Gouache 35 x 51 cm
A small secret: I gave a color challenge to a new student, to create a colorful painting using just black and three different yellow. The goals were to explore the oxymoron of ”dark yellow”, and how so very much, can be expressed with so few resources.
I always begin teaching with that yellow challenge.then I did it myself. And made a very colorful , pretty work that did not satisfy me at all.
The day after the massacre in Pittsburg, I sat in my studio, struggling to focus on work.
Towards the end of the day, I pulled out this painting. In a fit of urgency, I painted myself over the pattern, first by scrubbing dirty water, then paint. First by memory, then with a mirror.
As always, my selfies contain some brutal honesty. We all need brutal introspection, as individuals, as collectives and as ideological camps.
But what I also discovered, was a way to combine seemingly conflicting art languages that appeal to me: Ornament and Expressionism.
Rock Paper Scissors, May 30, 2018. India Ink 31 x 41 cm
אבן נייר מספריים. 30.5.2018. דיו 31 * 41
Oil on canvas, 100 x 110 cm
כי האדם עץ השדה? דברים כ:יט
For is the tree of the field a man? Deuteronomy 20:19.
Using trees to portray human soul and destiny, is as old as art and psychology itself.
I choose particular species and shapes to symbolize my state of mind or big life questions. Trees may be steady or rebellious, wise or impetuous. mature or potential, spiritual or carnal, and Hebrew or universal.
Why this particular childlike tree shape?
Its fluffy, cloud like foliage sits top-heavy, upon the slender trunk with its graceful Gothic slouch. Well, that upper part obviously is about my/our air filled thoughts:
Head in the clouds. Spirituality for the masses. Fuzzy thinking.
All of that air sits upon a delicate, flexible trunk of decisiveness and actions.
I completed the painting while listening to online lectures about the psychological symbolism of Genesis. Symbols like The Creator carving meaning out of the primordial chaos and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – teach us so much about creating sense in our personal life path.
Those green serpentines of confusion and attention deficiency, were painted before listening to the lectures. After completion, visitors to my studio shouted, “Ah! That’s the serpent tempting Eve to eat from the fruit of self knowledge.”
Thirty Triangles. Gouache, 46 x 61 cm. (18″ x 24″)
שלושים משולשים, 2017. גואש 46 * 61
Inspired by the “Crazy Quilts” traditionally made by African American women.
The composition, with its two, not quite balanced halves and with arrows pointing all over, defies all logic. But it works.
Cypress Trees in Late Summer Fields 2015
Gouache over mixed media, on a koalin coated panel. 41 x 66 cm.
ברושים בשדות סוף הקיץ 2015
גואש מעל מדיות מעורבות, על לוחות המצופות בחימר לבן. 46 5* 66 ס”מ
Yellow is a tricky color. It is easy to paint monochromatic works in all greens, blues or reds. One simply mixes in small amounts of other colors to gain a wide pallet, of varying depths and intensities and pureness. There are also many and so very different pigments in those families to start from. Yet, after all of that messing and punching and kneading, these colors easily remain what we consider to be the families of greens, blues and reds.
Yellows are so much more sensitive! How do we create a “dark yellow”? After adding what miniscule amount of another color, does the “yellow” stop being yellow? Very little!
So, how much must I stray away from that Crayola crayon definition of Yellow, to create a vibrant painting, with sufficient contrasts?
Those of us living with our bone dry summers are familiar with this pallet. The wild grass turns to dusty yellow. The red roofs and dark cypresses are coated with fine yellow gray loess soil, carried in from the Sahara and Syrian Desert.
Yet our summer is not merely sun burnt. Delicacy can be found in the dried thistles. The rhythmic curvatures of the rolling hills and terraces reveal themselves. The sun casts yellow, and shadows in the hills reveal a lavender hue.
מטע זיתים #2 2013, גואש
Gouache 36 x 51
I pulled this out of my drawing cabinet, to show various brush and layering techniques to the students in my Diving into Color workshop. And then decided that it merits scanning. Not bad, huh?
