Midsummer Memo

Well, I know we officially passed mid-summer a while back but, as we’re about half-way through the summer season here, I thought it was time for a quick update!

As usual, it’s been a hectic time. Painting guests have come and gone throughout the summer, leaving the new studio ringing with their laughter – and a whole new set of memories firmly settling into its new bricks and mortar.

Among them I was delighted to welcome the established mixed media artist, Jackie Sherwood (www.jackiesherwood.com).

She recently moved to Greece (having spent the last few years living far from her native Sydney, in France) and she was  keen to connect with other ‘Greek’ artists. Meeting new local artist friends of mine here, gave her the opportunity to recharge, explore new ideas and techniques and return home with the new-found inspiration she was seeking.

(Some of her WIP)

During her stay we were joined by Jill, from the UK. She’s a regular visitor to the island and a keen leisure painter.

She wanted to try her hand at icon painting for a couple of days, while on her annual holiday and proved to be so competent she actually reduced her tutor, Despina, to tears with her natural aptitude and the fine precision and delicacy of her work:

Beautiful, Jill!

Another artist on retreat arrived; Meli, from California, and all together we shared days of painting, and evenings eating, drinking and laughing, as the temperatures (and the number of tourists!) soared.

We worked in and outside the studio:

We explored the island:

taking in the sights (such as Evangelistria Monastery, Profitis Ilias and  several of the numerous beaches) and we also ventured into the town to sketch:

Before visiting an exciting exhibition of contemporary works by celebrated Serbian artist,  Dragan Cvetkovic Cvele (centre)….(See details on Facebook)

at the Archipelagos Gallery

Curator/director: Tassos Biskinis (L)

Here are some examples of his fine work:

Exhibition time  : 17  July   –   4  August   2010

Open daily : 10.30 – 14.30  , 18.00  –  23.30

Ellinon  Archipelagos” Art  Gallery

6, Mitr. Ananiou str. (near the Papadiamandi Μuseum) Tel:  24270 22585  , 6932.184050

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We also took a day trip by boat, leaving the old port of Skiathos behind

we sailed out into the calm blue sea bound for  the neighbouring islands of Skopelos and Alonnissos:

On the bridge of the Aghios Nikolas, with its owner Captain Kyriakos,

we had a clear view all the way to Alonnissos

Where we visited the very pretty, restored hill-top town:

with stunning views and a colourful photo op. on every corner

Jackie filmed a video as we passed in front of the famous ‘Mamma Mia!’ church, complete with backing track supplied by our boat!

But for me the highlight was meeting a large school of dolphins playfully leaping in and out of the water alongside the boat.

They were so beautiful but far too quick for my camera to capture I’m afraid.

(I do have plenty of photos of the ripples they created as they disappeared under the surface, though!)

Back in Skiathos, we had a day out to Kastro:

but after the long (and hot!) climb down to the beach, we were hard pushed to find a shady spot to sit, there were that many ’round the island’ boats spilling their daytrippers onto the shore. We had to be inventive and between us, with a few lengths of driftwood and our colourful sarongs (held together with hair ‘scrunchies’ – Genius!) we constructed a perfect temporary ‘base camp’ to retreat to, between the many, necessarily frequent, dashes across the scorching sand to take dips into the gloriously refreshing, turquoise waters.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh fish:

Greek salad:

Tzatziki:

and calamares:

All washed down with very welcome ice-cold beer:

It was only once the crowds had left, the sun had lowered in the late afternoon sky (and we found our legs again!) that we could set up the easels and finally begin to paint:

The next evening we had a farewell dinner for Jackie at Taverna Alexandros:

We were joined by writer Sara Ridgley (on her 4th visit here this year, to teach her Creative Writing and Silk Painting courses over the coming fortnight) and Jackie’s partner, Peter,  who had arrived from the mainland to accompany her back on the ferry the following morning. I had so enjoyed her company I was sorry to see her go but she left with a promise to return……..and I feel sure, one day she will!

