Chillin’ in Gusmuluk

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For the last few days of our trip, Maggie, Janet, and I are ensconced at the Otel Gumusluk a few feet from the ocean. After arriving Sunday, we had a short walk along the beach to the Club Gumusluk for dinner as the sun set over Rabbit Island and the bay.

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Along the beach the kabak lanterns adorned with pretty patterns and lights were lit as the sun sank lower in the sky to the delight of patrons of the Club’s ringside seats.

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We ordered a modest dinner of cold meze appetisers and were presented with a dessert and a beautiful tray of flowers, lights, chocolate, with a heavily watered-down shot of liqueur gratis by waiter Orhan, a small man about 25 years old, who took a real shine to Maggie.

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The finale to the evening was the beautiful flower blossoms scattered randomly onto the table.

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Our hotel is about one hundred meters from the beach; just in front of us is this empty lot with a beached fishing boat ready and waiting for some dedicated soul to refurbish it.

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Our breakfast feast takes place in this tarp-covered open air dining room.

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The beach here is very pleasant, gently curved and somewhat narrow with coarse grey sand and warm water. Tides here are practically non-existent, only varying by about two feet from high to low.

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Lots of energetic people were out on the water swimming, kayaking, and wind surfing.

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On our second evening we walked along the harbour checking out all the fish restaurants while being importuned by waiters as we passed, whispering the names of fish in our ears.

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Some of the restaurants are beautifully decorated. All have the same menu, variations on the theme of fish.

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We chose the last restaurant on the strip; the food was ok but not great. (In retrospect, it was actually not very good and too much money for what we had. Also, unlike at Club Gumusluk and a few of the other beach spots, it had no soft felt blankets on the backs of chairs for patrons who get cold in the evening … like me). The waiter took the photo below and somehow managed to change the camera setting to sepia – oh well.

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However, I did enjoy the prawns cooked right at our table even though they were a bit tough.

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I really love all the great kabak gourd decorations. Each of them has a design poked out in little holes through which the LED lights inside shine.

Below are a few photos of our hotel; this place is really wonderful, the weather is 30 degrees, blue sky, and sun with a gentle breeze blowing off the sea – heavenly.

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Tuesday, after a long and lazy breakfast at the ranch, Janet and I walked from the Hotel Gumusluk up to the Gumusluk Academy, a wander that took us along the back roads that parallel the sea, past the old Myndos Gate and then up through mandarin fields and houses to the hillside site of the Academy. Just below the Academy property a bunch of new concrete villas are being constructed, slightly obstructing what had been the beautiful view out over the valley I had had from my room five years ago. These beasts were resting in the shade of a mandarin tree as we cruised by.

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After a walk of about 45 minutes we arrived at the Academy, located on a hill above the village with an expansive view laid out in front of us. No one was visible around the place but we did see evidence of new artwork in the form of three clay sculptures which looked like a memorial to the victims of the Soma mine disaster.

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The people I had known from my visit were no longer there but we met the grounds keeper Mehmet and his wife as we walked along one of the driveways; I tried to explain who I was but am not sure he understood. In any case, we were given permission to look around and poked our noses into several of the buildings, none of which seemed to be occupied at the moment.

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The building housing the kitchen and dining room had been refurished and looked great; all the rest were more or less as I remembered them.

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Lots of frogs were jumping in the pond near the theatre and several were floating lazily on top of the water, sunning themselves.

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We headed back down to hill and decided to pop into the Paradise Garden apartments just down the road from the Hotel Gumusluk, checking it out to see if it were a spot that possibly Maggie might want to return to one of these days, since obviously Turkey is the place for her. Although we had just wanted to have a little look around the place, the owner insisted that we come and see inside one of the apartments, seated us in the shade, and brought us water and a coffee. He spoke almost no English so we had an amusing and protracted pseudo-conversation in which I looked up word after word in my little Turkish phrasebook to compose sentences, a process that took so long that I am sure he had forgotten what the first word was by the time I uttered the last. His wife brought out the reservation book and they were ready to sign us up right then and there.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing by the pool, with a little lap swimming interspersed with a little glass of wine drinking.