Aah. I would love to teach a week long workshop in a vacation setting. Maybe in some old European farm. I get as much pleasure from seeing students eyes light up and think, “I CREATED THAT???!!!” as I get from painting myself.
8 Persian Flasks, Feb 2015. Gouache and ink on paper, 46 x 61 cm
שמונה בקבוקים פרסיים, פברואר 2015ץ גואש ודיו על נייר 46 * 61 ס”מ
One more in the series, this one being particularly challenging.
I often tell my students that simplicity is important: When challenging the viewer with something confusing, they must limit additional stimuli.
The way that Braque and Picasso used restricted, neutral palettes for their Cubist still lives.
And as in cooking: Best not to use every spice in the kitchen, in each dish. Choose your direction, and emphasize it alone.
Good advice that I chose not to follow.
I did not to practice what I preach, in order to stretch my abilities to a new limit. I wanted to see how much chaos can still be contained in a viable composition and in a pretty, pleasant painting.
1780-85 בית הכנסת המיותם בלומניץ, צכיה
בציור הראשון וישן יותר – ממוקם בגלות האירופאי. בשני – בשיבת ציון. מה שנשאר בעיירה – היא רק בית הקברות היהודי. בית הכנסת עבר שיפוץ, ומשמש למרכז תרבות
In the first, older painting from 2012, I placed the synagogue in the gray European exile. In the second painting from 2014 it is surrounded the Mediterranean fruit trees and sun of home.
Bohemia and Moravia once had the densest Jewish population in Europe. Jews were prohibited from living in the same municipality as Christians, and separate Jewish towns and villages were created, usually cordoned off by a stream or wall.
Other than Prague, which also had its own famous parallel Jewish town, Jews were not allowed to live in or near any other cities.
Discrimination reached a new peak under the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. “Familiant” laws were introduced, restricting the number of Jewish households in each locality, and in the country as a whole. Accordingly, only one son per family was permitted to marry. Any secret “attic” weddings among younger siblings were unrecognized and illegal. Their children were considered to be illegitimate, and forced to emigrate at age 14. The mothers were sent to forced road construction as punishment for “wanton” behavior.
The Jewish population froze, and was forced to remained scattered in a vast number of tiny communities. Their physical reminders can still be found today in almost every townlet in the country.- such as this synagogue building. During the 19th century, these residence restrictions were gradually lifted. Most Jews moved to the cities. Many rural synagogues closed.
By the 1930s only 30 Jews were left in the Lomnice. The last sign of Jewish life is in a grave, from shortly before their deportation to Terezin, and onwards to death.
Jewish cemeteries were mandated to be built “over the hill” and out of the sight from Christian homes. The beautiful cemetery dating from the 17th century is well preserved, as are many old homes in the ghetto. The synagogue was used as a warehouse, but has been restored, and now serves as a cultural center and wedding venue.
And I saw a cypress tree, standing firm in a field. Facing the sun, hot desert winds and frost. Facing off the storm.
The cypress had doubled over, and bowed down to the weeds, without breaking.
And now, that cypress stands up straight up facing the sea, and is still green and towering….
If only I could learn the path of that single tree….
From the upbeat song Brosh / Cypress. Lyrics by Ehud Manor, melody Ariel Zilber.
This happy song ends however with self doubt,
And I am like an infant, broken and incapable. Unable to stand firm, facing the sun, the desert winds and frost. Unable to face the storm. La la la.
This series reflects the battle between my hidden, wild and naughty exuberance, and my mask of decorum. While painting, I felt as if my own, real life value conflicts, were right at the surface. I enhanced my true confusion, by repeatedly reversing the sense of order and disorder, and of positive and negative images within each painting.
Tall cypress trees and falling leaves or else tall ladders appear in all paintings. Are they connecting Heaven and Earth? Or perhaps connecting body and soul? Balancing freedom with obligation? Symbols of mortality and the afterlife? Self-discipline and commitment?
16 Works in gouache over pencil, pastel and ink, on clay coated wooden panels. 30×30 30×40 and 40×50 cm. Painted in spring and summer 2014.
She sensed correctly whom to pick. Ehud left his coffee, and brought it to her with his modest smile.