We were told that Ayder is a must see destination on the Black Sea, and though this small village is entirely touristic, we were overwhelmed with the beauty of this place. Surrounded by terrifically green scenery, and an eery fog descending upon the towering mountaintops, I imagined Ayder as the Switzerland of the Middle East….although I have never been to Switzerland.
We stayed almost the entire day, laying in the grass, eating sweets, sipping çay, and basking in our surroundings. The air was chilly and smelled of camp fire, grass and roasted corn…I’ll never forget those smells.
After watching some sort of dance circle, buying a few gifts (including a scarf with a pattern I have only seen on the Black Sea) we rolled out little car down the mountain, out of the fog, in search of our next camp sight…
I recently spent a week in the thick woods of New Hampshire with a group of about 30 people, some of them were close friends, some were acquaintances, but most were strangers. After spending 7 days in the wilderness, swimming, cooking, dancing, taking boat rides and swinging on hammocks, I was reconfirmed by something that I should never forget; the world is full of beautiful people who are accepting, kind hearted, funny, creative, intelligent and unique. Although I didn’t get in my usual amount of drawing, I had a few irreplaceable life experiences, oh and I also fostered a growing love for photography. Congratulations to my friends Rachel and Alastair on their beautiful wedding, and thank you for bringing us all together…if only for a little while.
Ok, so we weren’t totally secluded but just a 5 minute walk away from Lake Winnipesaukee, and a beach packed with families on summer vacation. When I wasn’t swimming, playing volleyball or canoeing, I did a little bit of life drawing while drying off in the sun.And what an end to the week…
I have recently befriended one of Istanbul’s greatest artists. Her name is Trici Venola, a digital artist from Las Angeles who has been living in Turkey for the past 7 years, reconnecting with plien air drawing. You can see her digital and traditional work here. Before I made my move to Istanbul, I found her website through my professor Doug Russell. As it turns out, she illustrated a book I was reading at the time about living in Turkey. I contacted Trici a number of times before leaving and after arriving in Istanbul, but our schedule’s were so busy this summer that it was too hard for us to meet up. Although, I am quite surprised that we never ran into each other as we were both drawing outside all summer. Trici and I finally met about three weeks ago when she called and invited me to her house for coffee. I gathered my travel drawings and headed over to her lovely home for a warm afternoon of chatting on the terrace. We drank iced coffee and ate melted chocolate with dried apricots while we looked at my drawings and discussed life in Turkey. I felt an instant friendship with Trici, as though I could share with her all of the ups and downs of my experience living in Istanbul. Ever since our first meeting, I have been helping Trici build a wordpress blog. In exchange for my time on the computer with her, she has been spending time with me out drawing at the Boukoleon Palace. This experience has been quite fascinating. As an artist who sketches outdoors, I am always influenced by my surroundings. When I am drawing in solitude, my work has a completely different feeling that when I am drawing in company. All summer long, Nicole and I would lug our drawing bags around the city and sit down for very quick, gestural and energetic work. Drawing with Trici is equally as wonderful, but a very different experience. Her work is incredibly detailed, and takes a great deal of concentration. Trici seems to go into a deep meditative state when she works and I felt directly influenced by her method. Though I am always compelled to banter on when I am drawing with a friend, Trici has made it clear that her work involves silence and extreme concentration. So, for two drawing sessions, I have sat with Trici, working on an ink wash drawing that is becoming very detailed. Trici looks at my work from time to time and offers great feed back and answers the questions that I have about responsive drawing. After our last drawing session, we walked from the Boukoleon to a tea house overlooking the Marmara. We sipped on our Turkish coffee while Trici talked about her life as an artist in Las Angeles and Istanbul. When the coffee was done we flipped our cups and gazed at our fortunes. Turkish coffee comes with a tick layer of grounds at the bottom of the cup. When you flip your cup over and let the grounds dry, they make swirling designs. I have no knowledge of coffee fortune telling, but I love looking into my cup and making out shapes. Its the same as if I were looking up at a sky and recognizing figures in the clouds. I had the most beautiful design in my cup…Trici said that it looked like my heart was full.
After fortune reading, we walked from the seaside through Sultanahmet where Trici took me to a ruin I had never seen before, the Corridor of Lords. This Byzantine structure lies underneath a carpet shop, and seems to be off the beaten path for tourists. I would love to draw down there, but Trici told me it is full of spirits…so I’ll save that one for a time when I have a drawing partner. We slowly made our way back to Arsah Carpets, having several glasses of tea along the way as we stopped in to see Trici’s friends who work in Sultanahmet. By the time we reached the carpet shop we were famished and Huseyin took us to dinner in Kumkapi, which was as busy as ever and full of gypsy music, tight cloths and delicious mezes. Trici pulled out her sketchbook and began to draw the musicians and people sitting at tables and walking down the street. It was lovely to watch her work. She is so confident in her mark making, hardly hesitating or making any timid movements. Trici drew her portraits quickly because unlike the Boukoleon, people are bound to move eventually. I worked in my sketchbook as well, and I realized the improvement I have made in the past few months. I aspire to be at a level like Trici’s someday, and I know what I have to do to get there. Ah, Istanbul is full of such inspiring people!