The Seven Species, The Sea of Galilee Ketubah

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast November I began working on a very special Ketubah.  Creating a  Ketubah is very labor intensive and, I feel very sacred work.  It was truly a project from the heart, a project of love on many levels, particularly for the loving couple that commissioned it.   Nancy and Don wanted a testimony to their marriage of 19 years and had a most beautiful renewal of their vows outdoors at an Audubon Center with 100 people attending. It was a sacred and moving testimony of their love that had all of us in tears.

I like to record different stages of my paintings.  Since this was such an extensive and heartfelt project from beginning to end I would love to share some of the photos in the life of this Ketubah.

The Ketubah before I added the calligraphy.

My special assistant (Heart, my parrot) basking in the Sea of Galilee and  critiquing the work as she is of course my best critic!

Laying out the calligraphy before I transfer it to the piece.

Close ups of the calligraphy.

The finished piece with the Hand made gold leaf frame and matt.

Signing the Ketuah at the ceremony.

The Ketubah in its permanent home.

The central theme of this Ketubah is sustance and love.  It includes the seven species. The seven species were the biblical seven sacred sources of food of the ancient Israelites. They included wheat, figs, dates, barley, pomegrants. grapes and olives,. In this Ketubah I painted each of the species bordering The Sea of Galilee.  One morning, as I was in the process of shetching layouts and discussing the commission, the line that I knew was meant to be in this piece came to me very clearly word by word.: “May the light of our love add sustenance and nourishment to the soul of the world.”  This line is written in Hebrew in the borders of the piece.

The image of the Sea of Galilee is from a study I did on site while visiting Israel.  I love painting on site from life. Sitting with the Sea of Galilee stretched out in front of my eyes  with the light pouring out of the sky in this  “biblical” manner was to say the least, as good as it gets! It was a truly a gift to be there.  When I returned home and looked at the study I was surprised to find that the sea is in the shape of a heart.  This made it the perfect centerpiece for the Ketubah we were planning.


In The Shelter of Shekina’s Wings

Shelter of Shekina's Wings
Shelter of Shekina’s Wings

These are the Sand Hill Cranes at the Bosque Del Apache, A wildlife refuge on the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

To me, the Sand Hill Cranes are one of the most graceful, elegant, gorgeous creatures on this earth.  Hearing the beautiful primordial sounds of their calls before they come into sight brings such a feeling of reverence to my heart that I am brought to tears.  And then they arrive.  I feel as though I am a privileged outsider being allowed to glimpse into their secret world.  As they begin to land, I admire their beauty and try to imagine the distance they have flown and the trials they have gone through to safely glide into their winter home on the Rio Grande.  I am so grateful they have made it.

Every year I visit the Bosque at least once during the winter season.  It is one of my greatest sources of inspiration, rejuvenation and joy.

In the Jewish mystical tradition, the Shekina is the feminine aspect of G-d.  It is the level of G-d that is closest to the physical, therefore birthing the physical “into being” from the upper realms.  The Shekina is often depicted as wings or birds (specifically the Dove).  I feel the presence of the Shekina in these Sand Hill Cranes.  Their huge wings seem to shelter us in their knowing comfort and wisdom of the heavenly realms.

Painting at the Chama, Lessons from the River

I have been painting at the Chama for over 20 years. It is my personal heaven.

When I arrive at my spot in the overlook, everything else in the world seems to float away with the current of this beautiful river.Morning of Joy, Chama RiverWhile in this state of grace, all that matters are the colors, the sounds and the smells that I am engulfed by.  Every single time I paint there, I am delighted and surprised by the diversity of the beauty, the light, the season, the trees.  The color of the river changes from moment to moment. The colors vary from season to season. I feel like a child in a candy store.  One moment the  entire river is a gorgeous turquoise, an instant later a cloud passes over the sun, and the violets show their glory.  The shadows cast along the riverbanks change, according to the fullness of the trees, the time of day and the season.

This river is my old familiar friend. As I sit and paint, I can “feel” the “personality and essence” in every tree, rock and plant.

 Since I return to this spot year after year, season after season these trees are like family to me.   One of them is grumpy and strong.  Another is graceful like a beautiful ballet dancer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis one in the foreground is my favorite.  She leans forward towards the earth, trunk gnarled, her branches spread out towards the heavens yet seemingly embracing the earth at the same time.  Guardian like.  Their subjects, in the form of colorful shrubs and younger trees, surround the mature trees like royalty.

Lessons from the Spirit of the River

As I am always comparing everything I see in the outer world to our lives and inner worlds, I feel the river and the landscape is an analogy that reflects the nature of life.  Every moment changes.  What surprises will it hold?  We ourselves try to hold onto the moment not noticing that the wind has changed or the clouds have just turned the river from turquoise into a beautiful violet. As I sit and paint and observe and feel the blessing of the beauty of our environment, I become aware of this.  More accepting.  Seeing the changes that come upon nature moment by moment, without judgment, without holding on, calms me and I accept my thoughts as passing clouds.  I can easier accept what comes into my life moment by moment without resistance. Many people come by to see what I am doing and to say hi.  Although I am in a “painting trance” I try to remember not to resist. Who knows what I might be missing when I am in that place of resistance? Sometimes I do speak with the people and the conversations themselves are like the river changing, a brief glimpse into someone else’s amazement at the beauty of the river, the magnificence of the color and the majesty of nature.

In many ways the overlook is akin to a place of worship.  Everyone’s attention is on the presence of this awesome beauty spread out before us, and I believe, we  cannot help but to become aware of the invisible intelligence, which from the unseen, this beauty manifests.

Autumn’s New Work

Autumn’s New Work

One of my favorite motifs is the Sandia Mountains during autumn at sunset. Sometimes, there is a moment when the mountains turn into a rainbow and the Chamisa flowers glow as if they carry the light of the sun within themselves.

image of Blessing of the Sun

I find both of these Psalms so appropriate for the  image.

image of Blessing of the Sun Violet

“Blessing of the Sun,Violet”
“With you is the source of life, by your light may we see light.”  Psalms

image of The Blessing of the Sun, Orange
“Blessing of the Sun, Orange”

“How can I sing of Heaven and Earth when it is G-d who decreed them?”  Psalms

Each of these hand painted limited editions are available in 3 different sizes and price points starting at $105.00, $320. and %560.00 unframed.  Click on images for more info and to order. The size of the pieces on my site are the paper sizes, the images are smaller.