Neath the Cover of October Skies

Way off the subject of painting here, but really felt that this was worth sharing. (The embedding on the video is disabled, so you will have to click over to youtube and come back.) ┬áToday it has been cool and windy in Naples and as I was knitting away my domenica, I decided to look up videos of songs I used to belt out with my many sisters when I was a wee little one. I never spend time on youtube because of all the crap that’s on there and the annoying lags in the replays, but today I was craving different music and I was lucky enough to find recordings of songs that brought tears of laughter to my eyes and ears: Perhaps Love (1980) by John Denver & Placido Domingo (hahaha!!), the Beatles White Album, Cat Stevens, Don McLean (1979 performance in Caesarea, Israel), the Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun), Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison and many other surprises. We would dress up in clothes from my mom’s fabulous wardrobe and mime out the music, utilizing utensils and pots from the kitchen cabinets for musical instrument props.

While browsing Van Morrison’s songs, a title with Santana caught my eye. And this recording, though a little distorted and cropped at the beginning, is just fantabulous. I had not known this recording nor had I seen it live on the Midnight Special on April 22, 1977 because I was four years old and I went to bed at 9. Hosted by George Bensen, this Midnight Special episode featured Moondance performed by Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Etta James, Dr. John and Tom Scott. It threw me off my feet – and my knitting – as I found it impossible to sit still while listening to this.

I then looked up information about the performance, and came across some interesting tidbits on an archived page that looks like it may expire. There’s a funny story about how the managers of the program got high (and deaf) on a “doob” offered by Jerry Garcia just before going over to Van Morrison’s house to ask him to make the guest appearance. If the link doesn’t work, here is a PDF copy I made: Van Morrison Story

Stitches in Time

The painting below (30 x 30 cm) is one of the last I started (and not yet finished) in Israel, while in the middle of taking the house apart, dismantling paintings, contemplating the mess, shipping out boxes, and running out of milk in the process. While I was busy packing up, I developed a rather serious addiction to knitting, which has been keeping me very busy and more quiet than usual. I have happily spent many many many hours completing stitches, one after the other, teaching myself how to do it, and it has been a very therapeutic process. Just what I needed in order to face the stress of moving. I just need to sort out some particular cables and finish up a sweater, and then maybe another, and then I will get back to the paints…

Self portrait with Milk and Mug, 30 x 30 cm, oil on panel, 2011

I also recently delivered 16 paintings to Bernard Gallery in Tel Aviv, a bright ground-floor gallery space on Ben Yehuda Street, run by an elegant and savvy couple from France with enthusiasm for figurative art. Introduced by an enthusiastic art curator I met in Israel, Bernard selected several of my “messy bedroom” paintings and self-portraits from Israel, and I will post details of upcoming exhibition details as soon as I have them. If you are interested in the purchase of any of the following pieces, feel free to contact Bernard Gallery directly.

Twilight violet and lime, 35 x 40 cm, 2010
Stage 2-4, Oil on paper, 2010, 50 x 70 cm
Self-portrait Study, 2010, oil on linen
Self-Portrait in Studio, Oil on paper on wood, 2009, 50 x 65 cm
Self portrait in floral blouse, 2010, oil on panel, 25 x 30 cm
Self portrait as Housewife with Cat, 2009, oil on linen, 70 x 50 cm
Salmon Lover, 2010. Oil on panel, 35 x 40 cm
Red Pareo, 2011. Oil on panel, 30 x 30 cm
Pink Sheets, 2010. Oil on panel, 35 x 40 cm
Pink Sheets Study, 2010. Oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm
Pink Pillow Study, 2010. Oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm
Memory Window, 2011. Oil on panel, 25 x 25 cm
Memory Painting with Cat, 2011. Oil on panel, 25 x 25 cm
Implosion, 2011. Oil on linen, 70 x 70 cm
Gabriele's Trumpet, 2009. Oil on linen, 40 x 60 cm
Bathroom Laundry, 2010, oil on paper, 50 x 70 cm

On the Easel

My time in Israel is winding down quickly, and with it also my painting time. I have much to look forward to, including the city of Naples, a new home, further academic studies, getting married, seeing my family, as well as all the Italian food and etiquette I have been missing like crazy. Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate on the painting with all the things that need attention right now. I thought I would show a couple of my works in progress in their various stages of starts and restarts before I may find it necessary to pack them away and resume them again later after moving.

