Monday, March 31, 2008

Guest Bible Artist interview #3

Diana Shimon
Diana Shimon
Our third Bible artist interview is with Diana Shimon. Diana, who is based in Israel, and is a regular reader of the Bible illustration blog, has very kindly taken time out of her very busy day, as both a Bible artist and mother of two young children, to take part in the following interview. Diana has been illustrating a children's 'hebrew version' of the Bible for the last 15 years!

Diana, what can you tell us about the children's Bible that you've been working on, and what will be its title?
I am working on the Children's Bible in modern Hebrew for youth, it's called 'The Testimony'. Right now, I am working intensively on the third volume –'The Prophets'.
For years we dreamed of a Bible for children with authentic illustrations that would be true to the times, geography and cultures of the Bible, accurately depicting architecture, ritual and landscape. Not just a Bible story book, but a faithful edition of the scriptures, with attractive pictures to serve as a stepping-stone toward our children reading and studying the full word of God for themselves. Now the dream is beginning to be realized.

How long have you been working on this Bible, and when should it be finished?
I have been working on the Children's Bible Project since 1992. The whole of the Bible is being illustrated, Habbakuk and Job, Zephaniah and Jude, 1 and 2 Timothy and the Song of Songs, Daniel and Leviticus. There is not a book in scripture that has not been illustrated, including many that would have not been illustrated in modern times, certainly not in full color and to such a high standard.
I did around 1000 illustrations for 5 volumes and around 1000 figures for the genealogy tree in 1 Chronicals. All the illustartions are ready, we are just waiting for the completion of the text. We plan to finish the project completely by 2013.

How do you produce your Bible pictures, are they watercolors?
I work in gouache. The illustrations are meant to explain the facts, so the process of devising the illustrations is taken very seriously. The style is realistic in order to convey a sense of reality rather than fantasy. There's a fictional atmosphere conveyed today in so many Bible illustrations. The gouache colors are sharp and emphatic and the illustrations are true to the topography of Israel and to its ancient flora and fauna as well as to its various material and religious cultures.

Bible Pictures
I remember reading some time ago that you are trying to be as accurate as possible when illustrating Bible clothing etc. How did you go about researching this?
I have the aid of professional archaeological, linguistic and Biblical scholars and will be consulting a control-body of young readers.

What have you found most difficult about illustrating the Bible?
I think the 2 Temples, (Solomon's Temple and The Temple from the book of Ezekiel), were the most difficult illustrations. For me the goal was high quality large illustrations with the correct details, sizes and proportions. Some of the details are not clear in the Bible, and some are missed. It was hard to imagine the whole picture.

Diana, you live in Israel now, but where are you from originally?
I was born in the Soviet Union (Soviet Georgia, Tbilissi) in 1967, and grew up during the times of Breznev. I emigrated to Israel with my family in 1990. I have been working in Hagefen Publishing (CWI brunch in Israel) since 1992 as an illustrator and graphic designer.
I am married and I have 2 young children aged 6 and 4 years old.

It must be really inspiring actually living in Israel. Have you visited Biblical locations for inspiration?
I came to Israel from the Soviet Georgia at age 22. I had never been in Israel before. I grow up as a painter in my motherland and I absorbed the colors, culture and the beauty of that country. In the beginning, when I started to work on the Children's Bible project in Israel all the Israeli people that I drew looked more like Georgians, and the landscapes were exactly like those in Cavcaz.
I understood, that I needed to change everything. I did a special trip around Israel, from the south to the north, I took photos, learned more about it's history, and did many sketches. I still do it even now, after 18 years here!

Have any other Bible artists inspired you?
Yes, of course. I like the art of Jewish artist Abel Pann. I like his attention to detail on Bible costumes and the natural atmosphere of his pictures, also his use of realistic colors.

Bible Pictureswhat advice would you give to an artist illustrating the Bible?
I have a few bits of advice to give an artist illustrating the Bible.

a. Do you plan to illustrate the Bible? Is it on your heart? Pray and ask God to help you!

b. Read the Scriptures again and again. Try to understand every word, and don't miss any small details, sometimes they are very important!

c. Don't use blond hear and blue eyes on Israeli people. They were dark haired people! King David had red hair, not blond!

d. Think about Israel, it's a dry hot desert land! not much water and few big rivers, avoid illustrating green mountains and fields. Use more brown and ocher colors in your palette. It is only a few weeks in the year when we have flowers and green landscapes. By the end of May it is already yellow until December. 

e. Go and see the artworks of different Biblical artists and illustrators, look at different photos of the Holy Land in books, websites and on postcards.

