Archive for January, 2008

Finally some pictures of snow!

This is taken from my mirpeset (balcony) looking east from Beit Shemesh in the direction of Jerusalem. What you can see here are the hills around Beit Meir.

We are still snowbound today. As you can see there is no snow in Beit Shemesh, but it snowed again all night in Jerusalem and now there is ice covered in new snow. I am going to make use of the day to update my website and hopefully finish the painting I started yesterday. I hope to also go up into the hills in the afternoon and see some snow from close up. From the look of this picture, it should be more successful than yesterday.

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And yesterday.

Yesterday evening I finished off my skyscape cloud picture. It was a lot of fun and I am quite happy with how it turned out.

I did almost the whole painting with a 1″ soft brush which is an unusual diversion for me. My palette was quite restricted as well – titanium white, phthalo blue, oxide black and a bit of ultramarine blue.

I mixed the paints with matt acrylic medium and a small amount of water – just enough to keep it flowing – but really most of the picture was done scumbling with a pretty dry brush. The result looks better than the image you can see on the right and is quite pleasing. A bit abstract even… though I still don’t think it would qualify for my “abstract piece” I promised in my yearly goals.

This afternoon I started on a new piece – and as is fitting; a picture of Jerusalem under snow! You can see what it looks like here on the left.

Seeing as I haven’t actually made it to Jerusalem, the picture is based on reference material as well as the general feel for things as I look out the window.

My palette is again a limitted one. I am using a lot of titanium white, oxide black and phthalo blue. Apart from that I have yellow ochre and raw umber in the walls there. The underpaint is a steely grey, which I then sketched over in a dilute black. I blocked in the objects in greyscale values.

Once I had all the picture more or less sketched and blocked I added in the color on the walls. I haven’t got to the olive trees in the foreground yet and I am also not sure whether to leave the tower under mist. The mist incidentally happened by accident as I was reworking the sky and I painted over the tower and the tops of the walls instead of working around them. Feel free to suggest what you think in the comments (if you’ve got this far through the post…).

It looks like I’m going to be home tomorrow as well, so I should be able to get it finished.

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Snow day

As I posted earlier, today Jerusalem was covered in snow. Sorry to all the people who came to my site to see the Jerusalem snow. I hope you enjoyed you stay all the same and weren’t too disapointed that I had no snow pictures… Remarkably, Google indexed me within an hour of my post and I came out on the first page of the results.

Anyway, the snow meant that I didn’t go into work today. So I worked a bit, painted a bit, went looking for snow with the kids (we got as far as Nes Harim and didn’t find it, just pouring rain and heavy fog). You can see in the image below taken from the Tzora weather station site, what the weather was like in Beit Shemesh – cold and wet.


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Sold two pictures!

Hayim from Nofim called me to tell me he has sold two of my pieces to “a wealthy gentleman” who looked at all the work in the gallery and took home two of mine!

The pieces he bought are the “Pasture near Beit Shemesh” and “Early morning in Nahlaot“. Hayim asked me to bring some more work with me when I come to pick up the cheque….

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Snow in Jerusalem!

… and in the Golan, Shomron, Gush Etzion, etc.

I’m “stuck” at home today as I work in Jerusalem. Good time to finish a painting or two. Actually I have one I more or less finished last night. I will post it later on.

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Yesterday, after too long of not painting anything, I started on a new painting. The painting is an unusual one: a skyscape, or to put it more simply; a painting of clouds.

I have this idea to do a series of maybe three pictures on the subject of clouds. In any case this first one is a midday-afternoon picture of white clouds on a blue sky. So far it looks kind of blue, as you can see in the photo.

The next ones (if I keep on with this) will be a dawn picture and a storm picture. I also have some other ideas up my sleeve, but we will see how far I’ll take this.

So where did I get this crazy idea from? Well, it’s been hanging around for a while as I’ve been convincing myself that clouds are a worthy thing to paint. In the end I convinced myself that who cares if it is worthy; I’ve cleared space in my storage with the pictures at Nofim Gallery and some more I hung around the house, so there is some space to put some more in there.

This is the reaction to what I wrote yesterday about the pressure to produce saleable work in quota. This is just having fun.

A couple of technical points. In my “Rain on Rashi Street” picture I had a problem that most of the canvas was covered with underpainting only. This was a black glaze diluted with water. When I varnished the finished piece, the underpaint didn’t adhere to the canvas as well as it should have and some of it came off leaving patches. In order that this won’t happen again I used here matt acrylic medium to dilute the paint that I laid down for the sky. I did add a small amount of water so that it would flow better – but no more than that. This makes a much thicker and more adherent layer equal to regular painting although it was layed down as a glaze.

The colors used were phthalo blue, “Talens Amsterdam” titanium white (which as you may remember I once complained about its transparency, but here this was exactly what I wanted) and a small amount of ultramarine blue at the base of the painting. The sky is a gradation of glazes going from a very pale ultramarine to almost pure phthalo at the top. The result is a bit more saturated than I had wanted, so I am going to do another layer of diluted white maybe with a small quantity of ultramarine and then I acn get on to the clouds.

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Hugh MacLeod wrote a piece the other day in his blog entitled “Beware of turning hobbies into jobs“. His thesis is that everyone needs a hobby and that if you turn your hobby into a job… then you’ll need to find another hobby. This adds on to what he calls in another post the sex and cash theory. Basically you have one thing you do for fun and/or thrills and another to pay the bills and you need to be careful about mixing business and pleasure if you want to make money from your business and enjoy your pleasure. It is not often you find something that allows you to do both.

My children have a book at home (yes another children’s book review – maybe I should start a blog just reviewing children’s books)  call Metaken HaHalomot (that’s “the dream mender” in English) by Uri Auerbach (who is a distant relative of mine, but that’s another story).

The story is about this guy called Alex who who fixes dreams. He is kept busy by all the people in his village who come to him to have their dreams repaired. His troubles start when he decides to turn his hobby into a business. A newcomer comes to the neighbouring town and opens a flashy dream mending service, undercuts his prices, wows his customers and leaves him with no clients. In the end he packs up and leaves town in order to go back to his simple anonymous existence.

When the village folk eventually realize that the flashy dream mending guy is not all that he’s cracked up to be and long for the personal touch of our  Alex, they come back looking for him, only to find that he’s already gone. He left a note saying that in order to fix your dreams all you need is to listen and care for each other. Nice story.

This story sums up an ambivalence towards turning a hobby into a business. All of a sudden people expect value for their money, growth, consistency – and you need to translate what you are good at doing into cash flow. You no longer answer just to yourself, you are under scrutiny and you livelyhood depends on it. Can you make money and continue to enjoy what you’re doing or will you need to find a new hobby?

I think that at the end of the day the question is whether you can play and get paid for it? The answer is personal and may not just be related to markets. Maybe, the mere fact that you are getting paid will spoil the enjoyment of the game.

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