Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Horse Smells the Barn

I leave for Israel two weeks from today. Now I am excited. I'm on the home stretch. This being the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, it is only fitting that I use an equine metaphor. I have 9 more days of work left before my departure and there is much to do to leave my ducks in a row. I have begun a packing list and setting items aside that I know I will not use now but will want on the trip. I have been in contact with an old friend, Ayelet, an archaeologist with whom I spent a lot of time when I lived in Israel. I will spend my last weekend with her and her family in magnificent Zichron Ya'akov. I could not be happier about having been able to make these arrangements. I hope to see other friends, but seeing Ayelet is a priority.

As much as the trip dominates my thoughts, the canvas demands my attention. It has been easy for me to sit down at odd times and just start working. I know what I want to do, I know what I need to do, and I just go about doing it without fretting. If there is one thing I must say I like about acrylic paints, it's that it is so incredibly easy to clean up following a session. Oils are a bit messy and cleaning brushes requires a lot of care. But acrylics? Quick and painless.

Saturday afternoon after running in the park and then running errands with Zeke (including planting in our raised bed in the community garden at the JCC), I got down to business at the easel. It was time to make Eagle Creek sing on my canvas. Even though I had already painted most of it in, it still took over 2 hours to rework the trees, reflection and the lake. After laying in the ripples on the lake surface, I knew I was done. I just brushed in some grass in the foreground and called it a day. It was a good session.
Today, Sunday, was devoted to the desert, the only place in the world that tugs so hard at my heart that it can bring me to my knees. The first time I traveled to the Negev Desert, it did just that. The sense of returning home was overwhelming. Call it what you will, but I know I have wandered those hills and valleys for many a lifetime. Even Chipper was of the desert. I saw a wild dog scampering across the distant hills on a desert camping trip and could have sworn it was Chipper...until I saw her sitting quietly beside the tent.

Last night I had spent some time going through old photos and pulled out all my pictures from my many trips to the desert. The crevices and the cracks and crannies of the granite mountains are so distinctive, and my photos had captured them. So I had to paint them in. I like the results - compare the pink blobs I originally painted to lay in color to the finished mountain in the photo to the right. It took quite a bit of time to paint the foreground mountains and the wadi, which is Arabic for valley. I still have the mountains in the background to finish up, but even with the work I have completed thus far, I can tell that I like the way the desert frames the left side of the painting.

I am looking forward to returning to the canvas tomorrow. I will be able to finish the purple mountains in the background and then there are some more details that I am contemplating whether or not to add them to the painting. Stay tuned.

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