Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy New Year! A plein air painting before the year ends...

Just before the christmas I set a composition with these beautiful cyclamen flowers and my recent handmade linocut greetingcard that I sent to celebrate my supporters this year. I would like to thank all of you for following my blog and especially to my sponsors for being generious to support me every month. 

As you know I have been working both outdoors and indoors this last year occupied with two ongoing projects, In this coming year I will share the process of the artworks and the finished artworks. Also, I will talk about the local exhibitions, some artists you may like to know. I will make new video tutorials for people who like to see work in progress.

I will keep posting the blogpost links on the social networks but lately I see there is a lot of movement going on which makes the posts go down very fast and fade from the feed page. So, in order to reach more people I prefer to send the posts by e-mail. Please feel free to send your e-mail address to contact form to join my e-mail newsletter. (Your e-mail address will be safe with me)

work in progress

The weather is unusually warm for the end of December. the other day we went to a nearby beach to enjoy the afternoon. I took advantage of being outdoors and sketched people who were laying down on the beach. 

Sketch from Hoya del pozo beach

Last week, I was painting en plein air by the coast near Tufía. This is a great spot for painting, it's very quite place and it's easy to access, walking only for 5 minutes. I used acrylic painting on colored canvas sheet, working as quick as possible before the light runaway. 

sketching by the coast

"View from Tufía" by Birsen Ozbilge
 10,6" x 7,4" (27 × 19 cm.)
Available, click on Online Shop

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Getting ready for Xmas and New Year

Last week we arrived home and It took me for few days to organize the studio and start working on something new. I decided to make limited edition linocut print artworks for the "New Year" card. I had all the materials for this project; which are linoleum sheet, cutting tools, printing rolls, special red ink, acid free thick card paper and some metallic acrylic painting for the details. This small size of work finished in two studio working day. I was pretty happy for the result. I sent them out today, precisely to people who supported my profession this year. If you wish to receive a special greetings for the next year, click on "BE SPONSOR" and choose from options.

Preparing the linocut

"Happy New Year" by Birsen Ozbilge, handmade linocut print, 
(Edition of 10 only) 10,5 x 15 cm , December 2015

On Monday we went to visit Seasonal Art and handcrafts Fair in Maspalomas. There were very nice handcrafts, clothing and other interesting objects. As usual I didn't get anything from these goods and instead I bought a portable wooden easel for myself. That's the life of an artist! Now I have another plein air gear to enjoy painting at outdoors. 

My new outdoor easel.

A short while after we stopped by at the boardwalk of Maspalomas. It was a lovely afternoon, I do not complain about the weather we have in the Canaries :) So, I set on the side wall sketched enjoying the beautiful sea view... Hoping to comeback soon for plein air painting.

Sketching by boardwalk of Maspalomas

"View from MasPalomas" sketch, pencil on paper

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Watercolor Plein Air Painting in İstanbul

I am away from home, so I couldn't find enough time to post lately.  About ten days ago we came to Istanbul, the city where I am from originally. Usually I take with me a watercolor set for longer trips. This time a pocket travel watercolor set was gifted to me on my arrival. (see below) I haven't tried this new set yet, but I would like to show you how I prepare this light pack for plein air painting.

Travel watercolor pack

Last Sunday the weather was great. Still having the ''Indian summer'' in the city. So we visited a nice neighborhood called ''Ortaköy,'' where I used to live in the early 90's. I used my watercolor set sitting by the port. Enjoyed painting and being outdoors. İt was crowded overall but I preferred using a simple composition. (see below)

work in progress

work in progress

''Fisherman in Ortaköy'' by Birsen Ozbilge, watercolor, 12 x 17 cm

Last Saturday, we were at the famous ''Galata Bridge'' having a tea break. I always carry a small sketch book with me. I did a quick sketch drawing of the new bridge. (see below)

work in progress

''New bridge on Golden Horn'' sketch

Last week on Thursday, we visited a collective exhibition in Göztepe area.  It was very nice to see the works of my old University classmates.