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Another night, another dinner, this time back at the Club Gumusluk, which, unlike the rest of the restaurants on the beach, had lots of patrons. There was no room in the main part of the restaurant so they seated us at a table on the beach, right at the water’s edge. Once again Orhan was super attentive, bringing us, on the house, three different desserts and a tray with chocolates and amaretto shots, all gratis, while he tried to persuade Maggie to go to the Halicarnas discoteque in Bodrum with him. Maggie didn’t bite this evening but we still have two nights left …

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Only one day left here in paradise before I return to the cold cloudiness of Vancouver, apparently not yet in summer. Yesterday the three of us walked up to the Gumusluk Market and emerged laden with bags of goodies, including pots and pans and clothing.

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After a hard few hours bargaining, a stop at the village teahouse was in order.

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This place is so beautiful – I will be very sorry to leave.

Rockin’ art show and carpets

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Alison had suggested to Eljay that we have a show of our work at the Tuesday Gokcebel Market; that wasn’t a go but the man who runs the village store and tea house agreed to let us have an exhibition under the pergola in the teahouse, located just outside the store at the top of the village a few steps from the Stone House. Everyone was pretty excited about it and Eljay went around the neighbourhood drumming up an audience for us.

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At the appointed time, 11 am on Saturday morning, we grabbed our oil, acrylic, and water colour paintings, collages, and drawings, as well as easels and boards to display them on, and headed up the road in an art convoy. We arranged the easels and boards around the periphery of the space and sat down with a cup of cay to wait for the art-loving hoards we were sure were just about to descend on us.

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Our first visitors were an archeologist and his wife who were very pleased that we were bringing culture to the small village; he and Eljay arranged to meet later on to discuss collaboration possibilities.

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Everyone was very enthusiastic but the most engaged visitors were a group of young boys who spent quite a long time looking intently at everything and pointing out details of the paintings to one another. They were especially interested in the things they recognised – views of the mosque, mostly – and the Ebru paper marbling.

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One young boy was very taken with Su’s Ebru work and she kindly gave him a small piece.

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Lidia and I gave the store proprietor our oil paintings as a thank you for letting us show in his space. He seemed pleased and told Eljay that he was going to put them up on his wall.

For our last afternoon and evening together, Eljay had arranged for us to go to a carpet village in the hills not too far from Hikmet’s place so we all piled into a dolmus hired by the carpet man after taking the show down. Our driver, an experienced dolmus dude, drove very quickly down the highway, too quickly for my liking (but then I am a bit paranoid), particulariy considering that as we went along a storm gathered and it started to rain buckets.Our man zoomed through huge puddles, throwing up gallons of water from the wheels as he sped along. Needless to say we made good time to the village, arriving in one piece as the rain subsided.

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We were met at the end of the line by Hyati, the village mayor, carpet purveyor, and money man, a very lively gentleman who showed us around the town. First we had a look at the wares for sale in the local store, all a bit dusty, then he took us up onto the roof to appreciate the view out over the valley. After Hikmet accidentally hosed him down with water he explained that next year, this rooftop area will be a restaurant and bar where he intends to hold dancing contests for women – he invited us all to come back and give it a whirl.

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This village seemed much wealthier than Hikmet’s; each home had a tractor and several farm animals, either in a separate out building or in the basement of the main house. There were also quite a few abandoned old stone houses, some very old, in amongst the newer ones.

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This cocky fellow walked busily back and forth crowing as we inspected his pen.

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Hyati explained how the villagers dyed the carpet wool with various vegetables, each giving the wool its characteristic colour.

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We had a look inside one of the village houses where a young teenage girl was more interested in the game show on TV than in the visitors to her home. I wondered how many people Hyati had brought trudging through this house over the years.

