Sunday, November 10, 2019

Portraits of Mia and Michaela

 "Portrait of Mia at 3 years old" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 12" x 16"

"Portrait of Michaela at 3 years old" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 12" x 16"

Here are the two portraits I did for my our little cousin "twins" in celebration of their third birthdays.  They are both growing to become such beautifully unique children -- so different in every way.  They started off as little bundles that looked so similar, and now, they are amazing little 3 year olds with their own personalities, looks, and interests.  So wonderful!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Portrait of Cory

Portrait of Cory
Oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
I completed this portrait of Cory this morning.  I have been feeling a bit under the weather, but that can be for a number of reasons, and maybe the rainy weather wasn't helping.  There are lots of reasons why, but I always try to just push through that -- the show must go on!

The changing light made it very difficult to photo the portrait -- I feel like that is the struggle that never ends for me, and it has become a personal joke.  But, if that's the ceiling of today's woes, it certainly is a blessed day for sure~ I won't gripe about anything because life is good.


Monday, September 23, 2019

Progress 😊

Progress shot 3: adding glazes of color

Progress shot 2: developing further layers

Progress shot 1 : initial layers

I have been working on this new painting now between two other projects and although the progress has been slow, it’s getting there.

I decided to take a different approach with this painting— to start out with a grisaille design in gray scale and then build layers of glazed color, which is time consuming and different than I usually work, but thats what’s fun about painting— experimenting and trying new ways to work. 

Here are the first three progress shots of the painting, from grisaille to mid stage painting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Adventures in Egypt Facebook Auctions!

Hello friends! As some of you know, I travel quite a bit, seeking out new cultures to explore and deriving a great deal of inspiration from painting on site in new landscapes. This process has a huge part in informing my work at every level, and while it can be stressful as well as exciting— it’s just an essential part of my art practice. 

I have a new travel coming up at the end of November — I will be traveling to explore the country of Egypt! 

With that exciting trip will come many exotic themes and possibilities, but, as with all travel— my expenses constantly creep upward, even when I’m going as I always go— very economically! 😁

So, starting on this Friday evening, September 20th, I will start my first of 4 private Art auctions here on Facebook just for my special friends here! I will be auctioning off four different original works of art in four different weekly auctions, for my friends here on Facebook —to have an exclusive chance to own piece of *original artwork* at a great price, and also to raise funds for my trip!

The link to the auction will be posted on Friday morning in a Facebook event announcement and the process will be simple— all you will need to do to bid is to post in the comments! I like to keep it simple for all of us 😊😊

I hope you will all participate and check back often to see if you are winning 😁 but also, to be part of my Adventure to Egypt!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Open expanses

“Study of clouds in September” oil on canvas, 8” x 11” by Hilary J. England

I painted this as my heart was in turmoil. Such a beautiful day, and yet, it weighed heavily on me. I thought back 18 years, to the horror of that day, and then I thought back 11 more...12 more...standing in the quiet of th office, looking out over the Manhattan landscape...the other buildings, the bay with the helicopters constantly engaged in a delicate dance of weaving about each other like moths at a lantern. I remembered occasionally stepping up into the long, elegant windows, and pressing my head to thick glass to look down and thrill myself. Many days, from the 92nd floor, I would see a cloud cover that settled around the midsection of the building like a fluffy belt. Other days, I would see tiny people as small as a swarm of ants milling about in the streets below, caught up in the hectic pace of the day and their daily lives, not knowing that a young girl was watching them with intense interest from above in a building on top of the world.

The days before and after September 11th always cause a flood of emotions for me, a mixture of nostalgia and pain, and force my mind back to my youth, which I suppose is a good thing. It reminds me of who I was. I have lost much of that much. That is my ghost. I think if she and I were to cosmically meet, say, passing each other in some street, she would not recognize me, and I would weep at how distant we became. 

The landscape I sat in in this day was bright and clean and refreshing and perfect, but oddly sad and alone, dwarfed by the largeness of the universe. The one tree stood alone and resigned. Lonely? Not so much. Maybe indifferent, sad, thoughtful or resigned. 

