Village walls, clay pots and bougainvillia…

Last July I spent a week or so perched on a ladder, painting a wall mural at Fouli’s taverna in Harakopio. This was my first ever wall mural and as I usually work quite small, it was a bit of a challenge! I worked on it for a couple of hours each morning, shielded from the sun in the shadow of the church. We were preparing to move into our new studio at the time, so I was happy to get the mural to a point where I could leave it alone and finish it later.

This year, Fouli asked me to add the promised traditional clay pot and bougainvillia to the window scene to complete the design. And so began another series of painting sessions, standing on a table, reaching and balancing rather precariously in the un-seasonally strong winds we were having at the time.

The pot was re-drawn several times. The first was drawn, rather ambitiously, from memory, but this was severely criticised by passers by as being the wrong shape. After a visit to a neighbour’s olive grove to inspect his fabulous collection of old pots and take some photos, I re-drew the pot. Still, apparently the base was not quite right and they should, ideally, have 20 coils (I never knew that!). Finally, on the third attempt, the pot was acceptable.

I love drawing with acrylic paint marker pens but both of my blacks were playing up and out here in the sticks there are no local art shops to nip to for specialist supplies like these… so I improvised.

The thing about murals is they are, of course, completely vertical, which means, unless you have a fancy scaffolding structure, you’re constantly straining your neck. Also, you’re too close to the painting to get an overview of how its progressing, which means getting on and off the table the whole time and standing in the road to inspect it.

After much faffing about with the bougainvillia – adding more clumps of flowers and more green shoots – the mural was declared ‘finished’. It’s on the wall of the Taverna Fagopoti aka ‘Fouli’s’ in Harakopio – where the musicians normally play on Friday evenings in the summer months. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of creating the mural, my neck and I were very happy to return to making paintings in the comfort of the studio!

On the wall opposite, where there was an existing grapevine (earlier painted by another artist), I added a few bunches of grapes to give a bit more colour. No sooner was the mural finished than this lovely bamboo and wood shade appeared. It really completes the picture and gives the whole area, which is basically a little side street in Harakopio, the feeling of a homely Greek island courtyard.

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