Painting Music, Holiday Prep, and Online Art

Unlike summer for the rest of the world, summer in the Jewish calendar is a time of sadness. In the month of Tammuz, we remember the siege of Jerusalem. In the month of Av, we mourn the holy Temple, the Bait HaMikdash, that was destroyed not just once but twice. There is a custom not to listen to music during the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz (siege of Jerusalem) and the 9th of Av (destruction of the Temple).

Painting Music

By the 15th of Av, however, the sadness turns to joy. One of the ways humans experience joy is listening to music. I was fortunate to attend not one concert but two concerts around that time. Rugburn, a band that plays jazz, funk, and rock music, held a concert in local Donaldson Park, so I had a great time not just drawing the musicians’ movements but also adding in the surroundings. The Imperial Band of South River plays pop and classical music in the Imperial Music Center of South River; a friend plays with the Imperial Band each month, and I finally had a chance to attend, drawing pad and Uniball pen in hand.

For both concerts I took my drawing notebook. I did quite a few drawings of the musicians. In fact, I paid more attention to the bodily swaying of the musicians that I did the notes that came out of the musical instruments.

Rugburn band in the park on August 3

My favorite from Rugburn is this one with the four players swaying to the music and the beautiful reeds and grasses of Donaldson Park swaying in a variety of colors in the background.
You can see more in the art database:

bass, Imperial Band of South River
I really like the bass player from the Imperial Band. You can see more of the Imperial Band in the art database.

Preparing for Yom Tov

dates in front of palm tree, watercolor on paper
So far, most of my preparation for Yom Tov (holidays) is in my head. I plan to do a Rosh Hashana dinner with as many simanim as I can prepare. Above is a painting of Dates in Front of Palm Tree, watercolor on paper, 2011. Maybe next week I will do a painting of Elul, the Jewish month before Rosh Hashana, which is a time of preparation and asking for forgiveness.

An Art Database

One of the reasons I created an art database is so when potential clients can ask: what works can I buy as prints? I can point to the art database or to a specific category such as Raritan Avenue.

I placed my first order of giclée prints for a client this past week. Giclée is the recommended way to produce archival reproductions of fine art. She had saved screenshots of her favorites my work from the past few years. In the future, I will say to a client: browse through the art database! That’s where one can find illustrations that will work well as prints.

Parsha Pictures: Jacob’s Ladder and Joseph’s Dreams

Joseph's dreams, baker's dream, butler's dream

I succeeded in making illustrations for each of the parshiot (section of Torah read in the synagogue each week) of Breishit (Genesis) this past fall. However, only a few illustrations became blog posts.

I had a great time redoing an illustration for Parshat Vayeshev, the parsha that has Joseph’s dreams along with the dreams of the butler/cupbearer and of the baker.

“I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” — Genesis 37:9

On the vine were three branches. It had barely budded, when out came its blossoms and its clusters ripened into grapes. — Genesis 40:10

In the uppermost basket were all kinds of food for Pharaoh that a baker prepares; and the birds were eating it out of the basket above my head.” — Genesis 40:17

The stripes of Joseph’s coat, not part of a dream but part of the parsha, felt like I was painting a roller coaster.

Jacob’s Ladder, a work on paper done in gouache, is one of my favorites. In creating the painting Jacob’s Ladder, story found in Parshat Vayeitze, I looked at Renaissance and more recent paintings for inspiration. The man lying down was actually inspired by a relative napping on a couch. He made a convenient model for the painting.

He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. — Genesis 28:12-13

Jacob's Ladder with Angels climbing up and down, gouache on paper

I set up a store so I can sell reproductions of my art work. There are two options: for those who want fine art productions they can hang proudly in their homes, I am offering prints of painting such as Jacob’s Ladder and Joseph’s Dreams for limited times with limited prints. One will need to contact me directly to get a fine print. For those who like mugs or tote bags with Highland Park illustrations, visit the online shop (click on any image to get to more products). Buy as many of those as you want!

Traveling with an iPad in Israel

flowers in a pot in Beit Shemesh, Israel
flowers in a pot in Beit Shemesh, Israel – taken from balcony of an apartment
I just came back from a one week trip in Israel. After discussing various options for connecting on social media and keeping up with my email, I decided to bring my iPad mini on my trip. This post will examine where it worked and where it did not. In the comments, feel free to offer your own travel advice.

Connecting with the iPad in Israel

Originally, we were supposed to stay with my cousins most of the time. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, we stayed with a relative by marriage (who was an absolutely wonderful hostess). She had great wifi in her apartment, so when we came back after our busy days we were able to both re-connect and re-charge our iPads (I was traveling with my eldest son, and we both have iPads). The three prong adapter seemed to do the charging better than the two prong, so I would suggest buying a three prong adapter if you are traveling from the U.S. to Israel. I bought the adapter easily on Amazon. If you stay in a hotel, I would assume most of them will have great wifi available to guests. Verify before booking your place.

train station in Petach Tikva, Israel
train station in Petach Tikva

I loved traveling on trains in Israel. The wifi is free, although I discovered it is not very strong, and you may not have any if you sit in the “wrong” part of the train (is the corner not a good spot? I would need the locals to help with this). Even when I did get decent wifi on the train, it was not strong enough to upload a photo. So save your photo sharing for the strong wifi locations.

