A pastel painting of a frazzled rabbi hurrying down a narrow street, rendered in the style of French Impressionism, by Oregon portrait artist Talya Johnson.
Behind the Canvas
Before I started playing with paint, I painted with soft pastels. The rich, pure medium enabled me to express color and form while adding a linear quality to my work.
This image was painted from a reference photo my sister took during one of her visits to our homeland, Israel. It was Friday afternoon, and somehow she found herself disoriented and out of time in the Jewish quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.
Religious Jews are very observant in their Sabbath worship, and so most were in their home preparing to welcome this Holy day. A frazzled rabbi was hurrying down the street in order to get to his destination before sundown, which is when the Sabbath begins. My sister asked him for directions. He answered her hurriedly and started on his way. And then he stopped. He turned. He humbly offered the ancient greeting, "Shabbat Shalom." Roughly translated to mean good Sabbath or have a peaceful Sabbath. And then he was off again.
My sister quickly snapped a photo of the hurrying man.
So often I get lost in the business of life. How often has it been a stranger that has pointed me home, with words of peace?
Symbols are scattered throughout the painting. Two lamps for the two Shabbat candles. An exaggerated shape of a fichus tree also reflecting the movement of those flames that burn in my heart. Deep blue-violet accents, flowing into the mysterious figure, giving him power and strength from the royal blood of the ancients before him.
This image is available for the first time in open edition prints. It has been digitally enhanced to capture the mood of the original while allowing for larger print sizes. May it always remind you of who you are, where you came from, and where you are going. May it bring you rest, peace, and blessings. Shabbat Shalom ~ Tali