An Unexpected Adventure

2 weekends ago, I hopped on a plane with a few friends and flew a mere 45 minutes to Izmir, Turkey.  From there it was only a shuttle ride away from the town of Selçuk.  Selçuk was the first town that I visited in Turkey, way back in 2008 when I was traveling with a group of college students, all of us learning to draw on location while experiencing a foreign culture.  This time however, I was here for a very different reason…deve güreşleri..or camel wresting.

IMG_0169

IMG_0086

Its something I have always hear about…Turkey has 2 kinds of famous wresting..camel wrestling and oil wrestling, and after a 6 year affair with this country, I’ve finally seen one of them.

I am usually not one to pass up cultural experiences, or weekend trips to a nostalgic town.  So very spontaneously, I found myself on the sunny Aegean Coast, just miles from the ancient city of Ephesus, but instead of strolling through ruins I was in the midst of hundreds of picnicking locals and elaborately dressed camels.  The air was thick with smoke from BBQs as onlookers grilled vegetables and meat, passed around mezes, poured rakı and danced to gypsy bands weaving their way among the crowd.

As the day continued, the action in the ring fell into the background as we wandered the area.  We sat for a time and watched a group of men performing a traditional Turkish folk dance, talked with locals who visit the event every year and bought our own camel wrestling scarves…a checkered and fringed type of shawl which usually features an embroidered camel in the center.  We visited the adorned camels, and learned they had names like “Black Uncle,” “Half World” and “Lightening.”

IMG_0099 IMG_0112 IMG_0159 IMG_0160 IMG_0166 IMG_0167

After some time, we found a comfortable place on the grass, and sat down to sketch one of the waiting camels.  I usually don’t draw animals, because I never seem to have the chance.  But these stoic creatures were standing so still that it was the perfect chance to try it out.  We eventually gathered a crowd of curious festival fans and photographers and pretty soon were tourist attractions ourselves.

At the end of the day, we loaded onto our shuttle smelling like camp fire smoke and grass. Each one of us exhausted and sunburned, our ears ringing from the constant thump of drums and the blaring clarinet…tired and happy.

IMG_0170

IMG_0171

Me and Emilie‘s sketchbooks

 

IMG_0260

My sketch of “Demiroz”

IMG_0172

 

 

Advertisements

Prints!

I spent several months this fall in the print shop at Mimar Sinan, Istanbul’s fine arts university.  I first stepped into the school not having made a single etching, block print or aquatint for years, so I had to roll up my sleeves and start from scratch on this one.  Working in the Gravür Atölyesi, or print studio, reminded me of my print making class in college…except for this time I had to pay extra attention because all of the instructions were in Turkish.

The reason why I found myself with ink covered hands and working among Turkish fine arts students was to make work for an upcoming print exhibition.  Since I am a painter primarily I needed to spend a few months coming up with new work for this show.  After many weeks of drawing, etching, inking, pressing and learning many new Turkish words…I had made a series of 3 prints, all reflecting my current theme of interior and exterior spaces.

On the night of the opening, we crossed the Bosphorus to Kuzguncuk, on the Asian side of Istanbul to see my work hanging along with 24 other print artists.  The best part of this process for me is of course sharing my work, celebrating with friends and loved ones…and seeing that little red dot on the wall.

A very special thank you to Can Aytekin for the invitation to participate in this show, and for all of the help and patience.  Also to my friends and family, and to Ozgur for all of your love and support this fall.

IMG_0175

“Untitled” Etching and Aquatint on Paper, 2014

IMG_0176

“Pekmaz Yaparken” Dry Point Print on Paper, 2014

IMG_0177

“Interior/Exterior” Etching and Aquatint on Paper. Credit for the original photograph of this piece goes to Heather Freedman.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 2.51.51 PMIMG_0105 IMG_0090 P1030418 P1030408 P1030406 P1030404 P1030402 P1030401 P1030398

Winter Days in Istanbul

Upon my return to Istanbul, I was greeted by a blast of cold moving in from Siberia and settling a layer of fresh snow in the city.  I was half expecting to find solace from the cold as I had just departed from the -33 degree Wyoming winter, and the mild Istanbul weather seemed like a promising relief.  I was not met with the warm sun but I was however met with love, friends, hot çay and a few adventurous days of sketching in the snow.

