Art and the Imagination – From Toledo to Toledo
Posted by LizzyBeth
I was 17, flipping through the pages of an art book on the great masters, having been commissioned by my art teacher to paint a picture. It didn’t have to be original, in fact he would prefer us to look at famous paintings and try our hand at copying one. My teacher had dozens of books. I found one that looked moderately interesting and thumbed through it. I had seen most of paintings before (well, never in person): The Mona Lisa, Starry Night, Monet’s lilies, a painting by Rembrandt, a painting by Raphael…the list goes on. Then I turned the page and saw a painting that at first glance was merely a strange mixture of dark blues and greens and stark whites. I thought it gloomy. I paused, shook my head, and dismissed it by turning the page. I was closing the book and about to put it away when the image of that painting came back to me. There was something about it. The gloom, the dark colors, the movement of the clouds, all of these things spoke of something that I was missing. I had to see it again.
Frantically, I flipped through the book. I couldn’t find it. Slowing down, I paged through, this time making sure that I didn’t miss a painting. There, somewhere in the middle, was my painting…the “View of Toledo Spain” by El Greco.
It seems silly now to think of the romantic connotations that struck my fancy concerning this painting. But I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. An industrial town, which I always saw as rather blue collar and unromantic. But El Greco’s Toledo was vivid and alive. The rich blues and greens, the stormy skies were marvelously contrasted with the bright whites of clouds and stones. El Greco’s depiction of this Medieval city suddenly became my standard, my median for all such cities. Every time I started to write a story – for some reason most of my fantasy stories seem to take place in rather Medieval/Renaissance-esque settings – I would envision a city by a river and it would take the shape of Toledo Spain. I put my hero on that long road up to the first gate and over the bridge and into the dark and winding streets that held mystery, murder, and adventure.
Since happening upon this painting, I have longed to see Spain. To walk those streets of Toledo that I could only dream about. Recently, I had the opportunity.
Everyone asks what was it like. It is challenge to put words to emotions, feelings, sights and sounds that, even while experiencing them, one can only gape at in wonder and serenity.
I just grin.
Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face. How do you put this into words? Suddenly the greens and blues and the sky of El Greco’s painting make sense. I can see them and I can finally experience them.
I became the hero walking through the gates.
I got to walk through those streets and see what adventures awaited…
Long, narrow streets led up hill and down, toward plazas, castles and a cathedral…
The Alcazar had lovely gardens and vistas that overlooked the beautiful countryside.
But before we found a way to the cathedral I found a lost knight…and my traveling companion, Melissa, found a marvelous bookshop.
I tried…Melissa tried…and no matter what we did, we were always missing something. The height and splendor of that tower and the magnificence of the doors demand a better camera, a wider lens.
Inside was just as marvelously too good for words…maybe a few pictures will help articulate.
I wandered the city and found artists and craftsmen
Toledo Spain has a sense of humor too…
And I found the “house” of El Greco!
There were even street performers…
Toledo is a city of history and art, music and culinary masterpieces…
…a city whose sky is textured with clouds, blue and the brilliant sun.
Words cannot express how much I miss Toledo Spain. There was a part of me that feared my romantic imaginings of this city would lead me to disappointment, but Toledo Spain exceeded my dreams.
About LizzyBethThere is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.
Posted on May 4, 2012, in Art, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Rachel Burkholder, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged El Greco, imagination, Melissa Rogers, Spain, Toledo. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.