These were my thoughts when I did this cloud study and the breezes blew by me and through me.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Indian summer at the dam

"Indian summer at the dam" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11"

It's been so warm and beautiful, the weather at this time of year is always a gift.  The late summer warmth mixed with the slight chill of the coming fall give a special feel to the days and nights, and the leaves are beginning to have their first tinge of yellow of some of their tips.  Fall foliage is certainly right around the corner.

I did this little oil painting study on a fine day, and its the type of painting I absolutely adore to do.  The process is so relaxing, and it always makes me so grateful just for the glorious weather and the beauty of the days and landscapes.

I hope you also enjoy these beautiful days! <3 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

New Directions

“Shadows and hope” Oil on canvas, by Hilary J. England, 2019, 36” x 48”

Falling into things

Sometimes, we just "fall" into things, like happy accidents.  Sometimes, we fall into things and it's not quite a happy situation, but something good can come from it.  Either of these circumstances can be a blessing, even if one is in disguise.

This is what occurred when I painted "Ghosts and recollections."  I was geared up to have the piece, created solely for a show with a theme of artwork that tells a story -- anything imaginative -- and realistic, viola, imaginative realism.

This was a genre I had long avoided.  I like artwork based in reality -- something that the viewer could relate to, and build a bridge of connection with.  Imaginative realism conjured ideas of campy unicorns and black velvet space scenes (cue the shuddering) -- nope.  Not for me.  So, when I had a nagging voice in the back of my psyche -- call it the Muse -- who urged me to do it, to stretch myself, to put my biases aside and step into the idea.  I decided I could do this, and create a series of three interconnected, inter-related works, each a standalone work, with its own story to tell, a sort of beginning, middle, and end work.  

It took a few weeks of mulling it, sketching things, writing out ideas, snipping little "samples of colors" and references shapes and figures, putting them all together into little thumbnails.  I finally created an image in my mind of what I was looking to convey, and the work began in earnest.  But, there was a side-effect to it all: I had to pull upon memories that were very painful and long ago put away- carefully filed into cabinet number 2410 in the cobwebbed recesses of my mind's archives.  This was not pleasant.


Even though it was not pleasant, it WAS inspiring.  I certainly won't say it was cathartic because it wasn't.  Sorry, not for me.  That old carp from the shrink's couch of talking or writing out your problems and blah blah blah never did a thing for me.  I prefer to leave things in the dust of the past and move on.  That's just my way -- you have your way, I have mine, we all move to the beat of different drums, so to speak.  Anyway, getting back to what it did -- it opened up a floodgate of creativity.  I was eagerly looking forward to creating a nontraditional triptych (three) and began the work.  

After completion of that initial work, I found that I and the artwork had been pre-emptively cut from the show.  I was, to put it mildly, infuriated.  No other word for it.

After a few days of getting calm and finding my center again, I decided that despite the exhibition show organizers apparently AWFUL taste in cutting my work ;-) , I would continue through with the original idea, and even if the works never saw a show, I would do it because the Muse in me demanded it.  Plain and simple.

A star is born!

So, here is the second piece of the three.  It's called "Shadows and hope."  The piece continues along the vein of my own life experiences, of loss, of pain, loneliness, confusion, regrets.  But, always, always, always, there is matter what.  It's there, small, delicate, and yet, so powerful.  It's waiting always, to fill you back up and give you strength.  

I won't go into the particular elements of the painting (I do that in my personal journals -- y'all will just have to wait 100 years until after I'm dead and some blue-haired professor is adding their own embellishments and slants in some class somewhere).  I allow the viewers to experience the painting from their own perspective, to identify with elements in the painting within their own experiences and heart.  

Or, maybe they just like it for unknown reasons. It just speaks to them.  It just "clicks" -- like a cute person in the coffee shop.  

No matter why you may like it, or adore it, or hate it, it will be personal to you, as the story behind it is personal to me.  Don't expect a long-winded dissertation of verbal silliness -- I don't do artwork statement pieces like that.  