Would you say that illustrating the Bible has had an effect on you spiritually?
I think that I have a great privilege! Isn't it amazing to open a workday with a prayer and a chapter from The Bible? I really appreciate it! God is faithful!

Have you always had an interest in the Bible?
I grew up in a family of believers, my father is a pastor. I remember myself talking about God with my friends from a very young age. My grandmother was strong in the faith and I learned from her how to read the Scriptures and how to understand. I remember her old antique Bible with the illustrations of Gustav Dore.
Yes, I always had an interest in the Bible.

Where can we purchase a copy of this Bible from when it's published?
'The testimony' Volumes 1,2,3 in modern hebrew will be available from:
HaGefen Publishing
P.O.Box 60,
Rishon Le Zion,
75100 Israel

Tel/Fax 972-(0)3-9661898


English version: 'The pilgrim Book of Bible Stories'
Illustrations above are © Diana Shimon/HaGefen Publishing 2008  

Thank you so much for taking part in this interview Diana. I can't wait to get a copy of this Bible when it's finished! Over 20 years of hard work will have gone into the production of it. As soon as I know of a publishing date I will re-post all the details.
It's true to say that all of the Bible Artists that I've interviewed so far have found that illustrating the Bible has not been "just another freelance job", it's been a vocation that has consumed them for many years and, in the case of Jeff Anderson, led to a complete change of career!

I'm always on the lookout for Bible illustrators to interview for the B.I.B. So, if you know of one, please get in contact!

Related posts:
Interview with Jeff Anderson
Interview with Keith Neely
Interview with Dr Leen Ritmeyer


The Bearded Belgian said...

Thank you so very much for this!

Great works! Great interview. The fantastical, fantasy mood indeed is something that is dangerous as it can lead people to see things only as a fairy tale.

Bible artist said...

Yes indeed. For this reason I'm putting off illustrating Revelation for as long as I can!!

Most Bible artists would not tackle every book in the Bible. Diana has been very brave to do so. Leviticus must have been a tough one!

Paul Green said...

Thanks for the interesting and informative interview Graham. Ms Shimon set herself a huge task. Over 1,000 illustrations is a lot of work! Congratulations to Ms Shimon on completing them while giving birth and raising her two young children. That is quite an achievement!
All the best to you with the completion and publication of the project.

Bible artist said...

I was thinking the same thing Paul!
And it's not just the time it takes to produce a 1,000 illustrations. It's all the research that has gone on in the background before each picture is done.

Diana mentions in her advice to Bible artists that you need to pay attention to every detail, no matter how small. This is so true, as there is often great spiritual significance in what seems like a minor detail!

Bible artist said...

Diana's comment about King David being a redhead was interesting. This is based on the physical description given in 1 Samuel 16:12 and 17:42. The word translated 'ruddy' in English Bibles is the Hebrew word 'admoni' Horseman touches on this on his blog here:
Some believe it refers to red hair, while others believe it speaks of a red skin, (or ruddy complexion), because the same word is used to describe Esau at the time of his birth (Gen 25:25).

There are very few children's Bibles that depict David as a redhead, but this doesn't mean that he wasn't, Any other thoughts on this?

Paul Green said...

The word "ruddy" would normally apply to complexion and not the colour of hair. Having read the texts I tend to think they refer to complexion. A ruddy face is often a sign of a person with red or ginger hair but this alone isn't proof that King David had red hair.
Are there other reasons Ms Shimon chose to depict David with red hair? Or was it based on these texts alone?

ArtistXero said...

As a bible artist with fantasy leanings I realize there is a razor's edge to walk but I think calling it "dangerous" is going a bit far.

