Following the Fethiye Times’ recent feature on the Dancing Divas, we turn the spotlight onto the Fethiye Creative Women’s Group art class and talk to co-founder Sharon Baltacı.

Creative beginnings

Art has been part of Sharon’s life ever since she was a child, and she can’t imagine it being any other way.

“I’ve just always done it,” she says. “My mum was very into crafts and it’s something I grew up with. I love painting – especially watercolours, I just adore the delicacy of using them. I have so many different projects on the go – there’s always something new to learn and different styles to try.”

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
The essential tools of any artist!

Running an art class seemed a natural progression; Sharon already held a regular craft session at her home and people there told her they’d love to paint. So, when she and her friend, Kate Topcu, discussed setting up a creative women’s group, it seemed an obvious addition.

From abstract to Picasso

Since it began towards the end of 2014, the class has covered a wide range of subjects – landscapes, city skylines, nature, animals and people, to name a few.

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
A colourful interpretation of a Whirling Dervish.

The members have produced works inspired by such famous names as Monet and Picasso, as well as more contemporary icons such as Sam Toft and Diane Salter, and Turkish artist Canan Berber.

A different subject is announced each week, with the women encouraged to find their own examples to inspire them. Acrylics, watercolours and mixed media have all played their part in the resulting artworks.

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
The ladies are encouraged to explore colour in their work.

What delights Sharon is seeing her students discover their hidden talents, becoming less afraid to experiment and develop their own styles and skills.

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
Concentrating hard on the latest creation.

“It doesn’t matter if someone is a beginner or has painted before – there’s a place for them in this class,” she explains.

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
There is always a helping hand on offer when needed.

“I remind people that even the greatest artists didn’t get it right first time – Monet did more than a thousand paintings of his water lilies compared to the three most people know. Everyone has their own style and should never say they are no good at art.

The bigger picture – discover your artistic side and make new friends
Sharon Baltacı, right, offers some advice to one of her students.

“A child drawing the most basic stick person thinks it’s a masterpiece but sadly, as we get older, we become more critical of ourselves. I love seeing the ladies grow in confidence and ability, and hope my class helps them realise they are better than they think they are.”

A welcoming environment and a safe space

It’s not just about the art, either. The weekly sessions offer company and a great way to make new friends – something of which Sharon is proud.

“There are a lot of women on their own in this area, for whatever reason – some are widowed or wanted a new life in a different country, for example. As a single woman it can be difficult to find a group where you feel comfortable, so I want our group to provide that environment. I know some of the ladies who come to class get together socially now, and that’s great,” she says.

And she urges anyone thinking of having a go to take the plunge: “I promise, painting isn’t as scary as you think it will be. At the very least you’ll find a lovely group of warm, friendly women who are always happy to welcome a new face.”

The weekly art class has a busy, cheerful atmosphere.

Interested in joining?

Classes are held every Friday from 9.30am – 11.30am at Güven’s Restaurant, Kocek Mustafa Caddesi, 1103 Sokak, Çalış. You can catch a regular dolmuş service from Fethiye centre and alight shortly before the terminus, or walk along the seafront.

Sharon Baltacı is also planning to run some more Saturday workshops covering different painting techniques.

To find out more, or if you have questions about the regular class, email her at sjbaltaci@yahoo.co.uk.

This article was written for Fethiye Times by Rebecca Parsley. Photographs by Steve Parsley.

Rebecca & Steve Parsley are both former journalists with experience in newspapers, magazines and on radio. Since 2006 they have run their own communications agency, specialising in social media and online content writing. They moved to Turkey just over four years ago and live in Kayaköy with their German Shepherd dog, Dillon – formerly a street dog – and two cats. When not slaving over their keyboards or walking in the local countryside, they enjoy watching motorsport – especially Formula 1 – and are also salsa dance addicts.

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