Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 18, 2009

Plein Air Landscapes with Gary or Did I Survive the Mosquitoes?

Plein Air Landscapes with Gary or Did I Survive the Mosquitoes?


Couple of years ago I took a phone seminar with Aletta de Wal of the Artist Career Training, covering the top 10 tips for artists to boost their art marketing. One of the tips was to take a mentor, someone who is in the business and can help and direct me. Out of an impulse, I asked Aletta if she knows anyone in Toronto. I had no idea that Aletta was actually from Toronto, but now living in California, and her answer was: “Go this weekend to the Riverdale Art Walk on Queen Street East in Toronto, and look for Gary Smith”. And that’s exactly what I did. Since then, Gary loves telling this story to everyone willing to hear it. And I have learned a lot from Gary. Not just formally in the painting classes I took with him, but also from his approach to the trade. Gary himself admits he is the typical artist, but he has a wonderful ways of finding business opportunities, and sharing them with all of his students.

Few weeks ago Gary arranged several days of Plein Air painting at Ward’s Island. Never painting outside, I decided it’s time to put some paint-stains on my never-been-used field easel, and I joined. Let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience! First of all, the day was beautiful! Lots of sunshine and Ward’s Island has many beautiful spots for inspiration.

After a short ferry ride from Toronto’s harbor front to the island, and settling our equipment down, Gary gave us a tour of the island, to start our creative juices, and basically to find a spot that will intrigue us to start painting. I decided to settle in a beautiful corner of the island, where one end had a small forest of trees, next to it a tiny beach, the city view across the water, and few charming houses behind my back.

“Boats on Ward’s Island” was the first painting I did, and it actually got Gary quite excited, which means I didn’t fail the test! J It was actually fun also to get comments from passers-by. I always thought it will be too intimidating, but the close interaction was quite exciting!


Boats on Ward's Island, Acrylic on canvas

Boats on Ward's Island, Acrylic on canvas

The day ended successfully with another painting of a small garden patch I named “Summer Memory”, and with about dozen mosquito bites!


Summer Memory, Acrylic on canvas

Summer Memory, Acrylic on canvas

Lessons to be learned:

1. Paint more outside! It’s a lot of fun…

2. Never forget to take bug repellant!!!!

The two paintings, as well as another olive tree study I painted during Gary’s class, are going to be participating in an upcoming group show, so I invite everyone to come and see it.

Plein Air Landscapes / Gary and students

Gary Smith and students new paintings

Showing September 22 until October 4

Opening: Friday 25, from 6 to 9 pm

LucSculpture School & Studio

663 Greenwood Avenue (2nd building north of Danforth, one block West of Greenwood subway)

Toronto Ontario M4J 4B3

To learn about Gary Smith’s, visit his site

To learn about Artist Career Training visit

To learn about LucSculpture visit

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 15, 2009

Shana Tova and a Happy New Year

I have recently been approached by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto to assist them in creating a whole new line of tribute cards for their campaigns. The first project was for the approaching High Holidays, new designs for the Rosh Hashana Tribute Cards. Here are the two designs that were chosen for this wonderful tradition:

Boy with a Shofar, watercolor on paper, 8''x5'', 2009
Boy with a Shofar, Watercolor on paper, 8”x5”, 2009

In both cards, children are depicted blowing the Shofar. I love the idea of sharing the holiday Mitzvot and traditions with our children, boys and girls, and letting them actively participate in the holiday. Our future relies on our kids, and the only way to promise a better future for them is by instilling the love for the tradition in their daily and yearly routine. Not by forcing, but by sharing, explaining, experimenting, and opening our selves to their learning process.

The Girl with a Shofar is special to me, as the model was my daughter Avigail. Few weeks before Rosh Hashana last year, my wife brought a Shofar to our home, and the kids had a blast trying it out. After few burps and hiccups, they were able to produce some real sounds! The joy on their faces was priceless!

Girl with a Shofar, Watercolor, 2009
Girl with a Shofar, Watercolor on paper, 8”x5”, 2009

I would like to take the opportunity to wish Shana Tova and a Happy New Year to all my family and friends! May all your wishes come true – just make sure you wish for the things that can happen! Think positively everyone! 🙂

If you like this post, and would like to read more, please subscribe to my Blog. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you know, and leave comments as well.

I am looking for new licensing opportunities, similar to this one (cards), or any other type, such as art reproductions, calendars, puzzles, benchers, etc. Please contact me at for more information.

Thanks, Moshe

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 8, 2009

Ten Commandments or Can Art Bridge between People?

Do you have in your life times when you feel helpless because you can’t change something? And I am not talking about the daily stuff we have no control over, but the big stuff, like world peace or clashes between religions…? And the only way for some of us is to express the frustration with the situation in some personal creation. Back in 1999, after living in the US for about 3 years, there was a lot of talking in Israel between the religious leaders and the secular leaders, and most of it was unpleasant. Each was sending his poisonous arrows at the other, with no apparent respect to the other side or the people who just wanted to live their live peacefully, adding to the already stressful situation with the Palestinians. This was the background for my Ten Commandments painting.

