As I walked into the nearby village, this battered old house struck me, as it is reminiscent of traditional houses from the last century, that were the prerogative of the well to do. It now lies empty, unloved, but its grandeur lives on. Its on the main road so although I knew I wanted to paint it, when I came back the next day alone, I set my easel on the opposite side of the road, on waste ground overlooking the garden of another property, so was able to paint in peace and also to include the blue and the pink flowers.
A cluster of local children soon gathered around me with the usual 5, 000 questions. “Τι ζωγραφίζετε;” – “What are you painting”, and ‘Αν επιτρέπετε, πόσο χρονών είστε;” – “If I may ask, how old are you”! And that from a ten year old!
When they heard the reply they politely said “Δεν φαίνεστε” – “You don’t appear that old” which I guess compared to the Greek γιαγιάδες (grandma’s or simply old ladies) is probably true, as I was in a skimpy dress and not all in black!
Anyway night fell before I had finished, but I was still putting the final brushstrokes for that day when a man came up in his car, and insisted that I move, so he could park in that particular spot, even though there was plenty of room at the side of me!
So I packed up, feeling a little deflated, but fortunately was able to finish the painting two days later.
Its scorching hot, in the middle of the day in Greece, but have found a shady spot underneath a fig tree in a secluded corner of Galaxidi. The easel is up and the painting sketched out in charcoal directly onto the 80 x 60 cm canvas, underpainted in cerulean blue oils. Semi-squishy fallen figs get stuck on my sandals, but at least I found a subject quickly and have made a start. Its my last full day in Greece so need to work fast!
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.
This is a homely domestic scene. The teenager has an almost vacant, look, as she sits watching TV, and certainly doesn’t appear to be that happy. You can’t see what she is thinking, as she is wrapped up in her own little world. Its evening time, and in the top left hand corner of the painting, adjacent to a small plant, the little lamp on top of the wooden desk casts reflected colours onto the desk itself and the wall to the right, on which a painting of a child playing the violin hangs. The armchair on which she sits has a yellow cellular blanket draped over it, while the second armchair next to her is adorned with colourful cushions. On the far left is a patterned carpet/rug.
So many colours and patterns, yet somehow they all hang together!
Another painting from life , created ten years earlier than the one shown above, depicts Greek villagers going about their business in the summer of 1984
This is an older oil painting and it continues to be one of my favourites. It depicts my then 5 year old daughter eating black grapes that a kind Italian gentleman has just helped her wash under the tap at this Italian water pump in the street. Its the end of our long summer holiday in the North of Greece , so we are hitch-hiking home via Italy.
Saskia always loved to imitate her brother, wearing his outgrown underpants , aged 5 : of course she doesn’t do that anymore nowadays!