Tuesday, September 27, 2016

AVINU MALKEINU...Our Father, Our King....

My simple intention for what turned into my Judaic series was to pour out my head and heart onto canvas.
What came next, was a total surprise.  I received such great interest in these contemporary abstract paintings.  I revisited the possibility of making fine art prints in order to give the texts and images a much bigger audience.  Up until then, I had only sold original paintings. I quickly discovered that High Holiday cards were a big seller and after a few years, I needed to add to the offerings for our holiest of days.
I read some history about how this prayer, penned by Rabbi Akivah, came to be. The Rabbi was asked to pray for rain.  All earlier efforts had failed.  Instead of asking for rain, he praised G-d and only asked that He listen to their voices and then "do with us, for Your name's sake."
The rains came.
In a formal service, this prayer is often a highlight of the service musically. It's just one of those prayers that allows cantors to share a full range of emotions.  As a congregation, we hear it, sense it, feel it.
I knew where to begin.....with a lot of water for the rain.  I also knew I needed to listen to cantorial renditions of this prayer, rather than singing it on my own.
I started with the most passionate of colors: red and slashed wide brush strokes across the wet canvas.
As the drips poured down I saw tears, not only of Rabbi Akivah's contemporaries, but of our people when this prayer is offered up in our High Holy Day services.
Lo and behold, two shofars appeared, juxtaposed from the same source....our Father, our King.

As an aside, when I was completing this painting, a woman contacted me about commissioning a painting for their beloved Rabbi.  She requested something with a shofar in it.  Their Rabbi, first hired after 9/11, played taps on the shofar at the memorial service for their congregation.
I was so moved by her story  (and still get goosebumps today just thinking about it.)
It was clear where this painting needed to make its home.

Shanah Tovah to all of my friends, followers, collectors and connections.  Please G-d, let it be a good one for us all.

Monday, September 5, 2016

And the next addition to the Judaic series is.....

In recent years, I had taken a serious break from the Judaic series.  Unfortunately,  the business side of being an artist eats up more and more of one's time these days.
Besides business, real life sometimes gets in the way...don't you just hate when that happens?
During these past few years of health issues, I have maintained my need to create with a camera in my hand instead of a brush.  I've learned to keep 'painting' abstracts with pieces of my abstract photographs. The results have been more than exciting.

That said, there's nothing like the feel of that old brush, with paint peeling off the handle from years of wear and tear.  There's nothing quite like feeling the taut resistance of the brush against a freshly stretched canvas.  There is nothing like staring down a blank canvas, knowing full well that anything is possible to appear within a matter of hours.  Painting is powerful and magical.

During this time away from my easel, I wore a charm around my neck with the biblical words of Moses, beseeching G-d to heal his sister Miriam whom G-d had punished for her words.  I recently passed the charm onto a dear friend who needs it now. She will return it to me when her healing is complete so I can pass it on as needed. It looks like a new tradition has started....

SO once I realized I was ready to paint again, I was stuck. There is no lack of resource material for my Judaic series with so many psalms, proverbs, blessings and prayers available in our liturgy. Yet nothing was screaming at me to be addressed.  Instead,   I kept coming back to these 5 words I wore around my neck...the ones Moses said with such staccato precision. " G-d, please, heal her, please."

As usual, I checked out the proper Torah cantillation for these words as said in the book of Bamidbar.
I chanted it over and over again yet nothing was emerging from my head or heart as a starting point to paint.

As I researched, my notebook was filling up, but still no inspiration.  Then along came Rabbi Rachel Barenblat's words from her blog, 2006.  If you haven't yet discovered her, it is my pleasure to introduce you and I encourage you to find your inspiration as well. Her website is Velveteen Rabbi

In her blog, she referenced her Talmud teacher who had made a connection between the 11 letters of Moses' plea to the 11 lettered name G-d used at the burning bush. Moses asked what name he should give the Israelites and G-d responded,
Eyheh Asher Eyheh, "I will be who/what I will be."

 Each of us, created in the image of G-d, is also capable to be who/what we will be.  Our loved ones with their illnesses, have the ability to change and transform. Our authentic intention in saying these five words, have the power to reach our Creator, to heal just as Miriam was healed, and speedily.

I looked at the blank canvas with ink in hand and thought of the 11th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, kaf. Such a beautifully designed letter.....a circle not yet complete, but on its way to becoming whole.  It is no coincidence that the very shape of this letter implies the possibility of wholeness.
Nor is it a coincidence that the first letter of the word Kavanah ( the sacred intention for praying) happens to be the letter kaf.
I was ready to begin painting.

This image with complete text, can be found  at: JUDAIC SERIES

Friday, September 2, 2016

A much needed break from blogging to painting!

If anyone would have told me that someday I'd be spending more time at the computer than at the easel, I would have had a good laugh.
As our world changes (in some good ways and some bad ways ) so does the business of art.
Back in the day, I painted all day while galleries represented me, marketed me and sold my paintings.
In today's world, much more time is spent marketing on the internet, yet my sphere of exposure has multiplied immeasurably.
With this series of Judaic paintings, I sensed for the first time, a real need to spread these messages far and wide.  Never before had I even printed my work.

This week I have completed the 24th painting of this series.  It has taken quite a while for me to decide which prayer to choose.  Personal circumstances kept leading me back to healing prayers but the Misheberach was no longer enough.
It's an odd thing about illness....those who rarely pray, find the words, find the feelings, find the intention.  How glorious it would be if that intention, that kavanah, was readily available to us at all times of prayer...when we offer up thanks and show our gratitude to Adonai.
When we were children we tried to make deals with G-d , trading off 2 days of being nice to a little sister if only we could pass a test for which we hadn't studied. But we are now adults and our relationship with G-d is no longer the same.  The pediatric version of our relationship no longer works.We are in partnership with G-d.  He needs to hear our authentic intentions.
I went back to ancient Biblical text and chose the 5 word plea of Moses, asking G-d to heal his sister, Miriam in the book of Bamidbar. "El na refa na la."
In 5 short words, staccato by nature, Moses' urgency is conveyed....a simple, yet direct message to G-d to please heal Miriam. The second 'please' highlights the need for immediate attention.

I did more than an average amount of research for this painting.  Much more symbolism was available than I had room for in the painting or in the accompanying text.
Suffice to say that gematria plays an important role in my interpretation.  Numbers help us make much bigger connections to a simple verse.  Digging deeper into those connections, helps us understand some of the true power of these five words.
The next blog post will detail the whys and wherefores of this 24th painting....stay tuned!
The rest of the Judaic series can be found at:  Judaic Paintings
Contact me for availability of original and fine art reproduction: E MAIL