Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A pear will never fall into a closed mouth

Last week I was out drawing on the landscape sketchbook again. This is the view from Aguimes town looking to Arinaga, it's a great plein air painting spot. I would like to comeback another day with my pastels or oil paints. I have the 4 o'clock sun light coming from my right side, so it was quite strong. I think morning light will be much better or a midday light.

work in progress sketchbook

"View from Aguimes to Arinaga", sketchbook page 4

At the studio, I worked on some unfinished oil paintings and there are few more to go through... In the mean time I set a new still-life composition for painting with oil pastels. I used heavy-weight acid-free craft paper which has brown color. This paper holds oil pastels nicely and blends good with warm colors and also gives very good contrast with cold tones. I used Sakura Cray Pas Expressionist 50 color oil pastel set.

work in progress oil pastel painting


"Still-life with pears" by Birsen Ozbilge
Oil pastel on acid-free craft paper, 8" x 11" (21 x 29 cm)   2016
Available, click on SHOP

Recently we bought some pears to make "Poires au vin rouge" (Pears in red wine) dessert. The recipe originally from France but very popular in Spain also. My mother-in-law used make it and I got the recipe from her. It's a super easy recipe if you follow the right measures, no fail guaranteed. Enjoy it!

These are the ones I cooked! Light and delicious...

POIRES AU VIN ROUGE (Pears in red wine)
3 cups dry red wine (750 ml) Almost a bottle
1 cup sugar (250 gr)
6-8 medium firm pears, pealed
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 orange zest strip, 7 cm long
1 bay leaf
a few peppercorns

In a pot combine the wine, sugar and bring to a boil stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange zest, bay leaf and peppercorns and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pears, cover the lid and cook about 30-40 minutes until they are tender but not too soft. Remove the pears from the syrup and let them cool. Discard the orange zest, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and the peppercorns and reduce the syrup in high heat until thickened enough to coat a spoon. Let the syrup cool also. When it's cold pour it over the pears, chill it at least for a few hours before serving. Serve it with cream fraiche or spray nata. (This dessert has much better taste the next day or the day after, so it can be prepared in advance).

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Monday, January 18, 2016

"Yin and Yang" the fusion of the two cosmic eggplants

Work in progress

The other day we went to a nearby beach called "Playa de Vargas" which was very calm and quite.  A lovely day for a plein air sketch... At the end of last year they built a wooden platform and stairs for the visitors and swimmers. I set on the rocks, towards the new platform, I worked about half an hour on the sketch below.

Playa de Vargas, pencil drawing on sketchbook, January 2016

Do you like eggplants? They are very popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It's easy to find them in every season here in the Canaries. I usually cook two whole eggplants divided in 4 half pieces. After we eat first two pieces I transfer the others in the shape of "Yin and Yang" into an ovenproof crystal plate, so they fit nicely and peacfully :) The next day we heat them in the oven. The recipe is intermediate level. It takes about an hour to prepare. It is a little bit different than the typical Turkish "karniyarik" recipe which has no béchamel sauce and cheese. I am sharing my recipe below. Have a great week!

"Yin and Yang Eggplants" by Birsen Ozbilge
Oil Pastel on pastel paper, 11,5" x 8,2" (29 x 21 cm) 
Available, click on SHOP




2 eggplants
250 gr ground beef
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomate paste
1/2 cup of sunflower oil
2 table spoon  of olive oil
200 gr shreaded gouda cheese

For béchamel sauce: 

(Also, you can buy 500 ml ready to use one from the supermarket)
3 table spoons of flour
1 cup whole milk
2 table spoons of butter or olive oil

Cut the eggplants in half, peel their skin in 1 inch long stripe shape. Put them in a salty water about 10 min. In the mean time cook the chopped onion with olive oil about 10 min until soft and golden. Add the meat and mix it well, cook for few minutes until it gets brown. Add the tomatoes and tomatoe paste, salt, pepper, cover the sauce pan and cook for 20 min. in medium heat. Start the béchamel sauce, heat a small sauce pan with flour and the oil, mixing them until it's a smooth paste, stirring a minute a half more. Than immidiately remove from the heat and add a little milk mixing quickly until it gets homogeneous liquid. Lower the heat place the pan on the stove again add more milk and keep mixing until it gets thick. While keeping your eye on the béchamel and mixing it oftenly, put the oil in a frying pan and heat. Dry the eggplants with paper towel. When the oil is very hot fry the eggplants both sides until they are golden color. Place them on a plate with paper towel. 

Heat the oven 200 degrees for 5 min. and place the eggplants on a ovenproof dish. Layer them with meat sauce and pour béchamel on top. At last the cheese and a pinch of paprika. Cook for 30 min. Take it out and wait for 5 min. to serve. A puree or rice would be nice side dish. Bon appetite!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Do you make new year resolutions?

Calvin and Hobbes

Do you make new year resolutions? I wonder if it works... I prefer to keep diaries and put little weekly goals on them. Generally, at the beginning of the new year I give myself few days of break. Afterwards I start to organize the studio, put things together, clean and tidy. This is good enough for beginning of the new working year, than it rolls. I am not in a rush, 358 days to go for another year...

This week, I set a still-life composition with Artemis figurine which we bought it more than 15 years ago in Ephesus, Turkey. They call her "Lady of Ephesus" also, she has bunch of tits, strange right? Did you know "Pomegranate" is the symbol of prosperity and ambition? The pomegranates are on season now, we had two, so I cut one of them in half to show the inside part. Oh! The gorgeous silk scarf was recently gifted to me and the small black one with tiny flowers was my granny. It was a challenging drawing with this color combination of such limited palette. After I draw the composition, I built the mid tones and blocking the bright colors such as the flowers, by the end of the hour my light was gone so, I call the day off. Next day, I worked on the darks and the shadows and lastly the light areas.

work in progress


"Pomegranates with Lady of Ephesus" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2016
Oil Pastel on pastel paper, 11,8" x 9,4" (30 x 24 cm) 

Beside the studio work, I've done few plein air sketches. One of them was a sailing boat passing through the coast. My main attention was putting the right colors of the sky and the sea. The boat was so far for the details, so I got some help from my camera's zoom. But I kept it simple without giving so much details. Have a nice weekend! 

Plein air pastel sketch work in progress

pastel drawing on sketchbook

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