Brown Paper Drawings

In order to get more drawing in, I have been carrying a 5×7 inch brown paper sketchbook with me everywhere.  Sometimes life in the city goes so fast and when I look up from my daily activities, I realize it has been days or perhaps weeks since I have drawn.  Although I am painting, stretching canvases or working on some project nearly everyday in my studio, drawing from life introduces a different element to my artistic practice.  While studio work is meditative, something about the call and response of sketching on location makes me feel connected and engaged in an incomparable way.

As you can see from my recent drawings, I can’t seem to get away from this brown paper.  The push and pull of black and white on top of a mid tone seems to work so well with the layers of Istanbul, and I hardly seem to be starting from an intimidatingly white page these days.

If a mere 15 minutes opens in my day, it is enough to keep up with consistent drawing.  I have found through this practice that working within the limitations of my time and materials, can often provide the most creative results.

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Sketching the Asian Side from Besiktas

 

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A sketch and a poem in Karakoy

 

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Topkapi Palace on a sunny day

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An elaborate column from Hagia Sophia

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Sketching home objects in Trabzon

 

Visitors

Last week I had some visitors come from my hometown in Wyoming.  The night before they arrived I was so excited I could barely sleep.  Its not very often that I get guests from Wyoming, as Istanbul is so far away and not yet on the traveling radar for many people.  However, Casper College organizes a yearly trip lead by my dear friend and former professor, and this year the peak interest with everyone was Turkey.

Ever since I moved away from Wyoming, and especially since I have been in Turkey, I have felt overwhelming support from the Casper community.  Though I am far away, I am constantly offered shows and opportunities where I grew up, and it keeps me coming back several times a year.  I am always happy to visit my home town, but last week I got to share my new home with a group of very special people…and I think we will all remember it for years to come.

After 6 days of exploring exquisite mosques, byzantine wonders, busy bazaars, taking a trip to Asia for dinner, having an amazing yoga class lead by Ozgur, dancing to gypsy music in Beyoğlu, and taking a peek into the Istanbul art scene…we were ready to collapse by the weekend, though still full of joy and excitement.  The greatest pleasure for me was especially seeing how this city, which has been so immensely transformative for me, has an impact on each traveler in a different way.

A big thank you to Casper College and Valerie Maiers for allowing me to lead your group through Istanbul, introduce you to my favorite place and favorite people, and for the opportunity to teach my first Istanbul plain air workshops.  Thank you to everyone who joined the trip, for your patience and kindness, and your willingness to trust me.  Thank you to little 1 year old Ari for being so sweet and attracting the love and attention of everyone, including strangers on the street.  I hope to see you all this summer!

Love,

Gabby

A few of us on my favorite rooftop

A few of us on my favorite rooftop

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Istanbul Yogis after Ozgur’s class

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Valerie and I in the Harem at Topkapi Palace

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Watercolor workshop outside of Chora Church

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A beautiful morning in Topkapi Palace

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A watercolor study by Holly Turner

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Our last dinner together

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Buyuk Valide Han Revisited

I believe I wrote a long post in the past about drawing at Buyuk Valide Han, so I will skip the details on the history of this place, but I couldn’t help sharing some photos from my last visit here.  It is a great place to explore if you like peaking into what was once a Byzantine chapel and finding a workshop filled with nargiles and oil lamps.

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“Suleymaniye Camii” Mixed Media on Paper

During my last stay in Istanbul, I climbed onto the roof of the Han and did a 4 hour drawing in the sun.  I love this spot because the view can be drawn a million times and never gets old.  It’s wonderful to watch the ferries in Golden Horn, while listening to the grinding from the workshops below, and talking to the ocasional tourist who comes up to enjoy the view.  When my drawing was done, I wandered my usual way back through the Spice Bazaar and across the bridge to Karaköy and then to Beyoğlu.  I had a wicked sunburn, but a good drawing, and an appetite for a summer of art making…
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Rüya

Istanbul, September 2011: I visited an antique book market several times during those sweltering Fall days.  It was a temporary market, set up beneath white tents in a parking lot next to the Pera Müzesi.  A great place to rummage through lose papers, beautiful old Quarans and books illustrating the art of carpet weaving.  I would dig for an hour or so before relaxing  in a plastic chair to have a hot çay, and gaze out over the sprawling city.

I had collected several sheets of lose paper with arabic writing, and a few worn out journals bound together with cardboard covers before finding a magazine dated from the 1920’s.  The cover illustration reminded me of a dream, and I felt compelled by the simple quality of its line and color.  I purchased the piece, having been so transfixed by this image, and after many months of handing he magazine, flipping through its pages and admiring the delicate writing and eloquently drawn cartoons, it struck me to recreate a version of the cover image for my Hüzün Exhibition.

This dream-like image seemed to fit perfectly into my concept, as it reminded me of that surreal Istanbul feeling I was trying so desperately to capture.  The tittle came to me before I began, Rüya….Dream.  Below is the original drawing by the unknown artist, and the evolution of my version.

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"Ruya" Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

“Ruya” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

 

Portraits

A few portraits from my exhibition, that to me capture the very essence of my concept, the complexity of Hüzün.

A street vendor, selling roasted chestnuts on the streets of Beyoğlu, shielding his cart from the pelting rain, and a the Han worker, pausing in the doorway of his workshop, with soot blackened hands and clothing……..

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“Beyoğlu” Oil on Panel, 45″x30″

"The Han Worker" Oil on Panel, 32"x24"

“The Han Worker” Oil on Panel, 32″x24″