Rock Drawing, Antibes

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
© Durga Yael Bernhard

Here’s a drawing I did on a rock on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Antibes, France.  It was March 2000, and I was on my way home from a month in Guinea, West Africa.  Wishing to avoid the culture shock of returning directly to New York, I spent a week in the south of France first, visiting one of my oldest friends, dear Dominique.

I’ve known Dominique for forty years (incroyable!), since I first traveled to France in 1978.  She is a great and thoughtful art observer, and took me to the Picasso Museum in Antibes.  This was the first museum ever dedicated to Picasso’s work, and had been his home, known at the time as Grimaldi Castle, for six months.  The collection of paintings and sculptures in this little museum was exquisite.  Coming from West Africa, I especially appreciated those works that showed an obvious African influence.  Check out this amazing guitar sculpture! 

As we left the museum and walked along the edge of the sea, I remember feeling inspired to the point of frustration. I had only a small sketchbook with me, and a few stumps of conté crayon – those beautiful little earth-colored sticks of color with a uniquely moist, but not greasy, consistency.  Conté crayons were used by artists in Picasso’s day, and even earlier.

My photo of a street in Antibes, France

So I took out my conté crayons – white, black, dark brown and a warm medium brown were all I had.  It was enough.  I picked a large boulder that was well above the high tide mark.  Out came a winged serpent, sunning itself on the rock – one of countless creatures that wriggled through my imagination.  This one seemed friendly enough, so I took a picture before we walked away – with a film camera!  That’s almost as hard to imagine now as that long-ago day with my friend, eighteen years ago.

As the saying goes – time flies, so you might as well sun yourself on a rock.

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The Inner Mirror

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

© Durga Yael Bernhard

My second child was a year old when I created The Inner Mirror – a whole series of prints made from a single linoleum block.  The image I carved, of a while geometric figure inside a black one, was partly inspired by Inuit art from the Arctic.  This particular version is my favorite.  The black shape of the outer figure is the linoleum block print.  After the ink dried, I painted on top of the print in gouache paint.

The Inner Mirror is meant to picture two things: First, the way our children mirror back to us our own inner child, our innocence, the pure soul with which we each began.  Notice the DNA-like earthy coils inside both figures, symbolizing their shared genetic attributes.  The rest of the pattern that covers their skin is both similar in its diagonal marks, and different, in terms of color.  Even the differences between parents and children have an uncanny way of being similar.

Second, the image represents the shadow-self – that which is hidden, repressed, secret or not yet manifest within ourselves.  Here lie our incipient, untapped potentials.  This inner self mirrors our unconscious, and has the power to both inspire and delude us.  What wells up within us is both creative and destructive; it’s our job to know the difference.

Whether shining though our own selves or reflected in our children, it would be easier to stay conscious of all this if we had an actual mirror that we could hold up to our inner selves like a looking glass.

But in the absence of such a magic mirror, it’s helpful to have an image as a reminder.

Wishing you a very good week.

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of:
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!
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Moon Dance

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
© Durga Yael Bernhard

Moon Dance is another very old work of art that I created over thirty years ago, in my early twenties.  This might even be my very first linoleum block print.  I was about to get married for the first time, and the dance of relationships was on my mind.  I was also exploring concepts of duality in Eastern religion and Jungian psychology.  The concept of “the third thing” that arises out of duality was fascinating to me.  The idea was that out of an interaction between opposites arises something that belongs to neither individual, but has a purpose of its own.  Obviously, a child is a good example of such a manifestation, but I liked the idea that the relationship itself could be a separate entity – represented here by a rather funky spiral.

A spiral may be perceived as either coiling inward or expanding outward.  Both seem true of an intimate relationship.  Here, as in life, I was challenged to keep the whole thing loose.  Although a linoleum block carving is very fixed and solid, there’s something freeing about it that enables the artist to simplify.  I used diagonal lines to create a sense of movement, and the few details, I hoped, would be light and humorous.

I smiled when I came across this old piece a few weeks ago while looking through some of my earliest prints and paintings.  Art has a way of capturing memories.  What I remember most, and wanted to convey, was the spirit of optimism that infused my awareness that year.  Now the younger child produced by that marriage is older than I was when I carved this print.

Wishing you a very good week.

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of:
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 Image of the Week | Leave a comment