Tuesday, January 27, 2009

wild parrots and potatoes

Yesterday I went to draw my favourite mosque in Istanbul, the Ortaköy Camii. It's a small elegant building on the Ortaköy pier, right on the Bosporus. I've loved it since I was a child, it has always seemed so intimate in comparison to some of the other older mosques, that feel so grand.

My goal for the day was to knock out a few drawings of the camii, Turkish for mosque, so I hopped on the bus and made my way down the Bosporus toward Ortaköy. It was another gorgeous spring-like day until we turned around one of the many bends in the road. The sky over Ortaköy was dark grey and suddenly, the bus was hit with rain. I had resigned myself to the idea of sketching in a café, but once I hopped off the bus, the rain stopped!

It seems so far that Turks are not big coffee-to-go people, they like to sit and enjoy their coffees rather than run about with them in their hands. While I do prefer to sit in a nice cosy café, there's nothing like having a hot latte next to you while you are sketching outdoors. So I ran into the one place that would guarantee I'd get a soy latte to-go, Starbucks. I ordered my drink in Turkish, feeling quite proud of myself, when suddenly the guys behind the counters started grinning and saying all these things I couldn't understand. I kept hearing something about a bean, fasulye, and then one of the guys would laugh. Through many hand gestures, I realised that they found it funny that I would drink "milk" from a bean with my coffee.

Dodging the cars, I ran across the street to the camii, wiped off a bench and sat down to draw. Midway into the sketch, the wind picked up and my fingers started to freeze, which made for a wonky drawing. I decided I'd rather grab a baked potato from the potato vendors nearby than try to stiffly sketch out another drawing. The potatoes are fantastic— a large baked potato is opened up, the insides whipped with a little salt, butter and cheese, then you get to pile in all sorts of toppings. It's perfect for a cold day, and the next time I go to Ortaköy, I won't forget to bring my camera and I'll take a picture.

I'm pretty happy with the looseness of the sketch, as I've been trying to get a little looser with my drawing. The camii has so many beautiful details that is was difficult for me not to break out a pen and try to draw every flute on the columns.

Walking home along the Bosporus with my potato, I saw the Savarona— the yacht of Turkey's founding father, Atatürk. The boat is truly stunning, a picture of 1930's glamour. She's been fully restored, with Atatürk's private quarters preserved as a museum. Apparently she can be chartered for cruises— but with celebrities and dignitaries listed as past passengers, I imagine getting on the boat would be quite difficult for those of us with tiny pockets.

Once I reached the town of Bebek, I saw a flash of brilliant green out of the corner of my eye accompanied by a familiar sound of laughter. I had just discovered that Istanbul has it's own flock of wild parrots— conures to be exact— just like the famous parrots of SF's Telegraph Hill. A few of the little birds were happily conversing up in a nearby tree, to my delight. Hopefully one day I can catch them on film.

* * *

Today I finished my entries in Yoda Navarrete's book for Moly-X 48 Exquisite Corpse, part of the International Moleskine Exchange. This exchange is a little different in that once the book is completed, the pages will be cut into thirds so that the sections can be turned independently— this way you can see the top of one artist's entry on the middle of another artist's entry on the bottom of another's. The Exquisite Corpse idea was first formed by the Surrealists in the twenties to create a fun collaborative work of art. I've included in my entries a portrait of Yoda herself, photographer extraordinaire Ola Bell, and a self portrait.


Carlos Alberto Arismendi said...

When i see your sketchers, i think in many words to describe it.
but im going to describe it, with only two words.

szaza said...

Thank you Carlos!