Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Saying Something Difficult

What struck me was tremendous loss while reading the CNN article,“She was fleeing with her grandson, who was holding a white flag. Then she was shot.” In intimate words and pictures the senseless event was  described by the women's surviving family members. 

Immediately I knew the murdered woman was of a pure heart and devoted to her family. I know Middle Eastern families and have friends in Egypt so the story felt more personal to me. 

I decided to create a painting and used AI to help visualize the scene. AI did a great job cobbling together a visual narrative. I combined images to arrive at a “sketch” of the painting I wanted to make.

I wanted to show the war-torn street in Gaza, with rubble and bombed buildings . . . and a dead woman sprawled across the road. The other part is the little boy with his white flag of surrender and peace, holding the hand of his grandmother. For some reason, I chose to portray the picture as witness to the moments before and after the tragedy occurred.

When I start  a painting in the “old” style of art, where I am depicting a realistic scene, I make a drawing on canvas, and underpainting with limited color. A full fledged piece arrives that includes all elements of color, drawing and subject. 

After getting my drawing on canvas, when I began the underpainting, I dripped some red⏤symbolizing life and death in art. I  felt sure as I worked, knowing the subject was not coming out of any thought of material gain. It is not pleasing fluff ready for any wall in a home. Rather, I had deep feeling of doing something meaningful, saying something difficult that needed to be said.

In the end, it became an unusual painting for me. It is suspended in a semi-finished state . . . life interrupted. The colors are gone except for some streaks of blood, while the dear, innocent subjects live in a wasteland. I paid homage.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Unexpected Destinations

I have been traveling for two weeks—first Egypt and now Morocco. The experience has brought me to THE DREAM, where surprising pictures transform, and situations are often unpredictable and lead to unexpected destinations. I have awakened and opened my curtains to see the Sphinx gazing back at me near the pyramids in Egypt, played with children on earthen floors along the banks of the Nile, been made sick and dizzy by traffic snarls in Cairo. I have at times been lost, bewildered, confused—and also content, happy, and have felt deep love among people. I have walked the ancient, narrow passages of the old medina in Casablanca, Morocco and smelled the spice, fish, bread and fruit. I've thrown myself in the cold Atlantic Ocean and reveled in the surf, with my bedroom just steps away. At night, sleeping in strange places, sleep sometimes does not come easy. At least once, the noise was loud downstairs, and when I complained, I was asked to join the party—and did, dancing until 3 AM amid the raucous laughter and fun. Now, I find myself in a village of blue walls clustered on steep mountainsides, with a maze of passages that zigzag and twist in all directions . . . like THE DREAM.

Monday, September 01, 2014

An Open Heart

My hotel in Cairo is so close to the Pyramids, that when I wake up in the morning and open my curtains and stand on the balcony, the Sphinx is looking at me with its imperturbable gaze. The face is that of a man, the hair of a woman, and body of a lion. Close by, three pyramids are prominently in view; Cheops, Khufu, Khafre. Six more are in the vicinity. 

The streets bustle with chaotic activity, and as I walked yesterday I realized that Heidi Of The Mountains would have no taste for walking with me through the grimy avenues, full of the stench of cars, garbage, and animal waste; camels, horses, and even sheep. It reminds me of other cities I have visited that are disheveled and crowded, and without beauty—like Calcutta, and Nairobi. Local people are oblivious of the mess, never having known anything different, and have a gritty determination. Be that as it may, there are many gems in the coal pile, and I find them. Adventure calls me forth, and with an open heart, THE DREAM unfolds marvelous circumstances. I have met AbdĂșl, a man in his fifties who speaks good English and has befriended me. After consideration, I accepted his overtures, and went to his home near the pyramids and had dinner with his family . . . even dancing with his little grandchildren while Arabic disco music played from the popular television station. At night we sat on his roof and watched the fantastic light show that plays every evening after dark at the pyramids. It is complete with dramatic music, narration, and shifting colors of lights that play on the Sphinx and pyramids.Today, in a barber shop I had the best shave of my life. I had asked my friend where I could buy a razor to shave, and he said no, “I take you someplace much better.” Sure, the place was rundown and grimy, but the shave was perfect—better than I do to myself.

This afternoon, I fly one hour down the Nile to Luxor, and when I return to Cairo in one week, I will stay with AbdĂșl and his family.