BOOK 25 : ACTUAL SIZE
As first the Taliban and then ISIL destroyed more and more antiquities, I began restoring old broken Middle Eastern tribal jewelry. I find it comforting. I bought this stuff by weight from Momo up in the Grand Bazaar, replaced missing bits, polished it up, and sometimes added jewels and feathers, etc to make lucky charms to give to friends. 1974 is a personal anniversary. I wonder who has this piece now? It’s real good luck.
The view from my bedroom windows, across the railroad: Boukoleon Palace ruin at right, old Ottoman houses at left, and beyond the Marmara Sea.
NICK’S CALLIGRAPHY SHOP
-It’s all happening at Nick’s -Grand Bazaar -11January -TriciVenola ©2010
An institution! Nick has created a very unusual niche market: palm leaves exquisitely painted with pictures and calligraphy. The theme is “many religions, one god.” The leaves are from Palm Beach, because they don’t ever crumble. The biggest phone company in Turkey’s employees don’t get a watch on retirement; they get a framed leaf. Nick’s Calligraphy Leaves are all over the world.
NICK &HIS MEERSCHAUMS
-Nick &Burak -15Ocak -TriciVenola ©2010
Like coral, but on land, Meerschaum is formed by tiny creatures leaving exoskeletons which build into a solid substance. Meerschaum is found only in Turkey. For centuries, people have carved pipes from Meerschaum. Nick collects them. Here he is with his pipes, his painted leaves, and his son Burak, who was studying in London when I drew this.
FLURRIES & PURRS
-Ezzie -Ygor -Puppy -Callista -Pinkie -Most winter mornings, I awake to flurries and purring.
Not to mention the view of the Byzantine ruins over the Marmara. All this made me ridiculously happy during the 28 months I lived there. How I miss my cats! We had the same bunch for 8 years, but now all that are left are the Original Two: Ygor and Pinkie, now 14, plus newcomer Zoe.
–Any girl who loses 30 kilos while living with her mother deserves a prize. -Perihan 15Ocak -TriciVenola ©2010
FIDDLER HAPPY FEET
–Cam Neufield live at Molly’s Cafe May 14 -TriciVenola ©2010
BOUKOLEON FISHING FRENZY
-It’s a wonder there’s even ONE fish in the Marmara -21Ocak -TriciVenola ©2010
Great shoals of fish would show up, with the results shown here, and everybody up and down the coast would stuff themselves for days.
-Contrast -2 guys on the tram one cold night January -TriciVenola ©2010
ÖSLEM & TUGCE
-Drawing Öslem & Tugce on a Tuesday afternoon as the first snow sugars the grounds below the high big windows.-TriciVenola ©2010
These girls worked for the Koç Foundation. They were fun to deal with so I drew them.
BOUKOLEON ON A COLD DAY
I used to sit up on my bed and draw out the picture window. The best view I ever had! I was grateful for the little surviving bit of the much-trashed 9th century Byzantine palace, like a brokeback dragon out my window.
BLACK LEATHER JACKET
-Billal at 18 in his first black leather jacket.-“I’m going to live my life.” -TriciVenola ©2010
A cousin of Momo’s from Afghanistan, working the Grand Bazaar.
RAFI IN CIHANGIR
-18 Nisan -TriciVenola ©2010
Hey, Rafi! If you’re out there… I have no recollection of doing this drawing! Where was it? Thanks…
THE TRAIN AGENT
-The agent who sells me my train tickets to Plovdiv. -The old Orient Express station in Sirkeci -TriciVenola ©2010
Off to Bulgaria again on a visa run. Akif here was always a prince. Hope he’s enjoying his retirement.
AKIF AT THE TRAIN STATION
-Akif at the train station gallantly doing his best to find me a ticket after I gave him a Turkish Flashback… what a guy….
This is the old Sirkeci Train Station featured in Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Christie used this train station, but the one in the famous 1974 movie, while identical, is in Paris. I had to leave every three months for Bulgaria to renew my visa. It was always a trial, and I grew quite fond of Akif as he was always a help. The train station is now a museum.
A PAUSE ON THE BRIDGE
-Half a loaf…A dreadful day of effort with no results- then I finally got my ticket, came out in Sirkeci to see Yeni Mosque filing the end of the street against a pink sky- and then, from the bridge, Suleymniye transparent against the bright twilight- Amber lights &sky. I ate pilaf from a vendor, standing and marveling still that I am here. -TriciVenola ©2010
SNOW CAFE IN PLOVDIV
-While outside the world turns white -Everytime I come there’s more English -Snow picks up outside while I draw the same characters from trips of yore. -TriciVenola ©2010
Back in Plovdiv for my visa run, at my favorite cafe with the trees growing up through the roof. This time the ice was so fierce, and my old boots so slick, that I couldn’t venture far from the cafe.