Visit to my old classmate's collective exhibition at Gallery Ark (Recep Batuk, 
Yiğit Yazıcı, Hakan Kamışoğlu)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Brings a New Still-Life with an Owl

Last weekend we visited a village called "La Goleta" in Arucas. When we arrived to Arucas we needed to park before the village because it was a special celebration day and roads were closed for all motor vehicles. By the parking lot area there were these trees with white flowers and they smelled beautiful with sweet fragrant aroma. On the way back to home my husband grabbed a small branch, as he knows  me well that I might like to use it for a still-life composition. So, I set the composition on top of one of my favorite silk scarves. Put the branch into an empty Berger lamp bottle and accompanied with a bronze owl sculpture. I used Cray-pas oil pastels on Rembrandt black pastel paper. (see pics below)

Work in progress

Work in progress with more detail

Later on, I made a research about this flower and I came up with "sweet almond verbena". My studio still smells beautiful. I would love to grow it in my patio if I could. 

And also a research on the symbolic owl meanings which are,


"Sweet Almond Verbena Branch with Bronze Owl" by Birsen Ozbilge
Oil Pastel on Black Pastel Paper, 32 x 24 cm. (12,5" x 9,5") SOLD

Oh! Before I finish to publish the post, I want to tell a little bit about our visit to "La Goleta" village on the special recreation event. 100's of village residents volunteered in this event called "Recorrido por un barrio Antiguo" (A walk in an old neighborhood). This small village recreated the daily life of 50's. So everything today in our daily lives you can imagine recreated. We went to 60 years back! It was on the steep road of the town about 1 km long walk that you can get in to old stores (about 50 of them) to see old cars, to try traditional food such as gofio, bread like they made in those times. At the end of the road there was an artist studio where I met with few artists from the 50's. (see pic below) It was a great experience. Not much changed since then It is very similar how I do my art today...

Artist recreation from 50's in Arucas.

"Sal Si Puedes" (Go out if you can) group organizes this event for every 4-5 years and the recreation year grows 5 more years each time. So for example next time, they will recreate the early 60's. (see video clip below)

If you have difficulties to view the clip click on this link https://vimeo.com/141342199 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Have you heard about Sumi ink painting?

The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1489,
Tempera on panel, 150 cm × 156 cm (59 in × 61 in), Uffizi, Florence

Every year last week of September "Las fiestas de San Gabriel" (Celebrations of San Gabriel) takes place in the neighborhood square where we live. During these fiesta nights. While I work in my studio I hear the lovely Canarian folk songs. As you may know San Gabriel is an angel who typically serves as a messenger sent from God to certain people. I am sharing a beautiful painting by Sandro Botticelli (see pic above). "The Annunciation", in which Gabriel visiting Virgin Mary to tell her that she has been divinely impregnated and will bear the Christ.

Sumi ink Painting Set

Last weekend`s full moon was incredibly beautiful. It was a little bit cloudy that night and the moon looked much more dramatic than usual. I read somewhere on the net that 33 years ago, the last time the moon was this much closer to the earth. To celebrate this historical moment, I wanted to create an artwork with a new material and opened my brand new Sumi painting set. 

Sumi-e 2000 year-old art form of Japanese brush painting is spiritually rooted in Zen Buddhism. Sumi-e's earliest practitioners were highly disciplined monks trained in the art of concentration, clarity, and simplicity. Sumi is made from the soot of pine branches selected from trees in the beautiful groves on the mountainsides close to Nara and Suzuka. These two regions of Japan are prized for the highest quality ink. In harmony with the environment, Master Sumi Ink artisans create ink from the purest, natural materials. 

