Guest blogger Annette Spaan
I learned you can become your own worst enemy when you try to live like other people want you to. When you finally chose what is best for you, things fall into place and good things start to happen. The memoir Greekscapes is a real life example of this. In the wonderful book American painter and writer Pamela Jane Rogers (67) tells her life story. A story that made me cheer for her escape out of a suffocating life in America to a new beginning in Greece until the very last page. What makes Greekscapes extra nice to read is Poros being a protagonist in a big part of the book.
I met Pamela when I stayed on Poros for a few months. Immediately I was fascinated with this American beauty that had moved all alone from North Carolina to Greece 25 years ago. Surviving as an artist, capturing Poros on canvas with inexhaustible inspiration. Never had I seen a foreigner so in love with Greece as she was. I wondered how it all started.
Moving to Greece
In the book Pamela is stuck in a rocky and difficult marriage, in which she goes through many exhausting attempts to get pregnant. You feel her desire to walk away from it all and be free, her art being the main thing that keeps her going. During many pages I almost shouted out loud for Pamela to leave. Her painting mentor takes her to Greece for the first time in her life, a country that Pamela instantly connects with, where she feels happy and that gives her a lot of inspiration to paint.
After 19 years Pamela finds the courage to leave her marriage. She feels very strongly that Greece is where she wants and needs to be. On Poros she rebuilds her life and the island becomes her muse. It’s a joy to read how things fall into place for her once she gets there. Of course the emigration is not easy, but with the energy she gets from her newfound freedom she achieves remarkable things.
When I visit Pamela’s house in Poros-town to talk about Greekscapes, she and her new love open the door. A picture of the painting mentor that brought Pamela to Greece stands in the living room. After reading in Greekscapes about her development as an artist, it’s so nice to see her studio and some of her beautiful paintings. There are not many, Pamela has sold most of her work. We sit down next to her easel and paint.
Greekscapes shows your development as a painter until now. What artistic goals do you have for the future?
I want to continue painting for the next 20 years. My focus will mostly be on watercolors, I love them. You can quickly paint something you want to spontaneously capture and the light is amazing. I am also looking for a medium between watercolor and oil.
What does painting mean to you?
Everything. I get frazzled when I don’t paint for a long time, it’s like breathing to me. It’s also a meditation, I completely zone out when I paint. I even feel I ‘survived’ my marriage because of painting.
What of all the Greek islands makes Poros so special for you?
I have visited 30 Greek islands, but for me Poros is the best. The island has just about the right size; it feels like I can just hold it in my hand. I like that the adjacent Peloponnese mountains look like a frame around Poros. Every few meters there is another great view, the beauty of the island still surprises me everyday. The light on Poros is very important to me, somehow it’s different. There are supposedly crystals under the island that reflect the Greek sun.
What are you favorite places on Poros to paint?
– Up on the top of Poros where the old windmill still stands – stunning views
– The road leading from Zoodoochos Pighi Monastery to the sea
– Anywhere along Neorion Road where there are caiques
– At the end of the quay, looking back towards the Kimomene mountain (Sleeping Lady)
– Along the waterfront in Galatas, looking back at Poros
After 25 years in Greece, do you feel like a Greek, or still very much American?
I am eternally grateful that my education in the U.S. prepared me to accept and embrace various cultures, and that my love of art led me to this one! When I visit my beloved family and friends, I enjoy getting into the swing of American ways again, but I do miss my Greek island lifestyle terribly while I’m away. I travel in Europe too, but no other country makes my heart sing with such joy as this one. Does that mean I feel more Greek? Perhaps I do.
What was your motivation for writing Greekscapes?
One of the reasons was the state Greece was in as a result of the crisis, I wanted to share my love for the country. Next to that I tell women that you can lead a happy life on your own and without children. I am now married again, but I have known many happy years as a single woman.
What effect did it have on you to write down your whole life story?
In the end, writing Greekscapes gave me more compassion for myself and a better understanding of the choices that I have made in my life.
Greekscapes: Journey with an artist by Pamela Jane Rogers is for sale at Amazon. There is also an illustrated version, Greekscapes Illustrated. The paperback illustrated memoir contains 40 paintings ($48), the Kindle 100 paintings ($7,12). The paperback memoir non-illustrated costs $15, the Kindle $4,91.