The Devil’s AdvoCAT

I have spent the last 4 weeks since we came back from the extended 6 week painting trip through Cyprus and Crete,  publishing  paintings and travel sketches from Cyprus in this blog. From there we flew directly to Crete for 3 further weeks, but before I go over to Crete, I want to make a last post here about the Cats from Cyprus. I know I have written quite a lot about them already, but I have today an important message to deliver concerning EVOLUTION.

So here we go. The most extraordinary experience we had with cats in Cyprus was in a place called Agios Nikolaos Ton Gaton. Here is some background info:

Agios Nikolaos Ton Gaton in Cyprus – Google Map

“… Situated on Cape Gata south east of Akrotiri Salt Lake near Lemesos (Limassol), Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton (St Nicholas of the Cats) is perhaps the first monastery in Cyprus. The present church probably dates to the late 14th century. Abandoned in the late 16th century, it was re-occupied by Orthodox nuns in the early 1980s. According to tradition, the monastery was founded in the 4th century by Agia Eleni, mother of Constantine the Great, who left a piece of wood from the Holy Cross there. At the time, the island was experiencing a severed rought, forcing many people to leave the island. Snakes multiplied and life in Cyprus, particularly at Akrotiri peninsula was unbearable. According to the medieval historian Stephen Lusignan, after Agia Eleni’s departure, Constantine the Great sent governor Kalokeros to Cyprus who brought thousands of cats to the island to exterminate the snakes…”

There are still thousands of cats in that place, probably direct descendants from the snakes’ exterminators. And judging by the look of some, there must have been some wild cross-breeding between cats, snakes and perhaps even nuns involved…

Anyway, the Main Cat Dude there was the Archbishop, full of the inner peace and wisdom necessary for the job.

Arch Bishop of CATerbury – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

As you see, I could not resist the multiple wordplay there, one more of Kev Moore‘s famous CATchy titles for my CATalogue

We spent a lot of time in that monastery, even though we weren’t quite sure if we were allowed. Kevin had to go through a barbed wire fence to get in there, and I had to climb a big iron gate…. so the sketches I did there were very fast and certainly with a fearful undertone, like for example this one (I apologise for the poor quality…)

The Cats of Agios Nikolaos – by Miki

The person in black in the background sitting on a bench and reading was a very tall and very old Lady. She is the only person we saw there and we have no idea if there was somebody else. She had at some point come to an inner gate as she has heard us laughing, and gone away again, without telling us to eff off. So I guess we were not unwelcome…

We were fascinated by the diversity of cats, the hundreds of different looks and behaviours. And this is the message I was speaking about at the beginning. Think about it: that convent was a really closed place, and even if cats can climb and go through all kinds of holes, there is, in that remoteness, hardly communication and interchange with the exterior world. The convent is isolated, no houses  or farms miles away, so anyway the probability of other cats wandering around is very low. I was really plunged into some evolutionary thoughts as I was watching these cats. I really had not the feeling that their behaviour and look came uniquely from their genes and was not the result of some educational and environment process, as they obviously had all the same. The behaviour ranged from extremely shy to extremely open, from aggressive to friendly, from adventurous to fearsome, etc. In fact, we could recognise in them the whole myriad of human behaviour. I must say, if I was a researcher into animal (or even human) behaviour and evolution, I would spend much time there and observe, I don’t think there are many places like that in the world which allow such kind of research.

Anyway the most incredible cat we saw there was this one

The Devils AdvoCAT – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

And I swear I haven’t exaggerated! One really wonders which kind of cross this one was… certainly between a cat and snake incorporating the devil!

The fantastic title this time comes from me… you see, I am learning!