Tel-Aviv Art Museum: Yay, Tel Aviv! The art museum had its own wifi, so we were will able to look up the museum website for more information while viewing. The Israel Museum did not have this feature. I might write a post comparing the two museums in general. Both were wonderful. In general, the Tel Aviv municipality has approved a budget for free wifi in the city, in parks, main streets and commercial centers (coming soon in 2013?).

The Galil seems to have less options for free wifi than the central part of the country. This is not surprising, as the Galil is more rural.

You can sit on the Ben Yehudah mall in Jerusalem and depending where you sit, it is not hard to find free wifi. The Jerusalem bus station had enough wifi for me to load one Google map of Jerusalem unto my iPad, then it went away or asked for a password.

One friend I visited had computers but no wifi. I Googled connecting my iPad via her networked computer, but it didn’t seem so simple to do. One techie friend said I would probably have needed to add iTunes to her computer. I certainly didn’t have the right administrative privileges to do so, but the truth is, with guest privileges I could check email and Facebook, so what more did I need?

Ben-Gurion airport had free wifi while we waited to board (leaving Israel). When we got off the plane (arriving), we had none, but my cousin came right away so there really was no time, anyway.

Setting up your iPad for your trip

In some ways, my iPad was prepared properly. In other ways, I would have done things differently. I downloaded a few games that required no wifi for the plane ride. I got fairly good at Bejeweled Blitz on the plane – I don’t have the patience to read books on planes. I only got through a few pages of Jane Austen’s Emma (which I had downloaded for free in advance via Free Books app).

A big mistake I made in preparing my iPad for the trip was that I set up my email to work, but I only checked incoming mail and not outgoing. I couldn’t get the setup for outgoing mail in Israel for my regular mail, so I depended on my Gmail account. If you regularly use Gmail, just download the Gmail app in advance. I prefer to do work correspondence with my leoraw account; for future travel, I will make sure I have outgoing mail set up properly as well.

Facebook and Twitter on the iPad are easy: just download the apps in advance and make sure they work properly. I found it nice to take a few photos with iPad as I traveled. Then, when I had the chance, I shared one on Facebook and one on Google+. Most of my photos I took with my Canon Rebel. But I wasn’t planning to utilize those photos until after my trip was over – the ones on my Canon I will probably edit a bit before sharing.

On turning mail accounts on and off: I share the iPad with my daughter. I added my email accounts to the iPad a while back, checked them, and then turned them off. For the trip, I turned off her email account. Now that I am back, I should turn her email account back on and turn off my email accounts.

I actually bought a pocketbook for the trip in which my iPad mini fit exactly. So it was simple to carry it around – it even came with me on the hike on Mount Meron in the Galil. I have great photos of flora and of views from that hike. The famous red poppies were in bloom for me.

Planning the next trip

Although it may be a while before I go on my next international adventure, I am still thinking ahead to how I might plan differently next time. By the time I next travel, I suspect I will have a different smart phone. I will probably want to get some sort of SIM card for the smart phone so I can connect almost anywhere instead of searching for wifi. But the truth is, not being connected everywhere is not so terrible. It’s OK to just enjoy nature without needing to look on Facebook. If I don’t use my smartphone in Israel, I would spend more time getting a better Israeli phone for rental. The ones we rented I would not recommend.

What is your travel advice?

I am sure some of you have traveled more than I have. What have you found useful for connecting online? What questions would you advise to a traveler anticipating a trip?


Shari Weiss Leora Wenger
When Shari interviewed Leora

Read Friends Become Good Clients via Social Web, Shari Weiss’ interview on her social media blog. I talked about my blogging history and how this blog has helped me grow with both technical knowledge and special relationships. Enjoy!

Float of Israeli Banks in NYC

In my Ruby Tuesday post this week I asked if anyone could guess which business sponsored this float from the Israel Day Parade in New York City. It turns out it was sponsored by IDB Bank, Bank HaPoalim, and Bank Leumi. Robin, who lives in Tel Aviv, correctly stated Bank Leumi as the sponsor.

Whenever I hear Bank HaPoalim, I think of the ditty: “Bo-ee, bo-ee-tan-u, Bank HaPoalim, bo-ee, bo-ee-tan-u, Bank HaPoalim …” (which translates as ‘come with us, come with us, Bank of the Workers, come with us, come with us, Bank of the Workers). Do they still use that for advertising? I have no idea. The name ‘Bank HaPoalim,’ bank of the workers, reminds me of Israel’s socialist, Russian-inspired roots.

How does your bank advertise?