Istanbul – The Nut Boys

Nut BoysThese two brothers arrived at the bottom of the market street around midday and set up their stall. They’d obviously spent the morning preparing their bags of cobb nuts for sale, taking each nut from its fringed greenery and putting them into paper bags for 2 TL each bag. I bought some and tried to ask them where they were from but they spoke no English and I have no Turkish. We sat in a cafe nearby eating the delicious fresh nuts, probably picked earlier in the day as the green fronds were not at all limp. Later I wandered over again and asked if I could take their photos. They were happy for me to do so but I couldn’t get them to smile. I was struck by how alike they were, their faces and body language, the only difference was their height.



Visiting Istanbul with a camera has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I have been establishing which kind of images I really want to capture and have come to the conclusion that although the architecture is of course sublime, it is the people that have drawn me in.
Here are a few of my favourite scenes, some may inspire me to write stories others are simply enough in themselves.

The Reader

The Other Reader

The Sleeper

That face

Watercolour Challenge – A Portrait of Peter

I have a tiny black and white photo of my uncle Peter in a boat on a seaside day out with my mother perhaps before the war. I don’t recall ever meeting him as he died when I was very small but this image draws me in. He was an artist and studied at the Slade in the 1930’s, even winning a couple of prizes. I think it is his profile that I like so much, the slightly weak chin and mouth and the refined but quirky nose, it curves down right at the tip a bit more than I have managed to capture here. Then there is the hat, a black trilby not a straw boater, an odd choice of headgear for a boat trip, I suppose it was all he had with him and wanted to shade his eyes.

I have made very few watercolour portraits, I find the medium too challenging to accommodate the endless tiny changes I always seem to need to make before the likeness feel right. However, I have painted this now about 15 times and I have nearly got it right. I chose to restrict the palette to just Paynes Grey as I was working from a black and white image. The blue/grey becomes a rich dark blue when very strong as well as keeping its colour in the faintest washes. If or when I do it again, I will paint the sky differently, I was trying to capture the way the dark hat’s edge turns white in the bright sunlight as well as the tips of brow, nose and chin disappearing into the brightness. I haven’t got that quite right here. Also there is a line of shadow along his jawline which is too harsh. I must keep trying I guess.

Peter in watercolour

Double Portrait Painting

I am enjoying painting so much, I had forgotten how satisfying it is to capture an expression, a likeness. Two-thirds of the way through this painting, I have yet to complete the glazing and warming of the skins tones in the girl on the right and there are more tresses to add at the far left.  I may also add detail to the background if I have time. (only 4 or 5 painting days left before the deadline) The sitters, I am glad to report, seem genuinely pleased. They are sisters and each of them has remarked on how good the likeness is of her sister!My Deighbours' Daughters