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The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece Paperback – May 5, 2010
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About the Author
Richard Sheppard is a fine artist and freelance illustrator. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Academy of Art University in San Francisco and a Bachelor of Arts in painting and drawing from Arizona State University. He has illustrated numerous books for major publishers and his fine art can be seen occasionally at galleries and art festivals around the San Francisco Bay Area. This is his first publication.
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It's a day-by-day first person account of the 16-day trip he spent in Greece, at Athens, Elsusis, Mycenae, Delphi, Thebes, Baruron, Sounion, Santorini, Mykonos and Delos. It's quite a lengthy but personal record of the things he saw and felt. Particularly interesting is the way he shares about his insecurities and apprehension of sketching outdoors with people watching.
The watercolour sketches are nice and comes with lots of commentary. He was traveling with his dad and you can read about all the adventures they had together -- very typical tourist adventures like getting lost, finding hotels, but fun to read nevertheless.
The book's a 134-page paperback. The softcover does curl up after days. Paper's alright.
Good book to check out if you like travelogues or sketchbooks.
(Check out more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
Second, the book brings history alive. It summarizes key events from the past in one or two sentences. Why did Agamemnon's wife Klytemnestra axe him to death in a bath (he had sacrificed their daughter to goddess Artemis to gain favorable sailing winds to Troy); what were the characteristics of the Oracle of Delphi ("...good character and virtue among the peasants of the local community"), who built the castle of Kasteli (Venetians, as protection from pirates).
Third, the book is a narration about the joys and frustrations of an artist wanting to paint scenes while traveling. A century ago, visitors had no cameras and used to sketch scenes of places they visited. Richard's book illustrates how this art form has returned. He wants to paint 160 scenes, but finds he might only have time for 17. He needs to travel, but is frustrated at how this detracts from having time to paint. Finally, his inhibition to paint in public vanishes after one local woman gasps at his image of the Porch of the Karyatids and hands him a red apple in appreciation.
Binding these themes together are his images - beautiful color drawings and paintings that bring Greece alive. I've taken several art history courses, but find Richard's paintings of the Lion Gate at Mycenae, the Temple of Athena Pronaia and the Gulf of Corinth more powerful than any photograph for providing me with inspiration to visit. And his descriptions and images of the local wine don't hurt.
Impressions of Greece is a thoughtful narration that shows how it is not glamour - but enthusiasm, curiosity, persistence, and personal goals that make travel worthwhile.