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We passed the teahouse full of men all staring at us and entered the mosque after donning head scarves; inside Hyati explained how the mosque functioned and gave both Su and I the Imam’s gear to wear.

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I thought it was a pretty good look, especially the fancy hat.

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When our village walkabout was complete, we walked to Hyati’s home and sat ourselves down in the large chill out area where his wife had prepared dinner for us. She looked none too thrilled to be hosting this group and Lidia inquired as to whether we could invite her to join us. However, that was a definite no go.

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When our dinner was concluded, we were ushered into the carpet showroom and the dance began. While Hyati described each carpet, his helpers, including Osman, the carpet co-op director, and our bus driver, brought out the merchandise one piece by one piece.

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As the carpet pile got bigger, and the booze was flowing, our group got more and more excited. Su broke the ice with the first buy and then it was off to the races.

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Carpets were flying and a buying frenzy ensued, with almost all of our group emerging with a treasured purchase. Liz was hesitating, wondering about the size, and the men tried to encourage her by wrapping her up in the prospective carpet but unfortunately it ended up being too big for her space. Great fun was had by all!

Watercolour in Gumusluk

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One of our last painting excursions here at the Stone House was the afternoon trip to Gumusluk for water colour painting of water and reflections to practice the techniques Eljay had discussed in the morning. The fourty minute drive took us along the coast around the peninsula from Yalikavak to the small former fishing village of Gumusluk, in antiquity the Carian city of Myndos, ruled by Mausolus, he of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus fame.

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Gumusluk is lovely and, because of its heritage status, relatively unspoiled. No mega developments are allowed here and excavations are ongoing. Some of the old city walls and foundations can be seen under the water in the bay and archeologists are excavating Rabbit Island, just over the causeway.

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Maggie, Janet, and I picked a spot at the first beach loungers we saw, and set up our painting gear there with a great view of the headland and the Greek islands beyond. On the beach I was delighted to see several gigantic korek plants painted white festooned with hanging kabak lanterns.

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After a hard afternoon of watercolour painting, we assembled and straggled into the beachside restaurant for a nice fish dinner before rolling back to the ranch satiated.

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Boating from Bodrum

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Eljay had planned a boat trip for us with her friend Burhan but we had no idea that the boat would be so fantastic. Everyone was amazed as we were escorted to the dock to see a seventy foot teak two masted gulet docked and waiting for us. I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of the group as they boarded the gangplank.

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The boat had several levels of seating area, all with pads and padded seats for lounging, and a huge covered deck area with a large table around which all of us could fit for lunch.

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After pulling away from the Bodrum harbour we cruised past the castle and around the coastline to Aquarium Bay, a protected cove with many small colourful fish. A few boats were already there when we arrived but our captain proceeded to come in close to shore and take the best mooring spot in the bay.

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Almost everyone jumped into the incredible cerulean blue water here and enjoyed a swim in the very salty water. Maggie, Su, and Liz did a few little synchronised swimming moves to the delight of onlookers.

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As we cruised over to Karaada (Black Island), the clouds massed above us and it looked like rain but when we turned the corner of the island, the clouds dispersed and it got very sunny and hot. Passing several tourist boats, we anchored at the island for lunch.

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Our captain was also the chef; he used to cook for a restaurant in Istanbul before becoming a boat captain and was his food ever delicious. Lunch consisted of cigar borek, pastry with cheese and spinach, rice pilaf, a green salad, and whole grilled sea bream fish – delicious!

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After lunch we were lounging deckside and what should pull up but a small runabout, the ice cream boat. Barb was kind enough to buy me a Magnum bar for dessert.

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A great day out on the water was had by all.

 

 

Magical Ebru

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Today we were introduced to a wonderful art technique – ebru, Turkish paper marbling. Hikmet laid out all the supplies on our outdoor dining table and explained how the procedure worked. A kind of sizing or gum Arabic is mixed into water to create a thickish gluey liquid paste which is then poured into shallow trays of various sizes. Hikmet had several small jars of coloured inks made from animal bile, an oil-based medium, and brushes, metal pokers, and paper.

