My New Gouache: A Turkish Sultan’s Portrait

My New Gouache: A Turkish Sultan’s Portrait

I read a book called My Name is Red that I did not like enough to review here, but it got me thinking and this painting is the result. The book was set in Istanbul in the 1600’s and there was furor over the possibility that the Sultan might want a portrait done, which directly opposed Islam by making a graven image. Additionally, the book had two quotes that I found interesting:

• “Painting is the act of seeking Allah’s memories and seeing the world as He sees the world.”

• “Imperfection is the mother of style.”

Anyway, the book got me thinking of what a portrait is, so here is my “portrait” of the Turkish Sultan in that book. The sultan is rich and powerful (expressed in colors), a ruler (expressed in straight lines), both strong and subtle (expressed in tone), a balanced central figure surrounded by complication, but outward acting (expressed in composition.) It is quite large for a gouache (24” x 36”) and it took me a long time to blend the colors for the subdued but still bright effect that I was after. You can see it larger below…

(You can buy a print of this painting here)

A Turkish Sultan’s Portrait (gouache) by Polly Castor

A Turkish Sultan’s Portrait (gouache) by Polly Castor


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


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