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Diary

Memories of the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Sophia Khan

a quick and loose watercolor sketch
copyright © Sophia Khan

Art is emotional.  It truly is.  The paintings, photographs, etc. that we hang within our homes tell a story about us.  They are images that we connect with at an emotional level, in one way or another.  For an artist, it is no different.  

I love to paint images of places that either I have traveled to, or my patrons have traveled to and that hold special meaning to them.  Some time ago, I received a comment from a follower on my Facebook page.  He suggested I paint an image of something in his home country, in Turkey.  I loved the thought, but because it was vague and I hadn't traveled to Turkey, it left my mind.  

Until recently.  An online artist friend, Vandy Massey, posted about discovering a watercolor of the Hagia Sophia located in Istanbul, Turkey.  One day while visiting her family in South Africa, she was looking through some old family photographs.  Within them, she discovered the following small watercolor, with a message from her grandfather, to her grandmother and mother, written behind it:

watercolor by an unnamed Artist

There is a bit of mystery behind this lovely watercolor.  Who painted it?  Vandy's grandfather pursued painting himself, but the signature on the painting does not appear to be his.  She believes it might have been done by a local.  To read the full story and see Vandy's own lovely watercolors, see Vandy's post here

What I personally love about the story is the paintings ability to capture and revisit a past time; a memory associated with a place that now holds special meaning to Vandy and her family.  Vandy's grandfather had lived in Turkey, and this must be a wonderful memento of that time.  It is especially moving because of the hand written note behind the painting.  Just lovely, and so I found my connection, through my interest in Vandy's story, which lead me to paint my own version of the Hagia Sophia.  

As I reflect on the exterior form, I think of the series of domes cascading down from the central dome implying being grounded with the earth, the here, the now.  While the many towers gesturing upward, call out to the other worldly, the heavens, the universe.  A beautiful juxtaposition, that must be heightened as one draws closer and enters, being suddenly uplifting by the soaring height of the dome....

Hope you have enjoyed this creative venture as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you here. If you found this post of interest, do feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

I have also added some new artwork for sale in my shop:

  • Prints for sale can be viewed here.
     
  • Original watercolors for sale can be viewed here.

A special thanks to Vandy Massey for sharing such a beautiful story on her blog, and for her kind permission to include her images.