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Into the bed of liquid she flicked brushes loaded with ink; these ink drops then spread open on the surface of the water. Into these drops she flicked other coloured drops, building up a layer of colour covering the shallow surface of the bath. A sheet of paper was then carefully put onto the resulting patterning, pressed down lightly, and then dragged through the water and pulled off, the coloured pattern coming off the surface of the water onto the paper – magic! The results were really great.

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Each of us made several sheets of ebru using various techniques to build up the patterning. The small metal poker was used to draw onto the surface of the ink, causing the circular forms to become hearts or wavy lines. As well, we had three small rakes to draw through the ink, making other kinds of patterning.

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After the paper is drawn out of the bath, it is then washed and hung up to dry. A bit unfortunately, the day was really, really blustery so the pieces of paper were swinging and dancing around quite violently on the clothes line. Barb and Maggie both printed onto their clothing, with good results. See more info on paper marbling here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_marbling

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From Acrylic Painting to Ephesus

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Monday’s art activities included “breaking the rules”, fauvist still lives a la turca. Eljay broke out the kits of bright acrylic colours and everyone proceeded to revel in the sun and the glory of unadulterated colour. Several people made more than one painting; it was very enjoyable to spend the sunny day in the garden painting.

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Tuesday morning dawned grey and not too hot, a perfect day for experiencing the large ruin site of Ephesus, the crown jewel of Turkish ancient cities, billed as the best-preserved site in the Eastern Mediterranean. I have been here on a couple of previous occasions; this time the somewhat poor weather meant a more pleasant visit, with fewer visitors and less discomfort from the heat and blazing sun of previous years. We boarded the bus at eight am and hit the road heading north, with a stop in a Guvercinlik village harbour tea shop for tea and pastries.

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After a drive of about two and a half hours we arrived at Ephesus and spent a further two and a half hours wandering through the ruins, spending some time atop the highest rung of seats in the bouleterion and the great theatre. I saw a few more areas of the site this time, including the inscription museum section. Barb and I also spent a bit of time in the Church of Mary, where the octagonal adult baptismal font fascinated me. It was a keyhole shaped pool with stairs at either end, allowing the person being baptised to immerse herself in water up to about neck depth. Surprisingly, Lidia and I both ran into Mete, our guide from a previous visit to Turkey, now based in Kusadasi and leading day trips to Ephesus.

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Our ruin visit concluded, we drove to Selcuk for lunch, scarfing down a huge pile of pide, kofte, and tea while watching a beautiful and large van cat, white with one blue and one green eye, watch us. After lunch shopping was necessary for most of the group, including purchases of jewellery and green leather boots. Overhead we could see gigantic storks winging their way around the city. Selcuk is known for its storks; the huge birds roost on almost every tall post, including light standards and mosque minarets.

 

 

 

Gobbling Down Gypsy Chicken in Gokpinar

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People continue to put out some great stuff here at the Old Stone House – here are some samples of the collage work our group executed on the theme of the four seasons of our lives, led by Hikmet.

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Another day, another great feast of food – Eljay treated the group to a typical Turkish village breakfast at the local Kahvalti Yeri (Breakfast Place), an eatery know far and wide for its great big breakfasts. We were there right when the place opened at ten in the morning and seated around one big table were fed dish after dish of tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cheese, bread out of a stone oven, borek, eight different kinds of jams, and eggs. When finished with this, we were whisked off in a midibus for the ride out to Hikmet’s place in Gokpinar (Green Spring in English), in the hills past Mumcular.