Emilie, a fellow sketcher, jewelry maker, coffee drinker and just great friend has been joining me since summer on drawing dates around the city.  You can read about her experiences and see her work on her blog.  Since Istanbul nearly shuts down at the sight of snow, Emilie was off work for 3 days, and we jumped at the chance to explore some new sketching spots.

Durring the entire week we drew huddled up in the Haydarpaşa Train Station with kitties keeping us warm on our laps, sat on the cold marble in Hagia Sophia, and sketched in warm hipster coffee shops with our friend Melody who is also joining us these days.  We had chance encounters, ate in newly found restaurants, planned new projects and filled up our sketchbooks.  It was as if we had extended our holidays, and stepped into a space where we could settle back into the city to rediscover all over again, what made us fall in love with it in the first place.

P1030394

Photo Credit: Emilie Varlet

 

P1030312

Photo Credit: Emilie Varlet

IMG_0020

My sketchbook in Haydarpasa Train Station

IMG_0076

My sketchbook in Gezi Park

IMG_0061

My drawing of Emilie in Karakoy

IMG_0057

Emilie’s drawing of me in Karakoy

IMG_0033

Drawing Melody and Emilie and and myself in the mirror.

IMG_0027

Emilie’s drawing of me

IMG_0030

Emilie’s drawing of Karabatak Cafe in Karakoy

IMG_0068IMG_0070IMG_0004IMG_0007 IMG_0023

New Year

I was lucky enough to fly back to the US this year for Christmas and New Years.  I have only missed 1 Christmas away from my family in Wyoming, and am realizing more each year how much of a priority it is for me to be home over the holidays.  As I seem to have a new family member every year, I don’t want to miss out on catching these days of seeing their constant growth, change and discovery.

My days at home are few and precious, and with seeing these amazing changes in my family, along with having visits with inspiring friends, I can’t help but make a list of resolutions for 2015.

The other night I had dinner with my dear friends, and fellow artists Eric and Maria Wimmer.  Maria, who is a prolific blogger, recently posted her list of new years resolutions, which you can read here.  It seems only fitting that since I talked with Maria and Eric late into the night about new projects, upcoming shows and promises for the new year, that I should do the same.

That being said, here is my list for 2015:

1) Keep in touch.  With the loss of internet in my studio last fall, I fell into a silence.  Yes, I was also doing my best of staying in the present moment, but I realize how important keeping in touch is for my friends and family living far away.  So I promise to keep up on emailing as well as blog posting.

2) Complete all my projects.  Especially collaborations with friends, and push them as far as they can go.  This includes a collaborative sketchbook project, a series of articles on Istanbul Hans, a published book of travel sketches and 3 solo shows!

3) Keep up with my Turkish.  Its easy to get lazy about this one.  Even though I am living in Turkey, I am often surrounded by English speaking friends and too often succumb to the comfort of my native tongue.  This year I will continue with my private lessons, try out duolingo.com, which just added Turkish, perhaps take a month long intensive course, and just speak more often.

4) Continue with my consistent art making process, push forward with more discipline and diligence, even in those times when it is difficult to make anything.

5) Don’t loose the dedication to my yoga practice, keep connecting to that inner child and have the natural confidence that comes with letting go of our expectations from the world…just like Captain America here.

IMG_3390

Snake Churches, an Underground City and Star Wars

With the end of 2014 around the corner, its time to play catch up.  When I began this blog in 2011, I was an avid poster…but travels, moves and wandering got the best of me and about a year ago I fell behind.  Now, with the inspiration of the new year, new studio and much work to be made, I’m determined to become more grounded and settle back into my routines..

