‘Where Do I Begin?’…….


(‘Where do I Begin?’ – Love Story 1968)
.
….seems a fitting title for this post, given that it’s been so long since my last one and I have SO much to tell…….But more than that; with the sad passing of the gentle crooner, Andy Williams, last week, it seems particularly fitting. He was (this’ll date me!) one of the people whose music I grew up with and  somehow I always felt he would be around forever. In a way he will, as his familiar song titles (listed below) and lyrics, still resonate and continue to carry significance, even today:

(‘A Summer Place’ – 1962) That said, as we know, nothing lasts forever and here on the island, with the passing of time clearly marked by the opening and closing of the holiday season, yet another year is swiftly drawing to a close. Despite still record temperatures, many tavernas, shops and supermarkets have already shut, which would indicate that businesses have done well this year despite all the doom and gloom predicted at the start of the season.

Kolios Bay from Infinity Blue Restaurant

All summer, a steady stream of tourists have enjoyed the magic this island has to offer.  Skiathos is clearly still a number one holiday destination and rightly so! For as I stated on film, there is so much more on offer than sand & sea:

This news item, filmed at my studio, appeared recently on Greek National TV:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy2uyTo7lHI

(interview starts at 46:11 – it may be a bit slow to load) ,

(‘Alone Again – Naturally’ – 1972)

Now, with the town, the beaches and the road becoming quieter by the day and with only a handful of tourists remaining – and even they will be gone by the end of the week when the last charter departs (‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ – 1970)….I  relish the return of the slow island pace and the peace and quiet. Many people ask me how I cope with the silence and ‘solitude’; The truth is I’m never alone! Not only do my Greek friends finally have more time to socialise but – as the superb camera work of my nature-loving friends Chrissy Stone and Andy Collins show, at home I’m surrounded by a frenzy of activity of a very different sort:

(Photo courtesy of Andy Collins)

(photo courtesy of Andy Collins)

(‘Memories’ – 1969)

But before I begin to batten down the house and close up Painting Skiathos in preparation for the long winter ahead, there’s just time  to sit back and quietly reflect on the summer –  and what a summer it’s been!

As you may know, I took a year off teaching in the hope of taking things easy; to enjoy the island and have lots of free time to paint. But Gosh! What a busy few months! Following a short break back in London, arriving just in time for my Husband’s birthday:

(‘My One and Only Love – 1962) & (‘You’re the Best Thing that ever Happened to Me’ – 1974)

when London at the time was buzzing with the 2012 Olympics:

‘Olympics at The Duke Of Kendal Pub, London W2’ Acrylics on canvas

I returned to Skiathos at the end of August and I haven’t stopped since!! But, I’m not complaining,  it’s been a particularly fabulous and memorable time! With soaring (record!) temperatures interspersed with some very welcome rain, (‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head – 1970) the island (and my garden!) has never looked so beautiful!

(Rose Garden – 1971)

There’s been a bumper crop of juicy figs this year and the olive and pomegranate trees are already laden with plump ripe fruit.

(Photo of Villa Nicara courtesy of Andy Collins)

(‘Sunshine on my Shoulders’ – 1974) 

I’ve enjoyed long lazy days with good friends, lounging about (‘Yellow Beach Umbrella’ – 1976)  on some of the most fabulous beaches:

and swimming in the clearest turquoise waters:

I even managed some sketching (as this sneaky one of me, by Mary Dillon, shows!):

Ligharies Beach

‘Matt, soaking up the sun’

‘Rocks at Ligharies’

I’ve eaten lots of freshly caught fish and Greek salads, with sand in my toes, and steamed (hand-picked by me!) ‘Kritema’ (rock samphire; Crithimum maretimum). Most delicious of all were the fresh sea urchins – raw and straight from the sea!

I’ve sat many an hour with friends, putting the world to rights

till bathed in the rosy glow of dusk:

often till  long after the sun went down (‘Some Enchanted Evening’)

and the full moon (2 this past month!)  lit up the sea (‘Moon River’ – 1962):

(‘Autumn Leaves’ – 1959)

I’ve enjoyed leisurely walks through the long shadows of the sunlit olive groves, with my ever faithful companion Percy at my side:

Drinking in the heady scents of pine, oregano, sage and wild honey and finding inspiration for new works:

‘Olive Groves in Autumn Sunlight’ Acrylics on canvas

(‘People’ – 1964)

and I’ve enjoyed a constant stream of visitors namely family:

My Son Nick with beautiful and talented girlfriend, Kat

(‘You are My Sunshine’ – 1971) (‘Groovin’ – 1976)

My lovely cousin Rob who spent most days scuba diving off Tsougria Island

(‘Stranger on the Shore’ – 1962) (‘Beyond The Reef’ – 1975)

and my lovely daughter Tam – who is also a keen and accomplished artist!