I will finish this post with two cats which I saw in a different place, just one hour before we took the plane to Crete. We found this place quite by accident, it was a fabulous sculpture park by Larnaca. The sculptor himself was a fascinating personality, and such an intelligent guy, and we would have loved to spend much more time with him. We just had time to chat a little bit, and to make some photos. That place was very inspiring to me and I even made a painting yesterday inspired by one of his sculptures, The Sphinx, the artist’s first sculpture in large scale,

The Sphinx Of Petraion – Aquarelle painting by Miki

The little cat was really sitting there next to the Sphinx, a picture for the Gods! Unfortunately the little bastard bit me, and it bit me hard, even if the sculptor said that it didn’t. At least that one didn’t really bite, he said, but his other cat did.. I would have probably ended up in 2 pieces had I met it!

I do hope I will find time at some point to make more paintings inspired by these sculptures. But before I do that I need to be sure that the sculptor agrees with me doing that. I am not sure how the copyright laws are in this matter, and anyway, it is a question of respect of intellectual and artistic property. I have contacted him and I am waiting for his answer.

These cats, and many others,  are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. And I promise, my cats really don’t bite. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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Who Are You Today?

Who are you today – watercolour painting by Miki

Everybody should know by now that we have a huge collection of coffee mugs and that I love to paint them. Well, when we were on on our last trip, through Cyprus and Crete, I started a new series of mugs paintings, featuring the most important and interesting coffee breaks we had along the island roads. The idea came late to me though, we were already quite at the end of the Cyprus trip, and I developed it mainly in Crete. But in Cyprus I did some in our last stay, in Limassol, both featuring Starbucks mugs.

The painting above represents one of our coffee breaks in a Starbucks Cafe in Limassol.  I was especially attracted by the table and the words written on it in the form of a spiral.In case you can’t read it on this small image it goes like this:

“Hello… who are you today?”

“how, not who,  I answer quickly… fine thank you”

and many other philosophical considerations, which I can’t remember and also can’t put back together from the painting as the essential words are covered by the mug itself.

In that cafe we also bought a new mug for our collection and I featured it later on at the hotel in a funny painting:

Starbucks Coffee  in Limassol – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

The fish itself was inspired by a painting I saw on the wall of a little cabin on the beach. He seems to be calling forth a Rainbow Genie from the mug!

By the way Kev Moore has created a great piece of music called “Coffee Cup Mambo” and put many of my mugs paintings in the form of the following video. The result is great, have a look!

My Limassol Starbucks mugs– and all others too – are already available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widget below to access my FAA Gallery

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Cats and Tourists in Paphos

As I said in a previous post “Living among Gods in Paphos”, where I published some artworks inspired by the wall paintings in our hotel, we stayed only 2 days in Paphos. A pity, as I loved the place, there was so much great stuff to see there. But well, we still managed to have a very interesting time, starting  with a lovely walk along the seaside promenade and to the castle, followed by an intensive visit to the fabulous open air archaeology museum and, the next day, to “The Tombs of The Kings”.

Unfortunate the castle by the harbour was closed at that time and we couldn’t go inside. Instead I sat on the top of the little amphitheatre in front of it and made a quick sketch of the 4 English tourists sitting there and enjoying the beautiful view, the sun and obviously the togetherness! I must say that I understood very well all these old English people spending the winter or even their whole retirement time in Paphos: it is surely a place where it is fun to live!

Together Old in Cyprus 06 – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

A wonderful motif for my series “My dear Old People”!

We were told by a musician friend of Kevin that there is a wonderful pelican by the harbour, earning his living by gigging for the tourists on the street. We searched for it, but could not find it… I did regret it a lot, as I would have loved to paint it, it would have made a fabulous motif for my “Street Musicians” series!

But well, it must not always be pelicans… cats do the job too!

Romance in Paphos  – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

As I had mentioned in a former post, cats are omni- present in Cyprus. One day I even saw a T-Shirt featuring “All The Cats of Cyprus”: .

big mouth cats, stoned cats, seriously pissed-off cats, horny cats, romantic cats, wicked cats, shy cats, confused cats

Well, the two cats on my sketch belong obviously to the romantic sort! One might argue that tombs are not the best place to start a romance, but on the other side, these places do have a kind of romanticism, I find. A romanticism full of gravity and dramatic of course… like love itself!  🙂 I don’t know for certain though if these two cats were having a true romance or if they were playing an act for the tourists!

