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Filtering by Tag: Poetry

Colors of Venezia

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

Colors of Venezia
copyright © Sophia Khan

You many recognize this Venetian facade as one I paint often ~ and indeed will continue to paint as I find it so very beautiful and rhythmic, with a touch of mystery and intrigue. It's one of those places that lends itself to my loose, interpretive way of painting architecture. 

Shared here is actually one of my earliest watercolors of the palace. Painting this facade, just as painting any other place, is a way for me to celebrate the beauty of a site, my memories of being there, and what I remember most. And so each painting holds the gems of my travel experiences.

With Venice, here I am thinking of contrasts; of dark and light, of vibrant colors and pure white, of dreamlike spaces and beauty floating between sky and water, and these words...

Venice is a Contrast

Venice is a contrast
The roads we drive on
The land we walk on
all disappear
and what emerges before us
is water, lightness, a feeling as if we too, along with the city, are floating
in a dream of a place that has both always existed,
and has just come to life when we arrived to admire its glory

Venice is a contrast
From a world where we know how to get somewhere
Here it is best to lay map aside
lay our notions of place, arrival, space, and time aside
And let the silent lure of the city, the maze, guide us by freeing us

Venice is a contrast
What is possible, what we can experience, what we know, is all contained within the roof of our lives, our homes, our beliefs.
Here, in the city of Venice
We are called, lead, guided to believe that anything is possible and soon learn that indeed it is.

Color of Venezia ~ the above watercolor ~ is available as a limited edition archival print, in my online shop here.

Distance & Desire ~ A Valentine's Day Venetian Art and Book Giveaway

Sophia Khan

watercolor on Arches paper

watercolor on Arches paper

Distance and Desire, Venice

painted without a pencil sketch
copyright © Sophia Khan

Today I am so very excited to be sharing a beautiful twofold giveaway.  This is in celebration of the upcoming Valentine's Day, and in the spirit of one of the most beloved cities for the mysteries of love, the beauty of rapture, and the lure of romance and the unknown.

And as this day for cherishing your loved one's nears, thoughts of longing, thoughts of desire - distance and desire -appear on my easel and in my diary...

~

Distance and desire
 

Distance is sacred because it creates longing and desire
It makes the moment of pleasure in the arms of a beloved city all the more enthralling
Tears of joy can only flow after an ocean of waiting is traversed
And in the end, one never does 'leave.' A place becomes one with the emotion that it awoke within us.
And it is this emotion that we seek to recreate in our everyday lives back home.
We get close, but we remain in essence, distant.  And in that space, emerges the beauty of Longing; emerges the beauty of Desire...

~

I paint to remember, I paint to celebrate that distance, to celebrate that encounter; to know, to listen, to be closer to my memories and to the essence of place. As such, a painting, at times paints itself. With this watercolor, the color of desire, the color of romance, became a suggestion of an intimate encounter. A dialogue that secretly took place between the viewer and a mysterious person who, just moments ago, walked away from a balcony of the Ca' d'Oro on the Grand Canal. Or perhaps, a dialogue about to take place; a moment of anticipation. And so it celebrates much of what is experienced within the city itself. 

But art is not solitary.  I paint to share the experience of a place, the emotion, and the encounter, with others. And just the same, I often read the words of others, to revel in the experience writers have of places I myself hold dear. It is no surprise my bookshelves are filled with travel memoirs, travel essays, architectural history, and travel sketchbooks of other artists. And along the way has come a book, an experience really, that speaks of this 'distance and desire' as it evokes the emotion of Venice. 

When I received the book, Dream of Venice, and opened it up to the very first page and image, I had to simply stop and sit myself down. Before me, there was intensely evocative and overwhelming beauty. There was mystery, intrigue, a suggestion of so many layers of stories, layers of everyday lives. I gave this image, this moment, the time it so beautifully asked for, before being able to move on. 

As I continued over time, to read the prose and wander through the layered imagery, filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions and reflections, I am brought closer to the state of my own longing, the state of my own desire for Venice.   Each moment, each emotion elicited in this book, has a depth and richness that only Venice can inspire. And they all lyrically come together to form the concerto of a dream that is as much about Venice as it is about encounter. 

And so experiencing this book, reminds me so much of experiencing Venice. How my footsteps stopped before the overwhelm and beauty of the city when I first saw it, as I stood awe-struck before being able to move ahead any further. How I wondered how so much beauty had suddenly come upon me and from where, once I entered Piazza San Marco. There is anticipation and a moment of astonishing beauty, that nothing could have prepared me for. And the rest of the maze of the city-a myriad of curiosity, mystery, discoveries, elicited emotions, and delightful surprises about the city, and about myself.

