimidating to travel alone abroad for the first time but something I believe everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. It will open you up to a whole new experience.

It has changed my life.

Eagle Reflections, Canada

I have noticed that most people I meet when travelling have a unique outlook on life. They have a spirit that seems to be more alive and happy about living the days they've been given. I suppose one could argue that they are on holiday and they would be happier because of this but I suspect they are this way even in their regular lives. Some simply have a happy vibe about them and in turn has a way of lifting others up. Nice!

When in a group setting I find I get to know many of them very well by the end of the trip but I tend not to talk to people from outside of the group.  I do love to learn about different cultures from around the world and find the best way to do this is to travel solo. I have been asked by many how it is I have so many wonderful experiences as I make my way along. I never knew this wasn't always the case for others and after careful consideration, this is what I came up with.

Ascending Light ~ Greece

For me the formula is this. First, one must have an open mind. Not only must you be open to talking to others but one must be truly interested in them and their journey. Everyone has a story to tell about how they came to be at this point in their lives; why they do the things they do. As the conversation unfolds we learn not only about each other, but more about ourselves as well. That is the really beautiful part! In my younger years I was incredibly introverted. So shy in fact it was painful. I find it hard to believe I am that same person now as I thrive on talking with others for the shear joy of it.

Secondly doing something interesting opens channels for conversation. For me that would be working in my sketchbook. When travelling I am always sketching which piques the curiosity of people passing by and many are interested to learn more about the process. The open sketchbook is an invitation for others to ask me questions, to share stories of their lives and this in turn enriches mine. Thank you!

I've met many people telling me they've painted in the past but it had been years since they had touched a brush. There were at least 20 on my last trip who have told me they would now start again. There is no greater feeling than knowing I have inspired others to get back to the joys of creating art. I do hope to hear from them some day or better still I hope to see them painting away in a narrow street in some foreign land as they too continue on their artistic journey.

Everyone has a story to tell. What will yours be?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dance Of Life ~ Poem

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago as I was thinking back to an earlier trip I took to Greece. As you can see I love to travel and especially to this part of the world. The light there is so pure and the colours electric ~ an inspiring combination. It is this I try to capture so that others may see and understand. When I write I seize a moment in time just as I do when creating art but by putting words to paper instead of paint. My mind and spirit are filled with this creative energy and I love to share what it is I discover.

The Dance Of Life

Here I sit beneath the olive tree
Waiting for what I do not know

I see clouds float by on the gentle breeze
Hear the song of the winged

Still waiting

The long grass flows one way then the other
Lovers walk by not seeing outside of themselves

I listen now for the right words to come
They seem to fail me

Still I ponder from within to hear

The sun now breaks through the clouds
Warmth radiates against my face

A leaf dances
Caught in the breeze
I see its joy and now all is clear

The answer is told through all of these

Live for now
Breathe deeply

Accept this moment

For I am a part of
the clouds
the flowing grass
the sweet melody
The sun and the fluttering leaf

We, each of us are from this place of same

and I smile~

"On The Threshold ~ Greece"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Swimming Caves Adventure

In Lindos I met many locals when out painting everyday and they would suggest places for me to sketch and explore. One day I was asked if I liked to swim. Yes!! 

I was told to walk beyond the small beach area and keep following the shoreline. When I came to a place where it was impossible to continue I was to back up a bit, carefully get into the water (the volcanic rocks were very jagged and hard to walk on so I brought my swimming shoes) then swim around a small rocky point. They never really told me what to expect other than there were 3 caves to explore. I brought my underwater camera with me in case there was anything interesting to photograph. Am I glad I did!! The colours and textures were amazing! I swam into the first cave which was small with underwater rocks covered in colourful lichen that were very beautiful. 

Rock Reflections - Swimming Cave Entrance

Swimming Cave Entrance

As I turned around to swim out this is what I saw. Amazing!
"Azure Portal"
On the high distant point you can see where I had hiked to only a couple of days before. It seems like a dream when I look at this now.