En Catimini  – watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

I can’t find in the list above any category for that red and blue cat lurking behind my back. Well, humans and animals are not that different in many points: people always try to look behind my shoulder when I sketch on the site, and like that cat, they always think that I can’t see them. But I have very sharp eyes in the back of my head, you know… and when they have seen what I do, they often go some steps further away to take a photo of me, still thinking that they are invisible to me. I understand them of course. Not that I look especially great, but an artist painting on the site is always a favourite photo motif for tourists. When they are back home and show the holidays photos to family and friends,  these photos  somehow send the message

” look everybody, we were in such a great place that artists painted it!

Window to Life – aquarelle and ink travel sketch by Miki

It was interesting to see that many tourists, who, judging by their appearances, probably hardly move at home, were ready to make much more efforts here to visit the places. But it was indeed fun to jump and climb all over and around these old stones. And concerning the woman above:  I don’t know if the people buried in the Tombs of the Kings ever reached the sky after their death, but that little woman up there was apparently trying to do it in her life time!

Old and Lonely in Paphos – aquarelle and ink travel sketch by Miki

Funny, when I look at all these sketches, they are all in a kind of cartoonish caricatural style, and in fact totally the contrary of the ones I painted the evening before in the hotel. I didn’t choose this style on purpose. I just seem to change my sketching and painting style everyday, according to my moods and the motifs. Well, in Paphos that day I must have been in a light superficial mood, weird, considering the serious ancient backdrop.  Although I must say that I didn’t find these places sad, not even the tombs. Perhaps was death not that sad in the old days?

I also need to say again that these frequent changes of style are NOT a sign of me not having found my style., as most of the art critics so wisely pretend. They are just a sign that I don’t want a style!!!! The BBC’s Sherlock Holmes would understand me so well: one style is SOOOOO BOOOORING!

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My Dear Old People in Cyprus 02

I’ve already published some paintings from old people in Cyprus, about 10 days ago, all the motifs featuring old people from the Turkish-occupied part of the capital Nicosia.

Today you will see here old people from the other part of Nicosia, but also from other places in Cyprus.

Let us start with that lonely old man that I saw in the Starbucks Café in Nicosia.

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 04 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

The walls were decorated in a very original, happy and funny way, strongly contrasting with the the loneliness and sadness of the old man sitting there. I don’t want to make bad advertising for the Starbucks company here, so I have to mention that the Café was far from as empty as it seems on my painting. I just needed the empty space and chairs around the old man to emphasize the impression of loneliness.It was in fact a great atmosphere in the Starbucks Café in Nicosia, full of young people with laptops, iphones, ipads, etc… obviously not suffering under the economic crisis! It always amazes me how all these people can buy these expensive electronic devices, and can even treat themselves to a coffee at Starbucks: they are really not cheap! Anyway,  As I arrived there I was exhausted and freezing, we had walked a long way in the cold. A big mug of hot chocolate and a fantastic cheese pie totally gave me my energy back. In that instant I really loved Starbucks and was happy to pay their prices!!! We were tempted to buy the City collection mugs from Cyprus, but somehow I found it too expensive and above all, we had not much room to take mugs back and with still 5 weeks holidays to go, I wanted to buy only the  best… but Kevin could not resist and bought another Starbucks mug, which I would paint later on… and also sometime later, In Limassol, we could not resist and decided to buy the Cyprus Starbucks mug anyway! Which is when I decided that I would make paintings of all our Starbucks mugs… one never knows, the company might be interested! They’d better be, because Kevin always want to have a coffee there, and he always chooses the most expensive one full of fancy stuff, and normally something sophisticated to eat too.  I do want to get our money back from them somehow!  🙂

Anyway, let us leave Starbucks for now and try to go for a coke!

