As 2019 kicked off, I felt like someone had put me inside a washing machine and pushed the start button. Things just kept whirling and whirling around me and all I could do was tread water and try not to get hit in the head --- we were moving to a new city (BAM!), your hubby is moving 6 months before you (BAM!), you’re not going to live near your mom anymore (BAM!), you have to figure out where in the giant heaving metropolis of Los Angeles you’re going to land (BAM!).
So, I did what I always do in times of stress, I dove head first into my work. And the universe answered, blessing me with the most interesting and challenging commissions ever. Now, looking back as I sit drinking my morning coffee in my sunny Los Angeles studio with palm trees outside the window, I am grateful for every single one – both for the projects, and for the stories the pieces brought with them, and for the serenity and peace I found in working on them. Here are a few of my favorite commissions of 2019.
When Olga first approached me about a 40th birthday present for her husband, I certainly did not expect her to ask me to paint a cow. Yes, a cow. This was a first. Why a cow? Well… her husband had a thing about cows that had turned into sort of an inside joke between them. Could I paint a cow? Challenge accepted. Luckily, Olga gave me full creative license and I could make our cow as colorful, humorous, and human as I wanted – and so I did. I even lovingly nicknamed her Korovka (little cow in Russian). You can learn all about Korovka and the story behind her here.
A Portrait of Three Special Gentlemen
I have so much respect for the Jewish Community Relations Councils and for the American Jewish Committee. These organizations work to strengthen Jewish communities both locally and abroad, fight anti-Semitism and promote equality and social justice. So when the new Executive Director of JCRC/AJC in Kansas City approached, me asking if I would be interested in a portrait commission gift for the outgoing Executive Director, I was all over it.
I looooove painting portraits (did you know this?). There is nothing more exciting and challenging than capturing the character and personality of your subject. I don’t take portrait commissions on very often, because they are so time consuming, but this too good a cause to pass up.
I painted this portrait is of the outgoing Executive Director and his two mentors transparently over the language of the AJC mission statement – what a powerful idea. The piece was presented to him as his farewell gift.
A Moody Ketubah for Rachel and Sasha
Rachel's dad was looking for a meaningful gift for his daughter and decided to commission a completely unique ketubah for her and her fiancé, Sasha. What a meaningful gift! Rachel and Sasha live in Los Angeles, but wanted to base their ketubah on images of the lake and mountain where they got engaged. They sent me the photos and a mood board of the colors and rendering style that they favored. Their board was full of moody, dark colors, conveying mystery and calmness – quite a departure from the usual bright, playful palettes I tend to gravitate towards. I am always up for a challenge that takes me outside of my comfort zone and had a blast painting their moonlit ketubah. Mazel tov Rachel and Sasha!
A Colorful Commission for Two Artists
(who are doctors by day)
Alexa and Jonathan are both anesthesiologists by day, but have the souls of artists. Jonathan was a Ballroom Champion and plays guitar and Alexa plays the violin and draws remarkably well -- you know, when she's not facilitating surgeries or taking care of their three kids. As if that's not enough, these two super humans also keep and take care of beehives and chickens on the property of their beautiful home in Marin County. Needless to say, they are some of my very favorite people.
They commissioned a diptych (two-panel piece) to be hung in their dining room, where they regularly host Shabbat dinners and family gatherings. They gave me almost complete creative license (which I was so excited about!), but the one request was that the piece include a little girl playing the violin. And so it did. I painted a little girl Fiddler on the Roof (a reference to Alexa and Jonathan’s Soviet Jewish roots), and from her violin comes a skyline combining Jerusalem and San Francisco, where they both grew up. This piece was one of my absolute favorite projects of all time.
I was so grateful for the creative freedom that this piece was a big part of what inspired the Homeward Collection later in the year. The best part of this story? Since I was still living in the Bay Area at the time, I got to be a part of selecting frames and even got to see the work up in their gorgeous home. What a treat!
Asya and Garry's Adventurous Ketubah
When I first chatted with Asya and Garry about a custom ketubah, I knew right away this commission would be special. The more I learned about this couple, the more I knew that their story would be amazing as an art piece. These adventurous love birds are in the medical field by day, but fly small airplanes, travel to see the Northern Lights, and take amazing National Georgraphic-worthy photos by night. They also have two gorgeous cat that even made their own ketubah appearance. So I set out to tell their story, including their kitties, the small airplane Garry pilots, and a background of Northern Lights. They also gave me full creative freedom with the color palette, which I was so grateful to run with! Mazel tov, Garry and Asya! We will all be awaiting your wedding pictures on the edge of our seats.
The Homeward Collection
Of course, we can’t forget The Homeward Collection – my baby. After the dust had settled from the move, I decided to challenge myself like never before, and release a collection of original art pieces, for the first time. I had no idea how it would go or what the pieces would look like, but I let my imagination run wild and it turned out to be the highlight of my year. I poured all my feelings about moving and leaving people and building a new home into the paintings – and you guys really took to them (and blew my mind), almost selling out the whole collection in about 15 minutes. But two pieces are still available if you want to get your hands on one.
So Long, 2019!
These are just a taste of some of the wonderful projects I was blessed with in 2019. I can’t wait to hear what 2020 has in store! Buuuuut, I have to be up front -- I will be taking on fewer commissions this year in order to make time to paint more original art collections! So, if you have your heart set on a commission painted with your vision and ideas, don’t wait – reach out to get on my calendar. I am currently booking for spring of 2020.