Sunday, October 9, 2011


Tashlish is a part of the Days of Awe. It is a short, sweet ceremony which most traditionally is done after services on the first day of Rosh HaShana. One goes, usually with other people, to living water such as a river or stream and names sins one is repentent of while throwing small bits of bread into the water. Usually the bread will be bits of challah, that most beloved of Shabbat and Yom Tov (good day/holiday) meals. I have usually participated in this ceremony with people from my congregation shortly after services end.

For some reason this fall, there has been a very present part of me which has needed to be in the country alone. The same was true throughout the holidays. On the first day, I did not participate. On the second day, the congregation was doing it again; someone commented that, while it was traditionally done the first day, Tashlish can also be done any of the 8 Days of Awe.

That clinched it for me. I gathered a bit of challah and set out for the moraine. Of course, it started raining. I eventually gave up the idea of making Tashlish that day as it was too wet for much wandering. It did make for some good photography, though.

That was a Friday. That Sunday, a gorgeous day, I went back with the intent of performing the ceremony while out. I forgot the challah. I stopped for a hot dog at one point and decided to save a bit of the bun for that. Of course, I was on auto-pilot and snapped the last bit of bun into my mouth. I'm faced with buying another sandwich, a loaf of bread or something to complete the ceremony with.

Later I stop again and review my choice of breads. Somehow it seems wrong to perform tashlish with Wonder Bread, I don't find a traditional bread/roll to use. I end up buying a lovely loaf of chocolate almond pumpkin bread.

I drive around until I'm tired and in pain. Whenever I stop, I cannot get close enough to the water to ensure I can toss the bread successfully into the stream, the water appears stagnant or is covered with weeds.

Eventually I drive back into the city. I drive around some more. Finally, I end up in a park. I name my sins and toss a few bits of bread. The ducks and geese immediately start to head in my direction and stop, confused, after I quit tossing these very few small bits.

Did I wander from a strictly traditional way of performing this ceremony? Definitely. And yet, I think I was the most honest with myself and felt more regret than I have when doing it with others in the past. I'm just that masked in the presence of others. Did G!d mind? I doubt it.

One ideas, two expressions

I am trying to do some redecorating and freshening up of my apartment without spending a lot of money. In the living room, I am using a rose, chocolate brown/burnt umber and cream theme. Without thinking of what I have in storage, I began to do some art for the walls.

I have been incorporating more recycled materials into my work and have made several substrate by collaging pattern pieces, book pages and other material. I have lightly gessoed on some and left some plain. For the top image i used one of those. I first covered that substrate with various colors: ultramarine, burnt umber, greens. They were very dark and intense, so after they dried, I laid down mulberry paper and washed it with a very light coating of white watercolor. This set the basic colors at the right saturation. While working wet, I then began painting the flowers in various colors of rose and crinsom while using a spring green on the stems/leaves. I did this several times, letting layers of colors dry inbetween. Since I moistened the paper for the initial painting in, the colors spread, making a dreamy image. They were then clarified with drybrush layers of colors. The yellow in the center was the last accomplished step. I think I need to add in some stamens.

Although there are 4 flowers, I think the composition is still interesting since one is a bud and at a very short height in comparison to the rest.

The second piece is done in a similar way. However, the substrate is a piece of white watercolor paper washed with ultramarine, burnt umber, spring green and permanent green. The same roses are used for the flowers. Then a layer of rice paper was added and the color layered in a wet fashion before the drybrush to clarify the images. If I work in my normal fashion, there would be at least one more layer of paper and color. At this point, I may add more washes of color over each other as well as do some more detail at the center of the open flowers.

The first one feels more organic and the color is richer as it already has more layers of colors than the second one. The second one has the benefit of being much 'cleaner looking' with less layers. The image is more distinct overall. I know which one I am drawn to more; how about you?

Elul: the bright blessed day

This is the last of this project I finished during Elul and the first part of the Yamim Nora'im (High Holidays); while there is certainly more to the song, those images involve faces and I definitely need to practice my faces on the muslin--and in general--before I can finish the whole song.

These I will string with the lyrics incorporated. I think they will be great Sukkot decorations, as that is a time when we celebrate the harvest and G!d's bounty.