The play of light as it hits the surfaces, textures, and moods of timeless architecture is something I have been exploring in my studio. There is no better city to indulge this than Venice. And so I started with the above watercolor of the Pescheria, or Fish Market. My memories take me to a time when I had visited the market. It was in the afternoon and so it was all emptied out, with me being the only person there. I felt like a had a part of Venice all to myself. There were some wonderful views from within this space, looking out onto the Grand Canal, and the surrounding palazzi. But what I am interested in capturing most is how the light and the city spills into the otherwise dark space of the fish market and creates a picturesque sense of chiaroscuro.
"Paris is the greatest temple ever built to material joys and the lust of the eyes."
I am so very excited to share that my next creative sojourn will be to the City of Light ~ Paris!
It's going to be quite a special trip as the majestic Architecture of Paris was something that has intrigued me since childhood, and also because I will be celebrating my birthday there :~)
Although I have dreamed far and often of finding myself in Paris, this will be my very first time visiting, and I am so looking forward to how the city will inspire my art. As I often do when I travel to new places, I will be letting go of preconceived notions of what I want the city to look and feel like. I will be looking to wander far and often into places away from the tourist crowds to find my own special corners and delights within the streets of Paris.
And I am very excited to share that I would love to invite you to become a part of my creative process. Once I return home to my studio, I will dedicate myself to capturing my very first impressions of the city and its romance, as a series of watercolors. I am excited to share that I will be offering these watercolors for pre-sale, to share my love for Paris, my soon to be new muse, with you.
For all the fun details, and to reserve your Paris watercolor, see the link below:
As I lovingly painted the ancient ruins of Persepolis in Iran, or Persia, as seems more befitting for this subject, I pondered the following question: What makes historic cities, monuments, and ruins capture our interest? Why do we travel to see them?
My hunch is that it is partly this: All our lives, we hone that which makes us unique. We are told that what makes us different from others, is also what makes us special. While this is beautiful and true, there is another side to our nature, which these places allow us to uncover. In our everyday lives, we celebrate our unique qualities. And then, when we travel, I believe it is these historic cities, monuments, and ruins that allow us, for a moment, to have a glimpse of feeling connected to a past much larger than ourselves.
And it is within this past, that we truly are truly able to celebrate and deepen the appreciation for this very moment that we occupy in time. When we return to our everyday lives, we are enriched with this sense of having been part, even if just for a brief moment, of the magic of this past which can almost feel eternal, and can also feel collective.
This is one of the many ways in which travel enriches, nourishes, and feeds our spirit. It is one of the many reason why I enjoy travel so. The deeper the history, the more vibrant the past, the more colorful my experience of being there and the more it has to offer me.
I am excited to share that the above watercolor, which celebrates these very things, is for sale as an original ~ $370 + complimentary shipping in the US. Simply contact me through my "Connect" page.
I am exciting to be sharing my new collection of still life watercolors. These watercolors are painted from life, from direct observation of the subject. They are explorations into the lure of the beauty that surround us in our everyday lives. Both evocative and simple in their aesthetic, my aim was to capture their essence and a sense of gratitude around these simple luxuries.
This is the first set of new watercolors I am sharing, and am excited to be offering for sale as originals. See below to view this new collection.....
It may have been a long time since I've written last, but a lot has been stirring in my creative world nonetheless. :~)
I took some time away from my usual subject ~ Architecture & Monuments inspired by my travels ~ to take a look within my own world, my own daily life to see what inspiration I can find right there. Within those quite contemplative corners, I spent time observing my life, observing its simplicity, observing the beauty and the poetry of everyday moments.
And so it is with great joy that I share a small sneak peak at a new series that I will be launching soon. And for the Architecture enthusiasts, know that I haven't turned away from painting monuments, in fact I am currently painting a new Venetian scene. However, this new series is very near and dear to my heart and my creative process, and I hope that you will enjoy the resulting watercolors, which I will be sharing soon in my next post and newsletter.
Until then, I hope you have been savoring the new year, and that your own journey within it is full of delightful surprises.
Merry, joy, let there be light
A prayer for birth, a prayer for rebirth
closer to beauty
closer to strength
to hope, to mystery, and the journey ahead
Wishing you a most joyful and festive holiday season, and much beauty, love, and warmth for the new year ahead, from my corner of the world to yours!
With my warmest regards and heartfelt gratitude, and looking forward to sharing the new year with you ~
Because she dreamed, she created doors
Because she believed, she unlocked them...
Portal of the Frari, Venice
© Sophia Khan
The above two watercolors are of a portal at the beautiful church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which I painted while in Venice. One of the things I loved about this church is crossing the threshold between city life and reflective life as signified in the brief moment of encounter, at the doors. These doors celebrate the entrance into a blessed and sacred space and like with any doorway, I love the symbolism within them: a passing through, a leaving behind of the old and of what no longer serves us, of entering into a new beginning, of entering into....a mystery.
This church was located a few steps from the hotel that I was staying at. And so I passed it often. It became, like any city monument, a sort of grounding place, a point of reference, and also a place of celebration, a place to pause and to take in the majesty that is before me. There were certain hours of the day when locals would pass by the surrounding square, and so I managed to enjoy some people watching as I did these paintings.