After watching lots of YouTube videos and reading very useful information about how to use Sumi ink with its special brushes I painted September's full moon (see pics below) sketch. I am trying how to control the ink with tick brushes which is very difficult. At first try, I used the first page of the little sketchbook of the Sumi set. The paper was thin but double folded in each page, so the ink didn't bleed to the next page. It's genius! I would love to make more of these, perhaps a series of nocturne paintings for this sketchbook. If you collect artist sketchbooks please contact me.  Have a great day!

work in progress 

Sketch of September's Full moon, by Birsen Ozbilge, sumi ink on rice paper.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Looking Up for Clouds to Paint

I saw on today's news "Alerta Amarilla" (orange alarm) rain. That's why we had beautiful clouds yesterday afternoon. The sky was crisp blue clouds were patched like cotton balls. We walked up on the hill to see the ocean view. It was about 8:00 pm, every 2-4 minutes landscape was changing its colors and cloud shapes. So,  I tried to memorize the view of three clouds and the sea with roof tops. On return to the studio I worked with oil pastels. (see pic above)

Quick sketch draing en plain air, Telde 

The other day I did a drawing sketch in the Park. Usually I use my pocket sketch book, but this time I used a little bigger (A4) size paper. It was an after noon seen, with kids skating and people walking with their dogs. I found a lovely fountain surrounded by natural volcanic rocks so, I decided to draw the fountain closest object in the composition. The clock tower is very modern in the middle of the park as it sets in the composition as well. (see pic above)

Street Art by Case_Maclaim (Burrero village in Gran Canaria)

We have been enjoying our neighborhood Burrero's graffiti painted walls a lot. A few years ago there was an international Graffiti Festival here. This festival was every two years and it happened two times only, so many talented artists left behind great street artworks. I want to share few of them with you. I don't know the names of the artists but you can see their signature in some of them. If you know the artist just let me know, so I can update the info. Enjoy it! Have a great weekend.

Street Art from Burrero's International Graffiti Festival

Street Art from Burrero's International Graffiti Festival

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Monday, September 7, 2015

My first Moonrise painting en Plein Air with Oil Pastels

This weekend we went out to see the annual music festival in Burrero beach. First night I had chance to observe the sky. I saw the moonrise around 2:00 am and in about half an hour reached to its highest point. First few minutes had incredible view, as it looked like a slice of golden orange reflecting the light to the sea. The second night I was prepared for making a quick oil pastel sketch of the moonrise. I tried to paint as much as quick because almost every minute the view and light were changing. So at the end I made a quick sketch and later on added some details at the studio. I really liked working with night light en plain air, will try it again with other mediums. I used white watercolor cold press paper to  use the grain wholes leaving blank so they looked like the stars. Lots of blending with smudging tool. (see pic below)

work in progress with smudging tool

A September night at Playa del Burrero by Birsen Ozbilge, 
27,5 x 21 cm., Sakura Cray- Pas Expressionist oil pastels 
on Rembrandt pastel paper

Finally I finished editing "CactuSueños" Exhibition clip. I created cactus related paintings and mosaic artworks during the first 10 years of my residency in Canary Islands. It was an on and off project, in between I had other solo and collective shows. Anyways, If you haven't had chance to see this exhibition now you can enjoy it! The exhibition held by the art gallery of University of Las Palmas for a month and a half last year in February. 53 pieces of artworks and a video installation exhibited. 
(see full exhibition pdf e-book at my website under media/press section) If you are interested in with any of these artworks, please e-mail me. (click at contact

CactuSueños Exhibition clip, click on image to watch

Have a great week!

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Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Hang a Painting with a Few Basic Rules

I will give few tips about how to hang a painting on wall. There are few basic rules for hanging the right way;
*Try using painting hanging hooks, rather than nails or screws. Although they may seem dainty, they are very secure.  Make sure the hook is right type for your artwork's weight.
*Put D-rings at the back of your painting for the wire to hang. The wire should be 1/3 close to the top of the painting if it is landscape or square. For long paintings 10-15 cm from top.
*Ask someone to hold the painting against the wall before you begin where to hang. So this is a team work. Eye level is the best for most landscapes, square sizes. When it comes to long portrait size paintings, it's a bit tricky. Try to locate your eye level at 2/3 above the painting so it is not too high and low. See the example below.

