The idea of going through mist and fog to a place out of time, a place that changes you, is a compelling theme, familiar in movies such as Brigadoon, Local Hero, and a favorite of mine, given to me by my mom the last winter she was here, "I Know Where I'm Going". It was directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1945. Wendy Hiller plays Joan Webster, a woman who has always planned carefully, moved forward with determination, and achieved her goals. She is making her way to meet her fiance, a rich industrialist, on a Scottish island in the Hebrides, Kiloran, to get married. The storms detour her along the way. She first arrives in Port Erraig to meet her boat. Here's a still:
Above: Waiting for her boat, though everyone has told it won't be coming due to the weather.
Above: The itinerary
Above: Giving up on the boat for the moment, she goes to a home where she was told she could stay for the night.
Above: Warming up before the fire with the other stranded passengers, locals, familiar with the unpredictability of the local weather.
Above: The owner of the house, Katrina, is a dog breeder...here she's coming home in the rain.
Above: In from the wet weather...
Above: The chaos of the weather and the big wet dogs and the wildness of the place will have it's impact.
Above: A map of the place she's planning to go.
To enjoy the rest of the story you'll need to rent the movie, though you can see it in pieces on YouTube. It's wonderful.
Above: Winifred Nicholson painted a great deal on the Scottish Isles. This one is "Boat on a Stormy Sea", 1928-9.
Above: Winifred Nicholson, "Isle of Canna", 1951. She may even have seen "I Know Where I'm Going" 6 years earlier.
Above: Winifred Nicholson, "View from my Bedroom", 1960s. The light feels as though it's bouncing off snow.
Stormy gray seas have always been a dramatic and inspiring subject...
Above: John Constable (1776-1837), "Seascape Study with Rain Clouds at Brighton", 1824-8, London, Royal Academy of Arts.
Above: Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), "The Water Spout", 1866, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Above: Winslow Homer (1836-1910), "The Gale", 1883-1893, watercolor
Above: Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), "Monk by the Sea", 1808-1810. Double click to see a larger version as the details are worth looking at.
Above: Leon Dabo (1868-1960) "The Seashore", 1900
Above: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) "Snow Storm- Steam Boat Off a Harbor's Mouth
Above: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) "Seascape-Rough Seas, a Squall", 1825
Above: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
Above: Mark Rothko "Untitled" 1969. Although this isn't a seascape, there is a strong connection to the Turner painting above.
From rough seas to snowy streets...
Above: Jean-Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
Above: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), "Nocturne: Grey and Gold-Snow in Chelsea", 1876. Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.
Above: This room by Karin Draaijer (her house) in Belgium is a place I'd love to walk out of the painting above and come home to.
Here in southern California this is what winter means...
Above: Our back yard in the pouring rain
Above: A stump of wood out back, covered with lichen after a few days of continuous rain.
We often drive to northern California in December...to Big Sur, or Inverness...places with wet moss and tall pines and redwoods, wood burning in cabins, and expanses of ocean. The pictures below are in Big Sur.
Above: Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. Hand built in the 1930s by Helmuth Deetjen... the cabins are pretty much unchanged to this day. Deetjen's was built with reclaimed wood from the canneries in Monterey, and the cabins were designed with echoes of his homeland, Norway. This is one of my favorite places to stay.
Above: This photo was taken in the Dining Room at Deetjen's (found here). We've enjoyed many meals at that table.
Above: Helmuth and Helen Deetjun in front of the main barn they built.
Above: An old photo of a corner of the Dining Room at Deetjun's...it doesn't look very different now.
Above: I took this picture at Pfeiffer Beach on one of our December visits to Big Sur.
Above: Also taken at Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur.
Another favorite destination is Inverness...it's about an hour north of San Francisco.
Above: Outside our room at Manka's in Inverness
Above: Wooden steps, Inverness
Above: The huge fireplace in our room, Inverness. A couple of times when we've been there it's been raining, but I never really want to leave this fireplace or the views beyond anyway. When I do brave the rain this is a place that's wonderful to come back to.
Above: Adjacent to Inverness, Point Reyes National Seashore is protected land. At the north end of the peninsula is an old farm...empty now, with the most beautiful group of perfectly simple white buildings. At the end of the day the sunset light glows right through the single rooms inside.
Above: Wide expanse of protected beach, Point Reyes National Seashore
Above: From A.A. Milnes book "Now We Are Six", illustrated by E. H. Shepard. This was always a favorite image of mine...may have been the seed of my window seat obsession...watching the rain from a warm dry place.
Above: Or maybe this picture of a girl sitting on soft cushions, warm in her room with the snow outside is the one. I do try to include window seats in childrens rooms whenever I can. Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.
Above: Clarence H. White, "Drops of Rain", 1908, from Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work journal.