I continued along the shore coming to the next cave. This one was a little bigger and had the most interesting rock formations inside. To me it looked like people coming out from the walls. 
"Sacred Spirits"
I could almost hear their stories.

The third cave was the largest. I'm not sure how to explain this other than I felt like I had entered an ancient cathedral. As I swam in many birds flew overhead and others sang their songs like a choir high in the lofts. The ceiling was vaulted with light so soft and pure it seemed to come from another time and space.

Swimming Cave Cathedral

Magical Turquoise Reflections

I was more than inspired swimming here - I was spiritually moved to new heights and depths. There is a richness to life that I never understood before. 
With each passing day we live, every new experience layers and melts to the ones before. It makes us who we are and with this new knowledge forms who we choose to become.

I will be painting and writing about these caves for many years. Life really is an amazing adventure!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lindos Hiking Adventure

After getting to know some of the residents in Lindos they saw I was very interested in painting the old buildings and natural landscape. They would recommend places for me to explore away from the main tourist areas. Great!!

A windmill ruin and the Kleoboulos tomb were places I was told to check out. These were located on a peninsula of land across from the main harbour of Lindos. To get there I was told to follow a small trail behind some buildings at the far end of the main beach. I was to start climbing up the "trail" but the problem was I couldn't find it at all with only rocky piles in my view. Not quite what I had envisioned. I thought if I just continued toward the windmill direction it would become easier. Nope. Plan b...I stopped when I could see the rocks becoming even steeper than before, backtracked a bit, then headed higher up the hill. This was the best idea as I soon found the path and it was much easier going after that!
Lindos view from the rocky "path"

View of  the windmill and tomb from the path

The trail on the way there followed along the top of a cliff which offered the most incredible views of the windmill (small circular structure on the left side) and the tomb of Greek philosopher Kleoboulos (more of a tribute as he's not buried there) This is at the furthest and highest point.

Rocky "path" up to the tomb.

After waiting periodically for goats and sheep to pass I made it to the top.

 I could see forever. It was so peaceful and absolutely beautiful!

I have included some sketches of my hike there.
Lindos Windmill Ruin

Inside the Windmill - 1

Inside the Windmill - 2
I fell in love with this old windmill and know I will be painting it for years to come ~

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Simi,The Island of Light part 2

I met many wonderful people from England here too on the island of Simi. One couple I talked to, Su and her hubby Marcus,are now retired and working at their blogs as they post their travels and daily life activities. Nice!  Another couple, Rene and Gordon told me they came here years ago and fell in love with Simi and have been coming back ever since. Hmmmm sounds pretty good to me!! Come to think of it, I did see some "For Sale" signs on some fixer upper properties!!

"Simi Ruins" sketch 

I think all they need is just a "little" elbow grease!!

That was the story of another Canadian couple too who have purchased some property and now make Simi their permanent home. I met them and their guests who are also from Canada. Turns out Catherine is a potter (wonderful raku!!) and lives near to where my daughter lives in Southern Ontario. Small world! I can certainly see why people love it here. Everyone I talked to, Greeks or landed residents spoke only of their love of this place and the peaceful quality of life. 

Simi, The Island of Light part 1

I spent one day on the Greek Island of Simi exploring the narrow streets looking for interesting things to paint. As the ferry approached the harbour I could see some old ruins at the top of the hill that looked interesting so that became my mission. It didn't look that high or far away and of course I had to keep asking locals the directions. All they kept saying was "up" pointing to the sky. Makes me smile even now as I remember this day!  

"Blue Pots"
I saw these blue pots as I headed up the hill.

Along the way I saw some beautiful stone homes that were brightly coloured as well as some old ruin walls that were interesting. I could have spent a week exploring these narrow streets but must say after a few sketches and 400 photos later I feel I got a pretty good feeling about the place! I will be painting images of Simi for years to come.