And in the end:

I decided I will continue on with additional pieces outside the original three.  How many, I don't know.  Is this the official announcement of a move into a different direction -- I don't know that either.  I've never been very fond of making announcements etc.  I don't like hard and fast rules to stick to when it comes to the direction of my work.  Let's just say I am going to begin a series of these more imaginative realist paintings, and see where they take me.  I have an idea for the series, and yes, maybe they will help me put my own ghosts and recollections in order too.  I guess you never really know!

I will blog a post for each of the works, and the overarching theme, when the three are fully created, and for other plans regarding the series too.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Painting Size scales

"Ghosts and Recollections" oil on canvas, 36" x 48"

"Red rocks and the female figure" oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

"Old barn wood and the female figure" oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Hello friends! 

I had a few people ask me different sizes and scales for various paintings so I decided I would post of the photos showing scale and size, so it would better help you gauge the artwork for your space.

Now keep in mind, these are the original artworks (digital prints can be made to any size or framing specification available on the website).  Also, I have a very cool feature on my website that allows you to see the original artwork, to exact scale, either in an augmented reality room you construct (featured right there on the page that you can play around with and it's actually fun), or if you are on a mobile, like a tablet or phone, you can actually project the scale artwork onto your own space, so you can see what it would look like right there and then -- no guessing if the piece will work on your wall and in your space! That's always a huge concern, and the new augmented reality function on my website eliminates it.  Now you can see what it will look like and not wonder and be uncomfortable hoping it will look as you hoped :-) All gone! I love technology! :-)

So, if you stop by my website at , you can view the different original artworks and employ the augmented reality (AR) function to see how any of the paintings look on your wall - like going into a dressing room! <3


Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, and you will receive **20% off** your first purchase, no minimums or maximums!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Study of red rocks and female nude

"Study of red rocks and female nude" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

Here I did a study of the beautiful red rocks and the female figure.  I wanted to keep the figure, again, as not the dominant element in the picture.  This female figure was very taught, and I wanted to paint this as the angle of the body was extremely challenging, from the head to her toes.

This was recreated from several reference photos and not onsite.  I could never have a person hold a pose like that, and the rock formations are not native to my area -- more southwest.

I enjoy studying light, and anything with a lot of lines and directionality always draws me in.  That must be the compulsive part of my personality -- I like lines and textures, particularly elements that convey hard edges.  I love playing with hard lines and soft edges.  It's just my thing I guess.


Friday, August 23, 2019

New works

Untitled/ in progress - oil on canvas, 36" x 38" b

After graduating with my Master's at the beginning of August, I decided to take a few weeks and just breathe.  It was really a long haul, so much more than I realized, and getting adjusted to life after school took a little time.  I had to be able to adjust to not having constant research deadlines hanging over my head, and planning everything in my life around that.  It was like a phantom pain for a few weeks -- I would wake up and for a moment feel a sting of panic -- did I miss my deadline? Then I would slowly relax and think, "Nope."  A sigh of relief!

I started working on this new painting.  It is as of yet untitled.  I am still working in the genre of Imaginative realism.  This painting is also a self-portrait of sorts.  It symbolizes my inner self, and the struggles I have dealt with in this life, with pain and tragedy, loss, regret, and the strength to overcome.

I was not in my studio these last few weeks at Wagon Works, because it was just so dang hot.  I can't do that kind of heat, where I'm sitting at the easel, and I feel like I'm in a sauna.  I love my studio there but there are few drawbacks, and one is that there are no proper heating or ventilation systems, as the building is being restored, so in the intense heat or cold, it's just not manageable.  So, I worked in my home studio, even though that's not much better, because my A/C, as expensive as it was, is a hunk of junk.  Infuriating to waste money like that -- but there it is.  I'll have to buy ANOTHER system next spring, again.

I'm looking forward to the cooler weather -- the fall, and pumpkins (NOT pumpkin "spice" haha- though I do enjoy pumpkin pie), crisp weather and colorful trees.  Wearing sweaters and boots, and smelling the morning air tinged with mystery and damp leaves.  My schedule is starting to calm down a bit, and for that, I'm thankful too.

