Friday, January 25, 2008

My Painstaking Painting Project

I was given a confronting challenge a few months ago....some years ago my late wife Marge and I had produced together a large embroidery-painting (embroidery by her and initial drawing and painting by me), of a group of German immigrants to Israel in the early 1920`s dancing a traditional Hora - arms on shoulders in a circle. The figures were particularly striking, against a background of rolling desert hills, presenting a picture of much movement. It measured 5x4 ft 9 (nearly 2 x 1 1/2m). The work is now residing in my son Peter's medical consulting rooms.

Detail of the original painting/embroidery.

A friend to whose wife we'd given a colour photo of it years ago because she loved it, rang me saying he wanted to give her a special present for a special birthday and was wondering whether I would paint it on canvas? I gave the surprise suggestion some thought, asking him what size did he have in mind? He didn't know but he'd discuss it with her and advise me.

She immediately called at the consulting rooms and then my friend said she wanted it exactly the same size. I`d never painted anything so large but decided to give it a try. How happy I was I had a large antique oak dining table about 9ft x 4.3!

I quickly covered it with an old tattered cloth which soon was covered with the canvas and all my paints, brushes, mixing bowls etc. Our friendly family dining room rapidly retrogressed to an unkempt artists studio.

Busy at work in the makeshift living room studio.

Thank goodness I could close the door on the mighty mess at the end of the day! My son had emailed me a good snap of the original work and I invested transfinite time avidly absorbing it whenever I could, then sketching & painting - anything from 15 minutes to 5-6 hours a day. Because I'd used acrylic paints when I started painting about 30 odd years ago - I wanted rapid results not possible with oils - and I'd never used an easel but painted in a horizontal position, I soon found I had to manoeuvre the canvas frame into awfully awkward positions necessitating that I stop and rest about every 45 minutes.

At work on the commissioned painting.

After some months I was finished and righteously rewarded with the delighted response of my patron-friend and his wife with big hugs and an immediate cheque. I was also thrilled that at almost 89 I was commissioned........

Detail of the finished painting.

A few weeks ago one of Peter's patients, on seeing the original embroidery-painting in his consulting rooms, said it reminded her & her husband of a similar theme (see photo) of a magnificent sculpture at Jewish Hill in Barcelona, Spain.

The statue in Barcelona.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1890), Irish poet, dramatist, writer, critic & wit said "All art is quite useless." (Could anybody, anywhere, any time tell me what they think he meant?)

`till next time...hopefully, in 7-10 days...

Monday, January 14, 2008

In a Mute Moment, Memory`s Moribund

Harry Blog site:
I was walking down the passage from my living-room where I`d been lounging in my favourite chair enjoying the diversity and range of the Age - a habit of my early Saturday afternoons. The thought suddenly entered my head that I must tidy and clean up my study/studio. I had just finished painting the antique seachest (apart from the name) for my new Norwegian great-grandchild , number 7.
The room was in a hell of a mess......paint-brushes, tubes of paint, containers of water, coloured penculs, reference books...even clothes strewn`s a curious quirk of my nature that I can`t start another project if the room is untidy (my accountancy training I think). During the week I`d visited Clancy, great-grandchild number 6, and his mother Yuki had given me a delightful antique tiny box and coincidentally that night I was advised by a very dear cousin of her daughter`s engagement. That box, adorned by an old windjammeer sailing-ship painting would be ideal for a present as I`d already given her older bother one for a similar reason.
As I passed the diningroom and charged with "tidyness bug" I noticed some washing draped over the chairs and I decided to sort it out, fold etc. and put away. Returning to the kitchen I put some tea-towels in a drawer, I was then distracted by the phone for about 15-20 minutes, after which I noticed it was time for my regular 3pm coffee so I switched on the 1/2 full kettle and walked up the passage intending to put away the clthes. However the front door-bell tingled, and opening it I welcomed home a neighbour who`d just returned from an overseas trip of a few months. We sat in the lounge after she`d refused my offer of a cuppa saying she had no time and then at least a half an hour later she left saying she had no time etc.
I then passed bedroom 1 on my way back to the study/studio and wondered if my portable radio which I`d mislaid was in there where I`m using that room for storage since my wife passed on. I`ve developed a habit of popping the little Sanyo in my pocket after listening to news bulletins or current affairs programmes.
The double-bed was almost fully-covered, with a trolley bag, t-shirts, underpants, handkies, sox etc. as I`d been experimenting to see howmuch the bag would take -preparing for an overseas-trip lateer that year....yes I eventually found the portable radio hiding under some clothes - I must have removed it from my person when putting a hanky in my pocket. 
I resuned walking up the passage and finally cleaned up the room, also coming across my reading-glasses that had disappeared that morning! Taking a deep breath and feeling somewhat thirsty I suddenly remembered the kettle and raced down to the kitchen & switched it off - just in time - it was almost empty.....
Reflecting, while enjoying my coffee break, that this behaviour....this DAD, or Distracted Action Disorder as I`ve named it, should not be of great concern, as it affects my contemporaries as well of youngsters of 40 or 50 too.....
I wholeheartedly agree with the saying...."Growing older is mandatory - growing-up is optional.........laughing at yourself is therapeutic" ................
I also like this quote from an 1864 magazine The Chameleon ........."The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything "
`till next time - in about a fortnight 