Colourful Simi Home ~ sketch
6" X 9"

Stairs on Simi - Oil on Linen
15.5" X 12"
I painted this oil later when in Lindos village from the sketch below. The light was so pure making the whitewashed walls and peeling blue paint electric. When I saw this staircase I knew I would have to paint it and look forward to creating a larger one in my studio soon.

Stairs on Simi - w/c sketch
11" X 7.5"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuscan Friends

I have now returned home from my great and wonderful adventure. It seems hard to believe that I was just in Greece and Italy for 5 weeks. I do miss it already and look forward to future travels. I will continue sharing these random stories so that you too can experience what I saw and felt as I made my way along.

With this sketch I wanted to capture a little of the daily life in Montalcino, Italy. This small Tuscan town was filled with beautiful old buildings and interesting people. I do love the challenge of including figures in my work and look forward to doing a larger painting of this old man and his town.

Spirit of Montalcino 

I met Silvana Biasutti when out exploring the Tuscan countryside. (This was early in my travels when with the two couples from England I mentioned in an earlier post.) She saw me taking pictures in her small village and we started talking. I said how beautiful her town was and through conversation discovered we were both artists. She invited me into her home so I could see some of her work. Her drawings were amazing and she also showed me a book an artist friend of hers had written. Wonderful!  She gave me contact information should I decide to return there one day. She and her daughter would find an apartment for me to stay in and Silvana would tell me about special places in the area to paint. 

Sylvana Biasutti

I do love these random encounters with like minded people. It was especially memorable because we knew our meeting was because of our art. It really does open the door for some great conversation and learning.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's All About The People

I arrived last night in Rome and will enjoy this, the final day of my painting adventure. It’s hard to believe that 5 weeks have passed and yet when I think about all of the things I have seen, painted and experienced, it feels like a lifetime.

Every year this painting exodus becomes a richer and fuller experience and I know it is because of the people I have met on my journey.

During my first dinner in Florence I met Elinor from England.  She was sitting at the table next to mine as I was enjoying my first caprese salad. We started talking and before long we were sitting at the same table sharing stories about our lives and travels. She is living in Florence studying opera for a couple of months. What a great opportunity for her! She and her girlfriend have recently returned from a tour in Cambodia and the surrounding area which she told me about.  I always meet the most interesting people in my travels.

Then I met a young couple from Brazil. I can’t remember their names but I do remember commenting on hers. I told her it reminded me of a flower. It was a really pretty name and sounded musical when spoken. They were very nice and excited about life. It’s wonderful to see!! We met when standing in line at the Acadamia Gallery where Michelangelo’s statue of David is. (Magnificent doesn’t begin to describe!) They had just arrived that day and were enjoying their time in this magical city too. We shared many stories about our lives and our country.

Michelangelo's David 

The next day I headed to the small walled ancient village of Lucca. It was very nice and quaint. While on the train there I met a family and we talked about travel and life.  They explained to me the best way to explore Lucca was to rent a bike and tour around the top of the wall and then throughout the village streets, which I did and it made my visit there all the more memorable. Thank you!!

When sitting in the main piazza in this small village I met 2 ladies from England. We really enjoyed getting to know one another.  I had been sketching a lamp post and through our talking discovered one of them used to paint. She said she really did enjoy it but hadn’t touched a brush in years. Before I left them she was convinced to give it another try. I said don’t be concerned with the outcome because it really is all about the process and the enjoyment you get out of creating art. It’s nice to think I have inspired her to try again.

Lucca Lamppost

I will continue posting stories about the many wonderful people I met when on my travels and also include many of the almost 50 sketches and paintings. I also took almost 5000 photographs and will continue to post some of those as well. 

