Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Arrival

For the first time, I am sitting and typing this post with a sleeping, two-week-old baby strapped to my front. My father-in-law was gazing at him yesterday and announced, "This is art." And I couldn`t agree more. This is the biggest masterpiece of my life. And an ongoing work-in-progress. Welcome to the world, little light.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Waddling to the Wall


Two nights ago my husband and I had the privilege of once again being in Jerusalem, if only for a short time. We`d been meaning to go for ages to pray at the Kotel, the Western Wall, before the baby comes. We had rented a car to attend a wedding, and while we were there, decided to go down to the Old City while we had the chance.
Already I can feel the memory crystallizing into one of those snow-globe memories that will always seem perfect no matter what. This journey towards the Kotel which we had made dozens of times in the past now seemed different, more sanctified and treasured. We strolled through the glamorous, open-air Mamilla Mall in the chilly night air, noting with pride the new additions since we had last been there. New restaurants and shops filled the dark gaps we remembered. People were huddled in the warm, enclosed cafes. After this endless summer, I welcomed the winter in my heart.
On we walked from golden glamour through the golden gates of the Old City, down past the Armenian Quarter into the narrow alleys of the Jewish Quarter. It started to drizzle and my husband and I held on to each other as we walked down the slippery Jerusalem stone yellow-brick-road. This normally irksome ordeal of being stuck out in the cold Jerusalem rain did not deter us. The Old City seemed eerily empty, somehow adding more allure to our quest. And then we were finally there. No tourists, no beggars, no lines.... Just us (and a few brave others) and the Wall. The great journey and the even greater destination. How grand it was to stand again in the place I had envisioned in my prayers all these long months...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brooding on a Sunny Day...

I`ve complained about this in just about every other way by now (including Facebook) so I figured I should do so on my blog, as well... the summer is just not going away and I have a big fat bone to pick with it!!

I am not someone who dislikes the summer. I like it, in fact under normal circumstances I love it, but this year it has only made venturing outside of my home for even five minutes an ordeal. Every miniscule step outside means returning home only to peel off your one layer of clothing as though it were a fur coat. By this time it is officially way into fall in both Israel and New York (my previous "home-country") and getting hot as hell as summer approaches South Africa (my pre-previous "home-country".) The thing is, it has already snowed in New York, and air conditioning has been abolished months ago and replaced by soft couch throws in "every colour imaginable" (which my generous sister insists on getting for us.) Even the fall by now is so last year, as New Yorkers test out their new snow tires and dig out their heavy coats. So, how is it that I am still sitting here in my apartment in Israel, in the double-heat of Nine Months and The Summer That Just Won`t Quit??

Months ago, I bought my baby`s first outfit for when we leave the hospital - a tiny little flannel ensemble - to be accompanied by a snuggly-soft, cocoon-like blanket called a BundleMe (again, from my generous sis abroad), and a fleece hat. For me, I got fluffy slippers and a warm hospital gown. But now, I`m wondering if I should pack myself a T-Shirt instead, and one of the baby`s surf-up onesies (again, from my wonderful sis)...?

It makes me laugh at myself, this whole issue. The whole of last winter, in our tiny Jerusalem basement apartment, we kvetched and kvetched about the lack of heating, the insufficiency of our one radiator, the lack of hot water due to a faulty boiler (and a faulty landlord), and the fact that it was warmer outdoors than inside! But now, the humid climate of Petah Tikva has us (read, me) complaining once again. When we first moved here seven months ago, I couldn`t get over the brightness of the apartment, the warmth we had longed for in Jerusalem. It just goes to show, that too much of a good thing can make us.... well, a little ungrateful. I don`t mean to sound ungrateful. Maybe these are just the musings of a very pregnant lady with nothing better (meaning, worse) to do than kvetch about stupid things. Which is a blessing, and something to be ever so grateful for on this sunny day....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fast - IF


For this week`s topic of "Fast", I`ve picked one of my illustrations from the book I am collaborating on, "I Know He Plays in Heaven." I`m so excited because the actual illustrations are all done and I FINALLY found a print shop somewhere in Tel Aviv with a scanner larger than the standard A4 size and scanned everything, and now all that`s left are the final touch-ups and adding the text before uploading them to a self-publishing site.... Amazing what one can accomplish when there`s a deadline looming ahead (in this case, BABY!) and I feel a lot calmer now and ready to take it easy before the little one comes along...

