…………..in Crete

18 – 25 October 2014

After what has been a fairly busy year involved with large projects, a chance to scribble in a notebook again and work on a smaller scale with a 7 day break and a return visit to Crete, thanks to an invitation from our good chums Peter & Monica. This time it was the subject that was big, not the image making. The challenge however was exactly the same, trying to make images work while being bombarded with such different sensations and being confronted with a landscape with such a magnificence of scale.

The way I’ve found to deal with this problem is to treat the subject the same as one would when entering a grand building such as a cathedral. One doesn’t simply barge in, the place must be treated with the respect it deserves. It’s important to enter quietly, take time to drink in the atmosphere and allow the senses to become familiar with the new surroundings.

The secret I think is not to be impatient and for me, drawing has always been the best method I’ve found to feel one’s way in. Taking time to look and listen through the weaving, continuous, overlapping lines created by the point of a pencil enables my eyes and ears to take a walk across the page and develop a sense of place. It’s not everyone’s way maybe, but it’s my way.

The pages of my notebook return me to where the drawing was made and reawakens a memory bank of sensations, even if the page contains only an urgent and quickly rendered scribble. My calligraphic wanderings are more personal than a photograph and transport me back in time and space. They are instant reminders of the sights, sounds and scents of the original location.

Crete is filled with a cocktail of sensations. This time around an instant word map would include – visiting a museum of monumental wooden sculptures in Axos Milopotamou; sitting in the sun at a cafe in Anogia village; watching waves crash over the harbour wall at Rethymno and eating at Othonas Taverna; gorge walking at Spili and coming across another olive grove of ancient trees; harvesting walnuts with my ‘Karydia Brothers’ and having the black fingers to prove it; the spectacular scenery and dramatic landscape revealed during the journey from Vamos to Chora Sfakion ending with a meal beside the harbour; the stunning skyline filled with sea-storms approaching the shore viewed from the beach at Triopetra and the sight of waves breaking against the ‘3 Stones’; the outlook during the journey to Agios Pavlos and drinking a chilled glass of Mythos in the taverna overlooking the idyllic bay; watching waves crashing into the cliffs, with thunder, lightning, gusty winds and rain falling in sheets while drying out at the same location; the outstanding and impressive rock formations at Agios Pavlos too; eating out in Spili, at the Maria-Kostas Taverna and at the Mylos Cafe; watching high soaring birds casually gliding on warm thermal winds; wrecked, battered, bruised as well as re-invented and re-engineered motor vehicles; the regular clang of sheep and goat bells; staring philosophically into a clear and unpolluted Indian Ink sky carefully strewn with scattered, sparkling constellations; sublime sunsets to die for; visiting the birthplace of Domenikos Theotokopoulos outside the sleepy village of Fodele where old women dressed in black sat in the street making macramé items using the back of a wooden chair as a frame, then sitting under the most ancient of ancient trees in sun dappled shade to eat lunch at the El Greco Café; it’s been a stimulating week!

The landscape of Crete is overwhelming and the people warm and welcoming. I may not speak the language or be able to read the roadsigns comfortably, but a smile, a glance and a gesture easily becomes a conversation of a thousand unspoken words. However, as for Crete as a subject for painting is concerned, I have only dipped my toe in the water – and the pool is the size of an ocean.

As for image making, I’m still coming to terms with the place and have much to learn, but perhaps I’ve made a start in feeling my way around – and it’s feelin’ good. It’s caused a problem with my Blog Title Soundtracks page though. Should I have chosen Nina Simone? Or Muse. Tough call. I’m still undecided, so I included both.