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Gokpinar is definitely well off the tourist track, up and down a winding path through farming terraces and pine trees. Although our driver had to stop several times to ask for directions, we arrived without incident at Hikmet’s Guesthouse at the end of the road through the village. Her place is also an old stone house which she has fixed up for guests; it includes three bedrooms, a beautiful big dining area and a sitting area with many colourful rugs, kilim, Hikmet’s bright abstract paintings, and lots of different objets d’arte.

The house faces west and is situated on a terraced property overlooking the rolling hills dropping down to the Aegean Sea beyond. Below the house, which has a lovely outdoor eating area, is a large garden and chicken run. Our plan was to make and eat some traditional Turkish food. Her neighbour Gunda came over to show us how to make “Lazy Ladies Baklava”, a dish which involved rolling out special dough into very large thin circular pancakes, topping them with crushed walnuts (which we crushed ourselves), and then popping the rolls into a large pan, drizzling them with sugar water, and baking them in the oven.

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While we were waiting for the baklava to bake, Hikmet took us on a tour of her small village. Just past her place is an enormous new home in the process of being built, a marble palace with pseudo-Greek pillars and a huge marble wall encircling the entire property. It is ghastly, in terrible taste and completely inappropriate for the area. Lidia and I wondered what the neighbours thought about it.

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Just across the path from this monstrosity we visited the oldest house in the village, a small, dark, very humble abode in which a one-eyed man sat carving wooden implements while his ancient wife watched.  I was very surprised to be told that she was seventy-seven, since she appeared to me to be at least one hundred and fourty. Several of our party purchased some of his wares and then we were off down the road to look at the old Roman walls, a couple of big rocks that Hikmet thought might have been graves, a village woman chopping wood with a gigantic ax, and a female shepherd with her cattle.

Once back at the house, we gathered vegetables from Hikmet’s huge garden – peas, potatoes, peppers, cucumber, and eggplant – and made cold mezes by chopping and grinding the vegetables into different purees for dipping. At one point there was a terrific thunder and lightning storm with torrential rain, at another point the power went out and we cooked in the dark, and finally the piece de resistance, Gypsy Chicken, was ready to be prepared. This involved creating a fire pit, pushing three multi-pronged sticks into the ground onto each of which was pressed a whole raw chicken, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Over top of these food pillars Nihat put three very large metal olive oil cans which were then surrounded with grass set alight. Usually this meal takes about 20 minutes to cook, but because the ground and grass were wet from the rainstorm, the whole process took about an hour. In the meantime we sampled the local village vintage and chowed down on mezes. The food flowed non-stop, each person getting a quarter chicken and veggies, as well as a generous helping of meze. Fantastic! Finally, we took pity on the poor old bus driver who was waiting all day for us and headed back down the dark highway back to town for a midnight arrival.

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Art in Iassos

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Friday morning we had an all day excursion to the ruined Greco-Roman city of Iassos, about an hour and a half north of Gokcebel. We rolled out in a convoy of two vehicles, heading through Torba, past Guvercinlik, past the atrocious monstrosity of an illegal hotel put up by Erdogan and his people, up and over a mountain, down the other side to the back of beyond – Iassos – passing forests of dry brown korek plants on the way. A former Roman city with a small harbour, Iassos is only partially excavated. Apparently it will rival Ephesus when it’s finally done many moons from now. We had a cup of tea at the fish restaurant fronting the harbour, with a view of the Byzantine Palace floating on the water, and then headed with all our painting gear to select a site for the next painting project.

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People stationed themselves throughout the agora, picking a place from which a good perspective view could be seen. Eljay wanted us to execute a small thumbnail sketch, and then a painting or pastel drawing focusing on perspective.

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I found a spot under an olive tree facing the bouleterion, a small theatre-like space used by the senate in Roman times, and did a painting of the recession of columns and the green hills in the distance. Most found this assignment a bit tricky, perspective being something that usually does not come easily. However, everyone gave it a go and it was interesting to see the variety of results. A couple of small tortoises wandered through our group and I saw several black lizards darting among the rocks; while walking across the stones, I was stung by some kind of insect but luckily it did not swell up – just hurt for a few moments.

