My Life as an English Artist on a Greek island Part 6 of 23 part six… “My friend Roy“
The villa was all set up for sleeping and eating and the fridge was full. I had found an old barbecue in the cella and various practical things. Like mosquito nets, tools for the garden, flower pots and mixed holidays stuff for both underwater and overwater fun. I even found things I remember buying for the kids (beach stuff) from my last time here. It seems Greeks never throw anything away, which I was grateful for.
The day after Baz and Ged had left I felt far more focused. I decided to have a walk around the villa and the immediate area. First I walked through the pine forest to the small beach. I had a swim and investigated the small cave that was to right of the beach.
After a swim, which cooled and refreshed me, I walked on the coastal road. It was very peaceful and quite lovely. The sea went from dark blue going to turquoise. There wasn’t a soul to be seen in any direction. By lunchtime I was half way into the town, still on the dirt road away from the villa. It was getting hot and I took off my t-shirt and wrapped around my head as the Sun was beating down. I discovered an odd archway tucked away on the side of the road. It was almost fully covered by a huge bush that was bursting with beautifully scented white flowers.
The archway had two wooden doors that were unlocked and ever so tentatively I opened and walked through them. On the right hand side was a sign it read, Sotto’s Grotto. I then walked along a path that was very steep and led down to an open bar area. Otherwise the building was all locked up. In front of the bar was a flat area covered in Chairs and fixed natural umbrellas. No one was about, so I sat a one of the tables where I could cool down and relax and enjoy the view.
No pressure No Stress
After a while I decided to go back to the villa and set up my easel in the garden. It was time to start painting. It didn’t take long to get back to the garden in the villa, even walking quite slow. I felt like I was on holiday rather than going to work, that was a good feeling. What a change from my former life. No pressure, no stress, no pecking at my head nor anyone pushing me to meet the sales targets set not by me, but by my business partner.
I poured myself a drink with ice and began setting up the materials needed to paint. Easel, brushes, paint, turps, wipe cloths. It was so quite, then at mid afternoon the volume of the Greek crickets grew steadily to an almost deafening decibel, but I liked the sound and sort of filled the space, I felt less alone somehow.
The heat of the day grew steadily, and by late afternoon is was becoming almost impossible to paint. My hairy was so wet with sweat that it was as if someone had poured water over me. The sweat ran into my eyes and my t-shirt was soaking wet. I stripped after rising myself off in shower. The painting was going well though and the painting of my first born was almost finished. I returned to the easel and carried on. After a few minutes I felt a sharp pain on my should and quickly saw that a tiny amount of blood was appearing. I wiped it off and carried on painting only for to feel another sharp pain on my back. I soon realised it some sort of insect biting me. I painted on whipping myself with one of my brushes trying to if not kill then discourage the insect. But it was relentless.
The brush whipping carried on for another hour or so until I finally gave up and returned into the villa tom clean up. I was full of bites and then began to swell slightly. That evening I stayed on the patio, ate salad and drank wine and smoked half a packet of cigarettes whilst I wrote down some ideas of what subject matter I would actually paint. The sun set at exactly 8pm and by 10pm I was in bed fast asleep. Tomorrow I decided I would start early whilst it was cooler.
I was Free
The Sun was on the horizon by 6am and the sky went from a orange come red to purple and then dark blue with a bright white moon on the way to the opposite side of the horizon. It was a stunning morning. For the first time in my life I felt so lucky to be alive.
I had my breakfast and walked down to my small rocky beach and gently slid into the sea. This is my ritual, I said to myself, it was heavenly. I began to not only see nature but feel it filling my senses with sheer joy. I almost cried with the wonderful experience I was living, thinking that I had spent my whole life so far, in prison and now, at long last, I was free.
I returned to the easel and painting materials which is where I’d left them the day before. I sat down and began to paint. I was totally involved with work and had no idea of how much time had passed by. I thought about my children, and felt sad that I couldn’t bring them with me. Although I’d arranged and had agreement from my ex that they could come to stay for at least two weeks when they broke for summer holidays. So that thought made me feel ok. I carried on working until I felt that same pain on my back as the day before. Bloody fly – I said aloud. I ignored it at first, but as it continued to take lumps of flesh at odd times I started to get angry. I stood up and shouted at the fly. “I’m not feeding your whole bloody family.” I said to the fly even though I couldn’t see it I know it was somewhere close in the garden. Once again I gave up mainly because I felt I’d gone as far as I could, and partly because I didn’t want to get so angry that I would want to kill the fly.
The next day, I set up another board to paint on once again early in the morning.
The subject was about the environment and how we humans were destroying it – and this came to light as I was stimulated by the nature around me. I decided to paint a power station in Manchester –It would be called – Acid Trip- I had made several sketches of the power station as I had driven past the industrial station many times and for years.
I sketched out the composition and began to paint in earnest.
This time the fly arrived earlier that the previous two days. The biting began and it developed into a sort of pitched battle with me screaming at the fly and whipping myself more than I was painting – I decided I had to kill him. By thinking of my adversary as male eased my conscious decision to kill him. I don’t know why that was. But I had to do something. The fly was killing my idealistic aims, so he must be killed.
I knew that the shop would open in the afternoon and so walked to the village to buy a spray of fly killer. I bought the biggest can I could find. It had red warning signs all over it but I couldn’t read it as it was in German and Greek. I made my way back to villa with determined strides – At reaching the villa I went to cella and gathered the mosquito nets and a number of wooden stakes I found and a hammer. Placing the easel and my painting equipment out from the shade of the tree and into the centre of the garden I then began to fix the stake in a ever decreasing circle. I then began to wrap the mosquito nets around them, creating a sort of labyrinth. I carefully place my small chair in front of the easel and board and with a brush in one hand and the Fly spray in the other waited for the fly.
I waited and waited and finally the fly landed on my knee. I slowly lifted the spray fly killer in almost slow motion as the fly chewed a piece of flesh from my knee. He never moved as I allowed him to eat me. I reached the point of where I could dispatch my enemy and pointed the spray towards my knee. I pressed the button. The unfortunate thing was I never checked which way the nozzle was pointed and the spray exit was pointed to my face. I went in my eyes and nose and mouth. I reacted immediately and began vomiting as I staggered through the labyrinth destroying it with flaying arms and kicking the stakes in my rush to get to the sink and get water to my eyes as quickly as possible.
Good morning Roy
I spent the rest of the day and night recovering and getting over my stupidity and actually laughing at the whole scenario. That evening I was sat on the patio with a drink and having a smoke. I decided on a different approach towards my tormentor.
The next day I was having my breakfast when the fly landed on the table and was nibbling on a piece of bread. I looked at him. He looked at me and I said “ Good morning Roy. You are welcome to share my breakfast.” – He stayed for a another few minutes, ate some more bread and flew off. I never saw Roy later that day. And I began painting after a morning swim. Two weeks passed and I painted every day finalising the painting.
Roy only came to me in the morning. He never bit me again. Roy became a friend.
Manchester Born the artist enrolled in the Manchester High School of Art at the age of 11 years old. After a succcessful career in design the artist dedicated his life to Art in 1988. First solo exhibition UK 1989. The artist has exhibited and curated Art shows since 1995 in Europe and the UK. His main studio is located in Southern Sweden. (studio 5).