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-Bosporus from castle on the Black Sea—–Yoros Castle on the Black Sea is at the furthermost edge of the Bosporus, where it meets the sea. That’s Istanbul in the mist. When I was here in 2012, the centuries-old Byzantine castle was covered with trash from picnickers, but recent photos show it cleaned up, and a good thing too.

Yoros Castle, where I drew the view above. Below is an unfinished take on a ruined courtyard next to Kalendarhane Camii.


-Du E-Holic – He makes hats – He has dozens tattooed on his arms – We had a fine time with Gabrielle in the snow & history – Boukoleon -Silent ships out there in the Marmara beyond the curtain of falling snow.—–Saw him on the tramline wearing this fabulous hat, learned he’d made it himself. We walked all over the old city in the gently falling snow, winding up at this cafe overlooking the railroad and the Boukoleon. I still have the hat he gave me.


-Şahin Gürvardar b. Istanbul 1943 – Şahin 1978 – Şahin 2012 -24-5-1969 Nurettin Gürvardar – Rolling it out with father Şahin & son Taner at Gürvardar Ticket in the Grand Bazaar—–Three generations of tailors in this tiny shop above a shady courtyard. My favorite place to get pillows made, jeans shortened and all sorts of sewing. As often in Istanbul shops, photos of the proprietor and ancestors decorate the walls. Şahin told me that he’s a direct descendant of Suleyman the Magnificent. With all those wives before Roxalana, I’m not surprised.


-Büyük Valide Han- Up on the roof on a very cold day in January 2012—–Suleymaniye Mosque behind the last surviving Ottoman chimney on the roof of the back section of Büyük Valide Han. There was a fire in one of the shops up on the roof on the day I drew this, much excitement!


-The last surviving Ottoman chimney on the roof of Büyük Valide Han. There once was a forest of them, but around  2009 the government destroyed them all, except for one. They were hundreds of years old—–Nobody knows why; they were not only centuries old but also part of the celebrated Ottoman culture. Since this is the last one, I felt compelled to draw the entire thing. It’s still there, in 2021, twice as tall as I am.


-Şinasi Kokusus -Drawing in cold- snowing outside!—–Şinasi in his whitewashed Byzantine workshop, in the old church bell tower his family has proudly preserved since the 1930s in what is now Büyük Valide Han. The age of the tower is uncertain; some say 6th Century, some say 11th.


-Chapel workshop in Büyük Valide Han—–It’s clear that this was a bell tower. At the top of this tower are four bricked-up windows in four directions. Around the bottom of the blackened dome are alcoves for icons, whitewashed now. See the herringbone brick pattern showing through the plaster in a half-dome at left center. While drawing this, I ran into a graduate student, working on her doctorate, proving the identity of this church and its age. All anyone knew for sure was a centuries-old reference to “The Tower of Eirene.” I don’t know if she ever found out more. I hope so.


-Last traces of fresco in the plastics factory at Büyük Valide Han. Once a Byzantine bell tower, it was later a mosque. These frescoes might be Byzantine, but are more likely centuries-old Ottoman—– Fragment of surviving fresco on a crumbling wall in Sinasi’s Chapel Workshop. It looks like 17thCentury Ottoman decoration.

A spooky corner in the 17thCentury Buyuk Valide Han. Tried to sit there and draw but something felt wrong. It’s the only place that ever happened. I feel invisible watchers, but never scary ones- until here.


-Serkan Ozcan firing angels on a snowy day at Büyük Valide Han—–Serkan’s still got his bronze workshop up on the second floor of Buyuk Valide Han’s immense center section, the one with a Shiite mosque in the parking lot. You can see his lamps glowing along a long dark stretch of passage. His work sells all over Istanbul, but it’s more fun and less expensive to buy it from the source. I’ve still got my angel incense burner.

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