So not only is our little boy character sprinting FAST over the grass in his attempts to take off to the heavens, but getting him out there has been one FAST and furious process!

Keep reading here for more information on the book and for more previews. I appreciate all comments!

Monday, October 5, 2009

IF - Germ


Germ: the initial stage in development or evolution, as a germ cell or ancestral form (dictionary.com)

The Jewish High Holidays have come and gone, ushering in the Jewish New Year, and with it, the good and the (apparently) bad... Several births and, unfortunately, quite a few deaths. Jewish tradition holds that everything in the coming year is determined during the High Holy Days, and it is frightening to imagine that everything that has happened within the past week - the miraculous births, and the shocking and sudden passings - was determined only two weeks ago... Our very consciousness for the past month has been enveloped by preparations for the beginning of the year, known to set the stage, to build the foundation, to germinate the "genes" of the coming year.
At the same time, birth has very much been on my mind for, oh, the past eight months, so this is a topic I am very much living all day, every day... May this year bring about only a bountiful goodness, and may we be blessed with the strength to deal with anything else that comes along.




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IF - Infinite





"In our garden, the flowers bloom brightly from the ground. I pick a rose for my mommy. My best friend picks a lilac for her mommy."

"When I wake up in the morning, the carnations are gone. Grandpa must have picked those for his mommy, who is also in heaven."

These illustrations are from a book I am illustrating called (tentatively) "I Know He Plays in Heaven" by Renee Kosiarek, about a boy who fantasizes about his grandpa`s adventures in heaven, and how he interacts with him still, imagining his actions reflecting his own on earth. I picked these pages for the subject of "infinite," as the second page fades away into the unknown, denoting the idea of the afterlife as a continuation of life.

We are hoping to have the book out by November and it will be self-published and available on Amazon. Anyone interested can keep checking my blog for updates. (I will try to keep posting more excerpts.)
I`d appreciate all comments, from artist and non-artist alike!

Monday, September 14, 2009

IF - Welcome



This is a personal project I started a while ago... and only got back to now. Since I am looking to get into children`s books, but didn`t have much to show in that area besides for textbook illustration, I decided to do a series of illustrations based on the fairytale, "The Old Woman and the Wood". This is a fairytale I watched as a child (anyone remember the retro "Grimm Brothers Fairytales" series?)
In this scene, the damsel in distress is welcomed to sleep in a tree unlocked by her true-love-in-disguise, a white dove. I am looking forward to working on a few more scenes... when I have the time!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You`re only as strong as your faith...


I don`t mean to sound pessimistic every time I speak about life in Israel, but the truth is that I find frustration to be a great motivator to draw, so you`re more likely to see a drawing or painting having to do with something initially negative, because that`s what gives me the push in the first place, and I try to make something positive out of it.

So here it is...

I am confounded by the "eat-your-heart-out" policy every institution in Israel seems to hold. If all goes well with your health insurance, it`s a dream. Not having to pay high insurance fees as they do in the States is definitely a plus to living in Israel. But if you are somehow misinformed, or don`t look into something closely enough (easily done when there`s a language barrier), there is practically no one to appeal to, no one to take responsibility and provide you with "the customer is always right" approach... no, it`s almost as if they stick out their tongues at you and say, "Sucker, how did you think we make money in the first place?" Sadly, I think it`s mostly us immigrants that get stuck being the sucker time and time again, until eventually we grow really hard hides and become bitter and whiny, pining for America as if it`s these small, stupid things like health insurance that really determine the quality of our lives. Israelis already know the ropes (I think).

On the other hand, Israel gives you a great opportunity to work on your Emuna - your faith. We were once almost charged for damage on a rental car that we most definitely had nothing to do with, but even in a situation where you know you have nothing to fear because it really isn`t your fault, you worry. Because you know that here, they can do whatever they want. We could have been mercilessly charged with no one to plead with. In cases like these, I`ve been jolted back to an awareness that there is really no one that can help me out of this.... except G-d. You realize, in a daze, that there is no one else to turn to. So I talk to Him, cry to Him, remembering that He alone runs the show (and not the people at Budget rental).

