I'm finally home again and working my way out of the jet lag fog. I let this blog lapse the last week of my trip. I was frustrated both by the increasing difficulty of uploading on my small netbook (it seemed to get harder as the trip went on) and also by the dark, unclear snapshots of the sketches. The photos haven't really shown the colors and brightness of the sketches.
So now I'm going to work backwards through the trip and repost, starting with Bergama sketches I haven't posted here at all. I'm slowly scanning and cropping the 50 or so watercolors I managed on the trip and will post clean versions of them here as I get each one ready for its close up.
I'm starting with the street scenes of Bergama. Two years ago, I painted primarily at the archeological sites, but this time, I found myself much more drawn to the center of town. My time with the Urban Sketchers has changed my ideas of subject matter. I love the row of baklava shops (at the very top), the way the rug merchants hang and lay their rugs outside on the sidewalk, and the general bustle and color of a Turkish town.
I also found that I love painting in the center of town because of the bustling sidewalk culture and warm hospitality of the Turkish people. I was amazed that as I painted every day, people would bring me stools to sit on and hot tea or cold drinks. I have never been shown such overwhelming kindness while working. One day it was the taxi drivers bringing me a stool and a cold soda. Another day it was the barber whose shop I was painting in front of bringing me hot tea and his spice merchant neighbor bringing me cold water. Another day a small group of boys went back to their house and brought me a cold drink. It was just lovely. There was invariably someone extending me hospitality simply because I was there painting their hometown and honoring the place they live.
I was also invited to dinner by the museum director and his family. He wanted his daughter to practice her English with me, and I was thrilled to be asked into a Turkish home. It was a delightful evening, and I left Bergama feeling that I have real friends there, between their family, the Gobis (my hosts at the pension who warmly included me in family activities all week) and the very kind waiter Alimetin at my favorite meatball place, Pala Solanu, who would sit and visit with me and help me with my Turkish. I miss them all already.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.