Archive for April, 2008

I started on a new picture a couple of days ago. The painting shows the view to Yemin Moshe from just next to the Jaffa Gate of the old city of Jerusalem. Yemin Moshe is a beautiful historic neighbourhood set adjacent to the old city. It was the first neighbourhood to be built outsid eth city walls in 1891 and is named after Moshe (Moses) Montifiore (the name means “the right [hand] of Moshe”) – the Jewish British philanthropist who established it. I have been planning this picture for quite a while and during the recent Pesach holiday I took some photos around there when I did the old city ramparts walk with my children.

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I dropped in at Nofim this afternoon and I was honored to find my pictures hanging next to a Menashe Kadishman sheep. You can see my Walls of Jerusalem at the bottom and Gateway with Bouganvillea on the right.

I’m pleased to see they’re keeping good company.

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The effect of a frame

Yoyo blogged about my painting “Banias water” that I gave them on my recent trip to Australia. Thanks Yoyo,  I am really glad you like the picture. I see what you mean about the black frame… I would probably have gone for something a bit more silvery.

Choosing frame color is always a hard thing for me. When I work on a painting and spend time to get everything just right, making a decision about the frame is by far more difficult. The color of the frame can make such a big difference to the whole effect of the painting. It can close it in or just let it flow out. It can change your perception of the composition and of what color the painting is even.

An example is my painting “Running brook” that I have hanging on my wall at home. I thought the painting was brown until I framed it in the silvery colored frame you can see here on teh right that is reminiscent of the rocks in the painting and it turned out that the painting is now dominated by the bluish colors of the top half of the picture. When I was choosing the frame it was a toss-up between this and the brown with a green band frame you can see at the bottom. I stood there in the frame shop (Alon’s machsan in Ramat Beit Shemesh) for several good minutes, umming and ahhing until I chose… and I am still not sure if I made the correct choice.

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Pesach in the air

If you have been wondering why I haven’t been doing any painting recently (or blogging a lot either) it is because Pesach is in the air.

Pesach is the Jewish festival that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. For those unfamiliar with the story, the family of Jacob went down to Egypt where in the course of a couple of generations they were enslaved by the Pharoah. After a couple of hundred years, God called on Moses to take the people out of Egypt and lead them back to Israel. Pharoah refused to let them go, God sent 10 plagues until the Egyptians ejected their Hebrew slaves and the march to the promised land began.

As with all Jewish festivals there is the historical story on the one hand and the inner meaning on the other. So what is Pesach really all about? It is about the belief that there is right and wrong and that evil empires and their emperors do not have a divine right to rule. It is about the belief that there is meaning to history, right will prevail and that there is a basis for hope. It is also the birthday of the Jewish people as a nation and a time to look at the relationship we have with God.

So why is this stopping me from painting?

Unlike some people, I haven’t been busy making my own Matza, but getting ready for Pesach is always a busy time.

First there is the yearly battle to clean the house of Hametz (crumbs and bits of anything leavened). You may think this is easy, but this has become the annual spring clean (nothing to do with Hametz) – with a deadline by which time all the house must be spotless. Later this week I do the real cleaning bit and kasher (make kosher) the kitchen for Pesach which is a whole exhausting day’s work.

Secondly preparing for the Seder. This is a big family meal held on the first night of Pesach where the eating is in fact the less important part, but rather the telling over the story of the Exodus based on the traditional text of the Hagadah way into the night. This is Jewish-family education’s big night. In order to prepare well for this I have had to do a lot of reading to get back up on the subject matter.

All in all a busy time.

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I just browsed back in my archive and discovered that back in August last year my first blog postings were a WIP of the Jerusalem Balcony picture.

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Exciting news – Jerusalem Balcony is sold!

To tell the truth there is a certain sadness in seeing good pictures departing but I remember reading way back on WetCanvas a poster who said that if you don’t sell you don’t ever move on from your older work and you can’t develop.

I think I have already beaten my sales target for this year… ahem. That means it’s time for a new target. So here it comes, <drum roll> the new target is a whopping 12 pictures – one a month. 

As far as I’m concerned making a sale comprises three factors;

  • Creating some work
  • Displaying the work
  • Luck (and usually some work by Hayim at Nofim)

I currently have an inventory of 25 pictures and my rate of production is about a picture a month, so this target will be hard but is not unattainable (especially with a lot of luck and Hayim’s hard work).


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Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) known more concisely as Rav Kook, was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine. He was quite a unique figure in the synthesis which he created between different streams of Jewish thought and the bridges that he built with the secular and particularly the Zionist world in his belief that the secular and anti-religious pioneers of the State-to-be of Israel were the forerunners of a coming messainic era.

Rav Kook was also a man of the arts although he probably would not have classified himself thus. He wrote poetry of which “The faith” and “Expanses, expanses” (scroll to the bottom of the file to read in English) are examples. He also deeply appreciated art and wrote in several places on the spiritual dimensions of the arts.

Rav Kook was caught on a trip in London when the First World War broke out and spent several years there. While he was there he visited the National Gallery and later used the following words to describe paintings there by Rembrandt:

When I lived in London I used to visit the National gallery and my favorite pictures were those of Rembrandt. I really think that Rembrandt was a Tzadik (a saint). Do you know that when I first saw Rembrandt’s works, they reminded me of the legend about the creation of light? We are told that when God created light it was so strong and pellucid, that one could see from one end of the world to the other, but God was afraid that the wicked might abuse it. What did He do? He reserved that light for the righteous when the Messiah should come. But now and then there are great men who are blessed and privileged to see it. I think that Rembrandt was one of them, and the light in his pictures is the very light that was originally created by God Almighty.

(Reported in Jewish Chronicle, London , September 13, 1935).

I think that’s the light I am looking for as well. The light that is more than light. The light that illuminates and shines out of a masterpiece and makes it more than just an impression of reality.

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