I love Greece, and all her people, but most of all love the old ways of life, and the old traditions. As I used to live in the north of Greece, in Thessaloniki, I read and write and speak fluent Greek, so its easy to feel Greek too!
This painting though was initially captured as a photo on my phone, as it was my last day in Samos, and was actually on my way to the airport, but had diverted on the spur of the moment, to take one last look at Manolates and to try to track down the lady I had heard wove traditional rag rugs on a handloom. I was standing outside her little shop while she package up my parcel, when I spotted this delightful old man walking up the hill, using a walking stick, so quickly positioned myself to get the ideal shot on my phone, as he approached the blue doors but without covering the view of another man casually sitting in front of that same door. Success!
It was several months later though when I finally got round to turning that initial idea into an oil painting.
It starts though by underpainting the canvas in diluted blue oil paint, then sketching out the image in charcoal.
Then gradually adding the main features of the people in the painting
Its for sale at £850, though I now prefer to keep all my work!
Its mid October on the Greek island of Samos. From the terrace above my little Airbnb house in Palaio Karlovasi, the views are perfect in every direction for painting.
The mountains opposite have a dreamy layer of mist floating below the peaks. Below that olive trees grow in red earth, and to the right a whole forest flourishes. Its the next level below that, that really catches my eye. A glowing white, red roofed house has three black short-sleeved shirts paraded like flags below the balcony. A large church building, Aghios Isidoros, hides the rest of the foreground from view. I make the church of lesser importance, and bring the house with the washing line much closer, as that is really my main subject.
Today the sky is flecked with clouds looking like horizontal brushstrokes, so that is where I start after sketching out the main outlines.
This garden is in Washdyke Lane, Hucknall, Nottingham. The owner, who sadly has since passed away, was holding an artists’ get together . We were encouraged to be productive so I brought along my oil paints, and this smallish square canvass and set up my easel in his garden. Fortunately it didn’t rain and it was warm enough to be comfortable standing outside all afternoon. I was forced to think carefully about what to leave out in order to make this painting work , using only his garden as the subject. The bench, the garage and a few flowers were enough to create what you see here.
This style of drawing is one of my favourite where the lively pencil sketch from life is the main element of the composition , then overlaid with a light watercolour wash to allow the structure to still be viewed while also adding a dimension of colour.
When I first moved to Dewsbury, the street opposite our house was a source of inspiration for many of my painting around 1989. One of my favourites was of a guest house with an amazing Victorian conservatory. Others were of houses on that street, some of which were purchased by the owners.
My second husband had a fledgling printing business, which he worked hard to built up. He hung several of my paintings in his office to decorate the walls. Unfortunately the business failed and the bailiffs were sent in, and despite my paintings being nothing to do with the business assets, they were removed and sold so I never saw them again. One was of my older daughter in stripey leggins. I wonder who has it now…..?
A few years later my then husband and I split up. He only took with him 4 or 5 of my best framed paintings, which I did not begrudge him of course, but strangely enough , some time after that his home in the Barnsley area was burgled. The only things the thieves took were my paintings, one of which was that of the Victorian Conservatory a Ayton Guesthouse! If you have it, let me know, as I would love to have a photo of it at the very least…