Sunday, March 23, 2014

Watercolour Wizardry in Istanbul

There was a kitchen, a woodwork room, a room for making candles, an art room and lots of other facilities too. The special needs school on the outskirts of Istanbul was a large building with different classrooms set up to teach a variety of skills to young adults with special needs.

The Principal enthusiastically explained what the school was trying to achieve whilst we drank tea, then shortly after I found myself in a room with fifteen young adults with a variety of special needs eagerly awaiting whatever I was going to do. Keeping things informal I got the kids out from behind their chairs to surround my table. I had come prepared with a lightly drawn view of the Bosphorus on a piece of 300 gm paper stuck to a board and my rather chaotic pile of equipment ready to go. To add to the pressure the local artist's group that had invited me had turned up 'en masse' to witness what I hoped would not be too much of an anticlimax!

After establishing which football teams (soccer) the kids supported, and also making sure that they realised that whatever transpired on the paper was going to be as much a surprise to me as to them, we began. Creating a bit of atmosphere is essential so talking slowly and quietly I started by applying a little masking fluid much to the puzzlement of the kids. I then loaded a large brush with a light blue and soaked the whole page with bold strokes of the brush. The kids smirked to themselves that I'd messed that up “muaf oldu!” they giggled. From there on in I began to show them that with a few simple principals in mind, some carefully placed masking fluid, a lot of kleenex and a hair dryer one can come up with some fun pictures that aren't so bad!

I use a lot of water, a lot of splashing, dripping and tipping the board which I'm glad to say the kids found very entertaining. At one point the class teacher put some music on to enhance the atmosphere and after about 30 minutes I emerged perspiring with a picture that, though technically flawed, was worthy apparently of a round of applause. The crowning moment was when I peeled back the dried masking fluid revealing sparkly strips of while paper creating the effect of sunlight on the sea. I asked the kids to promise not to give away my 'magical' secrets which they called 'sihirbazlik' or wizardry and they winked in agreement.

I drove away with one of their home-made candles as a present and some satisfaction that I'd shown these kids that with a little practice they could do just as well as me and have a lot of fun. They were a great bunch of courageous young people with so much to offer, I hope they go on to do great things, as for me the whole experience was life giving!

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