How many tourists can fit into the Cistern? About as many angels as can dance on the head of a pin. To stay out of their way, I straddled the corner post chaining off the Sideways Medusa, leaned in around the chains and over the water, and drew, my back to the mob behind me. Halfway through the drawing, an immense Australian woman actually climbed over me to avoid going through the crowd. I saved the drawing.
The second day, Security stopped me with my little stool en route to the Sideways Medusa and said in Turkish, Are you nuts? Two cruise ships in town, and the Medusa jammed even worse than Rude Woman Day. So I drew this lesser known view across the tops of some arches, a nice warm-up view, but no water. Five hours here.
Plein air drawing means drawing from life, drawing the light. The Cistern is wonderful to draw because the light never changes.
But there isn’t anything to sit on. The drawings back in 1999 were done sitting on the clammy cement walkway. Now, after thirteen years drawing in the neighborhood, I got permission from Security, and an actual chair. Nice guys!
Here’s a second take on the Medusa, back in 1999. I’m mortified to notice that in these early takes, for some reason I drew nostrils, and irises in the eyes, although she doesn’t have any. This sloppy documentation is annoying, but all I can say is that I don’t do it anymore, which is probably why the drawings take about five times longer.
Friends of Kybele Hotel will recognize a younger Alpaslan Akbayrak. I’ve always found him fun to draw, but have no idea why I put him on the top of the Medusa. Since Alp is right side up, know that he won’t turn you to stone.
Sunken Palace: The Basilica Cistern: Next: HEART OF STONE