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Yellow Memorial?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

On the eighth of Hanukkah, during a lull between heavy rains, Lena and I went out to paint at the Negev Brigade memorial in Be'er Sheva.

plein air oil on canvas panel, Negev Brigade Memorial
The Hill, Negev Brigade Memorial, oil on canvas on panel 30x30cm

I grew up there, and as the genius Dani Karavan hoped, his masterpiece was our playground as children.

There isn't a single wall there that I didn't climb all the way to the top, I went as deep as I could into the dismembered snake, and marveled at the glowing star holes in the concrete dome, without understanding what they meant.

I was three-four-five years old, but I did understand one thing:

I realized that someone had created this experience for me.

that it is a place that someone "made", and that he thought of me when he invented it.

Looking back, I think this insight influenced me as an artist more deeply than any other work I have seen or experienced.

To this day, I especially like works in which the viewers become active participants, and if I was able to create an experience for people, I feel that I have done my job.

Now that the series of man-made landscape paintings has grown a bit, I wanted to go back to where I first saw the phenomenon.

The Color of Concrete

Between the rains the sky was blue and the bright yellow light shone in full force.

It's been some time since I've been dealing with the challenges of painting outdoors, and the most challenging is to correctly evaluate your colors in the strong sunlight.

I dug around in several Facebook groups on the subject, in tutorials and books and YouTubes, and they all recommend:

  1. Draw in the shade, if there is no natural one then use an umbrella,

  2. Make an imprimatura, some base tone that is not white.

Both should alleviate the problem of harsh outdoor lighting.

And that's what I did.

After we walked around the monument a bit and reminisced, and I remembered how wonderful it was and I was indignant that it is now surrounded by a fence and is only open from eight in the morning to six in the evening, and despite that people still do unspeakable things there - after all these feelings, I found a good place in the shade, in front of "The Hill".

For practice I chose an almost abstract composition and a not particularly iconic view of the monument. In every corner there are good compositions. Shade is a good enough reason to choose one of them.

view of the memorial
This is the spot I chose

I took out all the equipment, the fabric with the light brown tone, and made a preliminary sketch with a gray marker in my sketchbook.

Here is a presentation of all the steps, from quick sketch, block-in of the big shapes, to the end: (scroll with the arrows on the sides)

I tried very hard to work in an orderly manner, according to the steps tested in the literature, and working this way paid off.

In total, I worked on the painting for about an hour and a half (30x30 cm), including short and surprising conversations with girls from the Girl Scouts and cadets in the officers' course.

One girl asked me-

When did you start working on it?

Before I answered her friend said -

Look at the shadow.

She compared the shadow in my painting with the shadow as it was just then, and correctly concluded that it was about an hour.

I don't know who this girl is, but she has a future :)

The shadow was very interesting, it had a blue border of the color of the sky and I really tried to faithfully describe this elusive transition.

But what was really surprising was that the concrete was yellow.

Spot by spot, as I saw them

Honestly, I didn't think it was weird at all.

I worked quickly, I putting spots of paint next to each other, big shapes first, small shapes later.

Only about two days later when I posted the finished painting, someone on Facebook commented to me that the warm color does not convey the feeling of the concrete.

So let me tell you: As a born-and-bred Be'er Shvian, warm colors are all there is there.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the light is definitely yellow.

And it also seems that over the years the monument took on the colors of the surrounding desert.

Which is beautiful to me.

I have to say, I don't like "Concrete Brut" at all.

Only there, in this marvelous sculpture, is it "beautiful" in my opinion.

And as in response to Karvan's hope that the place would become a playground for children, it seems to me that this hard place has softened over the years. She got the soft colors of sand and sky.

And now that I see it, I want to paint her entirely in chick-yellow and light blue pastels.

When I was pretty much done, the cold front arrived and an icy gust of wind blew sand over me.

We folded up and left, not before hearing some battle heritage from the officers course who put up with us nicely :)

At home after a day, when the paint had dried a bit, I did a short patch of repairs, what is called in animation a "clean up".

The trees have a flat top, and this one escaped me a bit in the field, so I straightened it,

And I also simplified the shape of the sky to the left of the tree.

And that's it :)

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