10 Questions from Jackson's art prize about my studio practice:
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
1. Where did you first find your passion for painting?
I have been drawing and painting before I learned to speak. There are photos of me from age 3 painting with an easel. I was encouraged by my mother to do so, I was always very visual oriented.
2. How has your upbringing informed your painting practice?
I always drew and scribbled superheroes, dragons and imaginary figures. At first it was a very innate, instinctive, inexplicable reaction towards reality! At age 12 for some reason it was all the rage amongst my friends to draw grotesque faces and he who drew the most hideous face won.
I grew up in Israel with many uncertainties & family problems, I had to serve in the military and that helped my personal growth. At age 22 I remembered the story of Oedipus who gorged out his eyes in an act of showing how blind he was. To an extent I felt the same, but my resolution was different, I chose to use my gift of sight & talent to depict the world I inhabit.
I didn’t want to harm anyone or waste more of my time in anger and frustration, so I chose to show how easy it is to fool the eye;Trompe l’Oeil and by doing so come closer towards truth.
It was also a way to focus on the positive, since I am a realistic painter, I try to find beauty in everything, there is an Arabic saying that translates for those who see beauty the world is beautiful.
3. Can you tell us about the making of you painting 'The New bridge to Jerusalem'? as you remember it? Did you paint it en plein air in front of the motif? What challenges did you face during the process?
My father's house is on the outskirts of Jerusalem in a pastoral small village called Moza elite, it is considered to be near the forest of Jerusalem, but now a lot of that area had become reduced to a very small amount of territory due to human inhabitants, we were also part of the relatively new comers there, it is a very ancient place for human dwellings even predate the roman empire that had paved one of the main roads to Jerusalem.
As part of Israel's government attempt to improve the infrastructure and roads, the created many garish massive reconstruction of highways to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, exactly in front of my father’s house.
Since I finished school I try to work and paint every day religiously.
Both to improve my technique but also to improve my mindset and understanding of reality,
I'm always searching for new stuff to paint, and one while walking my dog, after painting " The bridge 2 b" and Other sketches of the construction going on, I decided to take on something more ambitious.
At first I had a square canvas 75x75 C"M
and as always, I went out to start painting
(I usually paint in front of the motif out in plainer air, or in front of the model, rarely do I paint from photos but I do not exclude that possibility)
After filling out the square canvas and feeling that it something was off, I realised that the composition wasn’t working, so I did a small paper sketch to see what it would look like if I added in the sky, and rest assured it made all the difference, and so like Antonio Garcia Lopez Edgar Degas and many other painters,
I just connected another canvas to the top of my square, and started filling that in as well, stepping back frequently trying to see the big composition, then I realized I had a fundamental perspective problem with on of the lines of the bridge, and so I corrected it, at some point I started connecting the upper and lower canvases to make them feel like on image.
I was painting it on long intervals traveling to Paris and working on an offshore gas platform in the Mediterranean Sea.
It was a bit frustrating at times to not be able to solve the stuff that were wrong in the painting,
But I did alla prima paintings in the meantime, and there was also a positive side to the long intervals, it gave the paint time to dry and when I came back it I had a fresh view about it that allowed me to make large changes to it.
Also, since I had the job on the platform, I wasn't dependent financially on the painting for income, a thing that gave me a larger amount of security and risk taking.
4. What materials would we expect to find in your studio? Do you have favourite brands of brushes, paints or surface, and if so for what reason?
I have many materials in my studio, I have dry mediums and wet ones, dry ones mainly consist of graphite pencils, charcoal paper erasers and stuff of that sort,
For the wet medium:
I have an ink set, watercolours, acrylics and oil paints, for the oil paint I have pine tree distilled Turpentine, dammar varnish, linseed oil, cobalt siccative, white chalk, gamsol odourless spirit, & plenty more,
The oil colours I usually use are
led white by RGH
And all the rest are by a company called Marine
Cadmium yellow medium
Purple Violet sometimes
Green Light by Michel Harding
I love experimenting and trying new and different types of materials tools and surfaces, but as far as paints these are ones I rely on.
I make my own medium if needed from the materials mentioned above.