AN ICE CHURCH
-My old friends the statues in the park are all hoary with snow- It’s gorgeous but dangerous out there- Forced to take refuge in a smoky cafe with awful music -I want to be in the Old City -But too slippery out there -Little dramas of motion as everything quivers to stay alive in their relentless beautiful white.
-Here’s a candle for you, Faye, &one for Daddy- It’s too snowy to get up to St Helena’s like I planned- So an ice church in the trees -TriciVenola ©2010
Marooned in the snow, I couldn’t light candles for my loved departed, so made do with a drawing.
SELF PORTRAIT: SNOWING IN PLOVDIV
-Trapped all day in a cafe by too-slick boots- nothing to do but draw everything there in the mirror. Snowed in in Plovdiv on Daddy’s Birthday Feb 6 -2010 (1918-1997 sigh) TriciVenola ©2010
-I love these triple windows at Chora -TriciVenola ©2010
Holy Trinity windows: The radiating brickwork, said the Byzantines, represents the Divine Radiance emanating from the church, while the two pillars of the window are SS Peter and Paul holding it up.
THE BIGGEST NOSE IN THE WORLD
-Çok büyük burun! -On the Tunel Funicular 3 March -TriciVenola ©2010
I kid you not.
SEREF AT COCOON
Famed tribal arts dealer Seref and a piece of fancy stitching.
Winter night view out my front window…
…and the back. I loved the Old City at night. Out my front windows, the minarets of the Blue Mosque speared through the red humming haze of city lights, and out the back, the Boukoleon Ruin and its denizen dog looked out over the dark sea. I could feel the centuries.
BOUKOLEON CITY OF SHIPS
-The backside of the Boukoleon Palace and a city of ships out on the horizon. -TriciVenola ©2010
A festival of lights every night.
EASTER AT THE PARSONAGE
-Easter Sunday at the Parsonage -TriciVenola ©2010
Spring at last! Retiring Coca-Cola executive Chris Gaunt (at left) relaxing with Pastor Ian Sherwood after a fine Easter luncheon.
MEHMET & TOMMY & THEIR MILLION-DOLLAR VIEW
-Mehmet -Urfa -Tommy Gokay-Rize -with CJ & the guys who live in the City Walls. -TriciVenola ©March 2010
Mehmet lived in one of the Byzantine towers until the Belediye let him move into a prefab house perched on the walls, overlooking the highway. It had been built for Barack Obama’s 2008 visit, for the sniper guards. Mehmet had been in Sultanahmet for years, making a living anyhow. He was happy to move into the house, which had electricity and an indoor toilet. Tommy from Rize was charming and cool, despite awesome burn scars. He rode a hi-end bicycle, spoke English, and I never saw him without his sport gloves and shades. The two of them shared a nargile with me, many a time there at the fabulous view. Thanksgiving 2008 was Kurban Bayram. Tommy, crawling around in the ruins, had found two Byzantine coins and sold them to the museum. With the money he bought a cow, a whole cow, and invited all the homeless in all of the walls for Iftar Feast, knives flashing in the sun, smoke in the wind. He said it was time to leave, as he was 30, and he had to go home to Urfa and get married. A year later I wandered up the path looking for them. The house was padlocked shut, but when I walked around to the view, there was a nargile pipe, and a pair of Tommy’s gloves.
BOUKOLEON ARCH FAST TAKE
-Boukoleon Palace Arch Sketch -TriciVenola ©2010
I quickly realized this was going to take a lot longer than I’d thought. A year later I spent two weeks every day, drawing it.
ALI BEING GOOD
Ali was so good at being good that he wound up being a successful film producer.
GHOST OF ISTANBUL PAST
-Nizam – Bayram -Ten years after. Ghost of Istanbul past: old friends Nizam & Bayram getting boiled on vodka & coke celebrating Nizam’s return from Bingöl. These guys used to be the sum & total of my experience in Istanbul, God bless ‘em.TriciVenola ©2010
I wrote a book about Nizam. No, I did not publish it. I published stories from it.
AT NUMBER 19
-Starved for nature from too long among Istanbul’s ugly stumps, I am drunk on the trees! All over Plovdiv spring riots in full celebration, down to the tiniest tasseled twig.-TriciVenola ©2010
It was always inconvenient to go, but I really miss those trips to Plovdiv.