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Due to its location, its marble and fishing, Iassos had been inhabited since the earliest days of the history. The city was founded by Greek colonists coming from Argos in the 9th century BC and then inhabited by immigrants from Miletus. In addition, Italian archaeologists have found Minoan houses and Mycenaean pottery which indicates that the site had been inhabited at much earlier date than arrival of the Greeks.

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The digs started 1960s reveled that oldest part of Iassos was on the top of Acropolis hill, later taken over by the Byzantine fortress. These show some similarities between the Crete, Greece and Anatolian cultures. The chief divinities of Iassos were Apollo and Artemis. One of the inscriptions discovered in Iassos mentions Artemis Astias, apparently a mixture of the old Carian deity Goddess and Artemis the hunter. Her temple had an unroofed cella. As well, the theatre and festivals arranged for Dionysus show the importance of the god Dionysus in Iassos. More info and pictures of Iassos here.

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Later in the afternoon, after a huge meal of meze, salad, fries, and fish, some people walked up to the acropolis to see the mosaics, others dipped their feet in the harbour, and Lidia, Eljay, and I drove to the little museum, hoping to get a look at the artifacts removed from the ruin site; however, it was closed and no-one about to open the door. After gathering everyone up, we were off down the road in the setting sun to close another great day here on the peninsula.

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Out and About on the peninsula

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After a hard morning of finishing up our oil paintings onsite, we rolled out in three vehicles in the direction of Ortakent for a visit to Dibeklihan in Yakakoy. This place is a modern building constructed in the form of an old Ottoman Palace – it is much like the Bodrum Castle except on a smaller scale, with towers, turrets, and terraces overlooking the valley.

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On its premises are contained two contemporary art galleries, a small Ottoman Museum with artifacts from the sultan era, three café-bars, and several shops, including some very nice silver jewellery. We saw a very interesting exhibition of paintings by a local artist named Fatih Urunc, an alcoholic who died of booze poisoning at the age of 46.

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Hikmet knew him and told us that he used to wander through Bodrum, paintings under his arm, and sell them for a few lire whenever he needed another drink. The work reminded me a bit of Basquiat, very colourful and full of crazy characters, including a smoking grey cat with blue eyes who resurfaces in several visual narratives.

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In the other gallery an exhibition of work inspired by the Gezi Park demonstrations of last year and the Soma mine disaster was installed. Carnation images were used to memorialise the dead. After viewing the art, several of us had some lovely white wine in the Film Bar upstairs, seated in chairs inscribed with the names of various movie directors – I was John Ford.

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Today the entire group took the dolmus down to Yalikavak Market where we wandered through the various stalls and sampled some of the local cuisine. I tried to bargain unsuccessfully for a few jewellery items and ended up with a small scarf instead. After a cup of tea at a ringside seat we hustled back to the otogar for the minibus home; unfortunately a couple of members of our group were kicked off the bus because the driver would not take any standing passengers, likely because the police were there and he was afraid of getting a ticket.

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The afternoon’s life drawing exercise by the pool was a great success. We drew several 5 minute poses by Hikmet and Eljay, then a couple of ten minute ones using charcoal sticks. The improvement in everyone’s drawings from first to last was quite substantial.

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Finally, to complete the day the ten of us were driven down to a seaside restaurant, where a beach table had been reserved for us for dinner. Unfortunately, the weather had changed and it was looking a bit dark so we opted for a table inside instead. Cold mezes, coban salata, and a main course of sea bass and shrimp was consumed along with copious quantities of red and white wine. Being the only people in the restaurant, we got quite raucous and gave the staff quite an interesting time, I’m sure. Janet played Mary Poppins on the beach with Maggie’s five lire Istanbul umbrella which blew inside out and broke after about ten seconds. After cavorting on the beach in the rain, we were escorted into two taxis for the ride back to the ranch.