Then, in November, comes Egypt.  I go to Egypt, not Egypt coming to me ;-) .  I'm looking forward to exploring Egypt and its wonders -- the Pyramids, Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Hurghada and the Red Sea...taking a felucca down the Nile.  All in time to mark the half-century I've wandered this earth -- sometimes with a purpose, sometimes like a leaf on the stream -- but, by God's grace -- still blessed to be around.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Portrait of Joey

"Portrait of Joey" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 12" x 16" 2019

Portraits and life

I started working on portraits again.  I had taken a couple of months hiatus, after returning from Israel, as I had other projects that were really demanding, one being wrapping up my Master's degree, last week.

I love doing portraits, as it is always a challenge, but more, I feel like I get to know a person's spirit and soul while I am doing them.  This is especially true if a person has passed on -- and there is no physicality in this earthly plane anymore, to reference.  When a living portrait is created, I can reference the sitter, see their body language, the energy they give off, what their eyes tell me.  When I do a posthumous painting, I must pour over photos, listen to stories from their loved ones, and from those different elements, try to glean their essence -- what they were like while they were alive -- how can I capture their "likeness" in the portrait.

Defining a Portrait

A portrait is so much more than trying to copy a photograph.  You can copy a photograph down to it's last grainy pore, and not "capture" the person's true likeness.  Likeness comes when you can capture the persons' essence and spirit that emanates from their being-- in the present, or in the past, while they were alive.  When a person who loved them says to me -- "wow -- I can feel the happiness of their smile" -- or "you really captured their expression" -- then I know the artwork was a success-- it will "live" in the recipient's life, much more than just on their wall.

I have a Mom who tells me the portrait of her sons who both passed on gives her immense comfort, more so than any photo.  She "feels" them with her when she sits near their portrait in her living room.  This brings me joy to know it brings her comfort.  I feel my task was completed as an Artist when I hear her relay this to me.

And so, more will be on the way in the next few months now that my life is my own again! :-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wildflowers at Sunset Prints on Sale!

Hello dear friends!

It’s been a hot summer week, and to combat the dog days of summer, I decided to offer one cheerful, best-selling landscape artwork from my Gallery, for **20%** off!! 😊🖼

I’ll do this once a week, until the kiddos all head back to school after Labor Day! 😁😁

This week’s pick will be:
“Wildflowers at sunset”

This beautiful painting was created on a fine summer's day, early evening, out in a field by Blue Mountain, in Pennsylvania.  I love walking the fields in solitude and listening to the wind and the birds.  There is such peace in the beauty of the natural landscape and different seasons of the year, and of life!

This romantic print can be created to your size needs, on the type of paper or surface you would like, and framed or unframed, etc.— completely customized to your decor, space, and budget requirements!

And (this part I love!) — you can actually see it on your own wall in your home or office, to make adjustments or to see if it works for your space, BEFORE you purchase it— simply hit the AR button (Augmented Reality) and you can position the artwork and see it, the way you’ve customized it, so you don’t just take a guess and worry how it will look. You can even see how it would look in different "staged" rooms too, so say you are planning on painting your living area as a summer project in the upcoming weeks and are concerned about how the new colors will look with your artwork choice, you can be sure of all of that too!

I love these features because this is a personal concern of mine when I shop online -- thinking it might be perfect online, and then when I get it home I'm disappointed with the reality of how it looks on me or in my space -- this is especially true for Art, sunglasses, jeans, or lipstick! 😂😂

Your discount is applied automatically at checkout so no codes to remember or futz around with! 😘😘😘😘

Happy shopping!! 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Working hard!

I've been hard at work these last few weeks, wrapping up my Master's degree, and working on some showpieces for upcoming gallery exhibits.  It takes alot of work to manage both, that's for sure! I'm just going to be THRILLED to be finished with my degree work, which because I did it online rather than traditionally, took three years instead of two -- a lot of effort, to be sure.

I have some excellent things coming up the pipe for the last month of summer, and for the fall! Travel, some exhibitions, both local and not so local, new works, some fun contest giveaways on my Facebook page -- be sure to pop on by there.