Historically accurate biblical illustration by far dominates the field and a large chunk of it is dull as dishwater and wont inspire anyone to open up a bible anytime soon. (No one here of course)

American children are being force-fed (by our secular media) stylized, flashy art, and few will spend more than a second looking at artwork of historically accurate robed bearded guys doing historically accurate things that makes up a lot of biblical illustration, no matter how well it's painted. They care for style over substance and if a little stylization in our bible art gets them to crack open a bible how is that "dangerous"?

While I believe historically accurate biblical illustration is an absolutely necessary and valuable thing it shouldn't be the only player on a field that's increaingly hostile, or worse, indifferent towards christianity.

Ha..sorry for the long comment "Historically accurate biblical illustration" is one long phrase to keep repeating.

Nathan P. Daniel said...

Well, "ruddy" definitely means red, that's for sure, so David was red somewhere. Esau was described as ruddy with his hair, but Lamentations 4:7 describes the siege victims as once being "more ruddy in body than corals." There "ruddy" describes the body. This passage fits closer with the overly amorous description of King Solomon in Song of Solomon 5:10:

"My beloved is brilliant and red, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is gold, pure gold; his locks, bushy, black as a raven."

Well this seems to indicate jet black hair, so the red must be in the body.

Both of these passages also strongly indicate a brilliance and purity, particularly similar to gold, in addition to the redness. I'm not sure how this all works together, but, wow, the ancient Israelite's picture of beauty is spectacular. I wonder if maybe this is like a reddish/golden tan that some people get. That would include the red, the gold, and the glow.

Solomon's description probably fit David pretty well, too. Solomon, being ruddy like his father, probably looked just like him.

I don't think Christ necessarily fit this description too closely in His earthly appearance or the Sanhedrin would have probably picked up the resemblance to David and Solomon. Then again, maybe their hearts were so hard, they stared right at Him and missed that.

In case it helps out any, the Hebrew word for red is almost exactly the same as the Hebrew word for man[kind]. ("Adom"="red;" "adam"="man;" "dam"="blood.")

Bible artist said...

I'm not sure. There is a tradition that David had red hair based on these particular verses though, but the tradition is based more on the root from which the hebrew word 'admoni' came from rather than the English translation of the actual word itself.

There is of course room for Bible illustration in all styles. I think that Nikolaj may have been referring to some of the more recent 'Manga' style Bible illustrations that have been appearing recently. They tend to set the actual Bible stories themselves in a futuristic setting. When it comes to depicting those Bible stories that speak of future events, or events that take place in the heavenlies, we have no choice but to enter into the realm of, (I won't call it fantasy Art), let's say the imagination.

Sometimes we are given a verbal description of these things like the Cherubim in Ezekiel, (see Diana's picture). In cases like this it's down to the individual artist, as to whether they do a literal interpretation of the verse or not.
This is a very interesting subject which deserves a separate post. watch this space!

Thanks for that! Very informative, as always.

Going back to the post...
I envy Diana, in that she has travelled around the Holy land, (something that I would love to do!). I'm sure that a visit to Israel would alter the way that you depicted the scenery.

Horseman said...

Genesis 25:25

VaYetse harishon ADMONEE khulo, K'aderet se'ar, va'iqro sh'mo Esav.

"And the first came out RED [admonee], all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau."
1 Samuel 16:12

Va'ishlach vaivi'ehu V'hu ADMONEE im-Y'feh einayim V'tov ro'ee Vayomer YHWH qum M'shachehu ki-zeh hu.

"And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was RUDDY [admonee], and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he."

Notice that “admonee” is translated to “red” in Genesis and to “ruddy” in 1 Samuel – yet it is the exact same Hebrew word. So, the difference there is just a matter of English translation. Indeed we are talking about red. There are people like Jeremiah Wright that clumsily attempt to interpret this differently for their Barack Obama type thinking followers. Years ago the Brit-am movement did the same type things, but in reverse to favor a “whiter” interpretation of scripture. From my perspective, the Brit-Am movement seemed to have the spirit of pride; whereas the Wright – Obama type movements have a spirit of bitterness and anger. If so, then both positions are sinful. Lord forgive us.

The word admonee (or admoni) has been talked about by others. But I thought the people might like to see the Bible verses. Whether you apply the scripture to David’s hair or skin could be debated. So, I say apply it to BOTH. Then you get at least one thing right, and maybe two – tee hee.

I love the water color approach!