My cactus painting is at the entrance hall


Mackerel is on season now. So, we bought few the other day from Mercadona's supermarket chain. These fresh ones caught by local fishermen close to small town called Arguineguin in the south of the island. I didn't want to fish to get bad outside staying long for the still-life, so I had a quick sketch and afterwards took some reference photos and worked with oil pastels which gives me lots of freedom for layering colors. I used Sakura Cray Pas Expressionist 50 set on a black Rembrandt pastel paper. (see pic below)

Work in progress

"Two for you, two for me", by Birsen Ozbilge, Oil pastel on pastel paper, 
 9,5" x 12,5" (24 x 32 cm.), by Birsen Ozbilge 2015 
Available contact me for purchase details

Today I am going to share a Spanish cold starter recipe called "Escabeche de Caballa de citricos" (Citrus marinated mackerel). It is a great appetite opener and a summer time dish. ALso it is simple to cook if you know how to clean and fillet the fish, otherwise you can ask your fish market to prepare it for you. Enjoy it. Have a great weekend!

My escabeche turned out delicious! Try it...

(Citrus marinated mackerel)


4 medium sized mackerel, filleted and bones cleaned
(or other blue fish like tuna, bonito, sardines) 
(The fish needs to be cleaned well, big fish has less bones but small ones are tastier)
1 big white onion
2 carrots (boiled)
1/4 olive oil
1 glasses of orange juice
small piece of orange skin
1 lemon juice and small piece of skin
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves
4 clove
1/2 tea spoon black pepper grain`
1/2 glass of apple vinegar
1/2 glass of white vine
4 table spoon sugar
1 table spoon salt
1/2 glass fish stock or 1 tablet fish stock with water 
1 tablet vegetable stock
dill to decorate (optional)

In a medium sized pot add julienne chopped onion with olive oil, mix well and cook about 10 minutes in medium heat. Add the vine and vinegar, bay leaf, orange and lemon skins, cloves, peppers and cook 10 min. more. Add the vegetable and the fish stock tablets, orange and lemon juice, sliced carrots (boiled), chopped garlic, sugar, salt, cook for 15 more minutes. Pour the marinade into a deep dish and wait for 7 min. to cool it down. Add the fish into the marinade and make sure cover it with all the sauce very well. Discard orange and lemon skins and the bay leaf. Once it gets totally cold than cover the dish with plastic wrap or its own tight cover and put it in the fridge for at least for 24 hours. The fish will be cook with the acid of citric, vinegar and it won't be raw, so no worries. Serve it in room temperature, take it out from the fridge 15 min.  before you eat. Last touch with chopped fresh dill (or parsley) to decorate the plate. Best with a fresh baguette bread. This type of food conserves long time in the fridge, so it's Ok to keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Important: There might be some fish bones, just be careful when eating.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Getting ready for plein air painting...

Last week the weather was so hot that I preferred not to open the studio's balcony door. So, I couldn't work with oils. Instead of, I decided to work with soft pastels (see pic below) and did some handcraft work for my upcoming project. I cut an old denim pant to make an apron for outside painting and I felt great creating something useful. (see pics below) 

 "Sewing kit" by Birsen Ozbilge, 21, 5 x 21,5 cm., 
soft pastel on Stonehenge paper, Aug 2015

work in progress

Recycled denim pant for painting apron.