The following painting is a little piece of artistic cheating though…

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 03 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

We were walking from our hotel in Nicosia to the centre of the town where the Starbucks Café mentioned above was. On our way, I saw this closed Coca-Cola place with the arrow pointing to a kiosk, and I found it quite inspiring as such. Some metres farther away I saw a statue of an old man, I forget who he was. But he did look quite bored and fed-up. He was sitting in an armchair next to an abandoned desolate place advertised as “The Garden Cafe – In The Heart of the City”… obviously that heart was not beating there anymore! Anyway it did not take long for my brain to have the old man sitting in the empty Coca ColaCafé and being fed-up at not getting his Coca-Cola there, too tired to walk to the open kiosk…

I saw the following scene the next day, when we crossed back over the border from the other part of Nicosia.

Together old in Cyprus 02 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

the scene was exactly like that, this time I didn’t cheat.. or not much at least! The ram was in fact… a statue! But both man and ram seemed as if they had been sitting together there all their life. And even the animal being “only” a statue, the motif was very touching for me.

I think that’s about it for old people from Nicosia. I regret not having seen more old women though… I don’t know if it was me, or if they were indeed not out in the street. There are some countries where old women stay at home, Cyprus might be one of them. I always get the feeling they stay hidden, kind of ashamed of being old… an extremely sad thing to me.

Together old in Cyprus 07 – Watercolour painting by Miki

I saw these two old men inside a private farmhouse yard in a small village not too far from Nicosia, but I don’t remember where exactly. The gate to the street was open and I had a glance inside, only curious to see how in Cyprus a farmhouse looks like from inside. What I saw was so striking… I don’t know what had happened, but these two men were obviously distressed. At least they were together to share their pain… I probably shouldn’t have painted this motif, it is quite indiscreet. And yet, I could not resist, there is such a depth and inner beauty in their suffering.

Together old in Cyprus 08 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch by Miki

Nice to share a cup of coffee with your old mate, isn’t it?  🙂

And to finish, along a road somewhere on our way from Nicosia to Paphos, I saw these two old people walking “together”. Together in some countries means: the man in front, the woman behind!

A motif for the gods!

Together Old in Cyprus 04 – Mixed technique by Miki

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Living among Gods in Paphos

The Three Muses from Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

From the capital Nicosia (you can see many paintings of it in previous posts in this blog) our journey through Cyprus brought us to Paphos, after a whole day’s drive through the mountains and the visiting of many exciting places.

I had booked a crazy hotel for 2 nights in Paphos. I had initially thought that the photos I had seen on their website were lying, that the hotel could not really be like they showed it. And yet, it was exactly like that, and in fact even crazier! Built on a beautifully preserved archaeological site, with millions of statues and wall paintings featuring scenes from Greek mythology everywhere, it was feast for the eyes. Really the ideal place where to stay when you visit Paphos, giving you the feeling to live among the ancient Gods! To live… and to die, as we visited many tombs not far from the hotel!

 I did some paintings in very impressionist and antique style, while we were staying there, more or less directly inspired by the hotel wall paintings..

The Three Strangers from Pathos –  watercolour painting by Miki

No much to tell about all these paintings though, as there is no story to them, they just appeared on the paper in memory of what I had seen in the hotel. The most exciting story I could tell about them is that they were all painted on an amazing table made out of out of lacquered wood and richly decorated with antique motifs. It was quite scary  to paint directly on that piece of art, as my style is wild and impatient and much colour always land everywhere… well, luckily the table surface was washable.

Child with Dog in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Woman and Warrior in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Bull and Man in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

Lovers in Paphos – watercolour painting by Miki

This last painting was not inspired by a wall painting in Paphos, but by a statue I saw somewhere on the top of a mountain high above a monastery. And the statue didn’t even feature lovers and birds, but… Just Kevin had lay down on the statue, for a joke, and this is where the painting comes from. In fact, the complete work was a huge statue of what looked like a bird on the mountain-top but I suspect was meant to represent the angel Gabriel, and the prone statue some 30 feet below, perhaps a reclining woman, but we weren’t sure! Far fetched you would say, but this is just how my creative brain works!

