Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Process

I love Ortakoy. For me, it's where the Bosphorus meets Istanbul. There's something intimate and secret about the place. Every odd Thursday night you can find me there with a group of revelers from "The Sublime Portal", other times I'll be there on a Saturday wandering its little streets, and all streets lead to this mosque.

The architect was Armenian, and a Turkish friend pointed out that seagulls never land on this mosque. I've watched, and he's right.

Google "Ortakoy mosque", and you'll see this mosque and bridge captured over and over - in every type of weather and every season, in every media.

No matter. I also wanted to do something with this mosque beyond photographing it, so I dug up the above photo that I took last summer.

And I drew this.

Ugh and ick. Not happy. Not only did I mess up several of the details on the mosque, it didn't convey how I felt about the place at all. So I threw it in the bookshelf. Where it sat for months and months, until Mel fished it out last week and said, "I think you should really do something with this".

She was right. So I thought about why I felt this try was so unsuccessful, and decided I wanted the space to be more cozy, like the area itself. So I turned the next paper on its side, and after lots of trail and error, I drew this.

This was better! I fixed several of the details on the mosque I'd messed up on the first one and then distorted it slightly and simplified it a lot.

The next step was to decide on, and colour in, all the black parts with a soft graphite pencil, and then transfer the mirror image onto lino. Then I carved it up. As is tradition, I also carved up part of my finger as well. I would have shown this as part of the process, but it's pretty nasty looking.

I usually change a lot of things in this step, depending on how many times I slip and mess up. I added some details to the boats and made a last minute decision to keep the dome all black. I also made a major, (in my eyes) blunder, but we're not going to talk about that.

Ok, so I'm not one of those printers who pulls off the first few prints and labels them artist's proofs. I'm just too picky for that. This is the very first print. It's now at the bottom of the rubbish bin. As you can see, this is just for me to check out how things are looking so far, hence the torn out paper from a sketchbook and sloppy printing.

This one wasn't too bad. I often leave bits undone, so I can look at the whole picture after the first print and decide which direction to go. I decided to straighten and neaten some lines, take out some bits that were getting accidentally inked, and leave the rest as it was.

Then I made a mess. Yes, I like to work on the floor for this part.

Nearing completion! I have to do more printing later tonight. The ink is just drying far too quickly in this heat for me to pull nice prints. The prints in the morning were much better.

And done! Ortakoy mosque, fresh off the roller!


  1. Thank you for cleaning the living room! Ha ha. It's beautifull!!!! I want one. Remember who your favourite sister is! And MUSE! Ha ha ha.

  2. Seeing the "process" unfold was very interesting, seeing the result was amazing.

  3. That has always been a magical place for me, as well. Love what your creative mind did with it.

  4. I like the symbolism - two birds, two boats, two sisters - one boat with a Turkish flag, one boat with no identifying national tag - the cozy curve of the land around the boats - the crescent moon shape reflected in the water but turned into a circle enclosing the two boats - the prominence given to the past with a nod to the present...

    Of course, I'll be the first to admit that this personalized-to-the-artist interpretation of "the symbols" may be a figment of my imagination. But isn't that what good art is supposed to do? Fire your imagination.

  5. Thank you very much Joanne, you should write art criticism books! Clement Greenberg has nothing on you!

    Framed it up and hung it in the front window of Java Studio today....

  6. Wow, they're gorgeous, even the first drawing which I like for its simplicity. What a great poster that would make. Or book cover. Or gift cards for your friends. :-) Say, why don't you make some cards? I'd buy a box.

  7. PS. I hope your finger is ok. Ouch.

  8. Ha ha! It's healing nicely! Thanks!

    Art cards and post card ideas have been bandied about several times in this household!