Finally the guerilla French box for plein air is finished. It seems very stable and strong, I am hoping to use it soon. If you have a lightweight portable outdoor easel and a small wooden box, you can make one without spending lots of money. I used a simple wooden box. (see close up pics.) The box had a set of watercolor pencils which I did not care to take them out.. Simply we made 4 wholes on the each side for the L shape metal pieces. Than used 4 screws with tightening pieces. For fixing the box in 90 degree we slit a pen through the metal piece, so this way it didn't move. To stop the painting board from the bottom we used the smallest metal file clips. To control the top cover, we made 2 wholes on the back part of the box and used a shoe lace to fix with the easel. It takes about 4-5 minutes to set it up and the equipment is quite light.

My guerilla french box with Winsor & Newton easel 
for plein air painting 

Also, we visited last week an arts & crafts fair at the south of the island at Faro de Maspalomas. It was a very hot and cloudy day but there were many visitors at the fair. There were 66 stands in this year's edition. I met with few craftmakers, one of them was the owner of Indeparte, Alicia. She was selling beautiful hand painted portraits of the local birds on t-shirts. (see pic below). 

Indeparte - Alicia Garcia (Painting on garments)  
at 8a Feria Artesanía Faro de Maspalomas
visit her facebook page Indeparte

Have a great week!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A summer day plein air painting

In mid July I visited a fantastic exhibition at Casa de Colon, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. "El Paisaje" (the landscape) exhibition paintings belong to Casa de Colon. This selection of paintings about landscapes of Canary Islands and travel memoirs of Canarian artists from Galicia, Basque country, and Italy, ( from late 19th century until 70's). As I am very into outdoor paintings lately, it was great to see these landscape paintings. 

See more info at http://www.casadecolon.com/

  'San Cristóbal más hacia el sur' by Francisco Suárez León 
[Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1865-1934]
(1910. Óleo sobre lienzo)

The other day, we had picnic at the park with the family and kids. Our youngest niece Pili and I drew with oil pastels and had lots of fun. Children loves oil pastels. See her drawing below. It was very windy day, so I chose sitting on the grass and drawing with the pastels. Unfortunately all summer will be like this windy. The wind will go away in September. We have been working on a guerrilla French box for outdoor painting. I will post the result soon, come back soon and have a great week!

Drawing of my niece (5 years old)

 work in progress

"A summer day at Arinaga Park", oil pastel on paper
5,50" x 8,25" (15 x 21 cm), July 2015

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to paint en plein air in the windy season

Last week I was very busy working at the studio and outside as well. We are in the windy season in our neighborhood, I tried to draw outside but it was almost impossible. So, I decided to work from the balcony and inside from our car. (see pics below) I used oil pastels and watercolors medium. Oil pastel technique is much more time consuming process than the watercolors. So, I had to work one hour for the first half of the drawing and next day comeback at same time to finish the other half of it. 

Work in progress first day

Work in progress second day

"Playa del Burrero from Gemma's balcony"
by Birsen Ozbilge, Oil pastel on pastel paper, 
12,5" x 9,5" (32 x 24 cm.), July 2015

In these extreme windy days, I try to work in any alternative ways in order to get the plein air experience. See pic below.
work in progress

"Faro de Arinaga" by Birsen Ozbilge, watercolor on paper, 
11" x 8,6" (28 cm. x 22,9 cm.), July 2015

I have been working on a still-life oil painting for a while. Finally I completed this piece called "Turkish coffee". All the objects are gifts from my mother except the wooden peg. A 150 years old antique pink silk shawl which was a gift to my grandmother from her father-in-law once and later on a gift to my mother from her. My mother also gave this beautiful shawl to me for my dowry in the 80's. She was very happy seeing all these things that I was using them for my painting. I filmed and edited the work in progress and shared it at my YouTube Channel (watch it below). This piece is available at my SHOP. I accept all major credit cards and ship worldwide with tracking number. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great week!

Work in progress


"Turkish Coffee" by Birsen Ozbilge, 
Oil on canvas sheet, 42 x 29,5  cm
 Available, click on SHOP to purchase

Watch this still-life Oil painting demo clip

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