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Street Life in Nicosia 02

Street Life in Nicosia – Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

I had promised a second part of the Street Life in Nicosia, so here it is. But forgive me please, I have not much time nor the nerves for written words today, I need to keep most of them for football and politics. Football, because the game Man City v Newcastle is about to start, and for many reasons I absolutely need the Newcastle Magpies to win. I will follow it simultaneously to making this post, so don’t be surprised if some terrible screams suddenly pierce the silence of the internet 🙂

And politics because right now in France they are electing our new President. I am not a political person at all, but today I feel very nervous about it, having somehow the feeling the result might be very important, perhaps more important than ever…

Cypriot Beauty 01 –  Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

I saw these Cypriot beauties in the main shopping streets if Nicosia. It is quite amusing to find that as soon as you cross the border between the two Nicosias, you enter a street full of shops selling all the well-known labels of the world for peanuts. Difficult to resist even when one knows that they are fake! … well, these beautiful women fronting the shops surely helped us to buy some sexy Adidas pants for my guy!

Cypriot Beauty 02 – Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

I was glad though that this golden girl from the shop above didn’t have mugs that appealed to us… we only had very little room in our luggage and  had to be disciplined.. we usually bring dozens of mugs back from our trips, it’s really total addiction!

And then I had the chance to see a street musician. After about a week in Cyprus, he was the first I saw. For some obscure reason he picked me from among the crowd and gave me a little private concert. Well, concert is perhaps too fine a term… he put his guitar in his hands, acted very professionally,  but no sound came forth… no wonder I guess, he had an electric guitar and didn’t carry an amp around. I was quite sure that he would want some money from me. Well, some people pay for silence: I don’t! I just took a quick photo and walked away. Not without feeling a little bit guilty though, the guy might have deserved some coins only for his great appearance…

Street Musician in Nicosia –  Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

and who knows, perhaps there is a law in Cyprus which forbids street music? Now the more I think about my behaviour, the more ashamed I feel! It is not always easy to behave well as a tourist: in some countries one gets assaulted by the locals who think one is loaded with money… and to be honest, compared with them, we probably are. But I personally hate to feel milked like a bloody cow, so as soon as I suspect a milkman is coming, I run away!

And as I mentioned it in another post about Cyprus, the cats are always present, wherever one looks!

Cats in Nicosia – Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

And before we crossed the border in the other direction, we had the usual coffee break. We had seen a cafe where they served the lattes in lovely glass mugs, for us certainly THE reason to enter the place. Well, the mug was great but the latte was average, the servers were nice but the prices were incredibly high! I made a sketch of the mug, “Occupied Latte”, including the menu, exactly as it was written…

Occupied Latte in Nicosia – by Miki

I was thinking, these people, they pretend to have a posh place, but they only have posh prices, and they can’t even spell such an internationally well-known word as chicken! In fact I was quite fed-up, having again the impression to have been milked…

By the way, this sketch is the beginning of a series of “travel mugs” we had in Cyprus and Crete. By that I mean that I started a series featuring our coffee breaks, a good complement to my anyway beloved coffee mugs series. For us, these coffee breaks are often the highlight of our holidays, and most of the time we have quite sweet memories connected to them… the paintings keep them alive for ever!

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First update: Man City won! F..K!

Street Life in Nicosia 01

Turkish Nicosia – watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

As I said in my previous post about old people in Cyprus, we spent some time in the Turkish part of the divided capital Nicosia. For some reason it inspired me much more that the Greek part, probably because the motifs there were artistically more “exotic”.

Anyway, I always wanted to visit Turkey, and I hope I will do some day. Just at the moment, it does not seem possible, Kevin is not so keen… who knows why! But I won’t give up, and well, at least in Nicosia we have already been on Turkish-occupied ground…  Like many other English people, and probably most of the people born on an island, Kevin has a tendency to reject loads of things without knowing them. Most of the time it concerns foreign food, but sometimes, , in tough cases like Kevin, they extend to the rejection of whole countries… this is why, so far, Kevin does not want to visit Turkey! In fact he says the only Turkey he’s interested in is the one you eat at Christmas! It is so beautiful though… and from what I remember from my life in Germany where we had many Turkish immigrants, the Turks are lovely people… and make such great food!