Artists, writers, and makers hope most of all to stir emotion. I hope that my watercolor, 'Distance and Desire' conveys some of what has moved me so, within this city, and am so thrilled to be enjoying a new 'place', the book Dream of Venice, where the wonder and complexity of Venice is so rapturously evoked. 

I had never thought of a book as an experience before. As such, it is one's own personal encounter with this book that will bring out its true gems for each unique reader-just as the city will for each traveler. And so I am thrilled that the publisher, Bella Figura Publications, is kindly offering to gift a complimentary copy of this book, in celebration of sharing their love for this remarkable city on Valentine's Day.

Dream of Venice. Bella Figura Publications. 2014. Photography by Charles Christopher, edited by JoAnn Locktov, forward by Frances Mayes

The winner will also be receiving a set of (5) Greeting Cards, with envelopes, of my watercolor 'Distance creates Desire' as shown above. These can be secretly tucked in as a card within a beautiful gift, used to write a love letter or poem on the back, gifted to an Italophile, or framed as a small print. 

This competition is now closed to entries.  If you would like to purchase a copy of the acclaimed new book featured here, Dream of Venice, it is available on Amazon here.

If you would like cards, prints, or the original watercolor of the featured art, Distance & Desire, they are available at the below links:

Please note that due to regulations, this competition is only open to US residents, ages 18 and up.  Please see terms and conditions below.  To enter the competition, simply do one or more of the below steps.  (Each step counts as an additional entry and will increase your chances of winning).  Then, leave a comment below this blog post letting us know which steps you have completed, so we can know how many entries to create in your name. 

The options to enter are one or more of the following + leaving a comment as described above:

  • Subscribe to Sophia Khan Studio's watercolor inspiration journal.  (Link to subscribe here).
  • Follow Dream of Venice on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dreamofvenice
  • Follow Sophia Khan Studio on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiasstudio
  • Tweet this offer, either by composing your own personal tweet or using the 'Share' feature below the post and include the following hashtags #giveaway #venice #valentinesday #book #art.  (Please remember the hashtags will need to be inserted within the automated tweet-you can simply copy/paste them from this post).
  • Follow Sophia Khan Studio on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/inspiredsophia/
  • Pin the image of the book onto a Pinterest board, using the 'Share' feature below the post.

(If you are already subscribed to my newsletter and/or already follow the Twitter account(s) prior to this contest, you can still enter.  Just let me know in the comments).

I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all much luck and lots of fun with the entries! (Do remember that to complete the entry process you must leave a comment below indicating which steps you have completed so I can make the correct number of entries in your name).

This contents runs now through February 13th, 2015.  The winner will be chosen at random and announced in the comments section of this blog post, on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2015.

terms and conditions

This contest is open to US residents, ages 18 and up. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The contest runs now through February 13th, 2015. This contest is sponsored by Sophia A Khan and Bella Figura Publications. There will be one winner chosen at random on february 14, 2015. the winner will be announced in the comments section of this blog, with the name provided and will be contacted through the email address they provide. UPON BEING CONTACTED, WE ASK THAT THE WINNER PROVIDE A VALID US ADDRESS, WITHIN THREE DAYS, WHERE WE MAY SHIP THE PRIZES. The odds of winning are dependent upon the number of entries. Entries will be accepted as described in the steps outlined in the blog post above.We reserve the right to void the winning entry, if it does not comply with our terms and conditions. In the event that this should happen, we reserve the right to choose another winner at random. The greeting cards will be shipped by Sophia A Khan, and the book will be shipped by Bella Figura Publications.  The set of greeting cards have a retail value of $24 and the book has a retail value of $26. Prizes will be shipped to US addresses only. Affiliates, employees, and family members of both sponsors are ineligible. Sophia A Khan and Bella Figura Publications are not liable for any loss that may be incurred from entering or winning this contest, or for any damage to prizes incurred during shipment.

Mosaics of Italy

Sophia Khan

watercolor on Arches paper

watercolor on Arches paper

Passage through Treviso, Italy 

copyright © Sophia Khan

If you have traveled to Italy, or dream of traveling there while perusing dreamlike images in magazines or beautifully curated Pinterest boards, you know it is a land of variety.  While monuments and majestic ruins are plentiful, so too are the many inviting vistas and the small details one is sure to find along the way.  These present themselves at varying scales.  One might marvel at the spaces that unwind while strolling through an arcade, or encounter an ancient wall to witness the age of its weathering stone carvings.  

It is with all this in mind that I painted the above watercolor and wrote the poem below.


