Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Backyard Garden

This painting done about two years ago made me think of water flooding the place, and then the desire arose in me to paint this image. Eventually I came up with only a hint of water - the painting below can be interpreted in many ways.

Wadi Siyah and the Khayat Orchard, at the foot of the Carmel, are some of my favorite spots in the city. Once a thriving beautiful  residence getaway for the wealthy Khayat family, it  passed hands until it became city property, but since then (the 70's) it has long been abandoned,  and the city does little to maintain this heritage site or make it accessible for the public (tax-paying, a-lot-of-tax paying public etc.).
The wadi or dry creek runs from the Carmeliya neighborhood on the Carmel range in Haifa, down to the cemetery. This drawing I made on a daytrip up the dry creek in summer. (In winter it can carry occasionally some actual rain water).

I made a few oil sketches there, but recently I take the markers or make a pen drawing.

After spending a few years painting and drawing in the Orchard, I started to see tigers in the deep shadow of shrubs and trees. The tigers are an ancient subject I dealt with some 5 years ago.

Some people live in the lower entrance to the wadi, across from the cemetery. There is a dispute going on with the municipality who wants them out. This is one of the houses, with a magnificent tree in front of it.

Some of the magic of the place is in its many staircases, leading from one level to another, sometimes made for leading the water down.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Long Hot Summer

The good thing about a residency at the end of the world (for all practical purposes, not *really) is that I can concentrate on my work: there are no temptations: city's too far and train's too expensive and I feel time will run out on me before I get to where I want to be: which is - what?...
No, I didn't know in the beginning, I only knew I wanted a Big change.
Very much thanks to the heat wave of about 3 weeks, we had a sunny day every day. Much better than rain every other day, which is the usual practice of Swiss summers, they tell me.
At first I went out a lot, but the heat was too heavy to bear sometimes. And then I opened my eyes to the beauty of the studio itself. Not that I didn't see it before: but the view from the window of majestic mountains and trees and rooftops distracted me just a little bit.
The studio is a loft space complete with wooden beams supporting the roof high above - maybe 8 meters high? - and slowly I got the idea I should paint it, rather than *from* it. And I did - first with pencils, just to get the structure right, then with watercolor and markers.

With the first drawings I figured it all out, with the markers I let go of the  idea of ever getting it right.

Then I pushed reality even further away

But staying in Trelex was a great blessing. I was aiming for that which draws people to such a refuge in the first place - an insight, a few new ideas, the beginning of something that may have long lasting influence on the way I look at things and draw them.
So I wish to thank Nina Rodin again for her great idea which she brilliantly put into practice: artists helping artists in any way they can. It was an unforgettable summer, and as the pictures below (all made in Haifa in October) show - the story is just beginning.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

True Colors of America

It's getting stronger with the markers every day.

Now back in Haifa with some 60 new products, I feel that my path leads to a new direction, and I am excited to find out more about myself and the possibilities in artmaking. Recently I prefer to go out with a small sketchpad postcard-size, about 20 various colors in markers, and sketch away - everything looks different to me now.
This is how I found America, from New York to Florida and back. I liked the marshes in Florida best but they did not render themselves easily to sketch; buildings and well-defined forms do better.

Markers 14x21 unless otherwise indicated.

This next painting in watercolors I did after the markers sketch of the same subject, below.
25x35 cm.

And this threesome is from Florida. (Keys and  Miami Beach).

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Trelex Times

A Residency made in Heaven

It all started in late 2014. My friend Ora Ruven recommended I contact artist Nina Rodin for a free residency she's been offering in Trelex, Switzerland, saying "I know you like these things". And surely I do (Free residency! Switzerland!), so I wrote immediately and got to stay 6 weeks in the summer.
If you looked  at the website and read some you may think - oh, how nice. Well you have no idea how. It's my third week here,  and
I am still finding out more about the possibilities of using my time here - everything, just everything, overflows or grows on trees. You just tune in and bathe yourself in calm delicious waters, ideas, beauty, serenity and inspiration.

I wasn't sure how much I would like Switzerland. Italy was still on my mind from my previous trip. Its northern neighbor looked much less colorful,  the architecture of old villages here mimics the mountain ranges with their pointed slopey tops. Often cloudy and rainy, much fewer people in the  streets, pricey of course. That was my first impression. But then I arrived into the micro-country of Trelex and things changed. In short, we (there usually are two artists or more at the same time) can use the residency in any way we like, there are no restrictions. There's ample materials to use in the studio itself and a zillion appetizers in the nature outside, even looking through the windows. What really started me up, strangely enough, was an innocent set of color markers left by one or more of the previous artists. The other thing was the heat wave - a long week of ever increasing temperatures, which forced me to wander away from the house into the woods, where I would sit under the heavy shade and look around me. The following works all from the same window show my progress with markers.

