Monday, April 20, 2015

My Soft Pastel Adventure; a Cityscape Painting from the Rooftop

Vegueta rooftops

Last weekend, I took cityscape photos from the rooftop of my sister-in-law's new apartment in Vegueta which located at the historical part of Las Palmas. I haven't been painting with soft pastels lately, especially for a landscape painting, so I decided to make one. I have the basic colors of Derwent, Marie's and a nice sketch tones of Saguine brand pastels. For the paper, I chose a light brown toned Talens brand pastel paper, taped with mask tape all around to the masonite board and than I put the guide marks. Ready to paint now... I started to sketch the composition with a dark brown soft pastel first. Starting to paint from top to bottom, I layed the blue on sky leaving the cloud areas blank. After, I mixed the blue color with white using my fingertips to soften the blue. I painted the clouds with white adding a few touches of yellow and dark brown at the bottom edges. Again, using my fingertips, I gave the soft transition and the volume to the colors. Afterwards, I worked on the buildings, laying medium tones and white areas first and darks on top of it. Finished with white, yellow additions to give the light areas.

Soft pastels

Work in progress

"Vegueta from the rooftop" by Birsen Ozbilge
Soft pastels on pastel paper, 30 x 22,5 cm, 2015
Available click on SHOP

Last week, I started to a new oil painting still-life composition for my upcoming "Kitchen Stories" book. I chose the cabbage as the main subject, because I have a great recipe from my mother and I cook this recipe for many years. To complement for the composition, I used a nice olive oil bottle and a handmade coconut shell spoon that I bought in New York many years ago. I set them on top of a silk scarf with drawings of "Alice in wonderland", also bought it in NYC from the gift shop of Metropolitan Museum of Art while I was working at the Frick Museum. It brings back good memories. See pic below.

Working on the studio for still-life

I gave a dark blue undertone to the canvas with acrylic paintings which is OK to start to an oil painting. Sketched it with brown paint defining dark areas. Started to work on the scarf and the objects using mid tones first and giving their rough look. In the next stage, I will work on the lights and shadow areas. Like the last two still-life painting this one has a small portion of my self portrait in it. I haven't added the details but it will be shown underneath of the table. And of course all the details of the Alice illustrations will be added at the last stage.

Lastly, I am sharing my cabbage soup recipe. Enjoy it! Let me know about your Kapuska soup.

Have a great week!

Work in progress (not finished yet)

(Turkish style cabbage soup)


1 medium size cabbage (cut in thin stripes 3 cm)
1 onion chopped tiny
4 table spoon ground meat (beef preferably)
3 table spoon olive oil
1 table spoon concentrated tomato paste
6 glasses of cold water
1 dessert spoon sugar 
black pepper
pinch of spicy red cayenne pepper

Put the chopped onions with olive oil in a pot and sautéed about 5 min. Than add the ground meat mixing for another 5 more minutes until the meat is separated totally and changes its color to brown. Cut the cabbage while they are cooking. Add the cabbage to the pot with water and the rest of the ingredients. I cook the cabbage with pressure pot putting an alarm about 10 min after the vapor comes and once alarm sounds I turn it off without moving the pot another 10-15 min. So it continues to cook. Of course to open the lid I move it on top of a cool marble and wait about 10 more minutes. If you are going to cook in a regular pot I would suggest high to low heat after 10 min and cook for 35-40 more minutes. The texture of the cabbage comes out very smooth. Serve it hot with toasted bread. Bon appétit!

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