“Karne” (Report Card

Btw Foça and Yeni Foça
Half-finished Prismacolor sketch of the sea, just north of Foça

Well, all the world’s school children are onto their summer holidays after getting their report cards for the year. In Turkey, the last day of school is the much-anticipated moment when your kids carry home their “karne” and parents celebrate the accomplishments of their offspring.

I have well passed the age when report cards were a thing of pride (mostly) or fear (math, usually). But last week, after all the world’s school children were already involved with swimming and soccer (or sowing and reaping, depending on your demographics), the thought crossed my mind that it might do to write myself my own report card, going back to my List of Ideas and checking to see how well the implemenation was going. Think of it as a mid-term “progress report” for 2017/2018, rather than an end-of-term final appraisal, because, as that great artist Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over ’til it’s over.” ( Or as I said yesterday, “I’m not dead yet.”)

Report Card – Deborah Semel Demirtaş – 2017/2018

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches. NO PROGRESS. (Studio is a mess, greenhouse effect is making it more than a little unbearably hot… but I did manage to clear enough space to sew me up some summer clothing to make the heat a little less oppresive. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the studio!”)

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim. AND 2a, the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten. PROGRESS. (Okay, this is, admittedly, theoretical progress – meaning I’ve decided that Yellow Dog’s adventures might be more interesting as an animated film than in book form. That’s as far as I’ve got.)

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore. NO PROGRESS. (I’ve got a whole lot of paper cut to size, but this has been just another thing that I haven’t gotten around to. For the reason why, see No. 4 below.)

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…) PROGRESS.  (If there’s a whole lot of “no progress” on anything else on my list, this must be the reason why.)

FFG LOGO web

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.) PROGRESS. (I did one. For proof, see the  photo of the “Camouflage Table” below; bet you have a hard time finding the table leg… designed to blend in with the flagstone…)

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6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.) PROGRESS. (But since I can’t find any pictures, you’ll just have to take my word for it. And by the way, there’s still a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…) PROGRESS. (Still not there yet, but undoubtedly there will be some food-related cultural heritage at the 1st Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Film Days…)

8. An illustrated travel book… NO PROGRESS. (But today I’m going to Kos, with a box of Prismacolors in my backpack and a painter-friend, who might be a good influence on me… or maybe not; we’ll probably just drink a lot of frappes and eat pig.)

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(By Yasemin the Art Teacher – who cannot be guaranteed to be a good influence.)

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”! NO PROGRESS. (But white looks good, too… )

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in. PROGRESS(One is finished and hung on the wall. One is progress, isn’t it?)

 

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

The Atlantic…

water oil pastel 15 Oct 2017If you remember, “more water drawings” was on my list of “10 ideas”, and I have stuck to my resolution of not having any more ideas until I use up the ones on my list.

These two oil pastels are the first I’ve done since getting back from Portugal last month. It was refreshing to be on the Atlantic instead of the Mediterranean (or Aegean) for a change, but I was the only one in the water without a wetsuit – which might explain while I was only in the water for about two minutes.

In fact,  now that I look at these drawings, I realize I had forgotten that I was not the only one in the water without a wetsuit: The man on the left with the green towel also went for a swim for a couple of minutes.

In fact, his towel was blue, but there was already too much blue in his drawing for me. And in the interest of full disclosure, he was facing the other direction when I photographed him. And he was further up the beach. And the guy next to him – wasn’t.

(A digital camera and Photoshop are my 21st-century equivalent to 19th-century sketching in oil pastels… But I still love the oil pastels.)

water oil pastel 13 Oct 2017

 

 

Big, Big Lake (Georgia Road Trip, Part 4)

Big, Big Lake (Georgia Road Trip, Part 4)

With ‘democracy’ in Turkey resumed and in full swing, we continued on our way to Georgia, ‘slowly-slowly’, as they say in Turkey. We meandered from the Menderes River waterfall to Lake Eğirdir, passing a wind farm in the middle of nowhere (reminding me that there is a moral component to aesthetics and explaining why objections to wind turbines on the Aegean coast because they are ‘ugly’ turn my stomach) and a police road block in the center of Isparta (reminding me we were in a ‘post-coup-attempt apocalypse’ that required rerouting everyone around a huge jandarma facility that had been blocked off by police cars and tanks) to get to the road that wound down to the lake. A bus driver we had met back by the waterfall (See Part 3) had tipped us off to the fact that we could find cheap pensions on the peninsula that juts out into the middle of the lake, so naturally, that’s where we headed.

