the artist views his subject


The artist is usually a sensitive person. If he didn’t start out that way, his study of things outside of himself, his desire to understand others, whether people, living things, or objects… in order to paint them or describe them well hones his sensitivity, his empathy… and eventually even leads to wisdom. There are would-be artists who never reach the heights of producing truly meaningful art. But they are usually able to enjoy some of the advantages of the art world, by contributing according to their own talents and skills, and having a part in the community of artists. And there are those who were not born with exceptional talents, but have worked to improve their abilities, and reached high levels of accomplishment. Art is always a lot of work. I have known some ego-maniacs among artists. But that is not the rule. And most common among the great artists, is a sense of modesty about the act of creation, and about the work of describing the world around us. For in concentrating on the world around us, we become aware of our own limitations… and our own significance in the weave and texture of the world as a whole.

the Judean desert

What usually makes a work of art unique and important, is a universal quality which transcends the specific nature of the subject on which the art is focused. Since everything in this world is interconnected, as my friend Janet likes to remind us, once the artist reaches the ‘truth’ of his subject, he touches on a nerve that runs through all of us. And then, a visitor in some dark dank museum, on a guided cultural tour, will look at the hands of a seamstress in a painting on a wall, and say to himself, in an unheard whisper, ‘that guy has been reading my mail’. The work of the artist will have relevance to the random passer by… because he has touched the universal.


Personally, I am an emotional individual, and highly romantic as well. I soar in the heavens with enthusiasm, and plunge to the depths with disappointment or the knowledge of pain… or the miscarriage of justice. But when going out to study the world, I keep my emotions in check, as much as I can. I prepare my tools for any eventuality. I try to clean my mind of any superfluous feelings or thoughts. I am a student preparing for his study. I have no expectations whatsoever. Often, I go off on my adventures with a friend, or student. It is good for me to have someone along, to keep an eye on me. Because, once in the stream of an adventure, I can get completely lost. I can forget to protect myself, to eat, to drink… to worry about banal needs. But though I have gotten into trouble occasionally, even when I go off by myself, I usually return in one piece, happier and richer from the adventure.


We are now in the middle of spring and approaching summer. This is the season I like best for my art. But the weather can’t be taken for granted. There is the sharav, which blows a hot dry wind from the south and the east… sometimes carrying tons of dust from the far away deserts, disintegrating the visibility, and at times, making it hard to breathe. With the passage of time, the highway has become ‘better’, enabling faster traffic, but also insulating the traveler from the countryside. It is getting harder all the time to get to know the simple country. Just as these super highways have blocked the paths of little wild animals, and bugs and insects… they have also disconnected human beings from the personality and the nature of the land we live in. And there are school trips and tours for the tourists who wish to see the most beautiful places in the country. These are to be avoided at all cost. They make a lot of noise, and spread a lot of garbage around. Nature goes into shock in the presence of such intrusions.


But I am stubborn. And I have single-minded purpose. My desire first and foremost, is to step outside of myself, and enjoy the world around me. If I find pictures that reflect the qualities I most appreciate in this world, then I have succeeded. If I find only one picture, in an adventure that will take days and cover many kilometers, that too is enough. I am already beginning to feel the excitement. Best to keep it in check.


18 responses to “the artist views his subject

  1. Wow, intriguing images from such a barren landscape. Well done.

  2. “the simple country”. So much meaning in that phrase. It is getting hard to know the simple country here as well.
    I have been sipping coffee here at my table and am absorbed by your photographs.

    • Thank you so much, John. We who love the country, and love nature as we find it, have much in common, even when in different countries, and coming from different backgrounds.

  3. Good day Shimon. I am pondering how I would like to grow as a photographer in the coming year. Even though I often cannot remember where I put my car keys or wallet, I can always remember where to go to get inspiration. This post. May your new year continue to provide you with good light.

    • Thank you so much for your new year wishes, John. I wish you too, health, good humor and happiness. And since I know that you enjoy walking in the country, I’m sure you find many suitable subjects for photography. Thanks for coming by.

  4. Sun is the sun, for all of us… But the sun is not same with our own eyes… We all can see different… and also sun changes too… There are so many parameters for all these changes… But when an artist touches the sun by his camera or by his words, or by his music, or etc. the sun becomes something that we meet at first. I agree with your thoughts and you expressed so nicely, how I enjoyed to read you. Your well experienced and observed life touches, wisdom, and your romance, your creative soul and talent when they come together with your heart (humanist, peaceful and loving) it is being great. This is the art. You carry the world with you… As I said before, I am impressed so much by your photographs and by your written pieces… These photographs, Judean Desert and sheeps… how beautiful…. the sky and the hills and the life… they all become a wisely taken photographs… Thank you dear Shimon, but sorry for my English language, sometimes I feel that I can’t express well enough my feelings and thoughts… Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    • My dear Nia, I too am familiar with that difficulty… at times… to express myself fully in a foreign language. But so far as I’m concerned, I have no trouble understanding you, and am delighted by the strengths of your expressions. And thank you so much for your kind words about my work. It is a pleasure to share such things with one who shares my enthusiasm for the same subjects. And thank you for your blessing.

  5. What a beautiful first step in this realm…I am so glad that I could visit with you here, Shimon…inspiring, humbling, compelling…. Thank you.

  6. I love what I read here! For many years I have had a small piece of granite stone on which is inscribed “Life is not a problem to solve; it is a mystery to experience.” I am smiling in the awareness that you love to journey forth to share experiences with us thru the lens of your camera. I am excited about what all I will discover and learn thru your blog!

    • I appreciate it, Josie, that you have gone to the beginning of this blog to check it out. I like that story of your stone very much, and agree with the message. What a shame it is to go through life with blinders on, like a work horse, when every step can be an enchanting adventure. I try my best to enjoy it.

  7. My dear Shimon, your words, the images and feelings that are evoked within me sometimes like a distant memory from my life, pull me into your life and your world as I read your thoughts and see glimpses of what you see. “The work of the artist will have relevance to the random passer by… because he has touched the universal.” And that I believe is what your work does. Sharon

    • Thank you very much, Sharon. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. To me, art is a world by itself… like cyberspace and the internet… we are given an opportunity to meet other minds, and often it is like visiting a foreign planet.

  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Artists are very special. At school, I was never quite able to do art!

    Enjoyed this post very much, Shimon. When you stand at the foot of the desert, I just wonder: can you actually cross it? It looks so infinite. But I guess you know the lay of the land… just enormous though. This world is both huge & small. And as for getting water halfway across… ?

    • I am glad you enjoyed the post Noeleen. Artists are like tightrope walkers… one has to constantly maintain a balance. The desert is much like the sea. Many cross it, as sailors cross the sea… but one has to learn to navigate. And you would be surprised how many sources there are for water… It is another face of this world… Thank you for coming by and reading.

  9. simonsundarajkeun

    Reblogged this on Simon Sundaraj-Keun.

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