Jacob’s Ladder

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

 

Dreams have long been a life-shaping force in my life.  I had a cherished mentor in my twenties, an octogenarian named Winifred – a wise and learned Jungian analyst who taught me to understand the language of dreams.  The more I understood, the more my dreams revealed.  Many of my paintings have been inspired by dreams.

So years later, when I read the story of Jacob’s ladder, in which the God of Abraham and Isaac speaks to the young man in a dream, I was immediately intrigued.  It’s not just the content of the dream but the place where Jacob sleeps that spoke to me.  Fleeing from his brother’s wrath, Jacob finds refuge in the wilderness – in that ineffable, in between place to which his destiny has led him.  His life was about to change forever, and the effects have rippled through history.

I knew this would become a painting, and I knew it would have to be large – perhaps taller than any painting I’ve ever done.  The ladder was fluid and curved in my mind’s eye, and the angels like the moving silhouettes of birds, waving their wings as if swimming upstream – not a stream of water, but of God’s energy – for Jacob was blessed with God’s presence, protection, and promise of a future for his people.

I did this small, quick color study to anchor the image, but have yet to do the tall painting.  Though it’s important to me, large paintings must always take a back seat to my paid work, as they’re quite time-consuming.  The image is also still gestating.  The process by which my paintings come to the surface is one of following, for me, not leading.  I do not control what I’m compelled to do next.  That it will happen, I do not doubt.

Jacob’s Ladder is the image for October 2018 in The Jewish Eye 5778 / 2018 Calendar of Art – on sale in the new Jewish section of my webstore:  http://jewisheyeart.com:  $16 until the end of Sukkot, including shipping within the continental U.S.
$18 on Amazon.

Wishing my Jewish readers Shana Tova u’Metukah – a good and sweet new year!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in calendars, Image of the Week, Jewish Learning | Leave a comment

The Road to Masada

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

The Road to Masada is the image for November 2018 in my new calendar,  The Jewish Eye 5778/2018 Calendar of Art.  This is the only landscape I’ve ever painted entirely from memory.  There was no way to take a night photo as we drove along the base of these cliffs in Israel’s Judean Desert.  We had little over an hour until dawn, and were racing the sunrise, eager to climb the “snake path” to the top of Masada in time to watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea.
We left Jerusalem around 3am on a hot August night, and quickly made our way east and south toward Qumran, near the northern tip of the Dead Sea.  From there the road borders the sea, following the base of a succession of towering mesas.  The road is visible at the bottom of the painting as a narrow purplish ribbon – a two-lane highway which indicates the scale of the land.

My friend drove, while I opened my window, put my seat back and gazed upward at the giant sentinels that towered above me, many stories high, appearing to slide past as if we were on a ship passing great icebergs in the night.  I struggled to grasp the idea that Abraham is believed to have traveled here on foot over three millennia before our rented car came chugging along; that David sought refuge here before he was king; that the shepherds of Qumran grazed their sheep in this desert and drank this night air.  I gazed upward as we drove, and took it all in.  For the painting I knew would take shape, I memorized to the best of my ability every color, every shape, the immense silence, the unfathomable passage of time that manifests in this desert.

At 4:30am it was still dark as we pulled into the Masada national monument parking lot.  The temperature was already over 90 degrees (Fahrenheit).  We made it to the top just as the sun rose over the hills of  Jordan on the far side of the Dead Sea.

The Jewish Eye 5778 / 2018 Calendar of Art  is on sale in the new Jewish section of my website:  http://jewisheyeart.com:  $16 until the end of Sukkot, including shipping within the continental U.S.  $18 on Amazon.

The Jewish Eye Calendar of Art makes a thoughtful and inspiring gift.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!

Posted in calendars, Image of the Week, Jewish Learning | Leave a comment

The Book of Life

 

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
© DURGA YAEL BERNHARD

The Book of Life is the first painting in my new calendar, The Jewish Eye Calendar of Art.  I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of this mythical book.  Last year on Yom Kippur, this image came to me during the long amidah (standing prayer) of the high holiday service.

I never feel so alone, and yet so together with others, as I do on Yom Kippur.  The polarity of individual versus communal experience is heightened on this day.  The High Holiday liturgy brings us face to face with our deepest selves: the weaknesses and regrets, aspirations and sorrows which each person must come to terms with.  Yet we do this in a group setting, with the largest turnout of the year gathered under the tent.  Surrounded by others, we meditate in solitude, everyone flawed, everyone hungry, everyone striving to return to their true intentions.  Many people, including myself, are in the grip of personal concerns.  This individual accounting is unknown to those around you, yet never more vivid as the text of the machzor (high holiday prayer book) brings us back to face it again and again.

Especially moving to me is the Unetanah Tokef, the ancient liturgical poem that reminds us of our mortality and the many paths our fate may take.  I decided to incorporate some of these verses into this painting of the Book of Life, woven into a colorful patchwork of people standing together in prayer, each person alone within togetherness.  How shall each of us be inscribed for the coming year?

To be inscribed at all carried a different meaning in ancient times, for writing was rare and privileged,  an act that etched into reality a name, a transaction, a declaration or an edict.  The mythic Sefer Chayim (“Book of the Living”) is imagined as a place where our destiny is first inscribed and then sealed. We begin the new year humble in the face of the unknown.

The Jewish Eye 5778 / 2018 Calendar of Art  is on sale in the new Jewish section of my website:  http://jewisheyeart.com:  $16 until the end of Sukkot, including shipping within the continental U.S.  $18 on Amazon.

The Jewish Eye Calendar of Art makes a thoughtful and inspiring gift.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in misc | Leave a comment