Monday, March 30, 2015

The Times They are a Changin'! So, We gain one more hour of light!

Work in progress (detail)

On Saturday night, the 28th, We set in Spain the clocks one hour ahead. The days are starting to get longer, which means I gain one more working hour for painting with daylight. I love this! Anyways, Canary Islands is close to the Equator, so we have much longer days.

Last week, I worked on the still-life oil painting with lemons and the red Seltzer bottle (see work in progress above). The details are forming now. I would say it might be finished by the end of the week. I do not rush to finish oil paintings for a few good reasons; one of them is I wait for the painting to dry completely, so I am ready to apply the new layer. In that way, the colors don't mix in a muddy way. Secondly, I give my eye a break. Why do I do that? When you look at the same image for many hours, you won't be able to see your mistakes anymore. So this way, I always catch things to fix.

Another piece is finished for my ongoing project; "Kitchen Stories". We bought some Canarian green tomatoes. My mother used to make the recipe I share below. It's a delicious sour and sweet vegetable dish. Enjoy it :) Before the recipe, I will remind you to SIGN UP to my blog and receive my "Early Works" ebook via email. 

Have a great week! 

Sketching for watercolor painting

"Green Tomatoes" by Birsen Ozbilge, 
watercolor on paper, 9,6" x 7,4" (24.5 × 19 cm.)
AVAILABLE click on Contact for purchase info

(Green Tomatoes with Olive Oil)


1 kg green tomatoes
1 onion
4 table spoon rice
1/4 glass olive oil
1 table spoon sugar
1/4 lemon juice
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 table spoon concentrated tomatoe paste
1 glass of water

Cut the onions tiny and cook with 1 table spoon of oil for 5 min in the pressure pot the cover open. Add tomatoes (cut them in 4-5 pieces), rice, water, tomatoe paste, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Close the lid, cook for 5 minutes after the vapor comes out. After turning the heat off leave it on the stove about 10 more minutes than move it away to cool down about 15 min. Serve it cold, enjoy it!  (if you wish to cook in a normal pot  20 min. will be enough (don't swirl the food) Once is cooked, let it cool completely. 

Here is my cooked green tomatoes.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

New Watercolor painting "Sunset at El Burrero"

Sunday afternoon after the rain in Burrero

Yesterday afternoon after the rain we visited a friend in Burrero. I always carry a sketchbook and sometimes a small set of watercolors, with brushes with a watercolor pad in my bag. There I was sitting by the window and looking to the beautiful Burrero beach view just before the sunset. I tried to capture this peaceful moment from our lives...

The sun is gone, putting the final touches on the interior details

"View from Gemma's kitchen window" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2015
watercolor on paper, 9,6" x 7,4" (24.5 × 19 cm.)
(Available, contact me for purchase details

Have a great week!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

How I Survived This Year's Carnival

A few of the mobile disco trucks in front out our building

We survived the most noisy week of the year in our neighborhood which was the "Carnaval de Carrizal". Their loud music really annoys that you prefer not to open any windows and balcony doors, cause at least 10 huge mobile disco tracks are parking all around the plaza and each one of them plays a different song. My solution to avoid Carnival is usually using headphones and watch a video or listen to the music and try to work on the computer. Anyways I put my headphones with high volume, listening Chet Atkins for those 4 days. This way while I was painting at least I was able to open my studio balcony door for the fresh air. See the still-life painting below, I think, it's coming out little by little, I am happy with the settings and the color values. This week I will work more intense on it.

Still-life oil painting, work in progress

On the other hand I am preparing my new plein air guerilla box gear with a new wooden palette. I recycled a piece of wood from an empty wine box cover. Sand it all the surface with very fine sand paper first. Applied pure linseed oil and let it dried a day. Next day I applied two coats of shellac to seal the wood. Well done! i have a new painting palette now and it's very light. It will be fitted inside the guerilla box I am working on now. Once totally finished I will share it.

On Saturday, Carnival was going crazy out there and of course I couldn't open the windows for the fresh air. Well, this was the great time for me to go through my favorite cook books to prepare menus and get ideas for my "Kitchen Stories" Artist Cook Book. Visually I have things clear in my mind, it is going to be with my own recipes and their related still-life paintings. The stories are the secret part, because you will know what's behind on the paintings and the recepies. I'll keep you posted soon... Have a great week!

Some of our cookbooks and mint tea on the coffee table

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Monday, March 9, 2015

How I celebrated the Women's Day 8th of March

Last week we had hazy days, sand was in the air. Few times a year, when Saharan Air Layer, SAL passes over the Canary Islands where the phenomenon is named "Calima" and manifests as a fog that reduces visibility and deposits a layer of dust over everything. Obviously it is not enjoyable to be outside in those days. This extreme weather condition fortunately doesn't occur very often and when it happens, for those few days we avoid going out too much. So, not being able to work outdoors, I set a still-life composition at the studio, using an antique seltzer bottle and a Canarian handmade ceramic bowl with locally grown lemons from Fataga. In addition to these objects, I displayed one of my self-portrait painting under the table. This painting had been exhibited in a collective show called "El 3er Grito de la Mujer" (The third shout of the woman) on 8th of March, 2013, World Women's day and it gained more than $50 donation for "Nueva Futura", a non-profit foundation for helping abused women. See pic. below.

Exhibition opening with a Canarian Artist Zoraida Rodriguez (right)
√Ābreme por favor by Birsen Ozbilge
Oil on canvas with 99 detachable magnet pins (donated each for $1)

Work in progress for Still-Life painting

A good news from last week! I received many visits at my shop, as a result, I am delighted to say I SOLD my plein air painting "View from Las Terrazas". I shipped it already, it's on its way to NYC, my second hometown where I lived for 7 years. If you want to check it out what's available click on SHOP . Have a wonderful week!

"View from Las Terrazas" by Birsen Ozbilge, 
acrylic on canvas, 33 × 24 cm, 2015 (SOLD)

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Monday, March 2, 2015

How to get perfect view spot for plein air painting

If you live in a big city try to go outskirts of the city where you can find the peaceful recreational park areas. When I used to live in New York City I used go to The Wave Hill, mostly on my midweek off days, Or to The Cloister. In the early 90's when I was giving plein air classes at Bogazici University we were working from the famous Turkish poet Tevfik Fikret's house called "Asiyan". So find your secret spot I suggest go with other painters. It will give you good encouragement or with your loved ones. They might like to read or listen music and disconnect also.

Winsor & Newton travel watercolor box set.

On Friday, We went to the coast for about an hour, I took advantage of being at outdoors worked on a plein air painting with my watercolors. I had a perfect spot for viewing the fishermen by the edge of the bay where you can see on the painting. I used a limited palette (brown, blue, green and white) without complicating the scene. It was around 6:00 pm, so I had just enough time to finish the painting before sun went down behind the mountain.

Work in progress , Tufia, Gran Canaria

Signing the finished artwork just before pressing process

Pressing the watercolor under the books overnight

Ready to archive into my Frick Collection portfolio (I used to work there in NYC)

Fishermen in Tufia by Birsen Ozbilge, 2015
Watercolor on paper, 9,6" x 7,4" (24.5 × 19 cm.)

Have a wonderful week!

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