Monday, October 31, 2011

Across the Aegean

Yesterday I commented that back in 1998 I painted a still life that included two art books that my painting instructor owned, and I wrote about Venice Sketchbook.  The other title, which I eventually bought for myself, was Across the Aegean: Am Artist's Journey from Athens to Istanbul.  This latter title also is a series of travel sketches done in watercolor, with some personal reflections about the places the writer/artist visited.  While I had visited Athens in 2003, until this month I had never visited Turkey, so much of the book didn't mean a whole lot to me until now.  Marlene McLoughlin's sketches in pen and paint are smaller than Hank Scarrey's, more personal in their subject matter, and more pastel in their use of color. 

McLoughlin's sketches are often of her impressions of sunsets, hillsides, farm animals, and sun washed buildings and architectural details.  She doesn't include people very often.  But because I remembered her sketches I found myself looking at little things, food carts, pigeons, chairs, and olive leaves.  Here are a few of my photos that I think might have caught the eye of the author of this charming travel sketchbook.

This little potted orange tree sat near the entrance to a Greek winery on the  Peloponnese peninsula. I failed to get a good picture of the peacocks that wandered under the trees there.

These donkeys are for hire to carry tourists 800 feet up a twisting and steep path from the dock to the village of Thira, on Santorini.

The waters at the Strait of Bosphorus are filled with traffic.  Here you can see a tugboat and a water taxi.  In the background is the Bosphorus Bridge, over 4,000 feet long, linking Europe and Asia. At night it it lit with red and white lights, creating a dramatic zigzag in the dark.

The spires of Hagia Sophia make the skyline dramatic in Istanbul.  To the left in the trees is Topkapi palace, and to the right, cut out of the photo is the Blue Mosque.  There was a sort of haze over the city both days we were there, and I suspect it is smog from the heavy car and bus traffic.

These are windows from the harem at Topkapi palace.  The place was beautiful, ornately decorated with frescoes, tiles, calligraphy, and stained glass like you see here.

While we didn't get to see the ruins or sculptures at Athens because of dock and transportation workers strikes, we did see the wonderful ruins at Ephesus.  The library and terrace houses were particularly impressive to me.

I find myself very much attracted to cypress trees that are found all over the Mediterranean, in Italy, Greece, and here at Ephesus.

While McLaughlin includes watercolor sketches of dogs, of which we saw plenty, but she doesn't include any cats.  Because my husband and I have a spoiled pet cat, and missed her the two weeks we were gone, I found myself noticing the many cats that roam all over Greece and Turkey, almost of of whom were friendly, vocal, and very much at their ease. This one rested outside the museum of antiquities removed from the Ephesus site.

I still have not sat down to do any painting, and am finding it hard to leave my photos quite yet.  Soon, I hope, I can get back into a regular schedule here at home.

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