Have you ever been to a paint night? What did you paint? Was it a learning experience, or were you just given some paints and told: “here ya go.”
This past year I was privileged to host two paint nights. For the first one, I did a slide show. I showed perspective, a value study, and a possible finished project. I got feedback later: “I wanted more instruction.”
So when I had the opportunity to host a paint night for a smaller crowd recently, I decided to teach people one on one or in small groups. I publicized the paint night with a poster; I painted the Tsfat or Safed scene that I photographed years ago as a border. The materials given out were acrylic paints, not the sort of paints I have used much. I handed out pencils and some paper, and I showed the participants how to divide up the page into parts, so what they thought was a difficult subject became easier to handle. I pointed out the natural mountains at the top of the scene and the architectural, man-made elements below. Some chose to just paint the mountains. A few tackled the whole scene and did both. Others just played with the paints and chatted with their friends.
This was my first attempt at a border for advertising the paint night. I made the white too small.
So I painted again, and this one became the border for the details of the paint night.
At the top of this post is a watercolor that I painted from the Tsfat or Safed scene that I chose as the subject for the paint night. Since there has been a lot of upsetting news coming from Israel lately, we went with an Israeli theme for the paint night.
Due to the disheartening news, I decided to post a subject that was Israeli but warmer in nature. I revisited a photograph that I had taken years ago of Yemin Moshe, an old, elegant neighborhood outside of the Old City of Jerusalem. I did an interpretation in gouache:
Getting back to posters, I have been publicizing a series of talks by our local rabbi. Each one is a “parshat hashavua” or Torah portion of the week. For each poster I read the Torah portion well in advance and look for visual ideas that I can put in a poster. In the Torah portion of Hayei Sarah, Rebecca feeds not only Eliezer but also his camels. Camels! I took out children’s books about camels from the library, and I had fun drawing and painting a few camel scenes.
Back to paint night: I have two ideas for upcoming ones:
Teach how to mix a palette of hue, tint, shade (color, lighter version of that color, darker version of color). Start with a blue, red, and a yellow (primary colors).
Only black: only allow black for the first half an hour. Then they get treated to pink, turquoise, and lavender/purple.
The inspiration for the only black paint night was a participant wanted some black paint. I had left out the black paint on purpose, so students would mix their own darks. It got me thinking: how could we make good use of black? Using only black would force the students to think about darks and lights. Am I being too strict?
Autumn: what comes to mind? Oranges, yellows, and deep reds. Colorful leaves, first on the trees, fall down and scatter the streets with their inviting hues.
I was walking outside. I saw this leaf. I picked it up and put it on my dining room table, next to my watercolor paints and brushes. A day or two later, this painting emerged.
Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and more of those mustard-y, yellow, orange, and red hues. I had a butternut squash in my kitchen. Nearby was a purplish red onion. They called to me. I buy plenty of garlic from a farmer at the Highland Park Farmers Market, so I added it to the still life. It was nice to take time to paint, as the next week I only had time to cook!
Autumn in Jerusalem is more subtle. Snow is rare; cold rain is what one can expect, in a good year that has no drought. My friend Ahuva Bokow photographed a beautiful scene of a bench by a wall with colorful ivy. I decided it would be the perfect end to this post on autumn colors.
Last December we stayed in the beautiful Jerusalem neighborhood called Emek Refaim. I took a photo of the this residence with a gate and stairs. Recently, I created this watercolor. In addition to being a study of a piece of a residential area, it is a study of greens. How many greens can one create in watercolor – you can take any other tube of color, even a red or a brown, add a bit to the green, and you have a new green, often a grayer green. Stairs (with shades of brown and tan) draw the viewer into the scene.
I started posting my artwork and some photos to Instagram – feel free to follow me on Instagram. I will continue to post my favorite artwork here on Sketching Out, because on a blog it feels more permanent (though what in life is really permanent). And there is more opportunity to discuss the artwork.
If you want a good watercolor book, I recommend David Bellamy’s Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting.
Last week on May 12 Israel celebrated its 68th birthday. And since I was working, I missed our local celebration (here’s a local Edison parade from a few years ago). Well, now I have a little time; I can share with you a few more photos from our January/February trip to Israel.
We went to visit my niece who teaches high school English in an international school north of Tel Aviv. The high school is in a youth village called HaKfar HaYarok – literally, the Green Village. Above is a picnic table with a pot of flowers. Wouldn’t you like to study math or social studies in February while sitting at a sunny picnic table?
Old City of Jerusalem, inside Jaffa Gate entrance
Here’s my daughter inside the Old City of Jerusalem, right near the Jaffa Gate.
And here’s a similar photo inside the Old City of Jerusalem – how is this different from the one above?
Even more birds in flight – how they fill the Hula Valley skies.
In many spots in the Hula Valley you can see the Golan Heights off to the east. Here’s a dramatic photo of the Heights rising over the farms below. Before 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights in a defensive war, Syrian soldiers used to fire shots from the mountains down on the farmers below.
Back to Jerusalem
These two photos (above and below) are both Jerusalem shots. The carnation in a pot is located in the quaint neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, a “suburb” of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was built in the late 19th century. I understand buying a home there now would cost you quite a pretty penny (can you afford a yacht?).
Finally, this is a cute bird diving into a little fountain with Jerusalem lions. It was near our hotel (the Inbal), north of the old train station that was renovated (and we did not get a chance to see – lots to do for our next visit).
Because there is some nature in this post (can you spot some?), I am including this post in Nature Notes:
Today is a fast day on the Jewish calendar: Shiva Assur B’Tammuz (the 17th Day of the Month of Tammuz). I have been planning to post some nature notes of jacandra tree blooms and other nature in the Galil, but that will wait until next week. Above is a photo I took when I was in Jerusalem last month. The photo (near the main bus station) shows an example of the mix of architecture in Jerusalem, although if you really want to see the old, old of Jerusalem, visit my post on the City of David. Other posts on Jerusalem: Jerusalem Day and Jerusalem in Ruins.
The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans, in 69 CE, after a lengthy siege. (Three weeks later, after the Jews put up a valiant struggle, the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple on the 9th of Av.)
I’m going to re-post my watercolor from 2011 – you can learn more about its significance on the post Fox in Ruins.
Fifty years ago Jews could not walk here, along the walls of the Old City. There was a barbed wire fence preventing entrance. In 1967 all this changed, and thus tonight begins Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. After June 1967 not only were Jews and others allowed into the Old City and to visit the Kotel, the City was once again in Jewish control, as it had not been for 2000 years. Jerusalem has been a holy city for the Jewish People since the time of King David.
From Wikipedia, here is what Moshe Dayan said on that day:
This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.
Posts on Jerusalem Day or about Jerusalem in the news:
Over 2000 years ago, Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces breached the walls of Jerusalem after many years of siege. So today observant Jews around the world fast, a fast called the 17th of Tammuz. It is hard for me to be sad on this day; my family greatly enjoyed visiting Jerusalem recently, and I had the opportunity to photograph ruins such as this one. But I can be contemplative. Yes, contemplative, that is a good word for today.
Jameel has more bad stuff that happened today. And hope for redemption.