Surfaces, I am very diverse and have a large range of surfaces I like,
As a student tried to be as opened minded as possible experimenting on almost every surface I could get my hands on from the thickest linen/uta/canvas I could find to the smoothest linen or wood I could produce, I also experiment with the types of coatings I put on the surface, shellac, rabbit skin glue, gesso, or acrylic paint,
The 2 main gesso company’s I usually use are Utrecht and a Lascaux.
Fabric - lately I am really starting to appreciate smaller pieces of fine portrait linen.
In general, I would say that I have of almost any type of brush but to make it more specific
I think we can divide them in to 3 groups
Bristles usually Raphael /high quality ones
Synthetic - all types sometimes really Cheap ones
Sables - the affordable red sables I found are from the da Vinci brand, I kind of like the Raphael red sables as well, I think that their brushes are richer in hair per brush.
The shapes divide again into different categories
Flat Filbert round, Long flat, long Filbert, and long round,
Then there are different sizes of Handel's, the majority are long, for the more precise details I use short handled small brushes
5.Do you keep a sketchbook and if so, how important is it to you, and what materials do you most like to draw with?
Yes I have several sketchbooks, changing them depending on the size I want to work with, and thickness of the paper, I usually just use graphite pencils from HB to B8, I try to keep it simple in the sketch books, it usually helps me for questions of composition or a way to break the ice when starting a new painting.
6. Do you have any mantras that you return to when you feel stuck with your painting practice?
Stuck is a mindset, I meditate regularly and that helps me remove myself from the need of a product.
I don't get stuck, it's rather not finished or it's garbage, I'm always working, if a painting doesn't work I start a new one, if suddenly I have a solution for an old painting I might try that idea, but I don't believe in being static, if you are not moving forward you are going backwards,
As far as mantras I have many but for the most part it isn't necessarily literate mantras, I usually just think of the old masters or paintings I love and the painters I love, & as insane as it might sound I tell myself that If they managed to paint the way they did, at times with no penicillin or modern medicine, I at our present day can surely do as well.
Since as my father I am a workaholic I commit myself to my profession, beyond that I feel painting for me is compulsion, it's almost an animalistic need of mine, I become crazy if I don't draw or paint.
I have functioning eyes and hands and the nature is so abundant in its richness, "monkey see monkey do" sentence kind of resonates with me, I see nature and I feel compelled to try and copy it or represent it, in the book the path of the artists by ________Julia Cameron, she speaks about how creating is our gift back to the creator.
7. Do you have a palette of colours that you return to regularly for your landscapes? What colours could you not do without and why?
Yes, as mentioned above, but I think the pallet is like a keyboard for a pianist, you get used to certain way of working and that's your toolbox, it's important to feel comfortable with it.
8. Do you ever use oil painting mediums?
Yes, I make my own with Turpentine stand oil dammar varnish and cobalt cicative, but most of the time just use Turpentine.
9. How do you judge if a painting is finished yet or not?
Early on thanks to my teacher mentor and friend Israel Hershberg I have learned not to care for finishing, but to complete a painting.
finish can be a kiss of death for a painting, its like choosing the furniture for a new house without even having the foundations of the buildings erected,
When I start a painting it's usually very wild and full of energy, towards the end I slow down, and when I start fiddling around to much realize I need to stop and even erase my last session/s, I try to not overwork, but usually when there is nothing left to do, that's when it's complete
There is also a great book called notes on colour by Charles Webster hawthorn that I would recommend on this topic.
10. Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
So first of all you are all welcome to my studio in Paris, I do workshops and guided tours in the louvre and other museums, where we learn to speak the language of painting by drawing sketching and even painting, besides that my own studio is obviously open for visitors most of time when I'm there, and my work is pretty international since it is in private collections In the UK USA France and Israel, but I am working on a solo exhibition for the Rothschild fine art gallery in tell Aviv in the moment, and I have been represented by several galleries up until now, to see the list you can visit my website
, and I would even encourage you become a member in order to receive more specific information, discounts, and information about events near you like exhibitions and more.
Besides that I'm also on social media like Facebook and Instagram, but receive the fullest advantage of my knowledge work demonstrations videos and tutorials I would suggest to become a member at
thank you to my friend painter an Dr Elaine McCombs for the photo:)
#samrachamin #סאםרחמין sam rahamin סאם רחמין #samrahamin