Now, apart from the food which should be a major reason to visit Turkey, the kids there seem to be great, in the sense Kevin loves it: Well-educated!

Street Worker in Nicosia – watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

We were extremely impressed and touched by this scene, being used to something very different in the country where we live (Spain). Many Spanish children  seem to be educated in such a way that they are compelled to damage or even destroy everything which stands in a public space and is not theirs. The way that little guy in Nicosia was cleaning the street in front of his house with such eagerness and professionalism was incredibly poignant. I don’t think that we should have our children working the street, but really, it could not damage them to have them cleaning the space in front of their house sometimes, instead of spraying graffiti on the neighbours walls! And above all: we wouldn’t have to do it   🙂

Well, I never had children.. and remembering what an “enfant terrible” I was, it is perhaps not that easy to achieve that… but really, as I saw that little guy, I thought: I wish all the children of our world would be like him…  once in their young life at least!

Children in Nicosia – watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

I adored this scene between the little girl in her best Sunday clothes and the two little boys driving wildly down the street in their toy car. It brought back memories of my childhood, with the difference being that I was the wild one on the street, always dirty and wearing rags. Not that my parents didn’t dress me well and clean, but I really had no respect and time for good manners and care. The little boys were watching at me as if I came from another planet, with some deference though, and from a distance, as I used to be a little aggressive, or at least I didn’t handle anything with kid gloves, if you understand what I mean. But generally, aside from myself, in younger days before females pretended to be males,  boys were the wild, and girls the delicate ones… it was fun to see that this hasn’t changed yet in Nicosia!

Not far away from here I saw this woman walking the street…

Woman in Nicosia – watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

This scene was indeed for me THE image of Turkey, with carpets everywhere.. I don’ t really like carpets, and certainly not in my house, they harbour too much dust and all sorts of disgusting stuff.  But it is very funny to have them hanging all over the public places, as it was in Nicosia. They give the town something like a fifth dimension, besides space and time,  and this dimension is quite close to art!

God, I am exhausted now! Not only did I walk hours and hours through Nicosia, but I did the paintings, and now this WordPress blog post with all the connected work! I don’t want anybody telling me that artists have an easy life… I at least never stop!

See you soon again for the part 2 of Nicosia Street life when I am rested!

Church in Nicosia –

And in the meanwhile, while I rest,  YOU can have a life and go to my FAA gallery and spend more or less money on my artwork! The paintings above are available directly online as Giclee print in many different dimensions, on paper or canvas, and also as greeting cards. Just click on the widgets below

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My Dear Old People in Cyprus 01

As I was travelling through Portugal some years ago I had started sketching old people, together or lonely. And last year when I was in Italy I got the idea to make a series about old people from around the world, meaning, wherever I go, I try to capture them in their special loneliness or togetherness. A theme very dear to my heart, as I am generally very fond of our senior citizens, loving to see them still enjoying life, and hating to see them lonely. I called the series:

“My Dear Old People”

I have painted so far old people from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Republic Czech and Morocco. And now from Cyprus.

I had hardly a chance to catch sight of old people in Ayia Napa, it being more oriented towards fun and youth I would say.  It was certainly better  in our next port of call, in Nicosia, the “last divided” capital in the world, apparently – and especially in the Turkish part of it. We had entered it on foot, via the “No Borders Street”, and got a three month visa at the end of it. A very weird feeling by the way. I meant to do a painting of that street full of poignant graffiti and political slogans, but somehow I felt that it would be some kind of inappropriate voyeurism and I let the motif go… It hurt though!

Most of the tourists who had crossed seemed to stay close to the border, not daring to venture further, probably scared of what would befall them. Much blood had been spilled in the  Turkish/Greek conflict in Cyprus, so perhaps it was better to be careful. But Kevin and me, we are two daredevils and we walked a long way away. In fact I wanted to have a better look at the mountain on which an enormous  Turkish flag was painted. But after many kilometres the mountain still hadn’t appeared, as if it vanished once one was in Turkey!