Bible artist said...

Very informative! Thanks horseman.

Horseman said...

Excuse me - she works in gouache, not water color. And I must confess... I had to go to Wikipedia to find out what that is.

Bible artist said...

You must be from the younger generation of digital artists horseman! I seem to remember that 'Paul g' also used gouache, correct me if I'm wrong Paul!

Paul Green said...

Yes I used gouache in the majority of my work Graham. The fact horseman had never heard of it makes me feel old!! :))

Bible artist said...

I know! With the growing popularity of graphics tablets it might not be long till digital artists have to search Wikipedia to find out what a paintbrush was-!!

Nathan P. Daniel said...

"Paintbrush?" Hmm, was that something used in Biblical times?


Horseman said...

At the link Abel Pann, under the question about who has inspired her, check out The Four Matriarchs (Genesis). Will someone explain this picture. It is good art... yet... it kind of gives me the creeps.

Perhaps if someone explained it I would not be disturbed by it.

Horseman said...

Oh yeah, I meant to say that I really like that artist's version of "Mary and Child" - I see why the guest artist is inspired by the work.

Bible artist said...

Ha ha ha ha!

This is just a wild guess, but there are 3 Patriarchs, Abraham Isaac and Jacob, so presumably the Matriarchs would be their wife's? But why are there 4 of them?
I think this might be a Jewish puzzle! Any Rabbis out there?

ArtistXero said...

didnt Jacob have two "official" wives?

Bible artist said...

Yes, but they had more than 4 wife's between them.

I've just come across a Jewish blessing which says...
"May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." Are these the Matriarchs?

Nathan P. Daniel said...

Officially, yes. He also had two concubines, which were kind of odd because they weren't wives, yet God considered them like they were when Reuben had an affair with one of his father's concubines.

My first thought was that these four (2 wives, 2 concubines) were the four matriarchs in the piece, but when you look at other paintings by the same artist, you can see that Rebekah is clearly the second woman from the left, Leah is the woman to the far right, which would make Rachel the one in between those two, and the far left one, Sarah, seems to be an older version of the woman in "Sarai."

Horseman said...

But they look so scary, all but one of them. Their eyes... spooky. One of them even has red eyes. Is it just me? If I saw that in real life I would run the other way.

Bible artist said...

Nice detective work jumbo! I didn't occur to me to look at his other paintings.
I also came across the following...

Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah... the mothers of the Jewish people. Each one possessed unique qualities that played essential roles in the strength and future of the nation.

Incidentally, If the clothing in this picture is accurate, I clearly need to do more research-!!
O.k. horseman, now you have the full story, do you find the picture a little less creepy? (You already answered this question just before I posted it! Ha ha!)

Horseman said...

You said:
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah... the mothers of the Jewish people. Each one possessed unique qualities that played essential roles in the strength and future of the nation.

I think that those types of qualities are passed on through the genes of the father (Y-chromosomes), whereas the genes from the mother (mitochondrial DNA) result in more morphological traits. That aside – “no” Graham, the responses thus far have not reduced my unease about the piece. Yet, I do like it – it touches me somehow. I just wish I could discern the spirit of it. Perhaps this cannot be done without word from its creator. AND, I saw a picture of the artist… and he has strange eyes too.

Graham, I guess I need to just put this aside, else I may go on and on – kinda like you did about the Adam & Eve belly button thing. Tee hee.

Bible artist said...

I knew someone was going to bring that up again-!!

Paul Green said...

Green eyes for the baby Jesus?? I assume the child is meant to be Jesus. Red eyes for one of the Matriarchs. She has the look of a temptress. The eyes remind me of the anime style a century before it was invented! Large and pronounced. They dominate the faces.
Interesting approach but I have to admit the artist captures an atmosphere of menace, verging on evil rather than spirituality.

Bible artist said...

Hey, don't get horseman started again!!

Bible artist said...

I think I know what the problem is. Most of Abel Paan's faces are lit from the chin up!
We are programmed by film imagery to associate all upwardly lit faces with the horror film genre! The red and green eyes don't help either!

Horseman said...

