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-Gave me her seat on the tram and refused another, proudly stood at the door. here she is when young.- Women on the tram in Ramadan; ancient figures from Nimrud on the Tigris.-—-Most of these women are from Eastern Turkey, come to Istanbul with their families for a better life. Something in them reminds me of the ancient Sumerian art of their ancestral lands.


-Obelisk Pedestal-Directions for Standing the Obelisk -AD 390 – Theodosius – Hippodrome / Drawing in the Hippodrome while pre-dusk Ramadan excitement grows all around me.—–Here is the instruction for erecting a multi-ton Egyptian Obelisk if you should ever want to try it at home. As you can see, they attached ropes near the bottom and winched it up.  It was dead hot: August Ramadan.  Some laughing children watched me draw, but in the main I was surrounded by a vast silent mass of people, filling the Hippodrome, sitting at tables and on the grass, exhausted with sweat and thirst. The crowd was holding its breath, waiting for Iftar. A great collective sigh rose up as the gong sounded, and then the clink of a spoon on a glass, the click of crockery. I walked out through cooling waves of relief, into the newly happy twilight. 


-Billy – September 2011—–Eleven years before this drawing, I was on leave from the hospital, with an infected knee joint from inept surgery. Thinking myself recovered I left my crutches at the hospital. I got out of the taxi, faced the busy tramline with clanging trams and two-way traffic, realized my mistake, stood there horrified and helpless. Billy- his actual name is Bulent- was an acquaintance from Side the summer before. He hurried up, called my boyfriend and carried me across the tramline. We’ve been friends ever since.


Now there’s a happy guy.


-Ayhan -Mevsim – The cheeriest butcher in the world and his wife. I’ve wanted to draw this adorable couple for years!—–Ayhan and Mevsim are still there at Ayhan Kasap Butcher Shop in Kadirga, next to Kuçuk Ayasofya Mosque. At the end of every day, leftovers go to the large tribe of local street cats.


-Intrepid: Jeannie: force of nature, and Rhonda: steel in velvet. With Hasan —–Put them all together they spell LEYLA, Jeannie’s daughter with Hasan. She was raised by Jeannie and Rhonda. I tend to romanticize my friends but you can’t overstate some people.


Part of the Family Intrepid, Donna Perkins had come from Canada and become besotted with Istanbul, keeping in touch with us all from the oil fields up in Alberta. She commissioned a drawing of the Boukoleon Palace, and then another. The subsequent summer of drawing and friendship was one of the best of my life. This section is all about it.

As of this writing, March 2021, this Boukoleon arch is still standing. It opens onto a pretty large section of ruins, and once held up houses. Below is the corner next to the arch. Far below the grass was was once a tiny beach. The highway was the Marmara Sea.

THE BIG ARCH / StandAlone Drawing

-Boukoleon Palace- Sultanahmet, Istanbul. Roar of highway traffic like ocean waves. Sitting in sultry late-afternoon heat with ants crawling on me. Why is it so important to get it all down right? Feels like ghosts watching in the breeze. For Donna & Guy -Thank you! -30 hours in July 2011—- Up top, left center over the arch, the bricks have eroded to form a lion.

At 35 X 70 centimeters, this is much bigger than the sketchbook drawings, but the same size pens. Donna Perkins commissioned this piece for her husband Guy. They’d visited the Boukoleon with me some years before. I spent many afternoons drawing every brick, important now that “restoration” is announced. Waited until afternoon, as the morning sun is blinding. This palace was built into Constantinople’s sea walls, most of it in the 9th century, and dynamited by the British, with Sultan Abulhamid’s permission, to build the Orient Express.

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