Thank you so much for following along on my Artistic Journey!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Anthony Quinn Beach sketches

And so it comes close to the end of my latest adventure. I am now in the airport on Rhodes, Greece where I will fly first to Athens then on to Rome. I have 2 nights there then am back across the big water to Canada. It's so hard to believe that 5 weeks have come and gone! But what wonderful weeks they were! I have had my most productive trip yet and know I have found a painters paradise on this beautiful island of Rhodes. Here are a couple of sketches I completed at Anthony Quinn Beach just south of Rhodes Town.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Painter's Dream ~ poem

I started this poem while on the train from Florence to Sienna and finished it here on Anthony Quinn's Beach. I've also included some sketches I've done since my arrival. These are only a few of the more than 30! It feels great to wake with a brush in hand everyday!

A Painter's Dream

Row by row the vineyards grow
With light so pure and clear and bright
Cyprus trees so tall, serene
With rolling hills and pastures green

Ancient walls ‘round homes of stone
Time stands still, a wonder, behold
This train sways its rhythmic dance
Echo poppies red along these tracks

I’ve travelled wide and far from home
To live a life of painters dreams
To see these sights pass by mine eyes
My heart is lifted to the skies

Like paintings from another time
Inside of this magic space of mind
However will I leave this place
Where time stands still, is full of grace

The sun now rises from its rest
Birds wake and sing their song
Another hill or cove to seek
As I paint my way along...

Rhodes Ruin

Rhodes Pillar- Old Town

Old Town Rhodes

Light Dance - From My Balcony, Lindos

Olive Grove - Rhodes

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New English friends in Italy 2012

More from my early days in Italy

First day in Sienna

I arrived mid afternoon via rail to Sienna on Saturday the 5th of May. It was wonderful seeing the beautiful countryside pass by my window. I do love to travel by train.

When I arrived I immediately headed into old town Sienna via the town bus as my hotel was outside of the town centre.

And so my adventure begins again.

I was waiting at the stop closest to the hotel for about 20 minutes and from what I could make out on the sign the bus should be there any minute now. (Of course the sign was written in Italian so what did I know!) Just then a young girl passed by and told me the buses didn’t run on Saturday or Sunday from that location and that I had to go to the stop further up the road. Thank you!

When I arrived to the old town I was dropped off at the main bus area and thought I would easily find my way back. Not even close. I’m not sure how it is even possible to get lost in such a small city but as I was wandering around taking pictures and sketching that’s exactly what happened.  After 4 hours photographing my way through these spaghetti streets I saw a map on the wall and realized I was totally at the opposite end of where I should be to take a return bus.  

Now I know it was too late to make it for the last bus of the day so plan b, as they say, was to hire a taxi. Many in this area didn’t speak any English and unfortunately I have no Italian in my vocabulary other than Ciao and spaghetti! Then a young girl walked by and I thought if anyone would know English she would. Sure enough, she was gracious to help. She pulled out her cell phone, dialed a taxi and told me to wait for 10 minutes and he would arrive here where I stood. I could have hugged her! By this time it was getting dark and I really didn’t have any desire to sleep in the street!

When I returned to the hotel I headed to my room and along with 2 other couples we tried to make our way in the dark down a rather steep walkway.  I told them to stop and I would go back inside and ask them to turn the lights on.  They were experiencing electrical issues so a girl came out and helped us with a flashlight.  And voila – I’ve just met some new friends!

The next morning in the breakfast room my new friends invited me to come along for a drive through the countryside. Wonderful!! We had a great day exploring and taking pictures. We also met the owner of a winery not far from where we were who invited us back to his vineyard on another day. We really had a great time together sharing lots of laughs and smiles.

They asked me what brought me here to Italy all the way from Canada and when I explained I was here painting and writing Dana and Richard told me of their interest in painting. More the husband I was told but they both enjoyed it.

Dana and Richard

Leslie talked about her many creative endeavours. She loves fashion and has a good eye for design. I told her she should paint some silk scarves the beautiful colours of the Tuscan hillside. I hope she does. Len was our resident wine expert and we learned a lot from him about the art of wine tasting. 

Len and Leslie

They were very understanding about stopping the car at almost every turn so I could take pictures too. Wonderful!!