Pregnancy is another great reminder that absolutely nothing is in your control. You can eat right, sleep right, take all the right vitamins and all the right precautions... but the results are not determined by you, your doctor, or your midwife. You are made aware of that every time you experience a scare. For someone like me, who likes to feel in control, it`s a great wake-up call, and a great if not challenging way of living every day based on faith alone....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

IF - Impatience


Recently I`ve felt like things would never move ahead. So many pregnancy-and health-related issues, including general fatigue, have kept me at a low performance level, just when so many new and exciting things are happening. There`s nothing more depressing than having plenty of free time and no energy to do anything, especially for people like myself who view productivity as a raison d`etre. But atleast it has proven to me just how little control we have over what happens in our lives - this is something that we don`t always realize until we are physically out-of-whack, and something we should not take for granted for a single moment!
Thankfully, my energy is back and so is my spirit. I feel better than ever and enjoying my vibrating belly with refreshingly brand-new enthusiasm. Small blessings all around - my internet was down yesterday, which gave me a chance to stop distracting myself and get practical again - to which I owe the fact that I stopped pushing off this week`s illustration, and voila!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Painting for Our Living Room!



Here are a few shots of my new painting in progress.... The theme is based on King David`s psalm: "A Song of Ascents, when G-d returns to Zion, we will have been like dreamers..."
This psalm is very meaningful to the Jewish people, as it speaks of the time of redemption, when all our worries and woes until now will appear to have been but a dream...
I refer to Jerusalem as a "city on fire," a spiritual nucleus baking in turmoil and intensity. My husband and I loved living there, but we did recognize it as a city of high tension, which makes it both special and difficult. "Change of place, change of luck" is a favourite Israeli saying, and we have to agree. There is a blessing in everything - we love our new, little green haven that is Petach Tikva (pictured in bottom-left of painting). Many more symbols to dwell on, but not until there is more progress.
Hope my colour pallette stays bright!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fashion Illustration on Ana and Ava

Ana and Ava`s website is finally up, and my fashion illustration is up there with it! This is not something I normally do, but it was fun regardless. (The headbands and hats are amazing and have been featured in the NY Post and other places.)
Check it out!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Working from Home...


It`s difficult. When you are the master of your time it can be extremely difficult to manage wisely. Lately I`ve been thinking of getting a part-time office job, just to force myself to get out and have a more set schedule. Nonetheless, I am enjoying this time and trying to make the best of it. The apartments in Petach Tikva boast large windows so I have a fantastic view of everything around me, including other people`s apartments!
Am getting started on a ginormous canvas I plan on hanging in our living room... Will post pics of the work in progress.
Back to work!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh-so distracted...


I`m annoyed. I`ve been trying to be creative in more ways than one and not succeeding in any of them!
We`re having guests this weekend and I`ve been cooking an assortment of things while also trying to focus on some painting. Annoyingly, my Bundt cake flopped. (And I especially bought the pan and followed the recipe to the T!) I seemingly cannot seem to succeed in anything creative both in and out of the kitchen lately! Oy...
I have been reading a few very uplifting blogs lately which have inspired me to go back to the drawing board and create a few new portfolio pieces targeting the children`s market. One is by illustrator Stephanie Ruble. There`s also a forum I found helpful. Anyway, all these things have inspired me to do more sketching to help me get over this "illustrator`s block" (or "boulder", more like.) So here is a cartoon of me feeling frustrated because I have so much time to do whatever it is I need to do, and I still can`t focus on any one thing at a time, so I`m constantly thinking of other things I need to do while doing the things I need to do! (Now I`m cross-eyed...) One of the suggestions in the above-mentioned blog is to illustrate a fairy tale if you`re out of ideas, so here is my princess, all pregnant like me, illustrating, at the very least, that I really can`t put some things out of my mind...