Picture 15: Rooms in Eğırdiregr-2-sahil-pansiyon-3062

This little strip of land has a lot of character, what with stone houses once owned by Greeks (I believe, as it would explain a lot of things) in various states of abandonment, disrepair and renovation into boutique hotels. The almost imperceptible pause taken by the owner of the first place we enquired at led us to move on – because the pause is one that I have come to recognize as accounting for the time it takes to calculate whether or not to double or triple the price of a room based on the looks of the customer – to a little place on the other side of the peninsula a few blocks away (this is not a very large peninsula) where the owner also gave us a once-over when we enquired about a room – but in this case, the pause was more of an “I-doubt-that-these-two-are-worth-the bother-but-beggars-can’t-be-choosers” kind of a look – and since the price was right, the place was clean, and well, it was only going to be for one night, anyway (clearly, we were all making calculations based on the same criteria of skepticism-divided-by-need), this is where we ended up.

Picture 16: Watering the Garden in Eğırdiregr-4-watering-kabak-3059

It turns out that Ali, the owner of the ‘Sahil Pansiyon (Shore Pension)‘, is really a wonderful guy, once he warms up to you (as usual, it was Harun he warmed up to first, when he discovered that Harun also belonged to the Universal Brotherhood of Fishermen), and the Sahil Pansiyon is really a wonderful (albeit no-frills) place, its sign (advertising ‘all rooms with toilets and showers’) harkening back to an earlier era in Turkish Tourism. As Ali explained to us (while Harun helped him water his pumpkins, tomatoes and fruit trees from water pumped out of the lake), he (Ali) had given up his previous life of fishing on the lake and gotten into a bustling Eğirdir tourism industry by transforming his old family home into a pension.

Once upon a time, the lake came practically up to their front door. Nowadays, there’s a road between the buildings and the shore, and the tourists passing by the pension drive over the pebbles spelling out ‘Sahil’ that are embedded in concrete in front of the pension’s threshold. Nowadays, in fact, there are few tourists passing by, and even fewer stopping (Ali blames this on 1. ‘wrong policies’, 2. ‘bombs’ and 3. the ‘post-coup-attempt state-of-emergency’), but (and I can understand why) both he and his wife (who has diabetes and isn’t much on conversation, but sits in front of ‘reception’ in the Sahil’s ‘breakfast area’, where there’s no breakfast, because it’s not worth the bother) prefer the lake to their apartment in downtown Isparta.

Harun and I both loved the lake, too, and if it weren’t for the fact that we were trying to get to Georgia, we would probably have stayed on for a few days, but as it was, we settled on a fish dinner by the lakeshore and a room cool enough to fall asleep in, and then headed on.

“Next stop, Konya.”

Picture 16: Fish (details)egr-1-fish-rest-3066

 This is a close-up of our Fish Dinner in Eğirdir. Some points to note: 1. Fish on the left is sea bass, farm-raised and one of the two most common fish on the menu at every fish restaurant in Turkey; fish on the right is lake bass, from Eğirdir; 2. Cell phone on the table; NOT having a cell phone on the table is almost unheard of; 3. No raki on the table. NOT having raki on the table at a fish restaurant is almost unheard of. Or used to be. More and more (and more) as we headed into the Turkish hinterlands we saw signs advertising ‘alcohol-free fish restaurants’. In Eğirdir, which is in the province of Isparta, we found some fish restaurants on the shore that sold raki (and may I point out politely that no one is forced to drink it), whereas next-door in Beyşehir, which is on the other side of the provincial borderline bewteen Isparta and Konya, we found schoolchildren on public-school-sponsored summer-camp outings to the mosques on the shore (with boys loaded onto one bus and girls on the other)…

(Here I’ll share a tidbit of information from Wikipedia with you that I thought was interesting and explained to me why I always have a hard time spelling the name of this lake: “The town and the lake were formerly called Eğridir, a Turkish pronunciation of the town’s old Greek name Akrotiri. Unfortunately,Eğridir means “it is crooked” in Turkish. Therefore, to remove the negative connotations of the name, in the mid-1980s the “i” and the “r” were transposed in a new official name, thus creating Eğirdir, a name that evokes spinning and flowers, although many people in Turkey still call both the town and the lake by its former name.”)

