(‘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:
(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!):
‘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!
R.I.P Andy Williams. Gone but never forgotten….
(‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ – 1971)