on painting the town…

view from Star Street to Salasian Street

Hello my friends.  Today’s post may make you jealous because today I painted in the ‘hood and it was downright HOT.  I managed about an hour and a half of drawing before having to go in; a hat was not enough.  Later it did cool off enough for me to go and work again on the painting, a view of the church steeples and mosques in this part of the city. Tonight I am very rich. I have found a royal blue embroidered stole and I have met the artist, Nuha, who made it.  She has a whole storefront full of gorgeous Palestinian embroidery that would make any needlewoman drool. And also I have found a 2-liter diet coke.  OOOOHHH.

Merchants are getting to know me.  I am an American, yet I don’t leave.  The custom is for Americans to get off the bus, go to the Nativity, and then get back on the bus.  I am given a different level of respect because I am staying here. ICB has had a number of visiting artists now from America and it is very helpful for the people to have this kind of company.

One of the students in the class has told me she will possibly be late for the next class, because she must go some long distance out of town to the place where she can apply for, and purchase, an identity card, so that she will be eligible, under sponsorship of her church, to later receive a permit to travel to Jerusalem when general permits are issued at Christmatime.  Such is life under occupation.

While out painting today I drew a number of visitors.  One gentleman wanted me to understand that the church I was painting was his church.  A young woman and I got to talking about jewelry and I showed her my ring, which has “shalom” in Hebrew next to “Salaam” in Arabic.  I said this was my hope.  Her father, who was with her, said, “For this I hope.  For this my father hoped. For this my grandfather hoped.  For this Jesus also hoped, and they killed Him. ”   This is a man who earlier expressed his solidarity with the Lord because he attends the Syrian Orthodox Church, which still prays in Aramaic, as he does, with his children.  All in all, the conversation ended on a sad note.

Children are easier.  They are proud to show off their little bit of English.  They run up to me in their uniforms, shouting, “How are you?!”  and when I reply, “I am fine, how are you?” they tell me their names and whatever else comes into their minds in fast-and-loose Arabic, laughing at me because I don’t have a clue what they are saying.

My best to all,


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