WALLS OF GREEN
-Ancient city, Plovdiv, May 3 2010-Sitting on a wall next to a stone path winding through hilly parkland. Walls of spring green with black branches shot through with white blossoms and trills of birdsong. Church bells. TriciVenola ©2010
AN ALLEY IN PLOVDIV
-Alley in Oldtown Plovdiv -TriciVenola ©2010
-Coney Island-type face cutouts of a couple dresse in Ottoman splendor at a museum in Plovdiv -TriciVenola 2010
-“I was on my bicycle in the mountains…a field of flowers…so happy…” -Krasi -TriciVenola ©2010
I met Krasi on my second trip to Plovdiv years before this drawing and just loved her. This turned out to be my last trip. I hope you are still happy, dear Krasi!
USED TO BE HOT
-Knows he’s being drawn…he used to be be beautiful. -Guys smoking in the tea garden -TriciVenola ©February 2010
Back in Sultanahmet with the usual suspects.
DRAW MY PEECHOR
-Umut -“Draw my peechor!” -If you insist -TriciVenola ©2010
DEAR ÇETIN BEY
-Emlak Çetin Çimen -Fabulous face former cop Çetin Bey the best Emlak in Istanbul
A real champion. I had to leave my beloved Sultanahmet apartment thanks to airbnb, which had also driven rents up alarmingly, so I moved across the Golden Horn where I knew nobody. This wonderful emlak (realtor) found me a good place and a good rent. A prince of a guy. He’s since retired, and I hope he is happy.
Wall in Asmalimescit in 2005. Photo by Scott Stuhlberg
A WALL IN ASMALIMESCIT
-Wall of the old Russian Consulate before renovation. -TriciVenola August ©2010
In 2017, I actually hauled out this old sketchbook and hoofed it over to Asmalimescit to finish drawing the wall, only to discover it had already been smoothly plastered into something like plastic.
COOL ON A HOT NIGHT
-Gülsün cool on a hot evening in Tunel -Simdi Cafe -TriciVenola July ©2010
Gulsun is the manager of a very cool cafe in Tunel. I no sooner met her than I had to draw her.
-Huseyin -On Istiklal Caddesi while drawing After -TriciVenola ©2010
A break during work on a commission to draw Arter Art Museum, shown below.
-22April 2010-Freezing wind, brilliant sun-29April 2:20PM ©TriciVenola 2010
Hard on the heels of the move from Sultanahmet to Cihangir came a fine commission to draw Arter, the Koç Foundation’s new modern art museum on Istiklal. It was in a grand old building that had housed one of their banks. It was far too large and detailed to fit in a standard sketchbook size, so I went with a triptych: three 50 x 70 cm boards. I set up in across the Istiklal from Arter, and went to work. Here’s the top.
Each drawing is 50 X 70 cm, about five times bigger than the sketchbook drawings.
Pounding drums, relentless detail -12 May ©TriciVenola 2010
I love to do portraits, and all my Turkish work is portraiture: a picture of a person or a place, or both, at that moment in time. So the reflections on the windows, the streetlamps, the trolley lines, and the passersby are all part of this portrait of Arter when it opened in Spring of 2010.
This ornate Ottoman Splendor architecture is the hardest thing for me to draw. It’s unforgiving, any mistake compounds right across the page, demanding total concentration. So this last, with the people walking between me and the base of the building, was a lot of fun. They’re all actual passersby and those who posed enjoyed being part of a drawing.
Arter just relocated to Dolopdere. The building is still there on Istiklal.
OWL WOMAN ON ISTIKLAL
-Owl-woman on the Istiklal where worlds collide. Was she once a young girl with beautiful eyes? -TriciVenola ©2010
More fast takes on Istiklal passers-by, done to relax during the Arter commission.
BODY WORLDS: TIME &THE MIRROR
-Time and the Mirror -Body Worlds -Time is fleeting -TriciVenola ©17July 2010
The Body Worlds exhibit came to Istanbul Modern, and I sat on the floor right under this couple and drew them. Drawing necks was no problem after this.
SERDAR & TACHELLE
-Plein air with love -TriciVenola August ©2010
Caught them during the reception. Serdar worked at Kybele Hotel from the time he was 17. He and Tachelle fell in love some 15 years later. They live in Canada with their two daughters. A happy ending!!
RAYAN ON BUYUKADA
-Rayan one night on Buyukada. -TriciVenola July ©2010
I liked the the balance between Rayan’s medusa face, surrounded by frivolous hair like black lace, and the sparkly lacy chandelier. O that was a happy day.
Rayan in the square at Eminonu
Lewis & Me
DOODLES OF FRIENDS
-Lewis’s friends always have the most interesting faces-Frances -Lewis -Michael-Istiklal November 2010 with Lewis just before his retirement. -TriciVenola July ©2010
After a distinguished international career in the US Diplomatic Corps, Lewis lives on Mt Shasta now and I swear he flies around it on a carpet. Michael lives with his wife and daughters in Vermont. Frances and I are still here in Turkey, and am I glad she’s here.