Picture 17: Konya – Prayingkonya-mevlana-3082

Konya is the home of Mevlana – Rumi – the sufi mystic – and one of the most-touristed cities in Turkey, under normal conditions. But we were travelling under ‘extraordinary conditions’ – and there was not a tourist in sight. Instead, the complex in which Rumi is entombed was filled with residents of Konya (one of the most conservative cities in Turkey), taking advantage of the ‘free entrance to the museum’ that had been declared by the president (or was it the prime minister? I forget) as ‘a present from the government to the Turkish people’ for taking to the streets to ‘put down the attempted coup’. (Personally, I like the idea of free museums for the people – but it would have been nice if it didn’t require a ‘coup’ to happen…)

Picture 18: Konya – Whirlerskonya-mevlana-3088In case it’s not clear from the photo, the whirlers are mannequins. The Mevlana complex has a lot of ‘tableaux’ like this set up to lend authenticity to the place. We also got treated to a group of mehter musicians dressed up in Ottoman regalia (“for centuries, mehter music accompanied the marching Ottoman army into battle”) and performing right in the middle of a traffic circle on the way to the museum (I’m not sure if this has become standard procedure, or if this was another one of many ‘post-coup gifts to the people’…).

Picture 19: Konya – Where Rumi is Buriedkonya-mevlana-3080

(To get the next installment of Georgia Road Trip as well as “post-road-trip posts” delivered right to your Inbox, just Click on ‘Follow’. Hmmm, I wonder what it’s gonna be…)

What’s going on?

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This is the latest of my ‘water oil pastels’ – water scenes, done in oil pastels.

The scenes are imaginary, a combination of photographs I’ve taken to use as ‘sketches’ and imagin-A-tion.

In the case of these drawings/paintings, this means that you are not the only one who doesn’t know exactly what’s going on.

Neither do I.

And, interestingly, neither do they.

 

 

Indolence…

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It’s the lazy season around our house these days.
Next door there’s banging – lots of loud, house-building banging – which is unfortunate, because it’s just the time of year when my ‘outside studio’ is at its most pleasant.

The banging (and the occasional excruciating whine of metal slicing through metal) has been a good excuse for not carting the princesses up to the roof and buying a new piece of plywood to replace the studio table-top that rotted away in the winter rains – the two things that would need to happen to get the ‘outdoor studio’ functioning. But I’ll get it together before the summer heat makes the ‘indoor studio’ the less pleasant of the two workplace options. Right now I’m very happy inside – especially since my discovery of a few pieces of Canson in a lovely shade of blue at my local stationery store, just after I managed to rescue a new order of Sennelier pastels from the Customs…

So I’m enjoying – thoroughly enjoying – making more ‘water drawings’.

And I’m very pleased to say that the two most recent drawings are of ‘swimmers’ rather than ‘drowners’. (Although I am slightly worried that there might be an imminent shark attack below…)

water pastel 070516 swimming lesson shark

“Shoot the Artist at the Right Moment”

There’s some saying I heard once somewhere about how to create a masterpiece:
“Shoot the artist at the right moment.”

Basically, what that’s saying is that artists tend to overwork, never know when to quit, and in the process of going after perfection, end up fucking things up.

I was in the studio yesterday for the first time in what seems like ages (drawing table having been taken over by sewing materials, as it were), and after a couple of minutes, I stopped working, and this is what I saw:

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And  I had to work hard – really hard – to stop there.

I actually felt guilty that I could have finished a drawing so quickly. I felt like I was cheating if I didn’t keep going. A mix of Jewish guilt and Protestant work ethic and the sense that I was somehow getting away with something.

Luckily, I managed to overcome all this. Because this is one of my favorite water pastels of all the ones I’ve done so far (series – A4 paper – check out earlier posts if you like).

I’m not sure if I managed to maintain the same sense of spontaneity in this one:

 

water pastel 300416b

Luckily, I had to go cook dinner….

 

 

 

 

A Photographic Interlude

A Photographic Interlude

It was when Mel was in Istanbul being a poet that we were able to take over the house in Foça. In addition to some watercolors of the coastline, I managed to take some photos of some beautiful waterfalls inland, up towards Manisa.

Getting there was an adventure in itself (let’s just say that anytime you’re follow the directions of someone who’s kicking himself in the head because he didn’t Google it first, you really ought to Google it first) – and I’m really not someone who can sit down and start drawing or painting a place I’ve never been to before, anyway – I like to get the feel of a place by walking around and exploring before I can really get into examining it in detail from only one place – so I decided I would take photographs instead (as well as some video, because who knows?, it might come in handy some day).