I decided to put this aside. But, since we are talking about a different picture now... I like the green eyes given to Yeshua in “Mary and the Child” (as well as the ruddy hair). It’s possible. If it were so, the eyes would have been much brighter in youth and darken with age. Consider the haunting green eyes of the Aphgan girl on the front of that National Geographic Magazine. When they found her as a grown up, the eyes were not at all brilliant – but were almost common. Such eyes are rare. And that is what makes them beautiful. Painting the eyes of Christ this way points back to King David, who was described as having beautiful eyes in his youth. As we know, the Messiah was to come from the line of David. So, this is an artistic expression of scripture.

He has a good version of David as well. It’s not at the link provided. You can find it on Google images using “Abel Pann” as the key words. This one also has... the eyes.

Paul Green said...

There is no indication in the gospels that Jesus had any special physical presence. In fact the indicators point to the opposite. But his understanding of scripture and teaching skills are highlighted. The people reacted to their surprise at this aspect of Jesus' character. Nobody commented on his being handsome or having striking eyes.
This isn't surprising to me. Our society (and past cultures) emphasize looks over intelligence. The entire celebrity culture is based on beauty - not brains. People tend to find beauty mesmerizing. Jesus' message wasn't about the physical. People were attracted to his message.
The gospels seem to indicate that the people were shocked that an average Galillean had so much understanding and knowledge and could work miracles. Why were they shocked? Because outwardly he appeared to be an average man of no special importance or beauty.

Horseman said...

For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him. – Isaiah 53:2 (Hebrew Bible in English)

But when an artist paints a flower, he paints it pretty – such is art.

Paul Green said...

I know you were primarily referring to Jesus as a child and youth horseman. There is also no indication in the gospels the young Jesus possessed any special qualities aside from his knowledge and understanding of scripture. I know the apocryphal gospels mention a mischievious and sometimes cruel nature and his working miracles. But no reference to special physical features. It doesn't appear to have been of any importance or have any relevance to his life. Hence I don't agree with artistic interpretations that place Jesus (at any age) as being
distinctive on a physical level. It really is making the viewer come to the conclusion that being handsome = being special. Our actions define us. Not our physical features. It is a dilemma any Biblical artist has to face. How do I depict Jesus? It's an almost impossible task without resorting to cultural stereotypes we all expect to see.

Paul Green said...

An artist must communicate with the audience to be successful. If an artist (or writer) is having a dialogue with themselves then they are reaching an audience of one.
Often to create a dialogue one has to illustrate or write to the audience's pre-conceptions and within that framework introduce new material gradually.
Hostility often greets artists who attempt to radically change public perceptions of a subject. Sometimes this is the only way. To shock them out of complacency and lazy thinking. This isn't the way with children's illustration. You would just alienate the children.
So when I talk of the impossibility of illustrating an authentic Jesus I don't mean to discourage anyone. Graham is doing great work with his illustrations as are most children's illustrators. Please don't think any criticisms are swipes at any artist's integrity.

Bible artist said...

Good points Paul.

Abel Pann wrote a personal statement in regard to his Bible paintings which I've pasted below. He seemed to think that, as a Jewish artist he was better placed to communicate the truths of the Bible.

"The task I have set myself involves a serious responsibility.
The enthusiasm which my work arouses in me is often clouded by painful doubts and questionings.
For that same book which has inspired many a genius to produce his masterpiece has proved to be beyond the reach of a far greater number of artists.
A son of the race which produced this marvelous book, I feel that I, better than some others, may be able to seize it's true spirit and to communicate it to my fellow-men. But the absolute truth is with God alone.
Mankind is ever subject to error. And so I entreat the indulgence of my judges."

Abel Pann

Nathan P. Daniel said...

The comments concerning the issues with depicting Christ are quite interesting, and, as an animator, I came up with an idea.

Isaiah clearly states that he wasn't stately or distinguished in appearance, but we have the problem of making Him distinguished enough for the audience/viewer to know that's Jesus.

As an animator, I know that it's possible to take the same model/rig and turn it into totally different characters. Pose and animate it one way, and you've made a really mean, creepy guy. Change the poses a little, and you've transformed that creepy guy into a fun-loving character.

So perhaps the logical thing to do is distinguish Christ by His pose instead of His appearance. This will actually be more effective than making Him look a certain way.