Trelex Residency garden

Trelex Residency garden

Another view of the same corner of the garden

Then I went to look out the other window...

Again started in pastel, then (below) pen and watercolor

And the outdoors, just  a few minutes away from the house.

Same view in markers (below) and pen and ink (above)

Finally, wandering about to the forest and some nearby places that look like it...

Watercolor, postcard size

Pen and ink, postcard size

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Painter’s Gaze

It came to pass (according to legend, surely) that two eminent painters in ancient Greece, Zeuxis and Parrhasius, one day decided to hold a contest to decide which one was the better realist painter. On the day of the contest, they walked to the town square. Zeuxis was the first to unveil his canvas. On it was depicted such a perfect bunch of grapes, that the birds flew toward the painting and tried to nibble them.
Zeuxis turned to Parrhasius. “Now take off the fabric that covers your canvas”, he said. But when he tried to remove it, he found that the cloth was… a painting! Therefore Parrhasius won, because, said Zeuxis, “I fooled the birds, but Parrhasius fooled Zeuxis” - a painter, someone with a superior power of perception.

When we were just beginning to learn painting, we had to do dozens of tedious exercises with the sole purpose of teaching us how to see. See - not paint or draw. See, because seeing is the basis of all painting. The artist sees what no other eye can behold. He looks into the soul of things. He is far-sighted and delirious, he has imagination and dreams, he has the mysterious power to blow life into dead matter.
John Ruskin - the 19-century poet, art critic, artist - wrote a few books on art, among them about the art of drawing (“The Elements of Drawing”). He argued that everyone whould acquire this ability, if they would like to truly understand the world. He claimed that until you have tried to draw a tree, or a bird, or a house - you haven’t truly seen them.
One of my friends would second him on that. My friend was very excited to describe how he, with no previous experience, sat in a garden and toiled about drawing a few branches of a tree. The more he observed and tried to pass them onto the paper, the more he became aware of the structure of the tree and how complex it is - something he has always taken for granted.
Observing nature makes one humble. And being humble is the greatest gift one can give oneself.

Shortly after I began to study realistic painting and drawing, I found myself gazing at trees for long periods, because painting such a huge organism is all but easy. I patiently observed the interwoven branches, the rising canopy, the play of light on the foliage and the transformation of color, the dark shades. A few minutes into this, (no idea how few - you lose your sense of time when trying to draw) I was suddenly seized by a rather mysterious sense. Observation has resulted in something close to trance, where I had an enhanced perception of the beauty of the trees, and that beauty has taken over me. It was a most peculiar discovery, as if for a short while I have been part of the soul of the tree.
It is common to say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, maybe even more than that: they may be a opening through which the soul can come and go as it pleases, merge with the world, feel the unity and joy and beauty. Perhaps beauty is nothing but a feeling, which resides "in the eye of the beholder”, or better: in the soul of the beholder.

They were the most common cypresses and eucalyptuses, but suddenly they were talking and singing to me, suddenly I could understand them and they could understand me. Ruskin was right in his suggestion that everyone should study drawing. You owe it to yourself, to your family - your larger family, the one which includes all things large and small.
I asked myself a simple question: how come I didn’t see it so far? And more questions followed: Why did it turn up just now? And what else can I see that I couldn’t see before? (And I began to make an effort to try to see more and more, to obtain more of that sweet stuff).
And so painting, having been a goal in itself, reveals its true purpose: to see. Because to see means to know the world, and knowing the world is knowing myself.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Rona in Wonderland or: Bella Italia

So, Venice.
Everything in this city seems to be glowing - probably a result of the presence of so much water; objects radiate light and vibrate color. The  effect is so intense that totally overwhelms the visitor, especially the art-minded, that needs to stop every  second to appreciate a new beauty.

Before Venice I went to Civita Castellana, in the drawing above, a place onsidered "legendary" among plein air painters. Corot and Turner painted here; I was curious and the place took my breath away. It reminded me of dreams I had in the past - what a surprising encounter, to discover a  dreamscape in reality!