Barbara de Machula was still studying to be a first degree art teacher in Amsterdam, when by accident she was introduced to the area of Lefkada. Romantic and sensitive by nature, she instantly felt at home, as she says. Today she has smartly combined her two loves, her love for this amazing corner of Greece and for the art of painting, in one happy occasion, organizing painting holiday courses in summer.
"I was mesmerized when I found out that in June in the night the stars have wings and flashing fireflies light up when the stars above fall down, the sweet scent of flowers are part of wild sunsets and flowers get wings when you see incredible butterflies and colored moths, local people welcome you like a long lost relative and share their family life, sweets and home cooking", she recalls.
"This incredibly inspiring place has always been the place where I wanted to be, paint, photograph, show everybody the beauty of this forgotten paradise. Nothing compares, feeling an alien in many other great places in the world, feeling at home here. One day I took out my watercolors and immediately the local kids gathered around and joined me in painting their village church. What a happy place!"
Today Barbara lives in Paleros, a small seaside village around a bay, just at the entrance of Lefkada. "Paleros has it all, it is the centre of the whole incredible area: in front the blue sea with Lefkada as a backdrop, in the back the great mountain with its wells and archaeological magic places, little villages where clarino music echoes from the hills, the sweet little harbour with fresh fish our friends catch every day, tavernas and lounge clubs, sandy beaches and the home of many friends. When other villages are quiet, waiting for the summer tourism to revisit, Paleros is still lively and visited by the surrounding locals. On a winter Sunday afternoon we all enjoy the local wine and talk about life. Only Paleros as a village has this life in winter time."
Do you live there all year round?
I live all the year in Paleros, enjoy the quieter winters when we are amongst each other, the great storms that make the sea change colors, and welcome the tourists in spring, often returning friends. In summer, we work with the tourists with whom we share this wonderful area with endless recreational possibilities.
After the painting in the morning, we can go swimming, sailing, walking in the backland olive groves, lazy in a hammock reading a book or fall asleep after an ouzo or two. We can visit mystic archeological places where the ghosts of history still wander, we can taste clear water from the medicinal well of Korpi, we can watch birds and badgers, eat wild fruits and take a moped to go on adventurous roads to nowhere.
Are there different painting courses for beginners and experts in painting?
The courses are for everyone, the nature inspires everyone to make new discoveries, Beginners as well as advanced will enjoy this beautiful area and share ideas and make new friends, and discover new techniques without any pressure. Every student will be challenged to find a way to capture the magic of the place in paint.
Do the courses take place indoors or outdoors?
We paint outdoors as much as possible, but we have secret hiding places when there is a rainy day, or when the sun gets too hot to stay outside. One of our secrets is the eucalyptus forest by the Vonitsa castle, where the leaves filter the sunlight to a cool blue-ish light with ancient ruins around. Another place is our own chalet on the mountain, with a cool mountain breeze and shelter from the olive trees. Sometimes we sit in the local taverna and paint daily life as it passes by.
What are the subjects of painting: nature, people, objects?
The nature is the first thing that inspires, but also the local people, fishing boats, archeological ruins and narrow streets with flowers and stray cats. Everywhere you look, you see lovely pictures, mostly the problem is which one to choose.