Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The top ten watercolor scenes of Istanbul....? (Part 2)

I thought it was time to revisit this theme of the 'must paint scenes of Istanbul'. Büyük Mecidiye Mosque is one of those sublime places in the city. The mosque itself is built in the Baroque style in the nineteenth century and was designed by one of the Armenian Balyan family.

I love its interior the most, the views looking south down the Bosphorous at sea level towards the Golden horn are stunning. The light that floods in from the high windows is of a heavenly quality.

My fairly free interpretation of one side of the building doesn't capture the view or the dynamic background, there have been many great paintings of those aspects. I also deliberately haven't worked out how to incorporate the suspension bridge that crosses the Bosphorus above the mosque. I'll work out how to portray the bizarre tension of Ottoman Baroque with 1970s modernist architecture some time later.

As usual I relied heavily on masking fluid to withstand a fairly robust application and then lifting of colour.

More of the important views of Istanbul later....

Sunday, August 28, 2011


As I mentioned in my last blog, Turner's genius (see Turner's view of Venice below)  seems to be have been in his portrayal of light. The interplay of a glorious sunset with some well defined detail, maybe a boat or a character, are all bound together by the way the light casts its presence.

The view above (very definitely not Turner in case you're new to him!) is from Eminönü it's the place where one would take a ferry to and from the Asian side of Istanbul to Kadıköy or Üsküdar. It's also the place where one sees a great set of panoramas. The one above is the scene looking across to the Galata tower. There is another view from this same spot which I'll feature sooner or later which looks in the other direction, but for now the view of Galata will suffice.

I'm not sure why Turner never made it to Istanbul, I suppose the fashionable places in his day were closer to the heart of Europe, I can only imagine what he'd have made of it.

Friday, August 26, 2011


JMW Turner could paint light. As he grew older he appeared to grow steadily less interested in form and more fascinated by brilliant, shining, overpowering light. He painted Norham Castle a few times and the difference between his earlier work and his later work is stunning. What was a romantic landscape in earlier works becomes a dazzling vision of white light in his famous picture featured on the left.

I can see why Turner was so enraptured by light and in my own insignificant way find myself attracted to the way light interacts with forms and objects. An old 'Türbe' or shrine in Istanbul bathed in shafts of light created a wonderful mystical atmosphere.

Capturing that light is quite another matter and feels to me to like a journey of discovery; sometimes masking fluid works, sometimes Chinese white, sometimes white oil pastel. Check it out on

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