Monday, September 14, 2009

Balik Ekmek (fish sandwiches) in Eminonu!

Pablo Picasso

Balik Ekmek in Eminonu 24x32 cm

On my first trip to Istanbul in 2001, Rene and I came down to Galata Bridge with a well meaning waiter who wanted to show us where the Bosphorus Cruise left the port. Sadly, he didn't actually know from where the Bosphorus Cruise left, and so we missed our chance. To make up for it, he bought us traditional Istanbul fish sandwiches. The novelty of buying them off the boat as they were cooked up right in front of us was fantastic. I wish I could say the same for the fish sandwich. I remember spitting bones out on the sidewalk like the locals next to me and thinking, "This is breakfast? Ufff." Hard core.

Frying up the fish, detail

The real balik ekmek guys.

Some people I know swear by the fish sandwiches, but I adore the balik ekmek boats for their neon lights, novelty and paintability. I have also discovered the joys of painting with masking fluid which let me cover certain parts of the painting (like the spindles in the front of the boat, and the white peaks of the waves) and do a wash over the whole thing creating a solid wash effect. No more painting around things! Masking fluid is like a thin, milky rubber cement and destroys brushes, so I applied it with toothpicks I stole from a local restaurant. (Starving artists have to be resourceful!)

Near Sunset on a Sunday afternoon.

The boat on which the painting was based.

The water is quite choppy down along the Galata Bridge, and so I wanted to recreate this movement with paint. Thanks to the masking fluid, I was able to be a little freer with the paint in this regard and got a nice effect in the background by adding washed of paint and blotting it with bits of tissue to get the desired effect. This little painting was a joy to paint. Maybe there is a reason it is still in my living room and not hanging on the wall of Java Studio!

Fish and Seagulls in the choppy waters, detail.


  1. Love the fish in the waves and the swimming seagull :)

  2. I really love the misty background effect. It makes me feel like I can sense that feeling you get when the fog and the ocean come together and the world feels smaller and more intense than usual. If that makes any sense.