—TriciVenola September 11 ©2010
Ömer Koç and the Greek Patriarch listening to Joyce DiDonato singing Chopin, under the Byzantine cross in Hagia Irene. Me, I was in heaven, too enraptured to notice the scratching of my own pen. The price of plein air.
A SCREAM IN THE CUP
-In the bottom of the cup was…nothing. “There is nothing! Nothing! Very bad!” exclaimed the young man, reading my coffee grounds. I was bemused, but he was so upset that I carefully drew the grounds.
-A week later: HACKED. Thanks to Google’s inhuman policies, I lost everything. -A friend sent the scammers $15,000 and then died of cancer. Don’t trust the Cloud.
-If I could’ve talked to a human, we could have saved something. Like, my friend’s $15,000.
-Screaming figure in my coffee cup one week [later] my email account was hacked by scammers. GOOGLE NEVER RESPONDED. I lost over 700 contacts.
-It took years to recover.
-TriciVenola ©September 2010
-Business as usual! -Ygor biting his nails & Pinkie switching his tail.-TriciVenola September ©2010
We’d been hacked but did they care?
-Too happy seeing Uncle Guy to draw him properly… Clay too!! -Uncle Guy -TriciVenola September ©2010
… And my fabulous Uncles Guy and Clay came to visit which was immensely cheering.
THE ICON OF HIS NAME
-Hasan-Bey Kiliçaslan of Garanti Bank taking care of my money. -Kiliç Aslan – Lion Sword -Mild-mannered Hasan Kiliaslan and the icon of his name. -TriciVenola November ©2010
GIANT SHIP IN TOPHANE
-From Cihangir: Giant cruise ship &Sultanahmet on a misty day. -TriciVenola October ©2010
This was drawn from the Cihangir Mosque. In Byzantine and Ottoman times, it was illegal to block, with your house, another’s view of the waterway.
FERHAT AT WALKABOUT
-Ferhat “Hot Stuff” Göynük at Walkabout Tours. -TriciVenola November ©2010
Over that summer, I created the map of Turkey for Ferhat’s tour company. Ferhat is from Kapadokya, and is back there now with his fabulously successful Walkabout Tours.
-Kemal -TriciVenola November ©2010
After 5 Istanbul moves in 6 years, I met Kemal Araturk, who vastly improved my life in Turkey. He’s my advisor on all things of the Turkish Bureaucracy & legal system: visas, residence, work permits, and the occasional nasty landlord. He’s my hero!
OLD WINDOW OVER NEW CAT
A fabulous old window in the 17thCentury Spice Bazaar, and under it, the little girl in the next picture.
THE GOOD GIRL
-Bir Mama parasi Allah rizasi için -Spice Bazaar -TriciVenola 30 November ©2010
The sign says “Food money for the sake of Allah.” She sat there all day, surrounded by smiling tradesmen. I had just come from teaching my three lovely students from Istanbul Erkek and was in a swell mood, so glad I drew this little girl.
TOPKAPI FROM TOPHANE
-Noon- Tophane in the Bayram -TriciVenola November ©2010
Mouth of the Bosporus, going up into the Golden Horn: The old view from the park on the hills over Tophane.
BABY FACE 2010
-Jeannie &Leyla Jane after one year together. -TriciVenola 12 December ©2010
CORLULU ALI PASHA IN RESTORATION
-Before they repainted the domes at Ali Corlulu Medrese. -TriciVenola July ©2010
Corlulu Ali Pasha is the best place to smoke narglle, among the carpet shops in a 500-year-old medrese attached to the Beyazit Mosque Complex up by the Grand Bazaar. We worried that restoration would rob the tea garden of its charm. Only for awhile, and then the patina came back, thanks to unbroken popularity.
-Established 1901 -Christina -Katya -Jimmy -Ringing out the old year at Cemal Biberci’s wonderful Panderli Restaurant in the Spice Bazaar. 6PM 31 December -TriciVenola ©2010
Panderli Restaurant, beloved by Istanbullus for a hundred years, is built into the walls above the Spice Bazaar. Lined with eye-kissing tiles in intense turquoise and cobalt, it was eventually bought by one of its first dishwashers, who had started there at 15. From this window we could see the Galata tower, and across the restaurant, down into the frenetic Spice Bazaar. We hope it reopens soon.
WINDOW AT ÇUKUR HAN
-Çukur Han Grand Bazaar -Oh heck, it’s sleeting. My hands freeze but I can’t stop. -TriciVenola New Year’s Day ©2011
After months of frustration, being distracted by other people’s projects that came to nothing, I just took the book and started to draw. Drawing is instant gratification: I can see the results immediately. This piece, drawn on the first day of 2011, was the harbinger of a glorious time of creation. It was so much fun that I even kept drawing in the snow.