With this in mind, here are a few shots from the end of my residency in Cappadocia last fall.  I have now been to the heart of Anatolia so many times that it is becoming as familiar as Istanbul, and with each visit I discover more of the region’s less touristy routes.  In May of this year, I traveled with a friend along a winding road which passed through small villages, carved rock monasteries and ended in an open air museum which was promised  to leave us feeling as though we had walked through a landscape from Star Wars.  We followed a small map marked in pen, and stopped at all the locations suggested by our residency host.  As our rental car traveled along, we felt a bit like players in a video game as we checked off from our list of tasks for the journey; 1) have breakfast in Mustafapaşa 2) stop at the Keslik Monestary and inform the gateman that we were sent from special friends in order to get the 5 lira entry 3) have tea with the gateman after our tour of the Monastery 4) Stop in the “criminal” village of Mazi and find the only man in the village with access into the underground city….and the list went on.

By the time we reached the open air museum at Soğanlı, the last stop on our map, we had found hidden churches, secret wells, archaic doorways, hid out in our car during a wind storm and plunged deep into underground tunnels alone with a with a drunk tour guide who kept running away into the shadows only to jump out again and scare us.  We were covered in dust, exhausted, hungry, but knew somehow that our friendship would be something special after sharing this experience together.

After my residency period ended this fall, I was joined by my boyfriend, and we decided to do the same tour with 2 other artists from my program.  We stopped in all of the same places as I directed us along with the map I had used in May.  When we arrived in Mazi and found the underground city, I was surprised to see a few other tourists, and our guide (fully sober) dressed in an all white suit for the Bayram.  A number of new rooms in the city had been opened, and though the tour still involved climbing up narrow tunnels with only wooden blocks feebly nailed to the passage walls as steps..the experience had inevitably changed since my visit in the spring, and made me realize how quickly Cappadocia is changing through tourism.

At our last stop in Soğanlı, we explored the cave churches, climbed slippery stone steps and picked fresh apples as we walked along the paths between each sight.  During the trip in May, my friend and I had to find solace in our car as a dust storm forced us to miss out on most of Soğanlı’s churches.  But as we watched the dust swirl outside of our windows, I was filled with the joy of a newly formed friendship.  In early October, the calm weather allowed me to climb every step and peer into each crevice, and although the experience lacked the fresh excitement of that windy day in spring, I was discovering what I had not seen months before.  I was also accompanied by someone for whom I was realizing more love for everyday.

With each new experience, I find new love and appreciation for this life and the people I share it with.

IMG_3955 IMG_3971 IMG_3977 IMG_3985 IMG_4011 IMG_4013 IMG_4031 IMG_4039 IMG_4050 IMG_4055 IMG_4058 IMG_4061 IMG_4079 IMG_4094

Village Collaboration

Sometimes collaboration comes in unexpected ways and methods.  Here are some images of door rubbings done in an antique dealer’s depo in Ibrahimpasa, Cappadocia…a project he was so happy and excited to help me with.

I’m not sure what direction to take these in, but the process of working with others, especially those who are not directly involved in the “art world,” makes me realize how much we have to learn from each other…

IMG_3686 IMG_3687 IMG_3693 IMG_3825 10628040_918867861475849_6956480481196903950_n

Drawing on Location

Below are a few shots showing my process of drawing on village streets in Cappadocia last month…

As I was making this post, I was trying to think of a way to describe why I love drawing on location so much.  In the end, I couldn’t put it into more perfect words than this quote from my friend, fellow artist, and former professor Doug Russell:

“It’s the visceral quality of it.  If you are drawing from a photograph or memory, you have all day…or week…or year.  That infinite time can be good or bad, though it can sometimes lead to procrastination or boredom or overworking.  If you are looking at something in real time, the light is changing, the weather is changing, you’re changing.  There are bugs and people, there’s wind or rain.  It makes every choice more powerful, individual, unique, exciting, frustrating, challenging and scary because it is either going to succeed or fail in that moment.  As opposed to other studio work that can take months, and move through several failures and successes, the drawing done on location is either going to work or not work.”

This quote was taken from my interview with Doug last summer.  To read more, click here for part one of our interview, and here for part two.

IMG_3523 IMG_3525 IMG_3544 IMG_3546 IMG_3698 IMG_3711 IMG_3756 IMG_3804 IMG_3826