Try posing Him in a way that shows His authority, being the Son of God as He is. Also, try to get His pose to express His deep love to those around Him.

I think that this might solve some of those problems. I know Graham has some experience with animation, so I'm sure he might have some interesting thoughts on this.

Paul Green said...

Interesting thought jumbo. In certain movies where the face of Jesus was hidden the rather rigid straight backed imposing pose was used frequently. This pose is helped by Jesus' robes which are often illustrated as if Jesus was made of stone. The other standard pose to express love are the outstretched arms. An obvious pose that does work but now looks like a cliche.
How to show Jesus' love for his fellow man, woman and child? Close communion signifying sharing. Intimate poses of Jesus listening. I would tend toward the small gestures. The hands and fingers.
In the past filmmakers were influenced by the grandiose gesturing of the stage. Today filmaking is more complex and creative. Past, present and future can occupy the same frame. Fast cutting and a camera moving through a scene rather than just observing the action.
There are many ways to make Jesus accessible to the audience from psychological introspection to sweeping movements.
Best of luck with your work.

Bible artist said...

We have touched briefly on this subject in the past in the 'what did Jesus look like?' post, but it's a subject that, God willing, will be coming up again soon so I won't give all my thoughts away at this point.

The posture is important and I think that it's something that we do in our pictures on a subconscious level. Animators have the advantage of fully creating a character from scratch, and so they design character sheets that contain a series of expressions and poses that will help to give a character a certain personality.
The problem is, as Paul has already mentioned, scripture is silent on all aspects of the physical appearance of Jesus, including his posture! Despite this, we still have to try and portray both the humility and authority of the Lord Jesus in our Bible pictures, and posture does help.

Abel Pann spoke of what he saw as the advantage of being a Jewish Bible artist when he said "A son of the race which produced this marvelous book, I feel that I, better than some others, may be able to seize it's true spirit and to communicate it to my fellow-men".
I would venture to say that Christian Bible artists, are in the favorable position of having the spirit of God to lead them in this task.

I think that the biggest challenge a Bible artist has is that they don't take away any of the wonder from a Bible story. Remember, we cannot add anything to it!
If we prayerfully try our upmost to capture a little of the wonder in every Bible story, then we have done what we can.

I'm always conscious of the story I heard once about the missionary to India Amy Carmichael. They used pictures of Jesus once to tell a Bible story to the children. After the story the children said "I thought Jesus would look nicer than that!" They didn't use Bible pictures again!

Christian said...

Dear Graham & fellow bloggers,

May I point out 2 things in regards to the Land of Israel during the Old testament times and through a part of the NT.

Point 1: God promised to bring the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey and brought them to Canaan (Ex. 3:8,17; Numbers 13; Joshua 3; Eze. 20:6).

Point 2: During David's childhood, a remarkable occurance took place. David mentioned this event to King Saul in I Samuel 17:33-37. He said that he rescued a lamb from the mouth of a lion and the mouth of a bear. A bear, mind you, is not able to withstand the heat of the desert.

From these two points it is safe and logical to believe that Israel was not the same as it is today and, in fact, was once vibrant with trees, and grasses, etc.


Paul Green said...

Hello Christian

With reference to bears from the website 'Mammals of Palestine':

"The Syrian subspecies Ursus arctos syriacus is known from Asia Minor, Caucasus, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, where it formerly occurred in Galilee and the Judean hills during Biblical times. Prophet David boasts of having strangled a bear, which had attacked his herd, and two bears killed the 42 boys, who scoffed at the Prophet Elisha. In the nineteenth century it was observed in a ravine near Tiberias, near Beisan and in the Golan Heights. The last wild Syrian Bear was killed near Majdal Shams in the southern Mount Hermon in 1917. They were 140 cm in height and dark brown. It has not been a menace to flocks of sheep and goats for a long time, but occasional visits to vine-yards and fruit-groves are still reported from Syria. The Bear is extinct on the Hermon and Anti-Lebanon, mainly because it was so drastically hunted by German officers during the war (Khalaf, 1983, 2001). Today, it exists in Palestine only in zoos."

Bible artist said...