Many people have said to me over the years that when they travel they rarely get to know others. How do I do it? Simple I say, just open your heart and mind. Opportunities are all around if only you take the time to see what is before you. 

I love how I meet the most wonderful people in my travels. It was great getting to know them and we all really hit it off. Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll meet again....I’ll bring the flashlight!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lindos, my new home in Greekland~

After over a week in Rhodes Town I decided it was time to scout for a new place to paint so I took a bus tour to the small village of Lindos about 50 kilometers away.

The light here is incredible!!

The narrow winding streets led down to Saint Paul's Bay. Breathtaking!

It's an absolutely beautiful area and I knew immediately I wanted to move here for a while. 

But where to stay? I wanted to be right in the village and the only hotel there was fully booked. (and way out of my price range!) Before heading back up to the bus area I stopped to buy a bottle of water. I asked the man behind the counter where I could stay here in Lindos. He said just one minute, poked his head out the door and  yelled to Stelios across the lane. Of course his name was Stelios! The perfect name for a Greek man who lives in a traditional Greek village!

Now I know what you're thinking....why would I just follow this man to his home...a stranger in a strange land. I normally would never do this but I could sense that Stelios would be o.k. He was working at the photo booth for the donkey rides. He seemed fine and there comes a time when you have to believe and trust in others so off we went.

He was very professional and told me he had an apartment to rent and assured me I would be very happy here. As we started walking I told him I needed 3 things...wifi, my own private shower and air conditioning. Yes, yes, yes he assured me as we continued to climb up and around beautiful whitewashed narrow streets. On the way there he showed me where to shop for my groceries and where to buy the best traditional Greek meals all the while saying "Hi" to his many friends along the way. I could see Lindos is more of a family than a village..

Finally we arrived at his house....actually it is a very nice door. With all of these narrow winding would I ever find this place again??!!  

As we walked into a small courtyard he explained he and his wife live downstairs and I would live up. Everything was freshly painted white and was dazzling in the late afternoon sun. The terrace was huge and had a great view across the tops of homes up the hillside to the acropolis. Heaven!

Now for the room. Let me say it is very basic but clean. 2 small narrow beds but they are long so that works! He told me for the first while I would sleep in one bed...then just move over to the next as they don't do daily linen changes! Kind of like! I looked up on the wall, air conditioner, check! Wifi, check! (actually turns out the wifi isn't the greatest with only 1 or 2 bars for connection but doable) Now for the bathroom. I went in and saw a toilet and sink but when I asked him where the shower was he said in the bathroom. I went in again and looked behind the door...nope just a wall. Puzzled I asked again about the shower. It was then I knew I was now in a traditional Greek home. There was a hose coming from the wall just beside the toilet with a drain in the floor!! He informed me they would give me an extra towel to mop up the water! This made me hesitate for a bit but then I decided to go for it! I've never been in a bathroom before where the entire room was also the shower!

He and his wife are a lovely couple and have been wonderful. I feel at home here.
Eleni and Stellios

And the rest, as they say is history...

New York meets Florence

....or is it Florence meets New York?
Here is another post started when in Florence. These three artists Marie Freudenberge seated,Janet Cook, center and Kristin Zimmermann were working hard. Or is it really work when surrounded by the sights and sounds of Florence?!

Yesterday I when out walking along the river for the last time here in Florence and came across three artists down on the riverbank painting at their easels. It was a beautiful sunny day and they were certainly in their glory. Seeing them reminded me of masterworks you see in a museum where the light captured was pure and the moment perfect. I took a picture of them and left them to their paints.

Painting Along The Arno River Near Ponte Vecchio

 As I was walking along the top of the wall I took a few more and called to them if they wanted the photos I would be happy to email them. I threw my business card over the wall and then the wind took it a bit. They had to run to retrieve it but they were laughing and having a great time. 

New York Painters -View From Above

I have always believed the best part of travel is the people you meet. Wonderful!! They were from the New York City area and I look forward to keeping in touch. More new pen pals - love it! J

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