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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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sienna surprise!

Well what can I say....I'm just a little behind with my updates!! 

The following entry was started when I was still in Sienna. Before leaving Canada I found out good friends of mine would also be in Sienna painting at the same time. I couldn't resist a big surprise rendezvous!

Yesterday was the big day for the Karlyn painting group reunion and must admit it all started rather strangely. I was to meet them at the church where the bus lets people off. For this surprise I had it in my mind to be all set up sketching away and have Karlyn and the group just happen to see me when casually walking by. I was all set up painting and sketching away when I saw them drive by! So I packed up quickly and took off after their bus. It must have been quite the sight!!! I was afraid if they didn't come by me sitting here there may be a very good chance that we wouldn't hook up at all so I thought it best to chase them down.

I really didn't want to just walk up to her/them so I stalked them through the narrow streets. I actually took a picture of the group from behind.  Just call me paparazzi!!

When I saw they were actually making their way to the church I tried to take a short cut through the spaghetti streets...didn't work. UGH!! So now they were lost..or was it I was lost?? :) The streets were narrow and winding; this happens to me whenever I get into any of the ancient towns!   Now what to do??

I figured if I kept roaming around the main piazza I would see them and sure enough I found my friend Karlyn there about 30 mins later having a coffee with a couple of others. So I carefully placed myself in the center of the piazza area in her direct line of sight and started sketching. Still nothing...geezz, she is supposed to be observant! ( turns out later that she said she actually looked at my sketch when she was walking by but didn't look at me! :)

Sketch I was working on when Karlyn walked by

When I looked up they were gone from the table so I was again on the hunt. I found her making her way around the circular piazza so I then kept putting myself just a few feet in front of her all the while sketching away. After about another 1/2 hour of this I finally walked up to her and tapped her on the shoulder and said I guess there's just no use in trying for a surprise! :) 

She was surprised of course and it was great to see her and the others there too. We had lunch together and had some laughs. I was able to get a real surprise out of Bonnie too. She was gobsmacked as the English say.... :) I wish I had a picture of her with her jaw dropped open! 

Really a fun day and made all the headaches and hassles of trying to get this to work out all worth while! I'm just so glad it all turned out! 

I check out of my hotel here in Rhodes town on Monday and I still haven't decided where it is I will be going to! I usually don't leave it quite this late so today I will be in search mode. I am taking a tour to Lindos, a smaller village 50 kms away in search of a new place for inspiration. I've had many tell me that I will love it there for painting and writing and not to leave the island until I have seen this special place so that is my mission today!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anthony Quinn's Beach ~ The Land of Painting Bliss!

I saw a postcard that showed the most perfect setting for me to paint an write. It's called Anthony Quinn's Beach.  I was now on a quest to find it.

It's a small rocky cove, very quiet with amazing brilliant light.. It's perfect!!  For the past couple of days I have been in the land of bliss.
The first day to get there I took a bus...but that's another story!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My First Rhodes Sunset 2012

Here is the first sunset I've seen on Rhodes. Very beautiful! I love the ocean!!! Well actually I love water period!! Reflections are one of my favourite things to paint. Now to get out there to find that magical place where I will paint and write! 

My first sunset on Rhodes 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sienna countryside

View from Palazzo winery

In the fields outside of Sienna

This was taken out in the fields not far from Sienna. The countryside there is so beautiful and hope to return one day! 
I arrived to the island of Rhodes, Greece yesterday. The sun shines and my brushes are calling! I can't wait to explore this area!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Clear Pure Light Of Italy

"Hills of Montalcino"

Here is my first painting of the hills from the Montalcino region south of Sienna. Every corner turned were vistas more beautiful than the last. Vineyards in the distance were woven together with this clear pure light of Italy. It really is a magical place and such an inspiration! I will be painting images of these hills for years to come and know I will have to return here again one day.

On The Train To Sienna

It's been a whirlwind of a time since my arrival here in Sienna and today is my catch up day for my blog entries. I have been having an incredible time here and have met so many wonderful people and had some great adventures too. This next entry begins with my journey to Sienna from Florence. 

It’s now day 6 and I’m now on my way by train to Sienna. I must admit I am sorry to be leaving such a magical place but I do know there will be many other incredible painting and writing opportunities ahead.
My hotel in Florence was nice and close to the train station so I could just walk over. I love how these cities are so well equipped to transport people. It’s very easy to get around and even thought I did get lost several times, it always turned out to be a good thing. I found areas of Florence not starred on my map but for an artist, they were every bit, if not more beautiful as the main tourist locations were. Of course I wanted to see those as well but for me it is all about finding that perfect cast shadow, interesting doorways and as always the best restaurants are off the beaten path. Just follow the locals to see where they eat. You almost never see them eating in the main piazzas.

The scenes passing by my window tell me I am headed in the right direction. Through the openings between the trees I can see rolling hillsides that look like a patchwork quilt of blues, greens and yellows. I can hardly wait to explore this area!!

Florence Light

"Florence Light"

I worked a bit more on this sketch and thought you might like to see it completed. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to make the light shades look lit up. Every painting or sketch that I am doing is simply a series of problems to solve.

It's been fun to getting back to this artsy side of my brain. Nice to know it's always there waiting for me~

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Grazie and Ciao ~

During dinner last night I found myself in a quaint little restaurant filled with laughter and wonderful aromas. Across from me was a light fixture that was interesting and I thought I would sketch it showing the glowing lamp shades. It feels great to be in this place, this space of creativity.

A big thank you to my family, staff at my store, Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, and to the many friends who have encouraged me to follow my artistic dreams for I couldn’t do this without you and your support.

Grazie and Ciao~

Friday, May 4, 2012

And so my adventure begins again! I will be here in Italy until the 11th then fly to Rhodes, Greece. I have no plans for the rest of my stay but have a total of 5 weeks of exploring, painting and writing.

Florence at sunset 2012

I have now been in Florence since my arrival 4 days ago. As I explore these city streets I am surrounded by the most beautiful light, architecture and history. Magical really. I walk down different streets each day discovering a new building more beautiful than the last or see some of the most incredible shadows cast down these narrow streets. I find myself so inspired. No wonder artists have been finding their way here for centuries. The atmosphere is perfect for creativity.

View from Giotto's Campanile

On Wednesday I took the train to the small ancient village of Lucca. As I entered through the thick stone walls that surround this place I felt like I was transported back in time. It was filled with many narrow winding streets and quaint piazzas. I rented a bike to tour through this town and also rode around the top of the wall. As I look out beyond I see another ancient village hanging from the cliffs off in the distance, Cyprus trees woven throughout, with purple mountains as a backdrop - it just doesn't get any better than this.

Wonderful street in Lucca 
I will be heading for Sienna tomorrow staying out in the countryside there. After some very busy days here in Florence, I am looking forward to a quieter pace. I plan to rent a bike or car to explore the hillside looking for that perfect place to paint.

Thank you for joining me on my latest Artistic Adventure. I'm so glad you're along for the ride ~

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