The sink study above was a quick one, maybe about an hour at most. I plan on doing another one, but much more “finished,” because I like both quick/sketchy paintings and more defined ones for so many reasons. They have different things to see about the experience of perceiving the space and subject.

The square bedroom ones below instead already involve many days and hours overlapping. I don’t share these because I am happy with them now as they are as a whole, but rather to share the process of what I am thinking about as I paint them and look at them. They have parts or aspects that perhaps I am pleased with or make me think of new directions to take. In the square painting below, for example, I am happy with the back left corner of the room, particularly with the cat cage and Christmas tree sticking out of it. But in order for the painting to be more representative of reality, in my opinion, the painting needs numerous other “days” inside of it, and in particular I need to work on the colors. I may prefer to make this painting more black and white.

This second bedroom start has a bit more room in the approach to the bed, and I like that. I also like the cooler and softer colors, and I am wondering if I don’t want to make the painting a bit more blurry-eyed in general. Below this top surface are, I think, at least 6 or 7 other paintings I had started, though I am not sure I can remember what they were.

This last square painting had originally been an interior one, depicting my kitchen, at least until the washing machine/sidewalk scene outside my front door distracted me so much to the point that I needed to grab the closest, least precious, most suitably sized surface available. Hence, no more kitchen painting. The photo below shows the first half hour of frenzied changes, and it has been an absolute joy to be outdoors painting again. I do this a lot, painting over older paintings, and not because I am convinced that the new painting will be better, but because the new motif interests me more. Painting is a passionate enterprise, involving impulsive actions which can ultimately lead to a failure. But you must take a breath and jump all the same.

Settling In

So, here I am, settling into my new studio in the hew house. The walls are white, which is new for me considering the pink hue that was invading the walls in our former apartment. The window faces north, lucky me, and so two days ago I began this painting. It’s small, 30 by 30 cm, but I am happy that I managed to catch a better likeness this time. It can be tough, considering the size of the face is only about 2 cm across, but I liked the challenge. I may do a few more things to it yet, but over all I like how it captures some of the serenity I am feeling about being in a new place, with a new beginning.


(click for larger view)

Before & After

It has been a busy and exhausting last two weeks, having needed to find a new home in Israel for the next five months. Our landlord had sold the apartment we were living in, and so – like good tenants – we let him sell, and that meant trying to find a new home until October. Until I had begun the search, I had no idea how hard that was going to be. Everyone in Israel moves in the summer apparently, and everyone wants a long-term rental. After a couple cancellations the day of signing a contract for a new place, we at last found someone willing to rent short-term who didn’t pull the plug last minute. It has also been some serious Hebrew immersion – at last – as we have no language in common. I think I have understood the important parts, I hope.

The new place is a house, with a sand yard and patio. Perfect for building sand castles in the sweltering heat of the summer, I should say. So much silence, plenty of light, and believe it or not, this one also has a room with a north-facing window for use as a studio. I have begun painting again as of yesterday, and it is feeling very good. To our dismay, the house had no furnishings nor appliances, so thanks to trusty Google translate and Yad2 website, we have managed to equip the house with some second-hand things and some new items, including a most amazing latex memory foam mattress topper. Visa the cat has also adjusted amazingly well, and is enjoying greatly the ground floor supervision at night.

Moving can be hard, just as it is for cats. Just as I was really beginning to feel in my territory, it’s time to pack up, clean up and adapt to a completely new situation. But of course, it is also a blessing. Things become juxtaposed in a completely unpredictable way, and thoughts become compressed, urgent even, with several different threads and to-do lists running through them. Old paintings were pulled out of corners and painted over, and I finally got a sense of just how much painted volume I now have – frightening, but not ghastly.

