The lovely lady who organizes the Saturday walks (one of which I went on last Saturday), also happens to be an amazing artist. She has a lovely studio across the way from her house in Harakopio.
Thinking that I should probably force myself to have contact with people, whether I want to or not, I signed up for this four week "mixed media" course with utter trepidation.
When it comes to actually letting creativity flow through my finger tips, I tend to freeze up and create a soggy pile of miserableness.
I arrived to find everyone already assembled in the white washed studio with high wood-beamed ceilings and bits of art work pinned everywhere. I pulled out my painting shirt (which happens to have Michael Buble's face plastered on the front of it - I was definitely judged accordingly), and listened attentively to our instructions.
We would be working with, I learned, acrylics, wax, vaseline, scrapers, paint brushes, and bits of newsprint. With a brief outline of various creative paths it would be possible to go down, we were set loose at our workstations.
There were too many options, and not enough directions, so I started to hyperventilate.
Finally, I slapped a few of my favorite colors on my paper, scraped them around with the edge of an old credit card, and stared at it in disbelief.
It looked bloody awful.
I sank into a a vague depression, and poked around with a few more pieces of paper.
We went on to the second stage "resisting" - using wax and vaseline and acrylic washes. I tinkered with the wax, and played with the vaseline, and in a fit of adventurousness, added a dark gray wash. I started to scrape it back, and then suddenly....
my work was transformed.
Peeking out of the grey was a glory of crimson, and indigo, shot through with copper and bursts of yellow. I know that sounds crazy, but somehow it works, and it works well.
At that point, I started to have fun. When the morning ended, about two hours later, I was splashed up to my elbows with paint, and I was so, completely relaxed that all I wanted to do was lie in the garden for a nap.
Over our coffee break (Gill's husband made us glorious coffee and brought out plates of cookies), I met my newest hero. She is an Israeli/Irish/Brit, who. seven years ago, moved with her husband and three children to Greece.
They were so sick of the rat-race in London, that they gave it up - threw it all to the wind. They sold their house and bought a plot of land in Greece. Her kids wander through the olive groves and play all day - "I think it is really good for them" - and they attend the local school, and at this point know Greek better than English. They spend their summers in England and Israel with family.
As she said "We spend almost no money, because there is nothing to buy, and we live off the land. What is important is that we continuously get to know ourselves, and what it means to really live, and live well."
Wow. People talk about doing something like that, but who ever actually has the courage to follow through?