Ten Commandments, Acrylic on canvas, 24''x30'', 1999
Ten Commandments, Acrylic on canvas, 24”x30”, 1999

On the right, is a secular girl, holding kittens in both arms. On the left, is an ultra-orthodox boy, protecting a stack of Chumashim (Torah books) with his hands. The girl is on the right tablet of the Ten Commandments, with the first five letters of the Hebrew alpha-bet written below her, in modern script letters, a font that should be easy for her to understand. The boy is on the left tablet, with the next five letters, written in Rashi font, used in most Torah and holy books commentaries, therefore easy for him to understand. Both tablets, represented by hot red, orange and yellow squares, are floating on a cool green background, on which the sentence “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) is written.

In the Jewish tradition, the first five laws of the Ten Commandments are representing laws between man and his God. The last five commandments are representing laws between man and his peers, other men. To the girl on the right, and the community she represented, I wanted to say: “Remember where you are coming from. You are part of the same nation that believes in God and you have to learn and respect your roots, knowing God and respecting him”. To the boy on the left, and to his entire community, I wanted to say: “God is not everything. He also gave us many laws to remind us we are human and to make sure all humans are respected equally. Don’t forget your fellow humans while following God blindly”. To both I wanted to say: “Respect each other, and become much better than both parts.” And I wanted to say: “Start teaching this to our kids, as they are the next generation, who will live together, and hopefully will make things better!”

 I believe this message is still very relevant and true today. It is always interesting to see the reaction people have when they see this painting, especially when they get it. Because once they do, they tell me about exact thoughts that they have, about family members from both ends of the scale, about respecting each side, and the yearning to have peace amongst us.

 And one final note about this painting – This is one of the paintings that I actually never thought is finished. I have it hanged in my dining room, in this state, for almost 10 years now, and I just got used to it. As long as it conveys the message, then I am happy! So I guess it is finished 🙂

 If you like this post, and would like to read more, please subscribe to my Blog. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you know, and leave comments as well. Thanks, Moshe

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 3, 2009

Art Blog Beginnings, or What Inspires My Art?

Art Blog Beginnings, or What Inspires My Art?

 As the first post in my Art Blog, I wanted to start with the things that inspire my art. Making art along the years, and sitting down to think about it and put it in words, are two completely different things! Art comes from our inner being, and putting it out there is not always obvious. But, I will give it a try. To illustrate it, here is a painting I made back in 1995. The reason I chose this one is because it’s very special to me. I made it for my wife just before we got married, for her Shabbat Kalah (Bride’s Sabbath), which is the last  Saturday before our wedding.

The Bride, Watercolor and ink on paper, 1995

The Bride, Watercolor and ink on paper, 1995

  • My Jewish identity and its symbolism are woven throughout my artwork. Brought up in Israel in a religious community, I was immersed from childhood in Jewish symbols through the holy books and their studies, every day Judaica objects and daily customs, and of course, the written word in Hebrew. I remember as a kid I loved browsing through my Grandmother’s bible which had Gustave Doré bible scene reproductions, copying them and first learning about figure drawing, expression, cloths, light and shade.
    Well, it’s easy to see in The Bride painting the Jewish bride, dancing Chasidim, and wording in Hebrew (our songs!), all tied together to this happy moment.
  •  Architecture – I love buildings and architectural details. My favorite vacation is strolling around in any beautiful city, be it NYC, Rome, or my favorite, Jerusalem, and just wash my eyes with the small details that give each building its unique character. When I started using the squares in my paintings, at first it was just background filler. But then I realized it was really working for me! It reminded me of walls covered with stone or mosaics, in which some windows were opened to view inside. The Bride is actually the first painting I made with the squares. You can see the wall-with-a-window effect it makes and some arabesque details on it.
  • Colors, design and order, material – different concepts in art, but they are all important parts for me for the completed work of art. I love bold colors, and use as many of them as I can, but still try to create a balanced design, with inner order.  Experiencing and learning to use new materials always trigger these questions: “How can I use this new exciting method to create an appealing and balanced artwork?” and “Can I combine it with other methods to work together even more interestingly?”
    In The Bride, I tried to play between the cold blue and greens to the warm reds and yellows. That was even before I learned about color theories but intuitively organizing these colors side by side, trying to use many different variations of each.
  • Art– Did I mention Gustave Doré already? So he wasn’t the only one. I love and admire Marc Chagall who I can’t describe enough how genius his work is. It’s worth taking few of his paintings and copy them to appreciate his imaginative expressive way to develop an image. I can’t list all of the other artists I admire, as the list is way too long! I will try blogging about them once in a while, as they are part of what drive me to make my art.
    The focal point in The Bride is actually after a Marc Chagall’s “Bride with Fan”. I couldn’t think about a better way to show my love to my bride-to-be than by painting her something I love.

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