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Clancy of the Overflow

About 12 months ago my 6th great grandchild Clancy was but 12 days old and made his first trip across Melbourne to Ardoch, my home in East St. Kilda for afternoon tea.

A young Clancy being held by Zayda for the first time.

It was a very special occasion - the one and only Great Greenberg Get-together - a true gathering of the clan who`d cheerfully come to celebrate the good fortune of my then brother Joe, 82, sister Freda, 76, our younger brother Kenn, 72 and I, 87.............we lost Joe recently.

From left: Harry, Joe, Freda and Kenn.

Our good fortune was the fabulous fact that we four, fathered and mothered by Bert & Minnie Greenberg, were all alive, as well as expected for "oldies" and happy..... the idea evolved one day at one of our family lunches at the Tanti Hotel where we regularly met every 4-6 weeks, the same hotel where our Grandfather Joseph Diamond used to rest his horse and jinker on his way to his Rosebud holiday house from his home in King St. Melbourne. Invitations were duly prepared and out of a possible 71 family members, the roll-call revealed 54; the others - 6 overseas, 3 interstate, and the rest had firm prior commitments elsewhere.

When we were all assembled together I can assure you Clancy Cameron soon received the overflow of warm love and attention from all present, proudly wearing his official name-tag like everyone else - many of whom were meeting family for the first time. You'll probably realise, if Australian, as mentioned in Virgils Diary, Clancys famous name was inspired by the charismatic character in Banjo Patterson`s "Clancy of the Overflow".

We all experienced an overflow of cheery chatter in between sampling the fare of the groaning tables filled with a feast of fine food, all lovingly created by most of all present. Outstanding was the presentation of Jo`s excellent edible violin made of "hedgehog" and a photo of Grandpa Bert with fellow musicians adorned Pierrot Minstrel suits framed by white and black-dotted biscuits to match their white and black-dotted costumes, also her tiny cakes iced with "Cecil Brunner" roses in memory of Nana Min`s wedding bouquet on 21st November 1917. Coincidentally this celebration was on the 20th November and her birthday the 22nd.

Grandpa Bert`s actual violin was the centrepiece of a charming collection of artifacts and effects owned by Minnie and Bert - his gold Waltham pocket watch given him by his parents on his 21st birthday, his camera, Masonic apron, attaché case, a setting of her cutlery, sewing box, a rug, a magnificent Italian ornament - to name a few.

The perfect sunny day brought out the best of Ardoch`s Village Green with it`s lush Spring-Summer growth of excellent elms, beautiful birches, radiant roses, happy hydrangeas, gorgeous geraniums, colourful carnations & calendula, dainty daisies and lovely lobelia bordering the Green with it`s ancient Heritage-Listed creaking cottonwood over near which some of the kids` kites were flying while about a a half a dozen others furiously frolicked in the swimming pool with 2 adults.

Before parting, everyone received a leaf with their name inscribed on it in gold lettering - from a hanging tree cleverly crafted from Jo & Jim as well as a rolled scroll of the family tree - ending an unforgettable extraordinary day.........

`till next time (I'm hoping to publish Random Reflections fortnightly...)