Life is busy! We’re so often rushing from here to there: cleaning, cooking, rotas, etc. I once mentioned to a friend that I just had an MRI done, and she said, “Oh, I hate them!” You would think I wouldn’t like it either, but I was trying to recall why I enjoyed it. As odd as it may sound, I found it relaxing. How often do we, as busy mothers, lie down in the middle of the day? You have to make a conscious effort to be still
and just let the time pass. What if we were able to transport ourselves to the place where we know we are meant to be?
This is exactly how I found my son. One day I was collecting laundry, and I asked my son to make the whites and coloured piles of laundry, as I often do. He was so engrossed in his learning, that he didn’t even notice I was there! He was transported to another world—a world where nothing else matters but his love of Torah. There he was at the edge of his bed, poring over his Gemara—so focused, that the
rest of the world didn’t matter. My son loves learning so much, that he can’t understand why everyone isn’t doing this all the time. In this painting, Shteiging, I tried to capture this ‘other world’ experience! We are constantly distracted by so many things, that to be able to shut everything out and focus on what you love is truly remarkable.
The pasuk in this painting is: כי הם חיינו לאורח ימינו והם נהגה יומם ולילה Shteiging represents a new technique I developed over the past two years. Beginning with acrylic paint and various chemicals, I first start by moving the colours in the direction I want on a wood panel. I use blowtorches and air to smooth and move the paint to achieve the imagery I have in mind. I then use traditional painting techniques to bring realistic images into the abstract, almost chaotic, space. A friend suggested that Shteiging says to
her, “In all the chaos of the world, I can still be at one with Hashem.”
Once the piece is complete, I wait a few days till it is completely dry. Once completely dry, I add the resin. First, it’s important to measure out exactly how much you’ll need, based on the size of the piece. Once you know how much, you mix equal parts hardener and equal parts resin. Blowtorch any air bubbles. Once complete, come back 72 hours later, and it will be dry and super smooth.
This large-format, oil on canvas, represents the classic techniques I have spent most of my art career developing. The great masters are a true inspiration, and there is a certain joy that comes with working with the finest oil paints and brushes that is hard to explain. A painting of this size and level of detail requires an incredible personal commitment. This piece took me the better part of a year to complete.
I started this painting soon after the holiday of Simchas Torah. I wanted to portray Jews from many different walks of life dancing together b’simchah (in happiness and joy). So often we get caught up in our differences. This painting is meant to remind us that in taking on the obligations of the Torah, even physically dancing with it at appropriate times, we should put our differences aside and celebrate what joins us together. The old man in the middle represents a Holocaust survivor who, while holding tight to the Torah, realises that he actually has much for which to be grateful.
The pasuk in this painting is ה׳ תמימה משיבת נפש (The Torah of G-d is whole and pure, and it restores the soul) (Psalms: 19)
I yearn for the day we truly accept each other despite all of our differences and because of our differences.
Baruch Hashem I live to see Hashem in everything. My mother is an artist—a sculptor—and all of my father’s sisters were artists as well. You would think I would have gone straight into being an artist. Unfortunately, even though it was a dream of mine, I never got to take a class as a child. It was something my parents didn’t want me to pursue. I grew up in Los Angeles, where most students didn’t keep Shabbos or kosher. I still remember when there was just one pizza shop owned by two Holocaust survivors. Now Los Angeles is home to the largest Jewish community outside of New York. What I appreciated most about my family and our close circle of friends was their commitment to growing as Jews. Strength of faith, a love of Israel and a love of learning is what drove us to better ourselves. I later received my degree in psychology and education from UCLA, but still no art class.
When my girls were little, I enrolled them in art classes as soon as I could. Somehow, there is this inherent desire to give our children what we feel we are missing. After years of my girls taking classes, I had an opportunity to sit next to my 12-year-old daughter (who knew a lot more than I did) and learn how to paint. It was difficult to give myself this gift. But a gift it was! It brought out in me the way I used to see the world as a child but had somehow suppressed it until now. Sometimes we let other people’s limited beliefs have too much power over us! I remember when I first told my father that I’d begun to paint. He said, “Oh, so you want to be a starving artist?” You really don’t have to starve yourself to enjoy what you are passionate about it. If anything, my life has become much richer because of it! (And, I’m happy to say my parents today are supportive of my art career.)
My family and I are now deeply connected to Adas Torah, which has become so much more than a synagogue for us (and for many in the community). The men in my family are there every day of the week, davening and learning, and I have become extremely close with the rabbi’s wife, who provides tremendous insight and guidance. Adas Torah has become an engine of growth for our community and has removed any limit regarding the level of growth that can be achieved. Increasingly, my artwork has become an expression of my intense recognition of Hashem’s role in all that we experience. And just like my son when shteiging, when you feed your soul and are able to focus on what you really know is your true purpose, there is no greater satisfaction.
It is important to keep yourself open to all things. Sometimes a kapitel of Tehillim is enough to evoke a whole new painting, and sometimes I need to work out an emotion on canvas.