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Renoir balcony

One of my favourite books is Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir (1958). It’s a most loving and beautifully detailed account of the great Impressionist painter. Highly recommended! And here is Renoir’s beautiful Le Déjeuner des Canotiers (1881). And amazingly, below it, is the same balcony today. For many years the building was standing derelict – but it’s now been restored to comprise a museum and restaurant. (It’s the Maison Fournaise at Chatou).

La Maison Fournaise, as well as being the setting for the painting, was also much loved by Renoir and his fiance, Aline Charigot (seen in the foreground playing with the dog). Jean Renoir describes at length the leisurely Sundays the couple spent there, boating and just hanging out with friends over a good meal. The owners, the Fournaise family, also became close friends of Renoir’s, and rarely let him pay for his meal. In return, he gave them several of his paintings, which later became extremely valuable.

Most of the people in the painting have been identified. The younger Fournaises are there, as is the painter Gustave Caillebot. Edmund de Waal, the potter and writer, says in The Hare with Amber Eyes that the man in the top hat, furthest from us, is his ancestor Charles Ephrussi, who was an art collector and critic…..

Renoir balcony
The balcony at La Maison Fournaise, where Renoir painted Le Dejeuner des Canotiers.

Noah – ceramic relief sculpture

This piece of ceramic relief sculpture, Noah!, is made of a light-coloured clay (called Yellow Terrazzo), with an inlay of smoked glass. Many of the elements are finished with acrylic paint. (See my post from September, showing how it was made).The design is simple, primitive, direct and, I hope, powerful. The motif of the dove flying off to find the olive-branch – the symbol that G-d has made His peace with man – is universal. I wanted  to use colour to lighten up the heavy, quite rudely-cut forms of the figures. Originally I used only the lightest blues, but gradually added turquoise and indigo, as the greater tonal depth seemed to give more life to the figures. Then, on a whim, I added the orange details, and strengthened the whites. This really seemed to add life and joy – so I stopped there!

landscape painting with desert valley at dawn. Pilgrimage to holy river. Twelve tribes. Raanana artist.

Pilgrimage to the Valley of Gold

A video showing the painting process for this newly commissioned work. Filmed by me and son!

landscape painting with desert valley at dawn. Pilgrimage to holy river. Twelve tribes. Raanana artist.

Pilgrimage to the Valley of Gold, Acrylic with applied gold leaf on canvas, 65cm x 120cm.

Pilgrimage to the Valley of Gold

Once a year, the pilgrims visit this most sacred valley of the desert, where veins of gold run through the rock, symbolizing eternal wisdom and the divine (אלוקות). Each of the Twelve Tribes is represented, wearing variations of their tribal colours and, between the many and complex religious devotions, families may relax among the boulders, and partake of food and drink. This painting depicts the day after the majority of the celebrants have left, and a few families are relaxing, enjoying the peace of dawn in the valley, before starting their journey home.

This is an imaginary place, and an imaginary festival, but it is based on real boulder-strewn wadis in the Sinai desert, on real traditions of reverence and devotion, and on the mystical thread of gold which ties each of us together – our individual and collective divine soul.

In the Torah, water is a symbol of the wisdom of the Torah itself, and therefore a channel of flowing water runs through the centre of this scene, (a rare event in the real desert). Since the Torah was made for man, whose time comes and goes with the years, so the water flows constantly. The gold also flows, but infinitely slowly, in geological time, and that is why, apart from its lustre, I’ve chosen gold to represent the divine presence which runs through and underlies everything.

Herbs and my Outdoor Studio

Our herb collection this hot and humid morning……..and my covered outdoor ceramics corner! I love working out here in the summer, sometimes late at night, and also later in the year when it rains, and I’m protected from the rain….but am still outside…..fantastic!

Ancient Egyptian Horse Sculpture - ceramic with underglaze and gold leaf

Pessach Sameach! (Happy Passover!)

This recently completed horse sculpture depicts an ancient Egyptian royal horse adorned with blue and hold ceremonial crest and tail. Ceramic, with blue underglaze and gold leaf. An art prize I won at school was a modest and beautiful bronze of a horse by Elizabeth Frink, which I was entitled to keep for a year. I have loved drawing horses ever since. This, however, is the first time I’ve made a horse sculpture, and I found it tremendously satisfying. The pose of this horse is similar to the Frink horse, but this is a royal warrior horse, and is much more bulky, and obviously the style is more naive….