(‘The Most Beautiful Girl’ – 1974)

It was lovely to welcome back some old and very dear friends:

Namely the artist Mary Dillon. We spent many a morning giggling and catching up, over a breakfast ‘al fresco’ of yoghurt ‘specials’ with honey:

(‘You’ve Got A Friend’ – 1971)

with fruit picked fresh from the garden:

Before settling quietly into our respective corners in the studio to get some serious work done!

(Chrissy seen here with Mary Dillon)

Other artists and friends such as Chrissy Stone &  photographer partner Andy Collins and other familiar faces both regular visitors to Skiathos and residents all popped in to say hello;  Rita & Steve, Mark & Di, Jackie and Michael, Christiana & Jane, and Hans & Maria, to name but a few. There were lots of new visitors and friendships made too!

(‘For the Good Times’ – 1971)

I’ve walked, talked, entertained (‘I could have Danced All Night’-1964), eaten (and drunk!) probably FAR too much –  but I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it!

Throughout it all, my solo exhibition at the Skiathos Princess Hotel, Aghia Pareskevi,  proved to be more of a success than I could ever have imagined:

– a huge ‘Thank You!’  to everyone who took time out to visit! (most especially to the owners, Mr & Mrs Santikos):

(‘Sing A Rainbow’ – 1964)

(photo of Painting Skiathos Studio, courtesy of Andy Collins)

I did manage to fit in a few art classes here and there after all:

First with the lovely and talented Ann:

We became instant friends:

and with the delightful Jude:

Between them they produced some wonderful work!

Both inside the studio and out:

Others students included my regular young pupils from Skiathos: Marialena and Athena:

– and a very kind Mum who agreed to dress up and (very patiently!) model for them!

(‘My Way’ – 1969)

and I even managed to complete  a few new paintings myself too:

as well as a few commissions:

 ‘Stefano’s Spitaki’ Acrylics on canvas (a favourite view, for Michaels BIG birthday!)

and this one, I painted for my friend Kosta Kandarakias (of Infinity Blue Restaurant) and his beautiful wife Ludmilla, on the birth of their adorable new son Grigoris:

(‘Baby Doll’ – 1956)

(‘Up, Up and Away’ – 1968)

Yes, all in all it’s been a wonderful summer…..and, anxious as I am to rejoin my family and get back into my ‘other’ life in the bustling city …. I can’t help but feel a little bit sad that yet another chapter in the  ‘Painting Skiathos’ book is coming to a close….

Oh and talking about books, the  original ‘PAINTING SKIATHOS’ BOOK is now available (still online only) from ‘Blurb UK’ too, and, shortly, in a new smaller format therefore it will be much more affordable – and just in time to order for Christmas!

(A second edition, and a new 2013 calendar is in the pipeline too – so watch this space!)

For now, have a good winter everyone!

(‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ – 1990)

Hopefully see you next year!

Meanwhile,

R.I.P Andy Williams. Gone but never forgotten….

(‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ – 1971)

 Thank you for the music….

24 thoughts on “‘Where Do I Begin?’…….

  1. Hi Yvonne, lovely idea to use good old Andy Williams’ song titles as a ‘coathanger’ for the piece (I LOVED his TV show and was always wishing I was the girl whose hand he took to bring her up on stage to dance with him!) You sound happy and look well, I’m glad to see. I was in London a couple of weeks ago, laughing as I remembered that night we walked and walked on New Year’s Eve with the Tzoumas family wondering where the heck we were off to!! All the best for Christmas and the New Year. Hope to see you in 2013. Needless to say, I’ll be on the island. For 5 weeks this time … Lots of love, Sara xx

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    • Hi Sara, how lovely to hear from you! Ooh, I wish I’d known you were in town (we could have had a good pre Xmas drink – or two!). Ah, yes, happy memories of that New Year’s Eve….I wish you both a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year – and I look forward to seeing you in Skiathos! Much love, Y xx

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    • Gosh! Thank you so much, Amanda, for your kind words – and the nomination! I’m really touched! Many Congratulations on your award – it’s so well deserved! I’ve only ‘dipped in’ to your writing so far but already, how refreshing it is to read posts of such substance and written with such thoughtful (and thought provoking!) intelligence. I look forward to catching up and reading more. Once again, Thank you so much for getting in touch. So nice to meet you! Y xx

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    • Hi Yvonne, loved your web site the paintings are beautiful as well as everthing you wrote what a beautiful and talented sister I have and I am so proud of you.