Instead I saw these two old men walking the street together… just wonderful!

Together Old in Cyprus 02 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I don’t really like to photograph old people, too scared to offend them. So if I want to paint them, I have to be quick, or have a good photographic memory. In fact, no, scratch that, I haven’t got such a memory, it does not work with me, my brain is a machine which transforms everything my eyes see into a mathematical form, and there is hardly any way for me to transform it back into a picture when I need it. So, I have normally to make a sketch on the site, or take a quick photo when they don’t look. Neither of these 2 alternatives is easy. Sometimes the sketches are good enough, other times I have to redo them at home.

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 01 – Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I saw the old woman knitting in an old open-air building, with interesting multiple arch architecture, and a kind of inside patio. Through the combination of the warm old stones and the blue sunny sky above  the light inside there was simply divine. The place was vibrant, full of people sitting around, most of them were men though.  And there were also plenty of great motifs for my old people series

That woman did look immersed in her activity, so I thought I could perhaps risk a photo. I observed her for a while first, and came to the conclusion that she didn’t lose one detail of everything which was going on around her! One might think that old people are often absent-minded … no way! They rarely miss a thing, and considering their wisdom -which is not a myth…-  and their life experience, they don’t need long to understand what is going on.

So I went away and made a fast sketch from a distance, drawing only the main lines. The painting is based on that sketch.

Together Old in Cyprus 01 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

I adored that motif of these 4 old guys sitting together around a table and intensely chatting behind a book stand. I don’t believe they were discussing any of the books, as there were no books on the table. Curious as I am, I would have loved to know what they were talking about!

A difficult theme though, but I did my best… One will notice that James Patterson is also read in Turkish Nicosia!

Old and Lonely in Cyprus 02 - Watercolour and ink painting, by Miki

This old guy and the whole stuff around was certainly a delight for my artist’s eyes!

I think every scene I saw in that building was a potential painting as such and I wished I had had time to paint some more. But we had to head back to the other part of Nicosia,  not before having a well-deserved  “occupied latte” which I will publish in this blog later when I start presenting my new ‘travel mugs’ series…

There will be more paintings from my dear old people in Cyprus, but it is enough for now. The walk through the Turkish part of Nicosia was really like a trip to another continent, and the paintings done there should be treated separately, I feel. I would like to add that these four have been done on a very simple sketching paper, usually used for pencil and certainly not adequate for watercolour painting. But I had nothing else with me. It is interesting though to see that this paper is taking the watercolour in a very weird way, it sucks it inside instantaneously, and the colour vanishes slightly from the surface, giving the paintings some kind of  old fashioned, ancient look and consequently  historic depth. And somehow, I feel, it suits very well the motifs and the place. So, ultimately, I am quite happy about it.

Oh yes, for those who don’t know where is Nicosia, or Cyprus, here it is (according to Google Map):

Nicosia, Cyprus

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The Cats and The Potamos of Cyprus

CAThedratical in Cape Gkreko - Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

We spent 4 days in Ayia Napa, and unfortunately the weather was not the best. Sunshine, but constantly alternating with heavy rains and wind. Consequently, we could not visit the places around Ayia Napa as much as I wanted, and of course, sketching on the sites was quite impossible. Still we managed to make a trip East of Ayia Napa, on the coast, to the Cape Gkreko. This is where I was first really confronted with “The Cats of Cyprus”. I had met one the day before in the cemetery of Ayia Napa, but this was quite normal, I thought, cats go usually to cemeteries when they go out. In Cape Gkreko though, they had taken over the church! I sketched the one who seemed to be the boss. He majestically modelled for me like an archbishop for a Vatican painting. Well, who knows? The Vatican might be interested! 🙂

From that moment on, I noticed that cats were everywhere in Cyprus. One day I even saw a T-Shirt featuring “All The Cats of Cyprus”: .

big mouth cat, stoned cat, seriously pissed-off cat, horny cat, romantic cat, wicked cat, shy cat, confused cat

Yes, by the time we left Cyprus I had met them all and they constantly appear in my  paintings. I apologise to all my followers who are allergic to cats, but I really had no chance of keeping them away!