~

Mosaics of Italy
 

They flash before you like scenes from a mosaic brought to life.
Each vista in Italy is both a delight in and of itself, while through our wandering, they become connected by our memory, and thus become whole.

Turning the corner of the arcade leads to the open door in the home.
Turning the corner of the Cathedral leads to the closed doors of the forgotten church.
The church whose fading frescoes are all that remain to watch it from within, be it in silence and in dark.

Laundry drips its thirst onto sunlit stones, creating patterns for the wind to play with.  
In Italy, what was once private is now out in the open, while public space-the life filled piazza-retains a level of intimacy that is perhaps not even found within the home. For here, the traveler is not frowned upon for wandering alone. Here, the stones of the cities past gently nudge us to reconnect with, rediscover, and bring to the surface, thoughts of of own lives, our own story, our own path.

And just as our lives  are made up of tiny seeds of memory, that now and then become large or shrink according to the importance we impart on them, so too our travels embed in us many images that remain within us. 
Now and then, they lovingly remind us of a certain part of ourselves we perhaps found or fell in love with while we were there. 

travel inspiration photograph

travel inspiration photograph

Mystery of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

copyright © Sophia Khan

Today's watercolor and poem are inspired by the majestic Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.  It's one of those places where each time I travel there, I come to see and appreciate it in a new light.  Simply beautiful and slowly revealing more and more of itself to the visitor.  I feel this is how any well designed place should be... 

The Mystery of San Giorgio Maggiore
 

As if belonging to sky
as if belonging to air
as if not built but having always been there

The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
becomes one with both Venice and the elements of nature within which the city weaves itself.

One comes upon this church perched majestically, far in the distance yet appearing so near.
It plays tricks with the eyes
It plays tricks with the mind
and with memory, it rehearses itself again and again

As if a place one imagines in a dream, and awakens not knowing whether the dream or the awakening is real.

Such is the lure
such is the glory
such is the mystery
of San Giorgio Maggiore

Sophia Khan

Travel photo used as a reference for the Watercolor

Travel photo used as a reference for the Watercolor

Fez, the Lure

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

copyright © Sophia Khan

The Royal Palace doors of Fez, striking and mysterious, complex and geometric, offer a breadth of visual poetry for the artist and writer to reflect upon.  Long time followers will recognize these as a favorite subject to 'rest' my pen and paintbrush...

Along those lines, the below poem began shortly after completing this watercolor.  It is inspired by a few things: my time traveling in Morocco; a book by Titus Burckhardt titled, Fez, City of Islam; which I read during my undergraduate architectural thesis for a design project in Fez; and the process of completing this painting and reflecting on it afterwards.  

~

Thresholds of Fez

Fez is a city of Thresholds

A threshold between past and future.
The past remains precious to the heartbeat of the city
giving it the magic and lure it emits to this day.

The past is also nostalgic
and one cannot help but wonder,
Will the depth of traditions past, of a culture rich with mysticism,
continue to give this city the meaning it once did?

Handmade crafts and wares,
the techniques of which are handed down from generations past...
Will they remain the pulse that was once the lifeblood of the city?
Or will they slowly fade away, along with the longing for something new,
something different, more 'modern', more for the outsider?

Fez is a city of Thresholds

There is mystery behind its closed doors.
What lies before in sharp contrast to what lies beyond.

The gates surrounding the city, once built to protect it,
now stand as invitations to enter leaving notions of space and time aside.

The darkness, mystery, and frenzy of the maze-like city and its narrow souks 
strikingly contrast its light filled courtyards.
Within them, cushions for reclining, colorful tiles, fountains, plantings,
The romance of it all being accented by the clattering of glass teacups 
brimming with scent and simple luxury.
All hidden from public eye, as if protecting innermost longings.

Fez is a city of Thresholds

For the local, this merging of light and dark, of outer and inner,
is a constant reminder, a constant celebration of dreams and awakening.

For the traveler it is revealing and eye opening to encounter this.
And one leaves awe-struck, with a deepened knowledge of self,
Forever instilled with the longing to become one with desire.

Sophia Khan

I hope you enjoyed this poem, and if you would love to bring Fez, the Lure into your home, or would like to see my other works for sale, please see the links below:


Awaiting Adventure in Venice

Sophia Khan

watercolor on Arches paper

watercolor on Arches paper

a quick and loose watercolor sketch
copyright © Sophia Khan

My favorite way to 'end' a painting, is with poetry; thoughts, reflections, and wandering a bit more into the subject at hand, this time with pen and paper rather than paints and brushes.

