Bridge Over Schoharie Creek

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Bridge Over Schoharie Creek 72dpi© Durga Yael Bernhard

I started this oil painting last year on a sunny day in May.  To celebrate both our birthdays, my friend, neighbor, and sister painter Sarah and I drove up to Prattsville to this lovely rock beach on the side of Schoharie Creek.  There we indulged in a day of fine art – me laying aside my illustration deadlines, she escaping from toils too numerous to tell.

This view of the bridge gave a perfect panorama to the west, with lush mountains and forests.  It was a ideal practice piece, as I was – and am – still in the process of learning to paint in oils.  It was also a welcome break from the mental work and research that accompanies my work as an illustrator.  That work was waiting when I got home, and though I managed to work some more on this landscape over the next few weeks, it had to be put aside soon after, and I did not get to finish the painting until two weeks ago.  Yet there was something nice about picking it up in the spring again.  Every painting is a repository of memories, and when it is a long time coming, it embodies its own time span.

Bridge Over Schoharie Creek is for SALE.  It’s oil on canvas, 30″ wide by 24″ high.  If you’re interested, please email me at durga.yael@gmail.com.

Order Bridge Over Schoharie Creek as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here.  Your can also order a six-pack of cards for $15.  Order greeting cards by filling in the title here.

A good week to all,

D Yael
Yael


http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVE – forthcoming in September
THE HUNGRY HAGGADAH: A Passover Story in Rhyme
THE JEWISH EYE – 2016 /5776 calendar of art
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
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in Image of the Week | Leave a comment

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Sangre de Cristo Mtns© Durga Yael Bernhard

This painting was done from a ski slope in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Santa Fe, NM.  The year was 2006, and I was visiting my cousin, now of blessed memory.  Steve walked with a limp, and could not climb the steep slope with me.  He gave me an hour to paint while he waited at the bottom, reading The New Yorker.  I climbed quickly with my bulky art supplies, knowing the steep slope would quickly afford a glorious view.

I was not disappointed.  It was June, the weather was perfect, and the ski slope was a mountain meadow devoid of human presence.  An hour in heaven it was for me, as my soul drank the mountain air.  I sketched out the landscape, blocked in basic colors, took photographs – and before I knew it, it was time to leave.

Back in New York six days later, I finished the painting at home.  It’s 30″ wide, a study in greens, and in tonal contrast – some trees dark on light, others light on dark, still others both!  It was also an exercise in receding textures – that is, the diminishing scale of the forest.

Then I noticed the mountains were darker at the top.  This is counter-intuitive, as a valley generally gets less light than the top of a ridge, and would normally be more shadowy.  But here, unseen clouds cast a diffuse shadow on the mountaintop, while unobstructed light floods the lower flank of the ridge.  Could I make that look natural?  I think I pulled it off somehow, because as I stepped back from the painting, the brightly-lit valley gave way to the receding mass of mountaintops.  This was one of those moments when I felt like something was acting through me as I painted, guiding my hand invisibly.  In such moments I feel like a servant, compelled to bring into visual form something ineffable.  (Such lofty imaginings – must be the high altitude getting to my head!)

I loved New Mexico, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with Steve and his wife, who is also a painter.  This painting now hangs in my living room, and reminds me of my dear cousin every day.  The day after he died from lung cancer, I dreamed I was back in those mountains, walking in a  lush green meadow.  Suddenly a horse appeared, a beautiful dark bay horse, and galloped toward me.  It came to a stop in front of me, breathing hard.  It looked me straight in the eye – then with a toss of its mane, turned and galloped away, free.

Cuz Steve loved horses.

Screen shot 2016-07-10 at 12.32.01 AM

Order Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a POSTER this week, and get a free greeting card (of the same image)!   $10 for the poster and card, shipping included.  Order your poster here.  Your can also order a six-pack of cards for $15.  Order greeting cards by filling in the title here.

