Megillat Esther, Bigthan and Teresh

Here’s a slideshow of some recent illumination work on the Megillat Esther manuscript. It shows the development of one image, the capture of the plotters Bigthan and Teresh. It is based on an image found in the Assyrian bas reliefs at Nineveh, showing Sennacherib’s conquest of Lachish.

Meanwhile, Josh is forging ahead with the calligraphy, and is closing in on completing the manuscript. Sadly, I can’t same the same for the illuminations.

Latest work on our Megillat Esther

As I have explained in earlier posts, about half of the images I am producing for our Megillat Esther are derived from art and objects that were either produced during the Achaemenid empire, or that could have been found within the borders of that empire. Why this focus on the Achaemenid empire? Xerxes I was one of the Achaemenid emperors, and he is commonly associated with Achashverosh, the king in the Book of Esther! Thus, it is conceivable that Xerxes may have used some of the gold and silver objects I have illustrated for our manuscript, objects that we might imagine Achashverosh used during the party he threw at the beginning of the Esther story.

So, our megillah might stand as an art history lesson, as well!

The image below comes from a bas relief that was a rather long chariot ride from Susa (Shushan), where Achashverosh held court. It is part of the gate of Nimrud (near Erbil in modern Iraq), produced by the Assyrian emperor Ashurnasirpal, about 350 years before Xerxes. It shows women mourning after one of Ashurnasipal’s conquests. I chose it to represent the Jews of Achashverosh’s kingdom, after they learn of Haman’s plot to exterminate them.

The slideshow below shows the progression of the image as I painted it.

Abstract expressionist experiments

I’ve been experimenting with some abstract images and colorwork, possibly prepping for a couple of new ebooks I want to produce, once Josh and I complete the Megillat Esther we’re working on. (See posts prior and future to keep up to date with the megillah work.)

I’m working on about 6 sequences, but here are 2 that are close to completion. I hope you enjoy them…

Mezuzah I made for Cal

The slideshow below shows the stages in making a mezuzah. I began with a block of bird’s eye maple. Studying the grain of the wood gave me the idea for the design that I carved. I then gilded the face, outlined the letter ‘Shin’ in crimson, and then varnished it. On the back I carved out a niche for the klaf, which will be sealed with a piece of maple veneer.

Megillat Esther, Islamic inspired designs, 2

My last post about the Megillat Esther that Josh and I are producing was back in December.

Here’s a slideshow to give you an update of our work as it has proceeded.

Megillat Esther, illuminated gold cup

Work on the illuminated Megillat Esther continues.

I recently completed the 11th illumination, an image of an Achaemenid gold cup, probably dating from the time of Xerxes, the ruler who is often thought to be the Achashverosh of the Esther story. Thus, this cup may have actually been used in the revelry that opens the story!

Here’s a short slide show of the stages in producing this image. We see
1. the sketch, with gold ground laid
2. raking light on the gold ground as I prepare to burnish it to a glossy finish
3. close-up, showing the difference between the burnished snakes (uroboros) and the forehead
4. first layer of gold, unburnished
5. illumination completed, fully burnished
6. crystal background completed

The image is 3” x 2”.

Megillat Esther: the calligraphy

While I have been working on illuminations, Josh has been producing pages of text.
Here's a little slideshow of some of his work...

Megillat Esther: Vashti portrait

While Josh is producing pages of text, I'm working on the illuminations. Here's my most recently completed image, a portrait of Vashti, the king's courageous wife who will not be disgraced as a sex object by the crude and drunken king.  The image comes from an Achaemenid silver bowl. This slideshow presents the main stages of the image's development.

New work on Megillat Esther

Very busy summer... Hope yours was memorable and uplifting.

Since my last post Josh and I have done a lot of work on the megillah. Here's a little slide show of some of what we've been doing. Enjoy!

Megillat Esther: new images; colorwork

After gilding Akhashverosh, I began the colorwork, but I ran out of black (for the beard), and it took a few days to replace it. In the meantime I began illumination work on the 2nd image, a gold rhyton (drinking vessel). Concurrently I continued developing the sketches for new images. My recent focus is on some "filler" images, based on Islamic illuminated designs. In the following slideshow you can see my progress...

Megillat Esther, Akhashverosh illuminated

I failed to mention in my last post on the megillah Josh and I are making, that most of the images are based on Achaemenid artifacts, some, or many of which may date to the very era in which the Esther story takes place. So you art historians, you should have some fun unpacking the history of these images.

I have completed the illumination of the first image, King Akhashverosh, that merry old soul, known in the Greek as Xerxes. He was a real jerkxes. Here are three images...


Nature studies, early spring

Walking thru Rock Creek Park today, I took a few photos, and then enhanced them. Here are some of the results...

Ongoing work on Megillat Esther

About 4 months ago Josh and I decided to create our own illuminated manuscript of Megillat Esther, the biblical book that is read on the holiday of Purim. This and the Pesach seder are the Jewish books most commonly illustrated and artistically embellished. Josh and I decided we were ready for the challenge.

Josh is doing the Hebrew calligraphy, and I'm doing the illustrations and illumination. Not surprisingly, Josh is forging ahead much faster than me. Here is a sampling of what we've accomplished...


Producing The Madeleine Amulet, a video

I created this amulet, which took over 100 hours to produce, to bring blessings and protection to my granddaughter, Madeleine Julia Avigiyel Ruth. Of course, what power do we 'talking spirits' have to bless or bring protection to ourselves or others? We don't know! But in our unknowing shall we then simply abandon our imagination, and shall we limit our desire to reshape this world, choosing to work only on the physical plane, a plane so crude and finite? And so I call out to the Infinite, and try to establish some kind of personal connection, tho my effort itself is crude and finite.