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While we were gone, Eljay had a terrible fall while running on the wet pavement to put our art work inside so it would not be damaged by the rain. Luckily, she was only bruised rather than broken, but it will take a few days for her to heal.

En Plein Air in Gokcebel

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Gokcebel is a beautiful little village – I love it here. It is wonderful to be back in Turkey again after 4 years. The Old Stone House is a former castle or fort, likely about 250 years old, although it has older parts, such as bits of Roman column and pillars. The scent of jasmine and mint fills the air and the garden has lovely bougainvillea, palm trees, and grape vines winding over a huge wooden pergola underneath which is the breakfast table. Three levels of terraces surround the house, each of which has a lovely seating area. The main house has three bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchen and small dining room used in the winter when it’s too cold to sit outside. All the houses here are built for outside living because the weather is so beautiful here most of the year.

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Just outside the back gate is the Mulberry Cottage, a much newer two story building, with two twin bedrooms, one single, and a small kitchenette, as well as its own little terrace and upper deck with a view out over the valley. The town is located in a small valley surrounded by serrated hills, the caldera of a former volcano. Eljay and I are staying at an apartment across the valley, since there is no room at the Old Stone inn – all the bedrooms are full with our painting program guests who arrived in a series of waves yesterday. Altogether with Eljay and Hikmet, the local Turkish tutor, we are a group of 12 who will spend the next two weeks drawing and painting around the Bodrum peninsula.

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Before the guests arrived Eljay and I had a lovely sunset drink down by the harbour in Yalikavak, the closest big town just a few miles down the road from the house. I have not been in this part of the peninsula before; last time I was here we stayed in Bodrum and in 2009 I was in Gumusluk, west and south of here, for the month of May. This part of the peninsula is not too over-developed and is still quite charming. Yalikavak has a beautiful yacht harbour and a series of beaches along the coast towards Golturkbuku. Restaurants, bars, and shops line the harbour and the side streets next to it. As I recall there is some sort of regulation about the colour of the buildings here – they must be white or at least light in colour, giving a uniformity to the villages. Against this white background the purple, pink, and red flowers stand out in stark relief.

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As usual, since we are in a small village, the animal chorus gets going very early in the morning. The strangled cries of roosters, dogs, cows, bulls, and the odd donkey echo around the hills accompanying the 5 am call to prayer, sung by an imam with a terrific voice. Three of Eljay’s cats stroll around the garden, many skinny stray beasts wander through the yard, and a very large tan and black Turkish dog keeps guard outside the front gate. Today we are going to begin the program with an oil painting exercise around the village – each person will have her own set up of easel, stool, a bag of painting supplies, a pallet, and even an apron. Eljay plans to start people off with a thumbnail sketch of the local “colour” and then proceed to painting from there.

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Each member of our intrepid group grabbed her bag of supplies, a stool, and an easel and headed for the hills. We separated into two groups and stationed ourselves in shady spots overlooking the view, one group near the market and the other up above the mosque. The first order of business is oil painting in a realist manner so Monday saw us sketching our motif and transferring the drawing onto a small canvas for painting. On Tuesday, after visiting the tiny local market and purchasing some shalvar pants and scarves, our group returned to our respective spots to block in the lights and darks. I, being a crummy student, did not do the exercise as described but instead executed my piece in the hot colours of the American south west, making the Turkish village house look like something out of New Mexico.

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The local dog fell in love with Barb and sat down in her paints, refusing to leave her side. Everyone was able to do a piece with which they felt proud and Eljay was very complimentary about our efforts.

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Almost all of us took Eljay up on the optional hamam program, piling into the minibus for the Raschid Hamam in Ortakar (the third best Turkish Bath in all of Turkey, according to the owner’s daughter) where we were hosed down, scrubbed, and massaged for three hours of bliss. Su was delighted with her masseuse, a tall, dark-haired pony-tailed Russian man decked out in tight white speedos …

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