It's hard to leave the sunny island of Puerto Rico where the temperature today will be 88! The high in NYC will be 26 when we arrive. Parting is such sweet sorrow after a week of wonderful waves and beaches.
In this New Year, it seems that inspiration abounds. The response to "Internet Friends", the most recent post to Open Window was incredible, thanks to both Kristin Espinasse and Barbara Andolsek. As we have inspired each other over the past few years, it appears this inspiration has a wonderful domino effect. Photographers, writers, and artists, aspiring and otherwise, responded so positively to our collective story and appear to be using it as inspiration to continue their creative endeavors in this new year. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to think our small story can be that inspirational.
One woman comented: "Whether I ended up using ink, watercolor or acrylic or pastels or simply leave in pencil - something must happen. It might not be pretty but I'm determined to let out this 'old itch'!! Your friendship for some reason has inspired me." This comment resonated with me as one who has wanted to scratch this same itch, but met with only frustration for years. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I learned that my medium for creativity wouldn't be painting or drawing but rather would be photography and I have happily thrown myself at learning how to express myself in this medium ever since. I had so hoped that I would one day be able to paint or draw but the hand and eye could never "get it together", certainly to my satisfaction. Now I am thrilled with the images I'm creating in my photographs and my ability to use light of all sorts, lines and color to express what I feel about so many different subjects. What is that old adage, "If at first ..." well I might modify it a bit, "If at first a medium doesn't work, try another one!" I'll put money on you eventually finding the right one.
Venetian Parking by Barbara Andolsek
For me, the relationship Barbara and I have developed over the years is exciting and rewarding for us both, but particularly the frustrated painter inside of me, as I get to see my images as photographs and paintings - and they both give me great pleasure.
Barbara Andolsek is a gifted painter who happens to like a lot of the same things I do, like nearly everything French, red wine, children, the beach, etc. Barbara lives in California and you all know that I live on the east coast, yet Barbara and I have become quite good friends? How? By the wonderful magic of the internet.
Homemade by Barbara Andolsek
Barbara and I were both following a blog called French Word-A-Day, written by Kristin Espinasse, an aspiring author and U.S.-expatriated wife and mother, caring for her family in the south of France. Barbara's comments caught my eye, we began a direct exchange with one another, and the rest is now history. Over the past four years, Barbara has been incredibly supportive of my artistic photography efforts, giving me pointers here and there, and sometimes a dose of courage to try something new. But the highest complement she's paid me is painting my photographs. I've lost count but I know she's painted at least ten including a jar of pickles, a painter and his easel in the Luxembourg Gardens, and a babysitter jumping off a lifeguard stand.
The Babysitter by Barbara Andolsek
What began as an interested exchange between two women with common interests, grew into an old-fashioned pen-pal relationship - rich with life's details shared as only women do. When I knew I would be in southern California for Christmas, I contacted Barbara and we agreed to meet at long last. I don't honestly know who was more excited, Barbara or me. We greeted each other as long-lost friends and held hands while we took each other in, not believing that this was real unless we were touching.
Sisters in Paris by Barbara Andolsek
Peter and my sister Sally were with me, both of whom are very familiar with the friendship that has grown between Barbara and me over the years. In fact, Sally has in her possession at home a painting I commissioned Barbara to paint, one of Sally and me in Paris one Christmas Eve. Barbara's husband Tim was also aware of all that's come to pass, and thus the five of us chattered noisily for several hours in their home and over lunch, at a French Bistro - of course.
As Barbara showed us around their home, she pointed out her paintings and showed us her studio. It's a small space with buckets of brushes and paints, an easel, and lots of paintings along one wall. I so wanted to photograph this room, but alas we didn't have time, but Peter was able to get an iPhone image of her brushes, those instruments that have baffled and frustrated me since grade school, but that she wields so expertly capturing light, texture, and a moment in time.
Paris Reflections by Barbara Andolsek
As we were being introduced to some of her works that we'd never seen, Barbara noticed that one in particular caught my eye - a verticle painting of the Eiffel Tower with pedestrians and the tower reflected on the rain-covered steps of the Palais de Chaillot, and she gave it to me right there on the spot. So now I am the proud owner of two Andolsek's, this one hung in our foyer where everyone can see it.
I understand everyone's caution about the internet especially as it relates to privacy and when it comes to that I am cautious too, but I also beseech you not to allow that to paralyze you when it comes to the internet. In the past four years I have come to know a small group of truly talented people - artists, photographers and writers, who also happen to be incredibly generous with their knowledge and experience. These people have become associates if not friends and I wouldn't want my life untouched by theirs.
Happy New Year everyone! Peter and I have been on the road for the past two weeks enjoying California's central coast. I took this same trip years ago, like around 1977 or so, in a large, rented RV with four friends over Thanksgiving. We started in Los Angeles and ended in San Francisco - "camping" all the way up the coast.
Well this time we started south of LA in Irvine where my nephew and his wife have settled for a while and we enjoyed the sunny southern California weather and their hospitality over Christmas. I've spent a lot of time in and around Irvine's neighbor, Newport Beach over the years, visiting family and friends who made this their home so I'm really familiar with the area, but in all those visits I never spent any time on the coastal beaches, which is kind of surprising for a beach-lover like me. This trip though, I made up for lost time. We spent hours on the beaches at sunrise, sunset and in-between, and continued this behavior all along the Pacific coast from Irvine to San Francisco. The coastline is breathtaking and gets better and better the further north you travel, and the waves have been getting bigger and bigger - a challenge for my newest love - wave photography.
In Cambria and Carmel our Inns were so close to the ocean that we slept to the sound of its crashing waves. And, we just made it off of the switch-back intensive portion of the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) skirting the western edge of the Los Padres National Forest, to photograph the lighthouse at Point Sur at sunset.
Probably our favorite spot on this trip was one on the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach, a spot near Point Joe referred to as "The Restless Sea". We've seen a lot of ocean waves in our time, but none that were like these. They were large, chaotic, and behaved like no other waves we've seen. They say that the "unique offshore turbulence" is "generated by the submerged terrain". Whatever the reason, we spent a couple of hours captivated by the unusual rhythm and spectacular performances of these waves - challenged trying to capture some of the dynamics of what we were seeing in our cameras.
We've yet to make it to the beach around San Francisco, but we're planning on doing that today thanks to winter-storm Hercules which will be hammering the northeast and caused JetBlue to cancel our flight home. Quel dommage! Two more days in San Francisco with temperatures reaching the low 60s. Yeah! Then we return to the deep freeze with lots of warm memories and wonderful images to sort and process.