Istanbul: Bosphorus Waterfront: the finished painting

Istanbul Bosphorus Waterfront

The finished painting!

I read somewhere that you have six seconds to catch a reader’s eye before they move on, so I thought I would put the picture first and talk about it afterwards

Once again the photograph has leeched out some of the colour. The painting itself is brighter and fresher than the jpeg, but for the moment is the best I can do

Quite a time consuming painting to do, but rewarding watching the finished view come towards you.

The palette was much as I foretold in one of my previous posts:

Phthalo Blue/ Cobalt Blue mix for the sky and water, with extra phthalo blue on the water

Raw Sienna/Naples Yellow as a base coat for all the buildings etc

Sap Green/raw sienna mix for trees

Transparent Brown/Ultramarine Violet for all shadows

Burnt Sienna for brickwork

Cadmium Red

I did use a little Permanent Rose as a glaze over the brickwork to give it a little zing. The burnt sienna first coat has to be rock hard for this. The result should look as though the sun is catching the building

For the white reflections from the boats, I lifted out the blue back to white paper, and then touched in some White Gouache or body paint, whichever you call it. Still watercolour but opaque

Fun to do, but nice to finish. This painting will go towards my exhibition at the Guildford Institute in May, which seems a long way off but really isn’t as I have much to do. I still need a snow scene for the exhibition and will be working on that next. As we so rarely have snow these days, I shall have to work from a photograph without snow, and put snow in. This is quite a test for the imagination, but it will be interesting to talk about, perhaps in the next post.

The web site has been busy over the last three months, which is nice. The only problem is I am selling paintings which were going in to the exhibition. Can only sell a painting once though, so best get working.

Istanbul: Finished Drawing transferred to Watercolour Paper

Not very often that I am moved to include a quotation, but this one in last week’s Painter magazine, seemed very appropriate for artists, no matter what standard they have reached.

” Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art”       Andy Warhol

The drawing has now been transferred onto watercolour paper, seemingly without mishap


I have left the shading out, and just left the line work for guidance. The image has unfortunately cropped some of the drawing out to the left and right hand sides. I did actually achieve the length of 43 centimetres that I wanted.

I didn’t do very much masking out, just a few gulls hovering over the surface and two tiny windows on the Galata Tower which appear to be reflecting sunlight. The boats, I know are brilliant white, but I have chosen to go with the old adage” the darker the darks, the brighter the lights”. In other words if I can make the shaded sides of the boats dark enough, then the rest will appear white. That is the theory. I have done it before, but watch this one go wrong.

I have chosen the following palette, which if I include the mixes as one colour, then I will have a palette of six, which would be quite effective if I can stick to it

Base colour: Raw Sienna/ Naples Yellow blend which is my favourite hot colour for buildings

Shadows : Ultramarine Violet/ Transparent Brown blend

Burnt Sienna

French Ultramarine

Sap Green/Raw Sienna blend for trees

Cadmium Red for those foreground red spots like flags, life belts etc

Not that I am above changing my mind as I go along but that is the palette that I want to stick to. I shall get some detail done before posting again

Just changing the subject, the Frank Auerbach exhibition at Tate Britain finishes the end of this month, so I am hoping to go on Saturday, unless I get an urgent call from someone, wanting me to do something else

I don’t know anything much about him, other than he is Britain’s most celebrated living artist. He appears to paint unrecognisable portraits which seems to be a contradiction in terms. However, I am speaking without firsthand knowledge, so will go with an open mind and reserve judgement until after I have seen the exhibition. I am not very good at appreciating images that are not recognisable, which could be an indictment of me, of course. It will be interesting, whatever happens

Istanbul, Bosphorus: finished preparatory sketch

I said that I would publish the finished preparatory sketch, which will be my tonal guide for the painting stage. That doesn’t mean that I won’t change things as I go along. Not thrilled with the way that boat in the bottom right has turned out, which seems to be lost amongst a clump of trees. Still, that is the benefit of the tonal sketch on cartridge paper, which means that you can make and correct your mistakes, without damaging the surface of the watercolour paper.

Galata Tower finished tonal sketch

Now comes the laborious task of moving the sketch across to the sheet of watercolour paper, which will not make for very interesting reading, so the next post, I think, will deal with starting the painting.

Choice of colours will be interesting. There seem to be plenty of reds and greens which is nice. Definitely my old favourite of raw sienna mixed with Naples yellow across the buildings for some reflected sunshine, and brown shadows to heighten the bright bits

If I get this right, could be a nice painting. We will see

Istanbul, Bosphorus Preparatory Drawing

As today is the first day of the first month, I would like to wish anyone and everyone reading this post, a very happy new year. Perhaps I should wish you a fortunate new year, as inevitably this year will bring the usual mix of joy and sadness that we all share

Meanwhile back to the drawing board, quite literally….

I have made a start on the drawing using the photographs that I featured on the last post. It is not complete yet but is sufficiently in place, so that we can talk about it. This will be a tonal sketch, rather as I did for the Langstone painting, which means that the shadows will have been worked out well in advance of the painting stage.

On this occasion, I have used Derwent sketching pencils which are soluble. I have cross-hatched the dark side of buildings, and then washed over with clean water to give a shaded effect. These are much more convenient to use than ink. I had forgotten that I had them, so that was a nice find.

I will get the image up before we go any further.Galata Tower, Istanbul

The important building in the picture is the Galata Tower, which was a watch tower and which gives a panorama across the city. It was built by the Genoese in 1348, and replaced an earlier tower destroyed by crusaders in 1203. The Genoese were a merchant community in Constantinople at the time, and I guess this was their way of expressing gratitude for the hospitality shown them

I will only be able to use two of the three photographs, as I want to keep the finished painting within 40 centimetres. This is a pity, as I had hoped to include the splendid red Turkish flag shown between two buildings on the third photo. Not to worry, I still have dashes of red in the foreground with the life belts and the small flags on the boats. Maybe I can do a postcard study of the buildings holding this large flag, at a later date

In case you don’t know, and my apologies if you do, using some red in the foreground is a useful device for artists. It is an aid to perspective, as red comes towards you, just as blue recedes. Distant scenery turns blue, as you have probably noticed.

Let me repeat, that this drawing is not yet complete. I will post the completed drawing when I have finished it

I also have photographic references of the Blue Mosque, which should make a lovely study at some time. The last time we were in Istanbul, which was 2001, so a while ago, we went to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, which I believe is a museum now. We also went to the ancient cisterns of Constantinople, that masterpiece of Roman engineering, where the city’s water supply was stored. I try not to use the word “awesome” too lightly but that really was.

This time we went to the Topkapi Palace and of course cruised along the Bosphorus. Istanbul is still one of those places I would like to return to.

If you are following this demo, then thank you. I will complete the finished painting in stages and post as I go

Istanbul along the Bosphorus Waterfront

We were here in October, and cruised in a small boat gently along the Bosphorus Strait for about an hour. There were any number of picture opportunities and ideas which I have brought back.

I have picked for now, three shots of the waterfront with its variety of buildings. These are consecutive frames which I hope to piece together to make an interesting composition, and finally a painting

Istanbul Bosphorus 1







Istanbul Bosphorus 2

Istanbul Bosphorus 3

Just not clever enough to get them in a line but the idea is there. I need to get a painting measuring about 45×30 centimetres out of these three frames, so will be fun sorting out the drawing in the New Year