September 27, 2015

Let's begin with my magical years with Toller Cranston .....

If perhaps you don't have an inkling who I am speaking of, please google Toller Cranston for more detail.  (you will be pleasantly amazed!)   I grew up with Toller in a manner of speaking.  Being a figure skating fan that I am, I watched the season  on TV every year.  Always thought men's singles were a little dull to say the least.  Then along came Toller.  In the end, he changed the face of men's skating forever.  Six time Canadian Champion, Olimpian Bronze medalist, he took men's singles to an entirely new level.  I won't go on and on .... He was also an artist.  A EXCEPTIONAL one.  In those days, Canada did not support their skaters, so Toller supported himself with his art.  When he turned professional he invented ice shows which toured the world, designed costumes, directed and produced.  Eventually he wrote seven books, received four honorary Dr. degrees, the Order of Canada, etc. etc.  That's a brief history.

Twenty four years ago, he said good bye to Canada and came to live in San Miguel where he became a full time artist.  I bumped into him at the grocery store about four years ago and couldn't resist grabbing him to let him know what a fan I was. (so unlike me).  Ultimately we would bump into each other here and there, chatting and enjoying each other's company.  I longed to ask him to look at my work ... frankly didn't have the guts!  After all, he was world renowned.

One day, I ran into him at the plant nursery.  We had a long chat.  As he turned to walk away, suddenly out of my mouth came the words ... "Toller, I'd love you to see my work".  Without turning around, he said "Come for breakfast ... bring two pieces."  I was dumbfounded, however managed to pull myself together enough to ask "What time?"  "9:00 o'clock" came the answer.

I stood there, momentarily in shock.  I had actually uttered those words. He had agreed to see my work.

I had just finished my "Goddess Series", so tucked a couple of pieces under my arm, dressed to the nines and arrived at his estate promptly at nine for breakfast.  As I entered the dining room, he greeted me with "Now!  That's how an artist should dress!"  I smiled.  That morning, I was the only one at breakfast with him ... a most unusual circumstance, I was about to learn.  We spent a lovely morning chatting, he looked at my work, purchased both pieces, and invited me to paint with him in his studio for seven days!!  STUNNED, I accepted with grace.

At the end of the seven magical days, I brought flowers for the staff who had graciously fed and cared for me, and a bouquet of roses for Toller.  (His home was always filled to the brim with flowers.)  "What is this for?" he inquired.  "Well", I replied.  "My seven days has come to an end so I won't be coming here again."  As he often did during our relationship, he grabbed the arm of the exquisite chair I was sitting in and pulled it close to his.  Eye to eye his words were:  "Now see here!  You are staying ... for three reasons.  No. 1:  You know what you are doing.  No. 2:  I don't have to teach you.  and No. 3:  You don't bug me!  (I think that was the important bit... lol)

My first breakfast with Toller took place in this room.

Toller with one of my favorite paintings "We all Float Away One Day" (Toller Cranston)

And so began a magical relationship of two years.  He was my friend, my mentor, my great supporter,  my oak tree. He passed away very suddenly on January 24th, 2015 of a heart attack.  It was a stunning blow.

At any rate, I will carry on with the story as we progress into my 'blogging career' once more.

The first two paintings he purchased from me are below.

 "You will always have a Friend"  Oil on Canvas
(Owned by Toller Cranston)

 "Expect Miracles"  oil on canvas
(Owned by Toller Cranston)

That was the beginning.  As we go along, I will intersperse the saga with other posts.

Hope this finds you all well and happy, my lovlies.  Another exquisite day in San Miguel.  Sun shining, birds singing ... what more can I say.  I'm spending the evening at friends, on their upstairs terrace, viewing the blood moon and celebrating life.

"Each day holds a surprise.  But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel when it comes to us.  Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy, it will open our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity."  ~  Henri Nouwen


  1. Thank you for sharing your story about Toller. What very special memories you must have.

    Glad you're getting back into blogging. I have tried to get back, but I seem to be taking baby steps. :)

    So nice to hear from you.

    Big Hugs

    1. Oh so nice to hear from you, Yvonne. Baby steps is just fine. Hope you are well ... and at least mostly recovered. Sending hugs, Donna

  2. Sorry I never got round to commenting yesterday, I was so exhausted, as you may have noticed when we were talking! But I enjoyed seeing your photos today, thanks for sharing. The world is a poorer place without Toller. Love and hugs, Valerie

  3. What a wonderful friendship, and such a loss.

  4. Thankyou for sharing such special memories. I look forward to reading more of your posts