Thanks Paul, and another good point Christian. Milk producing cattle would need grazing areas and bees would need plenty of flowers to collect nectar from for honey production. Since the Jewish people returned to their land 60 years ago, new methods of irrigation have turned Israel into a large fruit and flower producer and exporter. Prior to that, I believe Israel was a dry desert place. Much tree planting has been done too. Israel now has over 200 million trees! I have heard it said that Israel only flourishes when the Israeli people inhabit the land.

I always like to buy fruit from Israel when I see it. Usually dates and Jaffa oranges!

deboraw said...

Dear Graham, I really enjoyed this post. Something else to remember was that King Solomon used much lumber in building projects. I have read (excuse my memory, old age and all that you know) that at one time there were more trees in that area. Also that the Israelis are attempting to restore some of it. Perhaps that is only hearsay, but again I'm sure I've read that. Another comment about the use of the 'fantastical, fantasy mood' illustrations. Perhaps going through three approaching four decades of teaching children's Bible classes gives me a unique perspective--maybe my glasses are just getting dull. However, I've seen the 'circus' approach with the idea of, "whatever brings them in to hear the Word"/and "Let's do whatever it takes". My youngest son sees things somewhat differently than most his age (he is now 15, but at the time of the following happening he was approx. 11). He was 'discussing' a series with one of his nephews, and he said the 'series' was blasphemous. His oldest brother was outraged, and things became...tense until their dad stepped in. The problem is that when we make some of these things we forget the crux of the matter is we aren't commanded to 'go entertain the masses' (of children or otherwise). As a Bible class teacher there is no greater --experience? than to see the light come on in a child's face. To hear my dear grandchildren say, "I can't miss church, cause I gotta go to Grandma's class. There is nothing that brings that special glow to the heart. But it's not about me...or my class. It's not about's about the Master. And therein lies the danger. I've seen children go from one VBS to another...all day long, and all they are is entertained, tired, and in the end, bored. So we need to be careful as we seek to teach. I want my kids to know these were real people that did laugh, and love, hurt and cry. Again, I really think this is a great blog. Now I have some (more) research to do (gouache? hmm, and Abel Pann?). Well at least I do know what a 'paint brush' is, smile. (Levi explained it to me, very embarrassed face)lol. Deboraw

deboraw said...

Graham, Now Levi and I are controversying about whether ya'll meant a real paintbrush, or one on the computer that is used for illustrations. He has had a good (?) laugh, at his mother's expense,(very fierce face) not sure whether to throttle him or laugh with him, ha! Levi is wondering if you checked his latest picture or no?

Bible artist said...

Hi Deboraw
Yes, Jumbo was talking about a real paintbrush, (not a digital one).
He was having a bit of fun!
I've sent some pointers over to Levi. Hope he finds them helpful.

Yes, King Solomon sent a message to Hiram, king of Tyre, requesting giant cedar trees for the Temple. They were cut down, tied to rafts and transported nearly 200 kilometers down the coast from Tyre to Joppa, where they were then transported inland to Jerusalem.
Yes, Israel are now busy in a reforestation program to slowly restore its tree population.

Yes, there has been a tendancy in recent years to move away from telling actual Bible stories to children in favor of stories with a biblical message. Fewer and fewer children are getting any Bible knowledge which is why we concentrate on producing just Bible stories. Thanks for your input!

deboraw said...

Graham, Thank you for your response. I appreciate your patience as I hope I wasn't too long winded (last night) and it didn't mean whoever said whatever was 'wrong', just a word of caution. Say, about the 'bear', I'm afraid the king's good old 'foot' makes more sense to me, 140cm translates to approximately what in 'English' measure? I have an idea, however, lest I give Levi another laugh--I'm not saying, just asking. Smile. (Levi rolled his car this A.M on his way home from work, so I believe he just went home and went to bed, therefore he hasn't checked things yet this ? today. No, he's alright--they say you can't kill an Irishman--probably goes double for the Scottish-Irish folks. Car looks rather bad however. Incredible face) Deboraw

Bible artist said...

Hi Deboraw
Sorry to hear about Levi's crash! Hope he's o.k.
140cm is about 4' 6". Not that tall for a bear I suppose! Although I still wouldn't argue with one-!!

Nathan P. Daniel said...

Is that height measurement measure the bears on all fours or standing? Either way, I agree with you Graham; I'd need a lot more than a slingshot to go up against one of those.