A good week to all,

D Yael
Yael


http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVE – forthcoming in September
THE HUNGRY HAGGADAH: A Passover Story in Rhyme
THE JEWISH EYE – 2016 /5776 calendar of art
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
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in Image of the Week | Leave a comment

Olive Mash for Fuel

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

olive mash© Durga Yael Bernhard

Announcing my forthcoming picture book

The Life of an Olive

OLIVE cover smallI’m pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of my newest children’s book, to be published in September by Heliotrope Books.  The Life of an Olive tells the story of a 2000-year-old olive tree in the Galilee.  The book follows the growth and changes of a single tree over twenty centuries, and gives readers ages 7-12 a peek into the lives of ordinary children who have lived in northern Israel since the beginning of the Diaspora.

Olive trees are amazing.  Like living sculptures, each tree has an individual shape and character.  These ancient trees have a uniquely interdependent relationship with people.  While they are endowed with an almost magical ability to regenerate even when cut down or burned, olive trees must be pruned by human hands in order to thrive.  With proper pruning, an olive tree can live more than two millennia, and continues to bear fruit.  Olive oil has been used since ancient times to light lamps and menorahs, to anoint kings, and along with the fruit, provides the nourishing base of the Mediterranean diet.  Olive leaves yield powerful healing medicine, and olive wood is carved into beautiful objects and useful implements.  As well, the olive tree provides important habitat for creatures ranging from preying mantises to chameleons, from doves to mongooses and more.

This was the most time-consuming children’s book I’ve ever produced.  Like an olive tree, it took a long time to come to fruition (though seven years in the life of an olive would be nothing, for me it’s a long time).  It is the culmination of four research trips to Israel, including a week of olive-picking during the harvest which I enjoyed immensely; learning to prune the trees during the winter; visits to numerous historical sites in Jerusalem and the Galilee; and drawing and painting studies of olive trees.  After the last trip, I spent several months more on research, and finally started writing.  Early this year, I began work on the illustrations.  My editor Naomi at Heliotrope Books has been a pleasure to work with, and has helped to shape this book into its final form.

hands full of olives low res

Olive trees take a long time to draw.  Once they reach the age of 100, their bark begins to buckle and fold into convoluted organic forms.  This takes time and texture to articulate, along with the olive tree’s small, tough leaves that wave in the breeze like finely shimmering hair.  And each olive fruit is a gradient of changing colors as it ripens.  I spent nearly a week on each spread, working in gouache and watercolor pencil – and among them all, the illustration shown above was my favorite.  I grew quite fond of Ester, my fictitious child of 1570, who sits happily under the olive tree, making cakes of olive mash – fiber left over from pressing the fruit into oil – to be burned as fuel for cooking.  Ester’s family has fled the Spanish Inquisition, escaping to the mountains of the northern Galilee.  A quick peek at the timeline at the beginning of the book tells the reader the region was under Ottoman rule at the time, and was known as Eretz Yisrael or The Holy Land to the inhabitants of the region.  Many centuries earlier, the land where Ester sits was known as Palaestina, thus named by first Greek and later Roman invaders – and still earlier, as the territory of the tribe of Naphtali, the sixth son of the Biblical Jacob.  Roughly three hundred years after Ester dies, this land will again be called Palestine by the British, until 1948, when it officially becomes Israel again – for the second time in the olive tree’s 2000-year lifetime.

If you like history in pictures, look for this unique educational picture book in the fall. I will keep you posted when it becomes available.   You just might fall in love with olive trees, like I did.

Here I am under an olive tree that is approximately 600-800 years old, in Tzipori, Israel, 2011.

Here I am under an olive tree that is approximately 600-800 years old, in Tzipori, Israel, 2011.

A happy Fourth of July holiday to all,

D Yael
Yael


http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
THE HUNGRY HAGGADAH: A Passover Story in Rhyme
THE JEWISH EYE – 2016 /5776 calendar of art
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
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
Posted in Children's Books, Image of the Week | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment