Monday, 30 April 2018

Holding a Plank

A new customer contacted me and asked me to make a card for her friend who was soon to celebrate her 70th birthday. Denise was an English teacher for over 40 years, she told me. She reads constantly - sometimes 3 or 4 books at the same time - and she is very, very fit! Apparently she does the plank for 15 minutes every day, which I am told is exceptional (not being very, very fit myself, I don't know these things!).
I have shown Denise doing a plank on her card. There are bookshelves loaded with books behind her, and another book lies open, ready to be read after she has finished her exercises. A big number 70 marks her age.
My customer messaged me to say "I wanted to write and say thank you [for the card] - it’s just perfect. I am SURE it will be her [Denise's] best card!"
My brother-in-law also recently celebrated a milestone birthday, so a special card was popped into the post for him. On this occasion I made a papercut card, cutting his name and age by hand from white stock. I then lined the card with a red paper inlay since Brian is obsessed with passionate about Arsenal F.C., the Premier League football club who traditionally play in red.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Daniel and Eilon

Daniel and Eilon receive birthday cards made by me every year, as do their brothers, Benjamin, Yonatan and Ro'i. Mum contacted me when their birthdays were coming up.
Daniel's card should show him playing the ukulele, she said. Her husband then had the idea to have him playing the ukulele around a bonfire. I added a big number 12 to mark his age.
His brother Eilon was turning three a few weeks later. He likes puzzles, the animated television series Paw Patrol (which I learnt about when I made a card for his brother, Benjamin, a couple of years ago!) and מטוסי על (Super Wings). I combined two of Eilon's favourite things and showed him doing a Paw Patrol puzzle on his birthday card. He is surrounded by some of the characters from the series he loves.
Mum wrote me a lovely message when she received both cards.
"Just picked up the cards! What a fantastic job!! It looks just like them! They're going to love them. Thanks for always being such a special part of our birthdays."
It looks liked both boys were happy with their respective cards as well.

* This post has been shared on Wednesday around the World{wow me} wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop The Happy Now Blog Link- Up, Wednesday Blog Hop, Wow Us WednesdaysLittle Things Thursday. and All Seasons.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

"The Mystery of Picasso"

During the recent Pesach (Passover) holiday I went back to the same small gallery in Tel Aviv where I had seen the Chagall exhibition. This time I went to see "The Mystery of Picasso", an exhibition of graphic works and ceramics by Pablo Picasso. The exhibition combined a number of graphic works from private collections, previously not available to the public, and included works from the series such as the "Cocteau", the "Lysistrata", the "Bulls and Bullfighters" and a portrait of Jacqueline Roque, Picasso's second wife. This exhibition was also unusual in that most of the works presented were black and white, with the exception of Picasso's ceramics and some etchings.
Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain. A child prodigy (Picasso could supposedly draw before he could talk), he first studied painting with his father, then at the School of Fine Arts in la Coruna, Barcelona and Madrid. By 1904 he had settled permanently in Paris. As a teenager, Picasso painted fairly realistic portraits and landscapes. He then went through his so-called blue and rose periods from 1901 to 1906, in which he depicted such things as poverty-stricken children and circus scenes. In 1907 he painted "Les Demoiselles d’Avignon," a distorted portrait of five prostitutes that is considered one of his most revolutionary pieces. This painting marked a break with the realist tradition and opened the door for Cubism, an abstract style that reduces subjects to geometric forms. By 1912 Picasso had begun to experiment with textures, using newspapers, parts of objects and pieces of musical instruments in his art. Later in life, he practised a form of Neoclassicism and recreated paintings from such masters as Diego Velázquez, Édouard Manet and Eugène Delacroix. At various times, he also incorporated Surrealist, Expressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Symbolist elements into his art, as well as creating works as a sculptor, ceramicist and graphic artist.
Jean Cocteau (1189-1963) was a French writer, painter and theatrical figure, and for many years he and Picasso maintained a close friendship. Together they created a project in which Picasso presented his lithographic drawings, above, and Cocteau wrote poems about them. This series used the technique of transfer lithography, by which the tusche drawing is made on paper instead of on the lithographic stone. The drawing is then transferred to the stone and printed in the usual way. This freed Picasso from the need to work directly on stone.
Picasso first met the newly divorced Jacqueline Roque in 1953, and they eventually got married in 1961. In November 1956 he set to work on Jacqueline's portrait for an exhibition poster, above. Hardly ever satisfied, he started on a second three-coloured portrait a few days later.
Picasso created the "Toros Y Toreros" (Bulls and Bullfighters) series, above, in 1961. He was fascinated by bullfighting, a theme that represented his cultural heritage and preoccupied him during most of his career. He developed his passion for bullfights as a boy growing up in the city of Málaga, where he was introduced to the sport by his father. The young artist was captivated by the spectacle of man versus beast, the feeling that life can end at any moment, the bravery of the bullfighter, and the culmination of a wild animal's life. He continued to attend bullfights while living in France, inviting friends and family to join him. The drawings for "Toros Y Toreros" covered a period from 1950 to 1960, during which time he enjoyed seeing the leading bullfighter, Dominguin, bullfight in the arenas of Nîmes, Arles, Frejus and Vallauris.
The ceramics created by Pablo Picasso, ("Petit Visage No. 12", 1963 (top plate) and "Plate with a bouquet and an apple", 1956, below), illustrates the idea that for a creative person there is no such thing as "too late". Picasso became interested in ceramics when he was over 60. After the liberation of Paris and the end of World War II, Picasso spent more and more time in the south of France. In 1946, he visited a pottery exhibition in the town of Vallauris, where pottery has been produced since Roman times. There he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié, owners of the Madoura ceramics workshop and he accepted their invitation to model a few small clay pieces. Picasso began to work at Madoura about a year later, in the autumn of 1947. The Ramié family gave him access to all the tools and resources he needed to express his creativity with ceramics and, in exchange, the family would produce and sell his ceramic work. This collaboration with the local ceramicists spanned 25 years. It was during this time that Picasso became acquainted with his future second wife, Jacqueline Roque, who worked there as an assistant.
In 1934 Picasso was commissioned by the New York literary entrepreneur George Macey to illustrate a special edition of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata - a Greek comedy about a woman who sets out to end the Peloponnesian War by convincing her countrywomen to withhold sex from their war-bound husbands and lovers. Macey’s edition included six original etchings by Picasso and 34 line block reproductions of the drawings. Picasso’s signature style of simple, elegant lines and expressive sensuality seemed to be a perfect fit for the ancient classic, which, though comedic in nature, also offered a far-sighted backdrop for Picasso’s own anti-war paintings a few years later.
Despite the military subject matter of the series, the works were filled with harmony and peace. At the time Picasso was in a relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter, his mistress and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Marie-Thérèse's features can be recognised in most of the female images from that period.
Picasso's etching "Two Elders and Ships" from the Lysistrata series can be seen above.

