Pharaoh’s Dream – Outline

Pharaoh dreamed, and behold, he was standing on (or: by) the Nile, (Gen. 41:1)

He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven ears of grain, solid and healthy, grew on a single stalk. But close behind them sprouted seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven solid and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke: it was a dream! (ibid 5-7)

Ok. We know the story. These dreams were foretelling of the seven years of plenty, and then of famine, that were to come. Joseph interprets these dreams, and then rises to power, helping Egypt prepare for the inevitable famine.

What caught my attention was the imagery: Ears of wheat swallowing a stalk of wheat. Wow. How does that happen? I mean, sure, it’s a dream, but still, I couldn’t quite imagine how wheat does that?

And then I had a bizarre idea. In 2014, I was doing a weekly Parasha drawing for my middle school students, as a way to engage them in discussion about the Parasha. I would typically try to draw something which doesn’t often get attention. An example would be Joseph’s dreams – which are very popular, versus Pharaoh’s dreams, which aren’t often illustrated. But how to illustrate this idea? What came to my mind was Disney’s Fantasia. Just imagine – a dreamlike reality in which inanimate things come to life with the right music, and then act in strange ways. If Hippopotami can dance and Brooms can carry water, why can’t ears of wheat be threatening and devouring? So I don’t have music, and I don’t have the means to illustrate this as a video clip (which I would love to, one day!), but I had my pastels, so I got busy!

This was my initial sketch for a future drawing:

08 חלום פרעה והשיבלים הרעות.jpg

It has been three years, and I decided it is time to act. I’ve been spending considerable time studying about ancient Egypt, and was inspired to paint this idea in a Papyrus-like imagery. I even bought papyrus, but by the time the order arrived, I had invested significant time into this sketch, so the Papyrus will have to wait for a future painting.

pharaohs-dream-hieroglyphThis painting will include hieroglyphs which tell the story, and I have posted that on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago. Below are a couple pictures of where the painting is holding as of now. It will be painted in watercolor, and BE”H will be part of a series of Parasha related paintings, which I do hope to exhibit in the future.

In the drawing, I had to tone down the Fantasia style dancing of the ears, to make it resemble a Papyrus painting, while gently stretching the borders of that style. Notice that the ears are hinting at being three dimensional, and Pharaoh is standing on the Nile, as some of commentators take the verse to mean. It is a dream, so why not?

img_20170126_235135

However, after completing this, I feel that it is still not so clear that Pharaoh is on the Nile. To make it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt, I added some of the reeds and lotus flowers behind him, adding as well to the natural borders of the painting.

img_20170127_000406

To be continued…

Thunder and Lightening ברקים ורעמים

Just in time for winter…

These illustrations are part of a series of kids’ books illustrations I was working on with musician and author Yerucham Levi. Sadly, it never took off. They are illustrations for a Hebrew poem called “Thunder and Lightening“. Since I made these, over a decade ago, I lost the original poem. I do hope to retrieve them upon my next visit to Jerusalem.

The basic idea of the poem is that the thunder and lightening are roaring, scaring away everyone. Weeping clouds, angry clouds, roaring clouds (thus I anthropomorphized them). But then the child, who is watching this, reproofs the clouds, the thunder and the lightening, for they are scaring away everyone – even the stars!

 

Illustration with mixed media: Indian ink, gauche and aquarelle. Some of them were inspired by Where the Wild Things Are, a wonderful children’s book by Maurice Sendak. See if you can guess which?

All off these images are copyright to Nachliel Selavan. The concept for the poem is copyright to Yerucham Levi.

בדיוק בזמן לקראת החורף

האיורים הללו הם חלק מסדרה של איורים לספרי ילדים שהכנתי בשיתוף עם המוזיקאי והסופר ירוחם לוי. לצערי, הסידרה לא יצאה לאור. לחיבור קוראים ״ברקים ורעמים״ (כל הזכויות שמורות לירוחם לוי). מאז שאיירתי אותם לפני למעלה מעשור, איבדתי את הטקסט המקורי. אני מקווה למצוא אותו בביקורי הבא בירושלים

הרעיון הכללי של החיבור הוא שהברקים והרעמים בוכים, מיללים, זועפים ושואגים (הלכך האנשתי אותם), ומפחידים את כולם. הילד, שמבונן בכל זה, יוצא וצועק על העננים, כי הם מפחידים את כולם – אפילו את הכוכבים

צוייר בעזרת דיו, אקוורל וגואש. חלק מהאיורים בהשראת ״ארץ יצורי הפרא״, ספר ילדים נפלא מאת מוריס סנדק. התוכלו לזהות אילו מתוכם?ח

על הזכויות על האיורים שמורות לנחליאל שה-לבן, וכל הזכויות על הרעיון של החיבור, שמורות לירוחם לוי

thunder01small
Two pictures intended to be side-by-side: Weeping clouds
thunder02small
and Angry clouds
thunder03small
Next: roaring clouds, scaring everyone away
thunder04small
Image for two pages, across: Child in bed, with a warm cup of hot cocoa, observing the storm outside. I decided against adding lightening to the image (though it should be there), because the window is where the text would go. The lightening was a photoshop job, which didn’t happen yet
thunder05small
Child goes outside and shouts at the clouds
thunder06small
The clouds suddenly get a grip. They see that the stars are running away!

 

Song of Jerusalem

Song of Jerusalem is part of a series that never took off. I was working at the time with author and musician Yerucham Levi, in Jerusalem. We were going to make a series of ten illustrations for his book She’arim – שערים (more information soon), which were to go hand in hand with texts from his book. It is a beautiful song about Jerusalem, with many elements in it driven from Midrashic and Kaballistic literature.

The text is copyrighted to Yerucham Levi. An attempt at translation will be added later.

שער חמדת ירושלים
חיי יום יום: אחדות ישראל
פנינת חן, מארת, פוריה, יפת-מראה, מהוללה, ירושלים, אבן פינה מאירה, ירושלים שירה.
עיני עולם בירושלים צופיה, ציפורים מצייצים שיר, ירושלים תפילה.
כל עשב, ציץ ופרח, נושמים אווירת ירושלים רינה.
ירושלים: מים, חלב, שמש, לחם, תאנה, קסם, מתק-דבש, שיכרון ירושלים – יין עתיק ישן.

 

Meanwhile, I will attempt to highlight the main components of the song, as I was able to relate to them. The entire song is about Jerusalem being a song manifest. Birds are singing to Jerusalem, and its walls are pearly white. The way I drew them is inspired by Dr. Seuss.

  • The fig tree, which symbolizes long-lasting fruitfulness.
  • “Challah” or bread, an icon of the Jewish Sabbath, and also being a source of sustenance.
  • Milk and Honey – need I explain? The milk and the water mix and there is a tunnel under the tree to illuminate that difference. An artistic solution to an overwhelming amount of motifs.
  • Fresh spring water emerging out of the fig tree. This is inspired by a famous fig tree in Israel, which has a spring coming out of it. The song itself just describes water coming out of Jerusalem, which is probably related to the prophecy about water coming out of the Temple Mount. See Ezekiel 47:2.
  • Olive Oil and Wine. I mixed these two in an orb, or globe, on top of which the city sits. Though I am not fully sure what the author intended, to me the two are a representation of energy and investment. I’ll explain:

Olive Oil – The motif of Olive Oil is replete in Jewish philosophy, law and kaballah, as well as history. Chanukah, for example, is a holiday in which we celebrate the “Hidden Light” of Creation. Or Zecharia’s perplexing description of Olive Oil representing the modality of God will being carried out in the world. In short, it is about potential energy. It is representing raw, pristine energy, or the very Will of Creation.

Wine – What is a more Jewish motif than wine? Every Sabbath, Holiday, celebration and even types of mourning, integrate wine. Wine is seen as both a potential greatness, or great loss. See Yoma 76b, Sanhedrin 70a.

Wine is unique in being an expression of the ultimate reward for the faithful commitment to the process of history. See Isaiah 64:4  and Berakhot 43b.

What a perfect representation for this idea: Every investment, toil and suffering, every joy and understanding, integrated into a totality of a whole creation. Wine is an expression of every hour of sunlight, temperature and cold night, the exact type of soil, its fertility, and altitude. So much goes into the creation of each batch, and no two are the same. Indeed, there is grandeur in this view of wine.

Indeed, Jerusalem of Song, or energy and light, of history, and of life.

Disclaimer: At the time, I was going back and forth about changing my family name “Selavan” back to “Cohen”, as it was five generations ago in Ukraine. To my great dismay, I signed it “Nachliel Cohen”, a hallmark of that stage in my life. I am happy to be over it.

To order prints, please contact me via email. Until the site is properly set up.

Jerusalem of Song
Jerusalem of Song. Watercolor and pastel on paper, aprox. 50x70cm

The Moon הלבנה – Illustration for children’s book, incomplete:

© Nachliel Selavan
The queen of the night sky in her slumber. Watercolor on paper. Approx. 35x45cm

The Moon

Text by: Y. Levi, Jerusalem
Copyright

הלבנה

מילים מאת: י. לוי, ירושלים
כל הזכויות שמורות
לַיְלָה לַיְלָה
זוֹרַחַת
מַבְרִיקָה
צְחוֹרָה
עֲגֻלָה
קָרַחַת חֲלָקָה
לְבָנָה זוֹהֶרֶת מְאִירָה
© Nachliel Selavan
The queen of the night sky in her palace. Watercolor on paper. Approx. 35x45cm
לַיְלָה לַיְלָה
דּוֹלֶקֶת
מְצִיצָה
הַכּוֹכָבִים סְבִיבָה
בְּשָׁמַיִם אַרְמוֹנָהּ
לְבָנָה זוֹהֶרֶת מְאִירָה