Excursions, walks in the mountains and plein air
The summer tourist season in Kyrgyzstan is over, and I can sum up by quoting Rudyard Kipling "It was good hunting!" Hunting for impressions!
For several years I have been dreaming of organizing a “Scenic Tour” combining excursions, mountain walks and plein airs in one trip. The idea was raw. Many people said that painting in oils while traveling is almost impossible. Oil takes a long time to dry, requires a lot of material and so on. But I still wanted to do it.
In June, during one of my painting classes I shared this idea with Zhanna, my art mentor. And instead of doubt, I saw a spark in her eyes.
– Let’s do it! – she said.
Well, we did! We made a program and announced it! On August 27, our girl group flew to Tamchy. We took advantage of the fact that Aeroflot opened flights to the small but very unusual Issyk-Kul airport, located at the foot of the Kungei-Ala-Too mountain range on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. This made it possible not to have a long drive from Bishkek to the lake (270 km). And the second advantage, perhaps the main one, is a beautiful landing and a mini air excursion over the lake.
Do you know what our girls first saw when they landed and left the airport? There was a rainbow over the mountains! Our beautiful Kyrgyzstan met art travelers in such a picturesque way.
We accommodated in the hotel on the very shore of the lake. In the evening, over a cup of tea, Zhanna held an introductory lecture for us, and introduced us to the materials. We talked about art. And in the morning we started our creative plein-air.
The first day of our plein air trip was very eventful. At 10 am we settled on the hotel pier overlooking the bay and the mountains in the background. After Zhanna’s short briefing on oil painting we began our creative journey. Several girls from our group held brushes in their hands for the first time. But, as soon as the first strokes appeared on their canvases, we could no longer believe in their debut. It was very cool and atmospheric. People periodically approached us, took pictures. Men even offered themselves as sitters. The colors of the lake changed every second but we still managed to catch the mood.
After lunch, we went to the oldest art gallery in Kyrgyzstan, to the Cholpon-Ata petroglyphs museum. The local guide Maksat gave us a wonderful tour, showed us all the rock paintings and balbals, told us a lot of interesting things! And after the tour, we also decided to feel like ancient artists and started sketching!
But even this was not enough for us. In the evening we decided to watch scientific films about Issyk-Kul, about flooded cities, about the search for the relics of the Apostle Matthew, and simply about the beauty of the region. We were impressed! Charged up! Gained knowledge!
The next day we went on our journey. We reached the Jergalan mountain gorge. Autumn had already visited it and painted the slopes of the mountains with yellow paints. The evening was rainy, but we were not bored. With girlish conversations and hot fragrant tea, we did not even notice how midnight had come.
We woke up to the lowing of cows. The morning in the mountain village of Jergalan was filled with real village life, the bright sun almost impudently burst into the room with clucking, chirping, neighing, and I no longer wanted to stay in bed. Outside the window the landscape was clean and bright after the night rain. I quickly dressed and went up the river to look for a place for our plein air. In my opinion, the point that I found turned out to be successful and at 10 in the morning we were already setting up our easels and uncovering our brushes.
To be honest, it was difficult. It is very difficult to paint mountains when the light constantly changes and the shadows on one side go to the other. But in four hours we all coped with the task, and everyone managed to paint a mountain landscape, and even with a mountain river!
After each plein air, we pack the paintings so that they can be transported and dry at the same time. It turned out not to be difficult at all.
Having packed and after having our lunch, we went to Karakol. On the way we stopped at the Old Mill Museum of Russian life. Well, what can I say, this is a cool museum, rich in antiques. And most importantly, it has a functioning old mill and oil mill. Everything works and functions. And all this was restored, assembled and made by the hands of one family - the descendants of those very first settlers from the Russian Empire to these lands at the end of the nineteenth century. We spent over two hours in the museum and didn't want to leave. As a professional organizer of tours, I am pleased that such places appear in our country and how cool it is that such a memory will remain for the next generations.
In Karakol, we checked into my favorite Green Yard hotel, where in the morning we were given delicious coffee and a rich breakfast table.
The fifth day of our trip was August 31 - Independence Day of Kyrgyzstan. And while the whole country was celebrating, we continued on our creative route. To gain inspiration one needs emotions and impressions. For impressions, we first decided to go to the Przewalski Museum. Here our guests from Russia learned so many new and surprising things about their compatriot; about the complex way in which knowledge was given in the century before last and how this knowledge developed our society. In general, I really like groups in which the participants have an interest in history, discoveries and respect for past explorers. Well, we had to look for the beauty. And for this, we went to the Jety-Oguz gorge.
We were very lucky with the weather, and the gorge met us with all its bright colors. Personally I liked that despite the holiday there were no people in the mountains which happens extremely rarely. We had lunch in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt and then walked a little along a completely deserted but very beautiful gorge.
On the South Shore, we accommodated in a very unusual hotel - the Al-Khayat art base. This hotel has seen so many plein-airs, so many real and famous artists have come here to capture the beauty of the South Coast and create their masterpieces. So we decided to partially join the energy of the place and paint our “best” pictures. The place chosen was really picturesque. We decided that on the first day of autumn, the color should be appropriate. So Red it was!
We have chosen a fabulous place next to the hotel. Not the well-known Skazka gorge, but the landscape was still amazing. Around the red-yellow-orange mountains, similar to castles there were bushes of white jasmine and purple lavender, and in the background there was a bright blue Issyk-Kul and soaring snowy mountains. It was a very difficult plein air, we painted sun for six hours in a row without rest under the sun but no one wanted to finish.
We ended our creative program with an excursion to the Burana tower and a vernissage at the Asia Mountains hotel. Yes! We arranged a small exhibition of our works in our most beloved hotel, thereby delighting the guests and ourselves. As a bonus the participants of the tour were presented a unique book “Unknown Kyrgyzstan” (author Dudashvili S.D.).
Oh, it’s a pity that the journey is over. But the girls decided that we should continue and on October 30 of this year we are going to Uzbekistan to travel and paint the two most beautiful cities of the East - Samarkand and Bukhara.
Watch the video about our trip to Kyrgyzstan and let's go on a new adventure together!