Category Archives: Scenery

Bridge Over River Fantasy Painting and The Watusi

fantasy painting bridge over river

Who are the Watusi?

Many of you are familiar with the Watusi from the Beatles song, “Number Nine”. But, I have been wondering for ages; who are these Watusi ? What do they look like? Where do they live? They sound like one of the lesser known of the seven Canaanite tribes that used to populate ancient Palestine. That they travel with elephants is obvious, but what else do we know about them? ( aside from being a 1960’s dance move)

(click the picture twice to see full texture and detail)

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What does a Tzfat road and a swirly beard have in common?

If the swirly path that I began traveling, inspired by Rebbe Nachman’s stories, leads anywhere,
its certainly leads to this neighborhood: Tzfat, Israel.

Tzfat is a kaleidoscope of jumbled, “looking glass” streets adorned with marks of deep blue and flashing white, nested on a small rocky mountaintop. Rebbe Nachman’s  fantastic characters would be right at home here and it is easy to imagine meeting one just around the next bend. The battle between simple joy and twisted darkness that runs through the Rebbe’s stories seem as palpable and real as the interplay of light and shadow on the worn cobblestone streets. This is Breslov country, no doubt.

The sketch above is based on a photograph taken by a friend of mine during a walking tour. I was immediately struck by the back and forth of the lines and shadow. I pushed the effect further almost as if I would’ve applied a Photoshop filter to the image. If it swirls, I’m there.

I can’t seem to get enough of swirls, here are more, some in rather unlikely places:

p.s. you can see the tree picture here that I posted on I.F. ( I know it has a typo Tehillim has an extra yud by mistake and it is not 1:1 this was an old version)


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How do artists discover their signature style?

Breslov art twin story

This picture is my personal favorite from all my illustrations.

I created it about 15 years ago at the age of 16. This picture, like the illustrations in the previous post, is based on a story from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The story is a mystical variant of the classic tale of two twins separated at birth. There are allusions to the deepest kabbalistic and mystical secrets, cloaked in a beautiful, surreal tale.

One detail in the story that made a deep visual  impression on me was the idea of the moon making a “joke” and causing the sun to laugh. The result of that odd interaction is that the sun weaves a “garment” for the moon. I did not know what any of this means, and I still don’t, but I loved the visual concept.

What I like about this picture is that it is the first picture that really actualizes my artistic style. The fluid, swirly lines of the tree and mountains, and the slightly zany characters, all set in a somewhat surreal setting, felt natural and spontaneous to create. Of course, the “flat screen” castle on the lower right is a somewhat modern appendage to a otherwise classic picture, but it’s all good.

That feeling of “flow”, when the picture feels spontaneous and natural, is an indicator that one is honing in on a personal style. More importantly, the feeling of having articulated and expressed what you were feeling inside is also a signpost that you are headed in the right direction. In many ways I feel  it’s like reenacting when you were a child learning to speak. First you grunt and make general sounds. Slowly, with time, the sounds develop into single words which become full sentences, and eventually they evolve into full blown speech with a personal rhythm, inflection and vocabulary.

The mediums I used for this picture were those available to me at the time in my high school dormitory: crayons, magic markers, and a pen. Surprisingly the crayons added a nice texture that can be seen in these close ups:

One note: the gentleman balancing on the tree is not a depiction of Rabbi Nachman, of blessed memory, but rather the protagonist in the story.

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How do you create the illusion of distance and depth in a picture?

Home Sweet Home

Here’s a picture I did yesterday with ink and colored pencil. I called this picture “Home” because I think it would be a perfect place for a home. It’s quiet, on the water, and has a third floor apartment so we can bang on other people’s heads, instead of them banging on ours. I assume it qualifies as “out-of-town.”

You may notice that the cliffs and waterfall in the background seem further in the distance than the main cliff/tower in the front. In this post I will explain how the changing line width helps create that effect:

There are three levels to the thickness and clarity of the line in the picture:

  1. The main piece in the foreground is done with a #2 Kolinsky brush, in thick clear lines, with a variety of line width. The lines have to be laid down with confident smooth strokes, which takes a lot of practice.
  2. The middle ground is done with thin lines using the Prismacolor marker pens. (See red arrows).
  3. The background cliffs and water are done in colored pencil which is lighter and more delicate than pen.

This trick of changing line width and strength is only one way to help create distance in a picture. Some other ways include:

  1. Use warm colors (red, yellow, orange) in the foreground and cool colors (blue, gray, green) in the background. Note the reds in the tower and the browns in the cliff in the front, in contrast to the gray-blue cliffs in the back.
  2. Make the background more blurry and light than the foreground, in order to reflect atmospheric dust and haze. See how light the mountains in the back are.
  3. Make sure the objects in the front of the picture overlap and block some of the background elements. See how the tower in front blocks part of the waterfall.

Bottom Line: Use different  line widths throughout your picture to create a feeling of depth and distance: Thicker and darker lines in the foreground, thin and light lines in the middle ground, and very light sketchy ink lines, colored lines, or no lines (outlines) at all for the background.

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