Hanukkah is also known as festival of lights. The Hebrew word (also written in English as chanukah) means “dedication” and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple after a small group of Jewish believers (Maccabees) defeated their enemies. More at this link. A “hanukkiah” is basically a menorah with nine candle staff to distinguish it from the menorah’s seven. Why nine? that’s part of the miraculous story.
sometimes I try a different style, and do it quickly to see where it leads. starting with the earlier idea of light being ethereal, this was done on rough paper using crayon to pull out the highlights before applying watercolor– a wax resist technique. I envisioned it through a water-soaked lens as the lights played on reflections. eventually I gave it as a wedding gift for friends.
back in October I took up a project that had been awaiting my attention. this scene was composed (credit due to imagery by R. Tanenbaum) by our associate rabbi and given to me; he indicated it can be used frequently in his web design work and would appreciate having it done “anyway you chose to.” now that frees the creative process–so I went with a traditional approach using watercolor as I have become familiar with that.
note that I’m still trying to break out and experiment with different styles, to recall the things I saw and heard while at college.
the menorah … “is to be made of sixty-six pounds of pure gold. see that you make them according to the design being shown you on the mountain.” Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:39-40.
on one level the construction of the menorah is exact, and drawing an image of it is relatively easier than drawing light–for light is not static, it is a phenomena, its ethereal; it has an effect on what it shines on. hence when we realize that the Shekinah of G-d– represented as the menorah’s light– is present, we cannot avoid it having a profound effect on us.
since the time I took up the pen and brush again I have been drawn to the menorah as a subject, and studied the Torah for its description– mainly in Exodus 25, and Exodus 37. here is a concise entry of the menorah by Tracey R. Rich at Judaism 101.
I found it intriguing that the almond blossom is used to describe the bulbs and branches. (the almond staff of Aaron that budded a branch has great significance.) while there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem for the menorah to rest, one enduring purpose is to give light to man of the presence of Hashem throughout the world.