On our last day in Ayia Napa, we went west to the coast, to a little harbour called Potamos …. It was a weird place, chaotic somehow, but very romantic too, as if from another time…

Potamos Liopetri 01 - Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

At some point while we walking along the beach at the end of the harbour, Kevin suddenly stopped and said:

“Potamos… does it mean river?

“Don’t know…”

and I felt some ancient anger emerging from the depths of my delicate soul .. I will tell later why…

“Look, the hippopotamus.. they are river horses aren’t they? Hippo means horses, right?”

I must say, that guy is sometimes very clever! I gave him a big hug for that and added:

“There is Mesopotamia too… could be true, you know!

I loved that logical explanation, but  so far I haven’t checked if it is right… too scared that it isn’t. But from that moment, we called “potamos” every river or stream we saw in Cyprus and Crete , big potamos, little potamos, dry potamos, wild potamos, confused potamos, pissed-off potamos, etc… sounded really cultivated! When I was young I  had 8 eight years of Latin at school, and I adored it, I really did. Nobody could ever understand that, but I found it very exciting. As a third language (the first being English) I wanted to take ancient Greek, but my father said no. I had a hard time understanding why, as my two brothers before me were forced to learn it. And then along came me and I wanted to do it, of my own free will, and I was not allowed. Instead I had to learn Spanish, and to cap it all, with a black-bearded teacher I hated. Ridiculous!  I still haven’t forgiven my father for that!

Potamos Liopetri 02 - Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

As I said, this Potamos was quite chaotic . Some of the places right by the docks looked like as if people had their living room there…

Old and Lonely in Potamos Liopetri - Watercolour and ink travel painting by Miki

In this painting the whole décor is faithful to the place, but to be honest, the old man himself was not really there. But I am sure that he often sits in this armchair, at sunset, thinking of all the fishes he caught in this potamos when he was younger…

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When The Saints go marching in Ayia Napa

There were not only restaurants, night bars and strip clubs in Ayia Napa, there was also a beautiful main square with an impressive church and monastery. Unfortunately I was not tuned into serious stuff, so I missed that occasion to paint the religious side of Ayia Napa. Not totally though…  even in these sacred places, one guessed there was some playful soul at work: was it God or the Devil? I don’t know, but  at the monastery, which was just being restored, somebody had placed 2 of the saints statues, outside, high on a walkway overlooking the monastery patio …by the way.. Kevin says it was actually Mary and Jesus, but I hadn’t got my glasses on, so Saints they must be! They were both wearing bright red togas and were so huge, so even if it was hard to recognize them, it was impossible to miss them! It was really an incredibly funny sight as the two saints did look as if they had come out of the church to supervise the restoration works! I could not resist making a very fast sketch of them, but sorry, it is not a good one: I really hurried up, scared that my saints may raise some objections…  🙂

Saints in Ayia Napa - Watercolour and ink sketch, by Miki

My fantasy didn’t need more food to imagine these saints coming to life again and having a walk through the gardens  of the monastery… I wished this would be real, these places would be much more fun… although who knows? there might be saints already walking around there, incognito, more discreetly probably, not wearing red togas…

Monastery in Ayia Napa - Watercolour and ink sketch, by Miki

At some point in one of my painting trips, I started a series called “Street Musicians”, I think it was in Memphis, USA, with the fantastic Big Jerry. the best motif ever! Anyway,  I hoped to see some street musicians in Ayia Napa too, but I didn’t. What I did see was some cute little sculptures of musicians in a souvenir shop, so I took these instead and painted them in the street. I know, it is cheating, but if the saints’ statues get a life in Ayia Napa, why not the shop musicians? And anyway, as I always say: I have all the artistic freedom in the world!

Street Musicians In Ayia Napa - Watercolour and ink travel sketch, by Miki

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