"It is better to destroy, than to create something that is meaningless."

During the past month here in Greece, I have had the opportunity to complete several pieces of art. This has become a crucial part of my stay here. As a fine arts major, it’s always important to continue practicing sketching, but here I have an advantage that I have never before have. Here, surrounded by new sights and a different culture, I am able to be inspired in ways unique from my artistic experiences at home. Also, I find significance in documenting the sights that I see from my own perspective. Drawing these sights allows me to observe, analyze, and study each angle, curve, and mood of a sight. I am able to make my observations concrete by solidifying them on a piece of paper, while improving my skills through practice.

The first piece I completed while here was done in the National Gardens. The Gardens have provided me which much inspiration, as I feel a sense of peace and serenity amongst the trees. Sitting by a pond, under the shade of the wide leaves of a giant tree, I sketched a nearby tree, which overlooked the same pond:

National Gardens, 9x11”, pastel

I enjoy this piece because I was able to capture a sense of realism, even though I allowed expressionism to dominate. This was created during our second week here. Now, when I look upon it, I can still feel how I did as I sat beneath its neighboring tree: calm, showered in the sunlight that sparkled through the leaves, soothed by the nearby water.

Next, I decided to sketch another tree in the National Gardens. Although I began this one almost a week later, I feel that I captured a similar mood and used the same stylized, exaggerated techniques. For this piece, I realized that larger paper was necessary, as I found it difficult to include details on the smaller paper that I used on the previous piece, especially when dealing with pastels. Therefore, I took an adventure to an art store. This piece, I sketched lightly at the Gardens, but finished in the apartment a week later, which contributed to the dominance of the expressionism:

The Phantom Tree, pastel

I began my next piece during our visit to Aegina Island. I found it difficult to travel with my supplies, and had to leave behind my large paper, but I soon found it worthwhile to deal with the inconvenience. Almost immediately upon our arrival, I sat on the wharf at the resort and sketched a mountainous island that was visible in the distance. I regret not having my large paper, for I feel that the piece would have been more successful had I had a larger surface to work with. I also see this piece as unsuccessful because I don’t feel that the island captures the sight I was viewing or the emotions that the site powered inside me. My landscape does not do the scene justice; I’m unsure if this should be blamed on my lack of time (I decided to hit the bar soon after I began this one), the wear and smudging the piece suffered during my travels, or simply my lack of motivation. I do, however, feel that I depicted the Aegean Sea fairly well. I can almost feel the waves approaching my feet, as they did while I sat on that dwarf. I plan to work with this one a lot more before calling it complete:

Aegean Sea, 9x11”, pastel

While sitting on the ferry to Santorini, I became inspired to sketch a new type of work: a portrait. My friend Dom was sitting next to me, reading. As I looked at her, I became captivated by her calm and deeply-concentrated demeanor. I then began studying her. I was able to complete the majority of this piece during our last hour on the ferry, and then finished it later on the island. Learning from my troubles that I had transporting a pastel piece on Aegina Island, I decided to use graphite. I find this one successful because it’s fairly anatomically correct and I again return to the serene mood while viewing it; I feel as if I’m sitting next to her again, observing her, the wind on my back, the water splashing beside the boat:

Portrait of Dom, 9x11”, graphite

Finally, I sketched my favorite piece. This was completed in the village of Oia on Santorini. The dome in the background is the most photographed site in Greece. I was sitting on a balcony overlooking it, eating dinner and chatting with a friend. Although it is incomplete is this picture, this is my favorite sketch because I get a strong sense of my placement and relationship to the dome. It is, however, still a work in progress. I enjoyed relaxing on the balcony, and because of this sketch, I can always return my mind to that spot:

Oia, 9x11”, graphite

I hope that some of the readers enjoy viewing these pieces as much I enjoyed creating them. I have a long way to go, but by practicing in these foreign lands, I can see myself being inspired in new ways, which improves not only my skills, but my creativity and perceptions. Each day, I try to sketch something, whether it’s a landscape or portrait such as these, or simply a tattoo design or doodle. By the time I return home, I hope to have many pieces to add to my portfolio. I am confident that I will continue to see an improvement with each sketch that I complete. As you can see, this trip has been not only valuable through our courses and excursions, but for my major and my personal growth.

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