Next evening I introduced Meli to a fellow compatriot and artist, Lauren Cook (L), who spends some of the year here. She entertained us with a few friends at her fabulous villa and art studio high up in the hills, with panoramic views over Skiathos town and beyond:

(I’ve only just made the connection between the four ladies and the four paintings by Lauren on the mantle shelf behind them!)

Then it was back to work for me. I’m busy painting murals again. This time at a popular taverna in town and on the sea port quay (along with a host of fellow artists, for the ‘Two Alexanders Society’; Papadiamantis and Moriatides – esteemed Greek literary figures). Not by nature an early riser, I’m finding it quite exhausting setting off each morning at the crack of dawn in order to get enough hours painting in before the heat of the day becomes too unbearably hot to permit working outside. I finished the one at the port today (if I look a bit frazzled, well, it’s not much fun balancing on a foot wide ledge for 6 hours straight, in full sun and 41 degrees, I can tell you!!!!):

All done…….Phew!

From the Bourtzi, I think you can just about make out its of the children flying their kites at Koukounaries on ‘Clean Monday’ (1st day of Lent) – a local tradition:

and here’s how the other one is looking so far:

I’ll have to finish it soon as I still have to complete two new paintings for an exhibition (that I’m honoured to have been invited to!) on the beautiful Greek island of Andros at the start of next month!

More good news! One of my Moroccan paintings has been selected for a book cover!! Translated into the Irish language, it’s ‘The Alchemist’ , by Paul Coelho!! How cool is that! Gosh, it’s turning into quite a year!

Meanwhile, coming back to earth, I’ve also been teaching a young pupil from Skiathos town, once a week.  Just 10 years old, she’s an absolutely delightful student; so keen and naturally talented, and yesterday, after just 6 or seven lessons, she completed her (hard to believe!) first painting:

of her own beautiful horses….. (cue drum roll) ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present:  Aladdin and Leyla, by Marialena:

Well Done Marialena – Great work!!

Painting and teaching aside, one of the nicest things about living here is that friends, old and new, regularly drop in when they’re visiting the island. Sometimes briefly, just to see the gallery and sometimes for a long social chat which gives us a wonderful chance to catch up and be in touch face to face again, instead of just by email, or on Facebook.

One such visitor was my dear friend Chrissy and her partner Andy. Chrissy is a hugely talented artist and photographer from the UK – and a fellow blogger (see chrissymariesblogspot.com).  I’m an avid follower of her blog(s), not only for her beautiful artwork but also her amazing wildlife photography! She captures beautifully so many species of flora and fauna, particularly in Skiathos –  that I didn’t even know existed!. I think she identified over 40 species of butterflies alone, during her two-week stay this year! No matter how long we spend together, we share so many interests, there’s never enough time to cover everything we want to talk about!……Oh well…there’s always next year. to look forward to…

I said a ‘quick’ update so I’d better stick to my word and sign off…..There’s just a few weeks to go till the end of the season (for me anyway!) and I may be away for some time…..in case you start to wonder where I’ve disappeared to ….

(Some of you already know why, but I can’t divulge anymore just yet! As I said, it’s turning out to be quite a year!!!)…..I’ll be back at the end of September with what promises (hopefully!) to be a very, VERY special post……..

Till then, I wish you all a wonderful summer……xx

6 thoughts on “Midsummer Memo

  1. awww I feel as though I’ve just revisited the whole wonderful experience of my week at Villa Nicara and Skiathos. A beautiful blog Yvonne and merci beaucoup for the nice words. As for next year, most definitely! xx

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  2. Hi Yvonne,

    Wonderful post, I guess there are those out there who think “nice” but anyone who has experienced Skiathos and more so your unique ability to welcome any visitor will be drawn once more to sample this islands character.

    You may well be looking forward to next year but we in fact are looking forward only as far as september when it just may be cool enough for us to take more of those wildlife photographs that we crave….:)

    Soula has made us an offer would couldn’t refuse and so will be back on the 10th!..:)

    “how blue is your pool?”….:)

    AndyC……

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