In response to the call for submissions for the recent PLAY ALONG Illustration Party put on by They Draw & Travel and They Draw & Cook (now combined into the website https://they-draw.com) called “It’s All Greek To Me,” I decided to depict my son Luke and his wife Audra enjoying what makes Santorini magical (living through them and hoping I can get there someday – I have always swooned over photos of their white buildings, blue roofs, and azure waters).
Their trip occurred in September 2019, long before COVID-19 would become all-impacting. They have been to many exotic places but say that Santorini is one of their favorites.
The idea of the challenge was to think of a place in Greece that you know and love and would consider illustrating:
Create an illustration that celebrates Greece – its scenery and “cuisinery!”
➜ a map … for others to virtually visit!
➜ the setting … a drawing of an exact spot!
➜ the vibe … a tumble of sites to see!
➜ the view … a landscape illustration!
I collected some photos from their trip as well as some generic reference photos of Santorini – iconic architecture, tile-work, food, sunsets, etc. I worked digitally using the Procreate app, my iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. I had a rough idea of featuring the view from their hotel patio with its small private pool and a table of food and champagne (romance, you know).
The size of the final illustration (6.25” x 16.666”) was dictated by the format required by They Draw and Travel, as they occasionally publish books of chosen illustrations – where the illustration sits across a 2-page spread with the seam of the book falling down the middle of the illustration. It is necessary to avoid placing text and important elements within 1.25″ of the gutter.
I like to create a collage-like mock-up of possible elements to draw from my gathered reference photos – it helps me figure out what will fit in the space. The layout evolves as I work.
I started with the cute church and saved the hardest elements for last (Audra’s hand and Luke in the pool). The cool things I love about drawing/painting in Procreate is working in multiple layers, using a variety of available digital “brushes” (textures, watercolor/pastel/pencil etc.), color blending and most importantly using the “undo” function. Plus, it is super convenient to work anywhere and there is no mess!
The elements I have combined in this illustration are meant to create a “feeling” and are not totally true to real life (artistic license). One main issue to resolve was placing the church directly next to the hotel balcony. It was difficult to have it “make sense.” I ultimately added the picket fence entry door on the side with a hint of a walkway behind it leading to other parts of the quaint village of Imerovigli below.
Upon completion of the illustration my son asked if I could change the tiny ship in the Mediterranean Sea below to a cruise ship as that is what Santorini is known for – but I told him I was going for more of an “I have this island paradise to myself” kind of vibe for the young couple. The lighting on the balcony does not reflect the warm sunset colors (a hint of warmth is shown on the church) – another suspension of belief for the benefit of an interesting composition desiring to create a mood instead of total realism. The land mass jutting out from behind the church should show lots of tiny twinkling lights indicating many homes, hotels and restaurants – but, again, I was going for mystery and romanticism.
“Romance in Santorini” immediately brings us back to the island. The warmth of the sun and the captivating island breezes. The brilliant blue hues of the water and sky and the dramatic views of the cliff-side villages. Incredible food, wine, and the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen. Truly a one-of-a-kind place and we can’t wait to go back. Having this artwork will be a nice substitute in the meantime!”
Contact Karen if you are interested in a custom illustration in remembrance of a special trip or place.
Karen Burton is an illustrator, designer, and photographer – inspired by her view of the Blue Ridge mountains from her home and studio in Virginia. She creates colorful, uplifting illustrations and surface pattern designs suitable for home decor, textiles, stationery, tabletop, publishing, and other products. Available for commissions, licensing and other custom projects. She has lots of future plans and dreams: illustrating a cookbook, creating illustrations for food magazines or culinary packaging, having a gallery show featuring her large-scale floral portraits, and seeing more of her art on all types of surfaces.
More of Karen Burton’s art and illustrations: