Mykonos From the Ferry

(Excerpt from my book, The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)

On the ferry, we find seats on the top deck, but a rainstorm kicks up, so we retreat to the warm indoors near a coffee shop serving everything from sandwiches and soup to beer and coffee. The ferry keeps a steady pace and rocks gently as it pushes through waves. Fortunately, it’s not enough to upset my stomach. Sitting next to us, a large group of people keep the place lively with jokes and uncontrollable laughter. It will be a long time before we reach Athens, so I browse over my completed watercolors and sketchbook drawings.

After hours of sitting, I feel the need to stretch my legs. I put on my jacket and climb the stairs to the upper level. A cool breeze rushes by as I step onto the wet deck. The rain has stopped, at least for the moment, as dark clouds still threaten off in the distance, dumping rain into the silvery sea below. I hear a low, pulsating hum from the engine that keeps tempo with the splashing of seawater against the boat. The rhythmic weaving of sound provides the perfect soundtrack to the moody weather. I enjoy this meditative state until it gets too dark to see, and climb back down to the warm glow of the cafe below.

Mykonos, a Town on the Edge of the Sea

At the edge of town, I find a row of windmills and begin to draw, but soon stop. The arms of the windmill are not drawn well, and overall, it looks off. Since I drew a good windmill the day before yesterday, I turn my attention to another subject, the nearby bay. I start the drawing on the left side of the paper and detail each building as I move across the page. I’m running out of room, so I skip a few buildings to fit the curve of the bay at the bottom right. This helps the overall composition. I’m also finding that I don’t have to draw the horizon line anymore, as the islands themselves hint at its whereabouts.

I head back to the hotel to collect my bags, pick up my dad, and we set off for the docks. After one of the fastest cab rides I’ve ever experienced, I have a little extra time to draw a cargo ship before our ferry arrives.

Stately Pelican on Mykonos, Greece

(Excerpt from my book, The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)

With a full day of drawing behind me and a stomach that is unwilling to cooperate any longer, I walk back to the hotel and pick up my dad for dinner. Searching for a good place to eat, we stop at a quaint little Italian restaurant displaying fresh raviolis, tortellinis, linguini, and other pasta shapes, beautifully displayed on a table to tempt passersby to come inside. The menu outside the door lists even more tasty items: lasagna, chicken parmesan, and pizza. The smell of oregano and tomato sauce fills the air. My stomach growls, but my heart sinks when I see the prices. I must remember that staying on budget made this trip possible and creating art is the reason I’m here. Disappointed, we walk a little farther and come upon an open grassy area. To our surprise, we see a stately, four-foot high Pelican standing on a large flower pot. It looks so wise with its long bill and majestic pose. Its webbed feet wrap around the edge of the planter, and it barely budges as we move in closer, taking pictures. Few people are close by, and those who are, surprisingly, don’t notice this beautiful white bird. Perhaps they think it’s a statue.

Getting hungrier by the minute and unable to have pelican for dinner, we continue walking and find a pizza restaurant with prices more in line with our budget. The restaurant is located in a courtyard with trellises of grapevines canopying above. The weather is still warm, and the earlier threat of rain has vanished. I order a glass of chianti and a pepperoni pizza, feeling happy as a clam.

After paying the bill, we head back towards the hotel. Just up ahead, we hear loud voices coming from a crowd of people and walk over to see what all the commotion is about. Showing off and obviously enjoying the attention, we see the pelican using its bill to smooth its ruffled feathers. It spreads its wings to create some space around it, and then its real intentions become obvious. The back door to a restaurant stands open, and it walks directly inside as if it works there, proceeding behind the counter and into the kitchen, where the good stuff is. A few seconds later, a cook with a broom shoos the large bird from behind the counter and out the door. A roar of laughter erupts from the crowd. Then with a flap of his wings, the pelican flies off to his next destination in search of food. We head back to the hotel for some shut eye.

Mykonos’ Maze of Streets

(Excerpt from my book, The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)

After returning on the last boat back to Mykonos, I choose to hit the streets again to find another place to draw rather than return to the hotel. I feel energized by my success over the last couple of days, and I hope to retain this creative spirit. I set out from the docks and into Mykonos’ jungle of streets. It’s almost dinner time, and the smell of grilling chicken and pork souvlaki fills the air. This will be a good way to work up an appetite. While wandering along a tree-lined pathway, I stumble upon a familiar taverna where we ate gyros yesterday. I’m beginning to feel hungry, but I’m more interested in drawing, at least for the moment. Looking ahead, the path branches in two separate directions and provides both a good place to sit and a good vantage point from which to draw. I situate myself on a short wall and watch people pass by in their best evening wear, talking, laughing, eating. I’m thoroughly enjoying being here and being a part of it all. Even though I’m not Greek, I’m beginning to relate to the local culture.

Palm Where Leto Gave Birth to Apollo and Artemis

Up on a hill on the Island of Delos, Greece~  I take in the island laying before me and stretched out to the north. From up here, I see the circle of greenery that in antiquity was the location of the Sacred Lake, the spot where the goddess Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis, divine fraternal twins. This is the reason Delos was considered so sacred in ancient times. More recently, the Sacred Lake was drained to rid the island of malaria mosquitoes, and now it has filled in with a small forest.

Agora of the Italians and the Terrace of the Lions

Delos, Greece~ Beyond that patch of green where the goddess Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis, stands another set of ruins that I want to draw next. I locate it on the map as the Koinon of the Poseidoniasts. It was used in the worship of Poseidon, the sea god, and was built in the 2nd Century BC. We make the trek down the hill, and I break out my drawing tools, and go to work.

Later in the day, as I’m walking back towards the entrance, I encounter the Terrace of the Lions, a row of marble lions facing the Sacred Lake. At the end of the 7th Century BC, the Naxians placed them here on a level terrace. The lions have weathered considerably through the millennia, and only six of the many originals now stand.

Temple of Isis with Rain Drops

(Excerpt from my book, The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)

The Island of Delos, Greece~ We arrive at the dock and exit to partly cloudy skies. We pay the fee at the entrance, and I pick up a free map before shuffling off through the ruins. Lizards crawl everywhere, big ones too, a foot long head-to-tail. The island is uninhabited by humans but teeming with life. Artemis, the Goddess of all things wild, was born on this island, so maybe that’s the reason this place overflows with critters.

At the far end of the site, I see a temple on a hill that looks particularly interesting. The map I picked up at the entrance reveals the ruin as the Temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Walking through an ancient theater to reach it, I find conditions there damp with a few puddles, but am excited about drawing today, and with my newfound enthusiasm, a little rain is not going to stop me.

My dad takes off to climb Mt. Kynthos, the highest spot on the island, but I stay behind to draw. Raindrops splash on my page, but I continue until the rain really picks up and forces me to stop. I pack my gear and hunt for shelter but with no success. Then as quickly as it started, the rain stops, so I unpack my gear and once again continue to draw. The rain returns, but this time I’m saved by Dad’s umbrella. He made it back from Mt. Kynthos just in time. Overall, the weather has cooperated quite nicely for this time of year in Greece, so I have nothing to complain about.

Mykonos’ Old Port

I walk down towards the docks hoping to find something else interesting to draw. The narrow city streets are a maze to navigate, especially with tall buildings obstructing my view of the bay. But I follow the roads that lead downhill, and without too much trouble, I’m able to find my way. Parking myself at the edge of the bay, I sit atop stone steps that descend to the sandy beach below. Shallow waves lap up on the shore leaving blankets of bubbles behind. Before me lays the Old Port of Mykonos, with its buildings huddled close together at the edge of the sea.