Richard Sheppard is a watercolor artist I admire greatly, and he and his dad took a trip to Greece where he did lots of sketching. His book about that trip inspired me to try watercolors in the first place, and my very favorite is his night-time painting of Delphi.
I had never painted at night before this trip, but Richard's painting haunts me. Then the guys at my favorite taverna were urging me to stick around late one night. (I always go to bed early.) I decided it would be fun to see the night life, and I thought doing a painting would help me stay awake. I love the lights they string in the grape vines overhead, so I hung out, drank a glass of wine, and painted. My star halos are way too big, but otherwise I was pleased and had a good time doing it, in spite of pretty dim light. (I waved the candle on my table over the painting every so often to check on it.)
On Crete we had a lovely balcony, where I could have some good light while still enjoying the reflections in the water below me and the glow of the towns across the water.
I warmed up with a very fast painting of the late evening light hitting the headland.
Then I waited for dark and did a true nocturne. It's darker than I wanted and ambiguous in places, but it made me want to try a few more.
We moved to Nafplio next, and they had a lovely harbor with a Venetian fort on a small island out in the middle of it. I managed to snare a cafe table on the harbor just underneath a street light and did another nocturne while having a glass of wine. Very civilized.
My last one for the trip was back in Athens. The Athos Hotel has a lovely roof garden overlooking the Parthenon, and my favorite room is the only room also up there on the sixth floor. I can open my shutters right out onto the roof garden. My last night in Athens, after the family had flown home, I got back to the hotel early and did one more night time painting for the trip. I didn't manage one in Bergama this time -- I was too busy hanging out with the Gobi family and going out to various social things. Maybe next time. Now I want to try some in Memphis.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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