* This post has been shared on No Rules Weekend Blog Party, All Seasons, Amaze Me Monday, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)The Keeping It Real Link-Up, Tuesday's Treasures and Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Return to Lupin Hill

That title sounds rather like a Famous Five book, doesn't it? I've blogged about Lupin Hill (Givat Haturmusim in Hebrew) before you see, but it's such a gorgeous spot that we try to go back there each spring, when the beautiful purple lupin are blooming. Even my youngest son - the one who declares everything booooring at the moment - jumped at the chance of another visit. So, back to Lupin Hill we went.
Lupin Hill, or Tel Socho, as it is also known, is in The Valley of Elah (Elah being the Hebrew word for Terebinth – a tree found throughout the valley). In early spring, Israelis from all over the country flock to the hill to see the flowers it is named after. The entire hill is covered with wild blue lupin (Lupinus pilosus), as well as a supporting cast of cyclamen, anemone and asphodelus. Caves and grottoes dot the landscape, and cisterns are carved deep into the rock. Oak trees, fig trees and Terebinths grow on the hillside and piles of large ashlar boulders, covered with lichen, are evidence of the presence of a defensive wall around the city of Socho in ancient times.
The city of Socho was strategically located overlooking the Elah Valley. It is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as one of the Canaanite cities conquered by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 15, 35). This entire area was allocated to the tribe of Judah.
The carpet of colourful wildflowers that cover the hill these days gives no hint to the battle that once occurred on Lupin Hill. The Valley of Elah is where the battle between David and Goliath took place. Tel Socho was the camping ground for Goliath and the Philistines. Goliath stood in the Valley of Elah for forty consecutive days, challenging someone to fight him. Eventually young David declared that he had fought lions and bears to protect his father's sheep. G-d had kept him safe then and he would help keep him safe now. He went to a stream nearby and found five smooth stones, put them in a pouch around his waist, and with his sling he went to Goliath. Reaching into his pouch he pulled out a stone, put it into his slingshot and shot it at Goliath. The stone hit Goliath right between his eyes, he lost balance and fell to the ground. David had done it, he had beaten the giant Philistine! When the rest of the Philistines saw this they ran away and David became a hero to all the people of Israel.
Later on, Nebuchadnezer, the king of Babylonia, passed through Socho on his way to conquer Jerusalem, and the Romans paved a road along what is today Route 375, the road which passes right by Lupin Hill. It is possible that the Second Temple era scholar Antigonus Ish Socho also came from here.
Excavations at the foot of the northern slope of Lupin Hill exposed a Byzantine building from the 5th-6th centuries. Remains from the Iron Age II were uncovered in another dig at the foot of the same slope, and walls dating to the Middle Bronze Age were discovered in probe trenches. Potsherds dating to the Late Bronze Age and later periods were gathered, along with a terracotta figurine of reddish brown clay depicting a naked woman.
While there is undoubtedly plenty of history surrounding Lupin Hill, it is now the flowers that draw people to the area. Our short hike there gave us plenty of opportunity to enjoy the purple turmusim (lupin) and red calaniyot (anemone), while hiking the same land that our ancestors had lived on. It was a great afternoon out.

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