Monday, July 6, 2009

IF - Shaky



Somewhat appropriate that this week`s topic for Illustration Friday is "Shaky". That`s how I`m feeling today - whatever achievements I`ve made in my artistic career, it still seems that all the effort has amounted to little, and that I`m perched shakily on a tiny foundation, and growing heavier with my dreams, ambitions and potential. I`m sure that everyone goes through this, and luckily I have my loved ones to fall back on for support if I should fall, but it can still be disheartening.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Inner Content

Joined Etsy and getting in touch with my inner world...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

IF - Adapt



This week`s topic relates to me in more ways than one. My husband and I have had to leave our beloved Jerusalem so he can be closer to work. So we are now living in central Israel, in a city called Petach Tikva. We are lucky enough to claim that we have so far adapted pretty well to our new dwelling, appreciating the space and sunlight that isn`t as common in Jerusalem. Our hearts remain in Jerusalem, but we are happy enough with our situation.
In the bigger picture, though, I have reflected on my adaptation to life in Israel since I got here, almost three years ago. I have realized that I am just as much an "outsider" at mind than I was three years ago. Don`t get me wrong - my Hebrew has improved and I understand the mentality enough to get things done. I can pretty much pass off as pure Israeli. But I am still very much not, and not sure I even want to be. I am still stubbornly comparing the system here to the system in America - the post office, the bank, people`s attitudes, customer service (or lack thereof)...
To me it`s just a matter of adapting yourself as best as you can, while still retaining the parts of yourself that were formed in other places. Maybe it`s better to be more sensitive (sometimes).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Woo hoo!

I`m very happy to say that I`ve had a better illustration month than ever before. It seems that if you really want something bad enough, it`s only a matter of time before you`ll get it. I feel more involved than ever before. Despite the bad economy, it seems that art and illustration are still thriving (as far as I know).
I know I could give in and become a teacher to appease my family in Israel, but for now I`m choosing to continue on this path and see where it can get me, before I settle on anything else.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Time" - IF



This is a painting I did a few months ago based on the layers of time. Each layer is significant to a different period of my life, beginning with childhood and culminating in the present top layer, the haven that is Jerusalem.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Though I Walk...






I`ve been working on paintings based on Psalms and the Song of Songs, and here are some examples I wanted to share.... These paintings, I feel, are my breakthrough in Israel, because I was finally able to express myself more conceptually through them. I have enjoyed working in this style and hope to keep it up and develop it more.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Flawed" - IF



This week`s topic came at a good time.... This past week has been a chance for some painfully serious introspection, like having to look at myself really close-up in the mirror.
In my illustration, the sleeping figure is obviously lacking and colourless, while the approaching (and reproaching) figures represent certain character traits such as virtue, humility, ingenuity, joy and ambition. I had fun with this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Pale" - IF



This week I was inspired by the concept of one`s aggression being the source of their own vulnerability and weakness, or vice versa. This image is of Medusa as both threatening and weak, weighed down by her extreme aggression. It is the vicious cycle of one who cannot control or balance one`s emotions, turning them into a self-inflicting tool of despair.
I wish I could have worked more on this. It was sketched out in oil on board.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Contained"-IF



Right now the world is so focused on the unfortunate plight of the Gazan civilians, that little is left to consider the fact that Israel has been under constant attack by both Hamas and Hezbollah for the past 8 years, during which thousands of lives have been altered, hundreds have been murdered in cold blood, and attacks have continued to this very day on cities like Sderot, Ashdod, Ashklelon, and recently Beer Sheva (where the large majority of my family lives) and the North.
Therefore, the topic of "contained" struck me in more ways than one - Israel itself is a country contained within a sea of hostile powers surrounding it on all sides. Here in Jerusalem, we too are contained by the attacks that have now reached Beer Sheva and the North, and almost feel as if there is nowhere to venture beyond our city. Don`t get me wrong, I`m not complaining - it`s starting to look like the Center is the safest place to be in Israel these days. And in Israel things go on as normal. But we are all hoping and praying for better days.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jerusalem Under Construction





The ongoing construction of the train line on Yafo Street was a location we never chose before... I`ve always loved the beautiful old buildings interspersed with the new...