      Have a merry Christmas wish we were with you. Love you lots, Madi xoxoxoxo

      m

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  2. Well, I said I would have to come back and read slow time… I needed longer than 5 minutes. So lovely to see everyone and some fabulous art again by both you and your visitors. I didn’t see the Olive Grove in Autumn sunlight one before, it looks like the dip where all those gorgeous yellow flowers are . Lovely, I am sighing on yet another rainy afternoon but, in a nice way. After all I have spent a fair bit of time on the island myself this year 😉 Thanks for bringing back some fabulous memories, the colour and vibrance of some lovely times. Much Love Chrissy X

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    • Aw Thank you Chrissy – you’re comments are always so welcome! I’m loving all your new art by the way. The rain sure hasn’t dampened your creativity!! Can’t wait to see more….Keep well – and dry! Much love, Y. xx

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your account of your summer in Skiathos. How wonderful and refreshing! I loved the photos and artwork, too. You write beautifully. It makes a person want to board the next plane and go there. Thanks, Yvonne.

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    • OOH I wish you would!!! Seriously, Helena, PLEASE think about it for next year. I’d LOVE you to come (both of you if you like, of course)…. I just know you’d love it here! No plans for Beirut yet but really hope we can catch up again soon…..Much love Y xx

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  4. Lovely post (again) Yvonne!…….. No wonder others are jealous when you paint such a brilliant picture of the island!…….;)

    Always good to meet up and especially this year due to Mary’s return, quite like old times!…… thanks again for your hospitality & we are looking forward to next year already!…..:)

    Have a good time in your second home!…. much love

    Andy…… XX

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  5. Oh, Yvonne, once again thank you for yet another breath of cooling breeze and wash of the peaceful colors of Skiathos. Your posts always bring me closer to that beloved home-away-from-home, and the beautiful healing sea that I am missing terribly right now amidst the heat and dust and brown of our seemingly eternal northern California summer…I wish I was there now, writing in the end of season quiet! Thank you, thank you. Beautiful photos, beautiful paintings, beautiful words. xxxx

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    • Thank you!! So happy if I can bring your beloved Skiathos a little closer…..Are you planning a winter trip this year? If so, be prepared, I think it will be quite a harsh one; the pyracantha berries are very thick already….not a good sign….Hope your weather breaks soon. Hot and dusty is not good. We had that throughout July and August so I can sympathise but the heavy rains soon repair the damage, thankfully…Much love, Y xx

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  6. As ever Yvonne an iteresting read accompanied by your faboulous photography. The people and all that beautiful art. We must return one day. Our 21 year Greek oddesy is not finished but then our crusing bug is also competing. St Petersburg in August was fabulous in other ways. Love to you both from Phil & Barbie.

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    • Thanks Paul! Missed you this year but your were off to much more exotic climes! I’m SO envious – would love to visit St Petersburg. Did you get to the Hermitage? I’m sure you’re all fired up with new inspiration now – can’t wait to see what work comes out of it! Keep well, Much love to you both. Y xx

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      • Hermitage? Just too much to do and to see in only 48 hours in the harbour. All exploration is done only with pre-booked tickets and guides…all too organised for a Brit. who is Greek at heart! The independent option requires, a very costly and difficult to organise, Russian Visa…xx

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      • Indeed! With a daughter who spent 4 years in Russia I understand that only too well! Still, I’m sure you havd a fabulous trip anyway (and I’m still VERY envious!) xx

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  7. What a joy to read. And what lovely pictures. Let me know please when your Painting in Skiathos book becomes available in the smaller format – I still long to own it 🙂 Enjoy the winter Yvonne. Catch up with you in 2013 as we will be spending more time on the island next year.

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