I am loving the mild winter we’ve been having here on Crete. A noticeable indication of just how much sunshine we’ve been enjoying shows visibly on the mountains, where almost all the snow has melted. The fact that we’re still in lockdown is frustrating but is nowhere near as limiting as it is in the UK. I have been making the most of the hours of sunshine and warm weather by getting out and about on walks, because there is always somewhere close by to explore on foot.
Last week a friend showed me the wonderful cliffs with the salt pools along Plaka’s coastline – right on my doorstep! In some parts it was quite rough going along the edges and ledges, but hey – it was a great workout! On another day we walked through and around the outskirts of local old Greek villages and then along the craggy banks of a river in Georgioupoli. Always taking a picnic lunch with us, we can’t help but appreciate the endless beautiful scenery. I am so fortunate to be living on this beautiful Island and there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be during lockdown.
Because the weather has been so wonderful this winter, I have been keeping up with my power walks around Almyrida and Plaka. These walks have had the added benefit of seeing other people I know along the way… everybody wanting to take advantage of the warm sunshine. Although this hasn’t appealed to me so far – I have seen many locals and expats swimming in the sea, which is bracingly cold in the wintertime.
The only clouds on our idyllic horizon have come in the form of powerfully strong south winds. Last week these kept me awake all night and I was almost afraid to see what damage they had caused the following morning. The two enormous tied-to-the-railings yucca plants, which are on the two south-facing corners of my wrap-around balcony – were all over the place! I opened up my bedroom shutters and was faced with a yucca plant on its side, several meters away from where it should be. Over the years I have grown accustomed to these wild and powerful south winds and I was convinced I’d secured both giant Yuccas as much as it was possible. But I have to remind myself that I should never underestimate the power of nature.
Not being able to travel further afield to enjoy the usual beachcombing I do during the winter months is a total bummer! There are shells I need to restock on for ongoing commissions or new designs. Talking of new designs I finally attempted a Santorini scene. Like the cats – for many years I had dismissed the idea as being unachievable in my style of Art. The seashells are always the biggest problem. In this case would I have enough grey-tinted seashells for all the different shades of the white buildings? I know now, that until I can source more wedge-shaped Donax or Coquina, I will not be able to repeat this design. It was a huge challenge and involved many hours of sorting through thousands of seashells to get the right shades. In all my designs I prefer to use the seashells’ natural colours and only have to paint them occasionally as is the case when I need Santorini blues!
Another design I have only ever done once, is a mermaid. About 10 years ago I was commissioned to do one for a little girl and so I chose Ariel and painted her face. I never do faces in seashell mosaic because they just don’t work in small scale. So I never made another mermaid even though over the years I’ve been asked if I do them.
Although I can do variations on existing designs I am sort of running out of new subject matter and so I decided to try a mermaid again. The two designs I’ve come up with were really enjoyable to create. I decided to paint the shells of the mermaid’s tail and I added a glaze to enhance the scales. When viewed in sunlight or other lighting, the mermaid’s tail is really eye-catching. Both, including the Santorini Scene are available to purchase from my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/shop/seashellbeautyinart/
Today it is 23 degrees with abundant sunshine again and I’ve been writing this post on my beautiful balcony overlooking the sea and the mountains. It’s no surprise that I should feel so lucky to be here. I couldn’t resist posting this photo of my sunset here a few days ago. Change is on the horizon from Sunday and temperatures are set to plummet to 8 degrees, with strong northerly winds and very heavy rain for the following days.