I also agree with you guys on the issue with the Bible stories. This is the main thing I appreciate about this site: the strong attention to accuracy when it comes to God's Word. I think that the attention to the smallest details helps maintain a standard that what you are presenting is as true and accurate as possible, thus enhancing your presentation of the Bible. Then you can simply let it and the Holy Spirit do the work and quite possibly move a number of the viewers closer to Him (be it salvation or progressive sanctification).

I also think that this kind of thing can genuinely interest people. Recently HBO had a seven part film series on John Adams. Normally I'm not a fan of their work, but this time they didn't have a noticeable agenda, and they went to every length to make it as true to life as possible. So you see these films, and you feel like you know John Adams personally. It made that part of history and the key characters in it come to life. I felt patriotic, and I barely watched it.

The same thing is possible for us. If people are going to get interested in the Bible, it's going to be because of the Bible itself, not because of some sort of gimmick or entertaining story. This would keep the VBS kids from getting bored, too.

deboraw said...

My son, Jeremy, said to me (this was right after 9/11)"Mom," (they always preface 'words of wisdom' to their mother with that special 'Mom') "aren't you glad we're out here protecting you back home?"

"Yes, my son, I certainly am. Ya'll think I'm pretty scary with a broom, you don't want to see me carrying an AK47, buddy." No, I don't think I want to either, (argue with a bear)especially not with a sling shot, or my bare hands, not even my proverbial broom.

Also, as Paul G said,I wouldn't
think that talking about the 'impossibility of illustrating an authentic Jesus', most would understand it to mean that it is an enormous 'burden'? perhaps, not a swipe. Of our American presidents, Abraham Lincoln was called 'plain', and maybe...worse. But if you look at his face, it has character. I believe Jesus was plain in some ways, but character still shows. Don't you think? Deboraw

deboraw said...

Greetings Jumbo, yes, I agree, it has to be the Bible that gets the people, children included interested. I believe that work like the sort that is being done by Graham, and I do like Diane's work also. That type of work WILL interest people. I was relating some of the facts about Rachel to my daughter the other day. I think it really caught her attention. We never think about for instance in Rachel's case, she spent her entire life being a number 2 wife, when she should have been number 1. It really begins to live. I agreed the four matriarchs was odd. The picture that is. Hmm. Well, it was not a comment on the VBS so much as the parents who used it for a day long sitter. There were at least three plus VBS going on in the same week. They would trundle the little folks out the door to the first one in the morning, and they just went all day till the one in the evening. What shameful parents are those? But for it to be lasting it has to be more than a gimmick. Deboraw

Christian said...

Dear Bloggers,

I just thought I'd go back and read on the matriarch issue and here is what I found regarding Jacob and his wives.
And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. (Genesis 30:3-6) As we see here, the practice of one woman giving birth to a child upon the knees of another was considered to be giving the second woman credit for the child. As you read a little further, Leah also engaged in the practice using Zilpah her handmaid. Therefore, according to the tradition, neither Zilpah nor Bilhah were considered as mothers, rather it was Leah and Rachael. Hope I might have shed some light via Scriptures upon the "only 4 matriachs" question.


Bible artist said...

Fascinating stuff Christian, thanks!
I must read more about that.

Bible artist said...

I was thinking about the comment that Diana made when she said "when I started to work on the Bible project in Israel, all the Israeli people that I drew looked more like Georgians!"

I was looking at some of the artwork recently on the 'Temple institute' site, and I noticed that some of the Levite priests have distinctly Russian features. This makes sense though as most of the Jewish artists working on this project are from Russia!

Paul Green said...

We all create in our own image Graham.

Kirsty said...

ArtistXero: I agree, Bible illustration should never be dull. But historically accurate does not have to mean a dull style. Nor even a realistic style.

I'm an illustrator and do Bible illustrations in a variety of styles: realistic, stylised, cartoon... but they're always historically accurate (simplified sometimes) - especially the clothes.

By historically accurate I don't mean traditional 'bible' clothes, by the way. Some of the historical clothes were pretty off the wall.

A couple of links: not great examples, but I don't have any better ones online.

Just had a look at your illustrations - they're certainly not dull! Very dynamic.