A Little Drawing at the Han

Yes, I am enamored with this place.  Ever since my first trip to Buyuk Valide Han nearly 4 years ago, I am always eager for another visit.  Whether its a day of yoga and picnicking on the hot rooftop in the summer, or sitting bundled up in the corridors drawing doorways and arches while a kind worker offers a warm salep in the dead of winter…hours pass by at the Han as if I were in a time warp.

Last Saturday, we visited the Han to do a bit of research and a quick interview for an upcoming article I am collaborating on with Emilie.  After our conversation with the Kapıcı, or doorman, we climbed up to the roof to take a look at a view that has become so familiar, yet endlessly breathtaking.  On that day, a warm Lodos wind was blowing in from the south, making it difficult to even remain standing as the wind whipped our hair around.

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Me and Ozgur on the rooftop, photo taken by Emilie.

 

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When the wind was no longer tolerable, we settled ourselves on some cement steps in the corridors below for a quick drawing.  I have recently been carrying around a small sketchbook with me, in order to do more daily drawing, even when I only have a minute.  The pocket sized notebook makes it easy to complete a fairly detailed sketch in a short time.  I was happy to see that regardless of its size, the little drawing still had presence.

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Ozgur and I left early as Emilie finished her graphite drawing, which turned out incredibly lovely.

 

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Emilie‘s sketch

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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.

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Pekmez Yaparkan

Fall in Cappadocia is a time for harvesting.  All along the village streets, women sit in front of their homes to remove seeds from piles of fresh pumpkins or pick white beans from their stocks.  Crates of grapes are carried home in the back of every tractor and the air is filled with a smell of burning wood as the grapes are boiled down into pekmez..

Pekmez is a kind of molasses made from grape juice, and since Cappadocia grows some of the best grapes in Turkey, you can find this thick syrup prepared in nearly every household in the area.

The process is fairly simple, but long and a bit exhausting.  I was invited into several homes to help with making pekmez during my stay at BCH this September.  The grapes are first gathered into large tarp bags and then stomped continuously until juice runs out from the bags and through a tube and into a plastic basin.  My job was to carry the basin full of juice to a large copper pot where it would eventually be boiled.  We occasionally dipped a cup into the juice as it was pouring out to enjoy a fresh glass while we worked.  When the copper basin was at last filled, it was placed on a fire and cooked until it was frothy and boiling.

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The pekmez is cooked for hours and nothing else is added to it besides a few large ladles of a special volcanic dirt…I was told that this addition is what makes the pekmez so sweet, and without it the taste would be sour.

Families work late into the night, and wake early in the morning to continue until all the grapes are stomped and boiled..resulting in an abundance of sweet golden colored liquid to be sold and consumed with nearly every meal for the coming winter months.  the entire process takes days, but I found it to be such an enjoyable event with lots of time to visit with family, friends and new guests.

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A page from my sketchbook, “Making Pekmez” September, 2014

I managed to make a pekmez drawing in the midst of the one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever been apart of…sitting under a tarp in the rain, while pots of pekmez boiled in front of us, sketching continuously even though the smoke from the fire burned our eyes, eating fresh potatoes cooked directly on the coals, and dipping bread into a bowl of pekmez cooked just hours before..an indescribable moment that can only be attempted to capture through drawing.

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Drawing India

All works were done on my travels through India, Summer of 2013.

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“Monsoon Colors 1” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Fountinhas” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim Market” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Market Portrait” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Rickshaw” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Cafe Sketch” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Market Sketch 2” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Monsoon Colors 2” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“St. Sebastian” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim 1” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim 2” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Field Worker” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim 3” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Young girl” Pen on Paper, 2013

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“Hampi” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Agra” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim 4” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Panjim 5” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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Sketchbook Page, 2013

Gece Çizimler/Night Drawings

Ibrahimpaşa is stunning at night; when everyone retires into their homes, the streets are quiet, and dim lamps reflect yellow and orange hues against stone houses tumbling down the hill.

The last time I did a night drawing was in Istanbul 2 years ago, with fellow sketcher Nicole.  We sat awkwardly at a tippy table in Fener, using çay as medium while street cats walked across our drawing paper and the light rapidly faded.  I remember how uncomfortable the situation was, but also how all of these challenges brought about unexpected energy to our drawings.  For me, another layer of difficulty brings another layer of exhilaration, and I find that my work often benefits from a bit of chaos.

One way to add a great deal of chaos to the drawing process, is to work at night.  Finding a good light source, sitting in the cold, trying to capture the infinite lights and darks that appear within shadows, being able to see the colors you are using….all difficulties in the night sketching process.

In the early Kapadokyan summer, I sat under a dim street lamp with frozen fingers. Drawing shapes that had become so familiar to me during the day, and so mysterious at night.

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“Gece Çizim/Night Drawing 1” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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“Gece Çizim/Night Drawing 2” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

 

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“Gece Çizim/Night Drawing 3” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013