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The Well-Travelled Painting: The Greek island of Ithaca seen from the water

Earlier this year I created this blog post series of Well-Travelled Paintings, to share my progress with re-learning to paint, to draw out the memories of the places and travel destinations I paint, and also keep myself accountable to my goal to paint more often. Each painting featured comes accompanied by a mini-guide to the place depicted – a taster to whet your appetite. Other paintings in the series so far include HampshireCefalu and Palermo in Sicily, the French AlpsGreek Islands, China and all paintings can be found here.

What does this painting depict?

The latest painting is of the village of Kioni on the north-east coast of the small island Ithaca, in the Ionian Islands in Greece. I took this photo from a yacht during a blissful day sailing around the island, having set off from the larger neighbouring island of Kefalonia, where I was lucky to spend a whole month this spring. We boarded a beautiful 51-foot Bavaria yacht in Agia Efimia harbour, hosted by owner Evan from Kefalonia Day Trips and a hostess called Nicoleta, and set off for a 10-hour clockwise sail around Ithaca, and the village of Kioni was our second stop of the day: where we snorkelled, dived off the yacht, and had a divine lunch on deck. The village was typically Ionian, sun-baked, verdant and right on the water, and this photo captures the vibrant colours from a beautiful angle. It was in early June 2021, when lots of countries still banned travel, so we were one of very few visitors and had most of Kefalonia to ourselves. We lucked out with this sailing trip as we had the whole yacht to ourselves, and it felt very special!

Ithaca is the less famous and harder-to-reach sibling of Kefalonia, meaning it’s less developed and more rustic. It’s also the legendary in Greek mythology as the home of Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem ‘The Odyssey’. We listened to a brilliant re-telling of ‘The Odyssey’ on Mythology podcast while driving around the island. I haven’t yet written a blog post on my month in Kefalonia, but you can hear me talk about it in this bonus podcast episode instead.

My boyfriend and I both had a month off work in between finishing and starting new jobs, and Greece was pretty much the only country that would let Brits in for tourism without a quarantine at that stage. As you can imagine, it was a pretty blissful month after a brutal winter of lockdowns and over 12 months of the pandemic. The island was virtually empty, we had beaches, hikes and roads entirely to ourselves, and it was an enormous privilege to have that extended break from our responsibilities. What made Kefalonia and Ithaca so special for us was devastating for the locals, whose income from tourists plummeted, and I really hope they were able to recoup their lost revenue over the following summer months!

What about the painting itself?

As more people have seen my paintings, I’ve been thrilled to receive more and more commissions! This client was familiar with the Ionian islands and wanted a Greek landscape, so I sent over a number of photos as inspiration to choose from. I then set about painting the sky, the buildings, then the rocks and the trees, and finally the sea. Once finished, I realised the sky needed re-working. I divided the painting over 3 days (8 hours in total) and I spent a huge amount of that time painting the land alone, which was particularly detailed! I had to quell my inner perfectionist’s urge to paint every minute detail of the houses, so I hope they don’t look too basic or child-like. My paintings so far have aimed to look realistic, but they’re not intended to be photographic. I’m very much growing into this ‘artist’-thing and learning to let go of realism bit by bit.

I’m definitely learning better techniques for painting water: here the water was rippled but otherwise calm, and I wanted to avoid the movement looking too choppy or rough. It’s a picturesque Ionian Sea, not the Atlantic! And in my second attempt at the sky I used a much larger brush and more watery consistency of paint, allowing it to blend better and look more polished than my first version of the sea. I learn so much with each painting, making me wonder if I should start an art course to remind myself of the correct way to paint?!

I think this might be my best painting to date, I’m really proud of this one. What do you think of it? This one already has an owner, but if you like it and would like to buy a copy, then I’d happily paint it again for you. Just hit the ‘Enquire’ button below and I’ll be in touch.

This piece is acrylic on canvas, 30.5 cm x 25.4 cm.

Price upon enquiry.

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