I figured out a long time ago I was not going to be a professional photographer, and also that I don’t like to carry around a big, heavy camera, so I found myself a great Nikon that might not have all the options of a big ‘SLR’ – but that fits in my front pocket. It’s got a whole lot of gadgets on its ‘menu’, but it won’t let me play with apertures and focal lengths like I’d like to… so I’m sort of limited to ‘one-step-above-point-and-shoot’. Still, it gives me a record of where we’ve been to (and trust me, in this case, we’re not likely to find ourselves there again), keep some ‘digital sketches’ for whatever they might come in handy for, and occasionally act like I’m a ‘real’ photographer…

So, here is my photographic interlude:

pool at bottom of fallsShot Number 1: The Waterfall (because this is where we went)

 

harun at bottom of fallsShot Number 2: The Waterfall with Harun (because this is who I went with)

 

selfie waterfallShot Number 3: The Waterfall with Me and Harun (because a selfie is obligatory)

 

treesShot Number 4: Trees and Moss and Rocks (because I was trying to play with the focus on an auto-focus camera)

 

sepia treesShot Number 5: Trees and Moss and Rocks (because I was trying to be romantic with the sepia setting on the ‘menu’)

 

very cool waterfall poolShot Number 6: Water Falling in a Pool (because I was still trying to play with the focus on an auto-focus camera)

 

high waterfallShot Number 7: Waterfall (because it was a pretty tall waterfall after all)

 

dripsShot Number 8: Drips (because I like to crop things)

 

obliteratedxShot Number 9: Obliterated (because I like to crop things and I like Photoshop)

 

sudsShot Number 10: Suds  (because I really like to crop things and I really like Photoshop)

I hope you enjoyed this photographic interlude.
Now, get back to work!

 

 

 

Heads Above Water

I think that’s going to be the title for my most recent oil pastel drawing in my series of water drawings.

Water Pastel 010416

When I was finishing this drawing, part of me wanted to paint out the white ‘waves’ so that the drawing would be just 2 disembodied heads in a field of blue.
But I kind of like that there is some consistency in how I’ve drawn water over the years.
Consider this drawing of a Bodrum landscape from a few years ago…

Pembe Sis

And then again, I thought of how the video that was part of my ‘Homesickness’ installation was also basically an image of somewhat disembodied people in the water…

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Maybe it’s time to make some more videos…

 

 

Take me to the river, drop me in the water

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Well, not the river but the sea, and I am feeling immersed in it, even though I am presently sitting well above the high-water mark inside a cafe overlooking the sea and Kos. The waves appear to be coming from the west – a reverse-migration? You might not believe me, but the lit-up waves are looking to me just as they do in this picture.

I believe this is a picture of a father and son, son inside a little plastic blow-up tube, probably hasn’t quite learned how to swim yet. The swimming lesson may have been interrupted by something they’ve seen…

Water Pastel 050316

The drawing above started out as two girls talking to each other as they crouched down in the shallow water. Somehow it morphed into two men holding onto a sinking rubber boat, waiting to be rescued…

I was getting a little depressed finding that all my swimmers were morping into drowners; so, I decided to draw a kayaker. She appears to be doing okay, although heading towards a rocky shore…

Water Pastel 090316

I got a message the other day that there the Citizens’ Advisory Council (“Kent Konseyi”) is organizing an exhibit of Bodrum artists; we all get to have 2 pieces in the show. That makes me happy, because I won’t have to choose between swimmers and drowners. I can have both. Bodrum. Just like I pictured it.

Valentine’s Day Open Studio

little wc books 3 f

So, a friend of mine mentioned an artist she read about who was trying to survive on donations she was soliciting as a means of support for her art-making. I’m guessing that if she’s doing this through a crowdfunding web site, she’s “giving away” pieces of artwork as “gifts” to the folks making these donations. I suppose that was what I was doing when I put the Ottoman Princess fundraising campaing on Indiegogo. It allowed me basically to pay the costs of making an installation piece that is not “saleable” by getting support from people who were ostensibly “buying in” to the concept/aim of the Princess Piece.

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d just go the route of crash commercialism – in the spirit of the holiday – and open up my studio for people who might want to browse… and shop.
And maybe get a glass of pink wine as well. (In Marxian terms, I suppose a glass of pink wine and a little notebook could be considered equal in exchange value.

little wc books 1 f

Or is it use value? I never was a very good Marxist.

On the other hand, I’m pretty good at telling fortunes, which I found to be a very good way to get people to look carefully at art.

dur

And so I’ll be doing that at the Open Studio this Saturday as well. No charge.

I suppose I could take a line from one of those fake gypsys in their below-the-sidewalk lairs and announce, “I see a beautiful work of art entering your house to make you very happy…”

And then invite someone to look at this marvelous wardrobe, handpainted with an image from one of our favorite beach retreats, and announce that I do commissioned furniture pieces as well…

DEBORAH_DOLAP_2

But mainly, the Valentine’s Day Open Studio is just a way to catch up with old friends

Deborah 2a

and get better acquainted with some new ones

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

(For directions to the studio, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.)