I am including here a few pieces done during this transition from house to house. Only the one of the refrigerator is in the new place, but I started a couple others yesterday. Though I am not yet finished with the large square painting, I did some last minute changes just before moving, and I am interested to see what of the new house may make its way inside of it.

Implosion, in progress. Please click on all images for enlarged viewing.


Portal reflection

Tre cipolle

Visa on the Fridge

Martian & Rose

Sounds like a good name for a cocktail, come to think of it. I have been eyeing these green fellas in the grocery stores here for a while, and I finally had the courage to buy a few and bring them home. I had no idea what the name for this thing was, so you can imagine the type of google searching I had to do until I came across Kohlrabi. Just a little oil sketch here, nothing special. The vegetable itself ended up inside a tasty pie.

Home Stretch

With summer nearing quickly, so is my time in Israel, and this is causing me a bit of a panic. Have I painted the bedroom enough? Have I painted anything enough? Two years ago, my fiance came up with a new problem to solve in the world of condensed matter physics, and two days ago he found the solution. It is an enormous relief and a cause for celebration, a marvelous achievement after an important post-PhD assignment at the Weizmann Institute – but it also means that we will be moving on to a new place soon. New problems to create and solve. Packing, moving, and unpacking. Looking for a new apartment, discovering a new neighborhood.

I can’t quite relate to the kind of relief he is feeling, even though the parallels between painting and physics are so striking. As a painter, I can spend a heck of a long time on a painting, trying to resolve it as I discover new problems along the way – but whether the official “end” of a painting refers to relief and the solution to the problem is another unknown. I can paint a ton of failures, one after the other, filling a room with them. The worst is perhaps when I paint a failure but don’t know it. Just last week, I splurged on 30 new wooden panels. They are not too large (for moving and packing) but already I have started paintings on nine of them. I am trying to balance the urge to paint more with the desire to paint sincerely and honestly and with the knowledge of limited time and impending change.


Blue Diagonal

As I paint my messy home with nostalgia of our time in Israel, I am looking forward greatly to knowing what our new home will be, knowing that it is around the corner. Somewhere and sometime soon. Although we can change countries and cultures with a mere airplane ride, I think that the memories of places stretch from one place to another, exerting themselves on how we think and what we find important, despite the distance of time and place.


Postcard Painting



Purple Blanket

Works in Progress


This painting is in about stage eight, with a ton of work to go, measuring 90 x 90 cm. My cat Visa is that grey thing that keeps showing up, and she is bound to show up a few more times, if I don’t edit her out!


These two window paintings I hesitatingly call “memory” paintings. I wake up often in the middle of the night, and on my way to the kitchen I pass by my studio door, where the window looks out on the building facing mine, lit up by some bizarre pink light.


This one is a sketch I did for the first painting, and I might take it in another direction, or leave much of it alone.


This one needs some serious work on the background, for I do see that horrible size of the door and wall treatment. Part of the problem is where I decided I needed to put the mirror: resting inside the ledge of the window, against a wire screen, difficult to ever get at the same angle twice – the wind one time knocked it over, but thankfully it did not break. So much is to be added yet and changed, but I found the size of the portrait a good challenge, with the panel measuring a total 40 x 60 cm.

Phew, Time for a Trip

What a crazy past couple months this has been, and I wonder if it’s the same all over. As I am leaving tomorrow for a much welcome trip to Italy (with a whole day in Rome to ponder Domenico Morelli and wander the grounds of Villa Borghese) I realized that I have not shared any of the recent paintings I have been working on in quite a while. The truth is, I have started so many, but they are taking longer. This has much to do with the fact that I am going through many more stages along the way where I stop, ponder, and decide to paint something else on top. So these images here are far from what I would call finished. They are moments of pause in the process, and will likely go through enormous changes before becoming yet another painting. Sometimes I have craved a rewind button, but the further I push it I find some interesting surprises happen that have very little to do with what I began. Losing paintings has become crucial to finding learned paintings.