I am excited to be offering these original watercolors for sale, for $300 USD each + shipping. If you would love to own one or both, simply email with me through my 'connect' page
Below are some images of the lovely church interior, along with my sketches:
The above watercolor is one of my favorites, which I painted one lovely day, during my recent painting trip to Venice. I had started my day at the Caffe Florian, where I enjoyed a lavish breakfast and did a small sketch, and was on my way to paint the Palazzo Fortuny. I became terribly lost, if that term can apply in Venice, where this is bound and perhaps meant to happen often. Another woman was ‘lost’ along with me, on her search to find a related shop selling fabrics, which she had heard of from a friend. When we parted ways, I delved deeper into the maze, and crossed over a bridge into a campo. It struck me immediately....the beautiful central bay of a gothic facade. I was drawn to the playfulness of the stonework and arches. I felt I was meant to be here, to find this place, and to paint the poetry of the arches dancing along the peach colored stucco.
And so I sat myself down, with my plein air set up and started to paint. The changing crowds and sounds within the campo kept me company. I always thought that being around people, while painting in Venice, would be a bit bothersome, but I quickly learned that I actually enjoyed it. The sounds of children speaking Italian, which has become for me one of the sweetest sounds I know, their occasional curiosity as they watched on, the sounds of friends gathering, the sounds of passing gondolas, as above me the sun blazed it’s rays upon me, making the heat slightly unbearable; just the way I like it when I am drawing or painting outdoors. This all provided a wonderful backdrop, and as it turned out this watercolor became one of the most enjoyable Venetian scenes for me to paint. A friendly local artist was selling her artwork nearby and we exchanged thoughts about our favorite artists, techniques, and materials. As I finished my painting and got up to leave, I resumed my search for the Palazzo Fortuny. This time, to my surprise, I chanced upon it instantly, almost without any effort. Such is the poetry of Venice....
I am also excited to share that I am now offering a set of notecards, featuring some of my favorite watercolors painted in Venice. These are beautiful to gift yourself or a loved one, to tuck within a special gift for a Venice lover, and can also be framed as small prints.
The view shown in this painting, where one catches a magical glimpse of the beautiful church of San Giorgio Maggiore, through the arcade of the Doge’s Palace, is one I happily discovered during my recent visit to Venice. During my very first visit, I had actually sketched the same arcade, but in the opposite direction, looking towards St Mark’s.
Each time that I visit Venice, the city appears slightly different to me. A different aspect of it calls to me. This time, especially during the first few days that I was there, a feeling of serenity overcame me. And so the color palette for this watercolor reflects that sense of calm. The prominence of blue is also suggestive of the elements of sky and water which always surround this glorious city. And the brushwork, along with the colors, reminiscent of the dream-like feeling I had as I entered into the city after so many years.
It was early in the morning, that I started the drawing for this watercolor. I wanted to start making my art before the crowds came in. And then later in the day, when the piazza became much more crowded, I returned to do the painting. I didn’t mind the crowds too much. For a piazza is a place of gathering, a place of celebration, and the passing crowds often yielded curious children, a friendly local, or a tourist who would look over my work, or ask to take a photo while I worked.
It was this feeling of serenity that carried me gently through the calle and canals of Venice, as I continued my creative journey into the maze-like arms of La Serenissima.
One of the things that I enjoy doing when I am in Venice, is entering Piazza San Marco from all of its various entrances. Each entrance provides its own visual and spatial poetry. And this brings me to another aspect of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore that always intrigues me.
When one enters the piazza from the north, beneath the clock tower, something very interesting happens. As one draws closer to the church, it appears to get further away. This is a play on perspective created by the arch below the tower, and also the mystery and magic of the church and its positioning. The sketches below show two different views sketched as I drew closer to the church, and it appeared to draw further away.
On another note, I would love to share a new book I am currently reading, on the subject of Venice and its Architecture. Dream of Venice Architecture is a remarkable gem of a book that has managed to make the often niche world of Architecture accessible to all in a profoundly beautiful way. It's filled with highly personal and evocative essays by a variety of Architects and writers, who share their intimate observations, reflections, and encounters with the Architecture and urban environment of this remarkable city. Many of these essays read as if we are getting a private glimpse into the writer's personal diaries...
For my entire review and more information on Dream of Venice Architecture, see the Amazon.com link here.
I would love to share my very first plein air Venice watercolor, painted during my recent trip to Venice and the story behind it....
This was the very first painting I was inspired to paint in Venice, the very first day that I was there. I did not intent to paint on this day, as I did not think I would have the energy to do so, however, I so fell in love with this facade the instant that I saw it, and was so full of admiration and inspiration, that I couldn’t not paint it. It was a facade that I could see from outside my very own hotel window.
I was staying in the San Polo sestiere; one that was much less crowded by tourists. Being that I was visiting Venice as the tourist season begins, this was something that was very important to me; to be around more locals than outsiders. I started to have a creative dialog with this facade the moment I chanced upon it, and drew a sketch of one of the lovely arches up above. I knew then that I wanted to do more. So I returned to my hotel to get my plein air painting gear. I had vowed to keep it all portable and simple so that I could easily carry everything around. I had a foldable stool and a small clipboard, which I carried in a lightweight portfolio case, a travel palette with my favorite colors, my best brushes, and a thermos for my water.
I set up my gear and did not have any of the initial intimidation or nervousness that I thought I would, with this being my first plein air painting trip. I was filled with so much joy and excitement around being here, and I poured all of those feelings and love into the painting. There was a restaurant nearby and an elderly man was sitting solo outdoors, enjoying his wine. Surrounding me the sweet sound of bells began to toll, the water in the canal fronting the doors created a beautiful rhythm, and in the air a bit of a sense of haze that I was actually living my dream of painting here in Venice....it was all so very memorable for me and such a lovely way to begin my creative journey into La Serenissima.
I had my first taste of what painting en plein air in Venice was like, and was happily eager for more.