Art Supplies Used While Traveling in Greece

I have experimented with many different art supplies over the years, and my supply list is always evolving. Here is a list of the items I used in Greece, each of which I tested extensively before my trip to ensure its necessity and functionality. Most of these supplies can be found at any art supply store.

• Sakura Pigma Micron pens size 01-08

• Windsor & Newton professional-grade tube watercolors

• Children’s watercolor set (with the paint soaked out and replaced with W&N watercolors)

• 12” x 12” masonite hardboard

• Water cups clip

• Windsor & Newton, Series 7 sable watercolor brush

• Technical pencil (never needs sharpening)

• Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks

• Moleskine regular sketchbooks

• Arches hot press watercolor blocks 7” x 10”

• Plastic knife (for removing pages from the watercolor block)

• iPhone for pictures, video, blog posts (so much contained in one gadget makes it a winner)

• Timbuk2 messenger bag

• Three-legged fold-up chair

• Notebook for writing thoughts

• Kneaded eraser

Traveling in Greece with Clarity of Mind

As with most traveling experiences, I endured many frivolous hardships: short beds, curtainless showers, noisy streets, all things I would have complained about at home but hardly even noticed while being here. Greece was more than worth it, with its ancient ruins, dramatic landscape, and cultural depth that not only unveiled a new world but also a world of the past.

But after spending three weeks in Greece drawing and painting, I felt like I was just getting started. It took over a week to get beyond cell phones, email, Twitter, and my desire to keep up with news reports. Finally, the voices in my head stopped. This is when my mood really started to elevate, and my mind opened up. I wasn’t burdened by have-tos and should-haves, and my easy going attitude influenced my work. I wasn’t thinking about success so much as just enjoying the act of creating. I developed a new mode or rhythm and got into a zone. It was a comfortable place to be and so relaxing. I had clarity of mind, focused energy, and was completely present in the moment. It was like a meditation and it felt empowering. Relaxing. Fulfilling.

Akropolis from on top of the Hill of the Muses

When in Athens, it’s impossible to miss the giant mountain of rock called the Acropolis. It’s especially impressive in the areas of town where the Parthenon can be seen crowning the top. One of my favorite vantage points is on top of the Areopagos. When I first arrived in Athens, I climbed up the slippery rocks to the top of the hill and watched the full moon rise above the Parthenon. Unfortunately at the time, I was unable to see well enough in the dark to draw.

Toward the end of my stay, I found another great view while climbing down the Hill of the Muses. From there, I could see the Acropolis in all its splendor, dominating the city below.

The Prison of Socrates

On our last day in Athens, we have one prominent place left to visit, the Hill of the Muses. As we make our way around the Acropolis through zig-zagging streets, we pause for a moment to watch an organ grinder. An old man wearing a bowler hat pulls the crank while lighting up a cigarette, and an unfamiliar song begins to resonate outward. The organ itself is really the attraction, with fringe, jewelry, flowers and old black-and-white movie-star photos decorating its sides. A young boy runs around with hat in hand collecting money, replacing the traditional monkey.

With our day quickly passing, we continue our walk up the Hill of the Muses overlooking the city. Our first stop is the Prison of Socrates, where the philosopher was supposed to have been jailed before they forced him to drink deadly hemlock. He had been convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens with his philosophical teachings. This is also the site where, during the Second World War, all the Acropolis’ artifacts were hidden from the Nazis. I’m not that interested in drawing the site but my dad is insistent, so I pull out my gear and give it a shot. I’m not sure what I should include in the drawing. I know its historical significance, but the hill seems uninteresting and flat. I step back a bit to let the tree trunk cross the image and give the drawing depth. Now it starts taking on new life, and I’m glad my dad recommended drawing here.

Temple of Hephaestus in the Agora, Athens

Looking around for a new subject to paint, I walk towards the Temple of Hephaestus, stepping over puddles from last night’s rain as I go. I take a deep breath. The morning air is rich with moisture and the scent of flowers. After finding a good view of the temple, I pull out my chair and unfold it. The temple, from this perspective, sits on top of a hill overlooking the Agora with green gardens surrounding it.

Map of Plaka, Athens

This map shows the major places we visited while in Athens. The narrow, zigzagging streets resemble pedestrian pathways more than motorways, but motorcycles come zipping through the crowds at surprising speeds. Athens is also greener than I imagined and that is in part do to the abundance of potted plants and flowers that line the streets, but also because of park-like areas that break the rhythm of multi-storied buildings. These little islands of greenery appear to be excavations, with Corinthian capitals and other pieces of columns lying about. History is everywhere.

Sketch of Plaka, Athens

Finally, after our long boat ride from Mykonos, we arrive at the docks of Piraeus. We collect our bags and wait below deck with a crowd of people to exit the ferry. A grinding vibration from the engine coupled with the sound of rushing water echoes against the steel hull as we inch towards the dock. When the gangway finally lowers, a rush of fresh, humid air blows against my face. We step out into the port town of Piraeus and hop on the Metro for a short ride to our hotel in Athens. After settling into our room, we head back out for a double scoop of gelato and a walk around the familiar city streets, enjoying the buzz of this world-class city.