Portrait of a happy man
Getting the right care to remain living in his art-filled beachside apartment has added big brushstrokes of beauty and colour to each day for 88-year-old Nick.
Although more than half a century has passed, Bondi resident Nick still remembers as clear as yesterday when his deep love of painting began in his homeland of Greece.
“I started painting when I was 14-years-old,” he recalls with a smile. “The high school teacher decided I was quite good at it and gave me a pass to go and study with the bigger boys at the university in Athens.”
What followed school was a fascinating job, working on amazing backdrops to help create the atmosphere in films starring Greece’s famous movie stars of the day.
But when Nick immigrated to Australia, he had to put his palette aside to do whatever jobs he could find to pay the bills. In fact, he held an incredible 37 different jobs in his eventful career.
“I’ve been a barman and I also once taught myself to do French polishing,” he chuckles. “I was even a carpenter at one point. I’ve got a list of all the roles I’ve held somewhere, as I can’t remember everything I’ve done over the years – but the only time I got to use art was in Melbourne when I worked for the theatre.”
While Nick’s painting had to take a back seat until he retired, he is now well and truly back in the game.
He loves creating art and you can tell when you visit – his apartment walls are just filled with bright canvases – there’s ducks, dancers and lots of people.
“I love to paint people, I particularly love to paint pretty ladies,” he laughs. “I call myself an expressionist rather than an impressionist as I like to portray people’s faces.”
But in the past few years, Nick noticed he wasn’t getting to do art as much as he wished. As we know, when the body ages, everything slows down a bit, and tasks were taking him much longer than they used to. This extremely capable man was struggling to keep up with everyday chores the way he once took for granted – things like cleaning the house, getting his groceries and remembering to take his medication.
It was such a relief when Nick’s family arranged for a friendly KinCare Home Care Worker to visit each week, to help ease the burden on Nick and his beloved wife Clarissa. It’s a huge comfort to Nick to go to bed each night knowing that tomorrow he is free to use his time exactly how he wants.
When we ask Nick to pick a favourite painting, he chooses a sweet one of Clarissa and their great-granddaughter, but he also points out a painting of a clown.
“His family was an Italian troop in Europe,” Nick explains. “He had a special trick where his umbrella spilt water – I still don’t know how he did it. I call it The Apprentice because he’s only a young bloke there.”
Many of Nick’s pictures feature his family, including his three brothers.
“I’m one of four,” he told us. “Three of us came here to Australia and my other brother Theodore who stayed in Athens became a scientist and mathematician. I’m the last one left now so it’s good to have pictures of them.”
Not surprisingly, Nick’s talent has won prizes for his painting, so we were sure to ask him for a secret tip, that you can use if you decide to start painting.
“Draw landscapes,” he offers. “They are much easier than faces to paint. Landscapes are all straight lines.”
We wish you many happy years ahead making your art, Nick!