Dutch painters created scenes that were like movies telling all sorts of stories when you look closely.
Above: Pieter Bruegel (1525-69) "Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap", 1565. Looking at this painting and the one below you can really imagine what it would have been like to be skating there. Double click to see some of the details. The ice would have been the meeting place as well as the street.
Above: A detail of the bird trap in the painting above it
Above: Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), "Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters", 1608. I saw this last summer at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Those skaters may have warmed up in places like this...
Above: Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684), "A Woman Peeling Apples", 1663
Above: Jan Steen (1626-1679) "Peasants in an Interior",1661
Above: Joachim Beuckelaer (1533-1574) "Making Waffles", 1565
Above: Pieter Janssens Elinga (1623-1682) "Room in a Dutch House", 1670
Above: After not freezing since 1997 the Kinderdijk canal finally froze. This is a photo of the skaters out again last winter.
Above: Hans Brinker, Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth
Above: Masao Yamamoto
Above: Harry Callahan "Weeds in Snow", 1943
Above: Photo by Todd Hido
Above: Photo by Todd Hido
Above: Photo by Todd Hido
Above: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) "Tanglewood in Winter", 1917. That was a very critical year for Burchfield, when he felt he did his best work. He went back to the paintings done that year when he needed inspiration, and even used them as a core which he added to by attaching panels around the originals to enlarge them.
Above: From the NY Times, photo by Ruby Washington, February 10 2010, taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This looks like a fantasy world.
Above: Claude Monet (1840-1926) "The Road in Front of Saint-Simeon Farm in Winter"
Above: Claude Monet (1840-1926) "The Red Kerchief"
The following are a collection of paintings of rooms that would be lovely to warm up in after a walk in the snow...
Above: Anne Redpath (1895-1965) "The Mantlepiece", 1947.
Above: Anne Redpath (1895-1965) "Figure at a Table" 1948-9
Above: Carl Larsson (1853-1919) "Martina by the Fire", 1908
Above: Duncan Grant (1885-1978) "The Stove, Fitzroy Square", 1936. This is Duncan Grant's daughter Angelica reading by The stove in his studio. Duncan Grant was one of the central members of the Bloomsbury group.
Above: Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) "Work Table", 1926/1937. This painting was in a show I saw at the Metropolitan Museum in the spring of 2009 of Bonnard's late still lifes and interiors. It was really a pleasure to look at this one closely.
Above: Edgar Degas (1834-1917) "Interior with a Young Girl Writing", 1905
Above: Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), "Conversation Piece", 1912. She was at the heart of the Bloomsbury group, and designed for Omega Workshops making decorative objects and fabrics. Her sister was Virginia Woolf.
Above: Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) "Interior with the Artist's Daughter", 1935-6
And one photo...
Above: Attic Bedroom from World of Interiors
Above: Wiveton Hall, in Norfolk, where we were fortunate enough to stay for a few days one very cold and wet spring many years ago, as we knew the owner, Desmond MacCarthy.
Above: At Wiveton Hall we made pigeon for dinner, with root vegetables dug from the garden, and ate it almost inside the huge fireplace on the right. Our friend was named for his grandfather, also Desmond MacCarthy, a literary and drama critic, who was a member of the Bloomsbury group.
William Steig's book, "Brave Irene", is a terrific book about the daughter of a dressmaker who insists on taking the dress her mother has made to the duchess, as her mother is sick and needs to stay in bed. Irene is determined, loyal, persevering, and brave, as she trudges through the snowstorm to reach the duchess.
Above: The wind snatches the box from her hands
Above: After trudging through wind and snow till it's dark, the light from the duchesses mansion is finally visible!
Above: Welcomed inside, Irene is given a good meal and a place before the fire
Above: And, a ride home the next morning!
Snow in the city....
Above: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) "Snapshot-From My Window, New York", 1907
Above: Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)"Rooftops Under Snow"
Above: William James Glackens (1870-1938) "Washington Square Winter" 1910
Above: Taken by my son, at the Fens, in Boston, white with this years first snow.
Above: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) "The Street-Design for a Poster", 1903
Above: Robert Henri (1865-1929) "Snow in New York", 1902
Above: From the NY Times, by photographer Steve Berman, January 9th 1996
Above: Childe Hassam (1859-1935) "Street Scene, Christmas Morning", 1892
Above: Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon from the George Cukor movie "Holiday"
Above: Walter Gay "Elsie de Wolfe's Drawing Room"
Above: Saul Leiter "Canopy", 1958
Above: Saul Leiter "Newspaper Kiosk", 1955
Above: Saul Leiter "Red Umbrella", 1957
Above: Saul Leiter "Snow", 1960
And last of all, Domino and the fire keeping us warm here at home...
HAPPY 2011 EVERYONE!!!