And so today, sharing a new view of Venice, a new part of the city, located along the Grand Canal, that I have been wanting to paint for some time.  I delved into this with some of the new watercolors I purchases, partly as a way to experiment with them.  Afterwards, came the words below:

~

Gondolas & the Art of Choice in Venice

A row of gondolas awaits the arrival of one seeking adventure
Each stands as if a start to its own unique path into the maze that is the city of Venice.
Each pointing towards a different direction, a different choice, a different set of possibilities.

Is it not unlike our everyday lives, then?
This moving forth in the city of Venice.

The only difference being that here
There are no regrets
There is only a moving forward,

For here, even when we are wrong, there is stark truth and beauty to behold

Even when we are lost, we secretly want to be,
And do not fear not finding our way back.

And this difference being what gives the city the spell of undying hope
it forever instills in its visitors.

~

 

reference travel photograph

reference travel photograph

~ in my sketchbook ~

You may have gathered from the above watercolor that the 'mood' in my studio these days is one of a tad bit more looseness and playfulness than usual.  Following this a detail view of the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily.  

When I am feeling up for this sort of challenge, fun, and spontaneity, I will paint without an underlying pencil sketch as done in this small study.  As it turns out, I like the results and may go forth doing a more finished larger piece of the subject.

~music inspired by my watercolor~

Another fun bit of news is that I was recently contacted by Australian musician Helen Davey, to be part of her 52 Sound Paintings project.  The song she created, inspired by my watercolor of a home in Ferrandina, in southern Italy, is such a lovely composition.  It can be heard, at the project website here

And if you have enjoyed the above poem, some of my other poetry, inspired by my travels, can be viewed here

Pompeii Bathhouse, Silent Illumination

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

copyright © Sophia Khan

Ruins Tell Stories

Ruins tell stories
of secrets once kept, lives once lived, and their dreams, battles, and triumphs.

Ruins tell stories
of destiny, of fate, of choices left and those heroically made.

Ruins tell stories
of ourselves as we walk through them,
as sunlight shines, here and there, upon weathered stones, 
something illuminates within us
reminding us that our own hopes, dreams, and battled fears,
both our momentary losses and our immensely enriching gains,
together all lay the stones that are built to form our lives, which make us whole, in time.

by Sophia Khan

Pompeii Bathhouse, Silent Illumination, now available in my shop.

Ca' d'Oro, Venice

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on tea stained Arches paper

Watercolor on tea stained Arches paper

copyright © Sophia Khan

The Romance of Venice

Somewhere in Venice lies a forgotten love letter, a handwritten dream, whose lovelorn words give the city a silent pulse.

Somewhere within a weathered yet proud edifice, is a story of a merchant from the East who rebuilt his roots and rewrote his story.

Such is the romance of Venice; layered by its present, layered by its past, but not needing to look towards the future.

For Venice holds dear that which it already possesses, without yearning for something more than it so magnificently is.

~by Sophia Khan~

If you enjoy my watercolors and writing be sure to subscribe to my watercolor inspiration journal here.  It is there that I share more travel inspired art and writing, with a wonderful community of art enthusiasts.  I would love to see you there.

Monreale Cloister Capital

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

copyright © Sophia Khan

BIRDS OF STONE, MONREALE CLOISTER

Birds captured in stone ornament an elegant open air cloister. 

Indeed there is much symbolism in this.  And though words have been written in books, telling of their meaning and design, isn't it so much more enjoyable to reflect on it for oneself? 

Thoughts of freedom and flight while retaining a sense of solidarity and strength come to mind.

Perhaps being here takes one to this place within oneself...A place of hope and longing to be somewhere distant and unknown while being firmly grounded within. 

A journey, a flight to a place whose beginning and end both lie within oneself. 

by Sophia Khan

If you enjoy my writing and art, be sure to subscribe to my watercolor email journal here.   It is there that I share works and my process largely hidden from the online world.  You will also hear of the launch of my online shop.  

Venice, Memory

Sophia Khan

Watercolor on Arches paper

Watercolor on Arches paper

Venice, Memory

The Venice of my memories is rich, varied, complex, and deep. 

It does not take long, when I want to return, for it to emerge from the depths of my past and reveal before me, a vision of immaculate beauty. 

The Venice of my memories, the Venice within me, is never far, though never too near-so as to gently exist in a quiet place untouched by present places, thoughts, and haste.

by Sophia Khan

If you enjoy my travel inspired art, you are sure to enjoy my watercolor journal here. It is there that I show work typically not revealed anywhere else online, and give a private glimpse into my creative journey. You will also hear about the launch of my online shop and receive small free images to print for your home.