Listen, folks, I can't keep up with all of the changing technology, and would rather take that time and use it working on my art, or reading a good book, so don't expect me to be all active on all these different social media sites, haha! I'm old-school, and Facebook is probably my most active place, so that's a good place to pop by, like my page, and see what's going on routinely, as I post there as routinely as it's going to get for me.  If I spent my time slathering myself all over the internet (as recommended by all marketing pro campaigns), I would never have time to paint another picture again, let alone eat a decent meal! So, that's not an option for me, as I don't have a legion of interns either :-D

Yes, it's here, my website, or my Facebook -- hilaryengland

See you soon! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

Hello friends!

I just want to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July! I'm having a 24-hour sale in my online shop, -- offering 20% off ANY customized print, any size, any price (no minimums or maximums!) to celebrate !!  So, instead of wasting your money blowing up your yard and limbs ;-) -- pop on by my shop and buy a beautiful piece of Romantic artwork to dazzle your living space for years to come!

The discount is applied at checkout -- so you're good to go! Hurry on by -- the sale only goes til July 5th! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Study of figure in the lily pond

“Study of figure in the lily pond” by Hilary J. England, 16” x20” oil on canvas

Figure Studies
My figure studies against or among different textures continues. This painting is rather larger than one of my usual “studies” — kind of a work in its own right, even if the intention wasn’t to make it a finished work, it sort of just happened. There were smaller grayscale studies, and my focus on this was the water, although in terms of design, the figure is still dominant, as the water leads you to her. She is center stage— literally, so she is the focal point, but for this Artwork it does work for me, even if she dominates the textures surrounding her.

The water, as it was choppy, was impossible not to stylize— but, that’s all par for course, since our own personal styles as artists always (and SHOULD) be visible in our works. We don’t create to make a voiceless photocopy, we create so that our voice and vision is also harmonious in our picture plane. I think this work balances that!


Friday, June 7, 2019

Live figure drawing

All sketches by Hilary J. England
Conte on Bristol paper

Today’s Figure work
I did more live figure work today, as I used to draw the figure a few times a week, and then I just got lazy. Figure drawing is so necessary for a realist artist— I like it to going to the gym— if you don’t go regularly, you get atrophied and flabby. Same with drawing the figure— you reflexes and mind gets flabby if you don’t continually practice it.

I made a goal to go at least once per week— I would do more over the summer, but I am in the capstone of my Masters program, and the workload is high, so maybe after the end of July I can ramp it up even further.

We started off with some 2 minute poses, the went to five, up to 10, 15, 20, and then 40 (which I missed). Next week will be all of the above and an hour long pose so I’m looking forward to that as well. ❤️❤️❤️

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Figure Work

Study of Val, torso, and buttocks
Conte on Arches tinted paper
16" x 20

I always end up covered in my medium!
Sunday afternoons...
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, so I was able to rest and get some figure studies done.  I was able to do some preliminary sketches, and then a larger drawing, in Conte, on tinted Arches paper.  I've been working out some other compositions and studies for a few shows that I have coming up -- one, rather quickly, and I feel that I was still dragging "tail" a bit this month, and I'm not quite sure why.  I am in the capstone session of my Master's degree program, and that is a ton of work, so that could be why as well.

I really enjoy drawing, and decided it was important to focus the figure for the next several weeks while working out this composition for these new paintings.  I can't divulge what they are until the show curators give the go-ahead, so I will be quietly working on them until the appropriate time for them to be "unveiled" by the group.  Sounds very mysterious, but I assure you, on my end, it's not, haha.

So, I'll leave you with these photos of today's afternoon session.  And, I'm never happy unless I am covered in my medium -- when I'm drawing.  I am a bit of a sculptor while drawing the figure, so getting charcoal covered is normal and kind of fun for me ;-)

Yes, these are the strange things that make an artist happy!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Beautiful Human Shop is OPEN!

The Beautiful Human Shop is up and running! 
Do come by for a visit! I will be stocking it daily with new, interesting, and beautiful objects of art and functional art products -- to make everyday life a bit more interesting!
Visit The Beautiful Human. by clicking on the website Navigation bar, or by visiting here:

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Textures and landscapes

"Study of nude and the old barn (textures)" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 16" x 20", 2019


I began this mid-month with an intensely renewed interest in the figure versus textures of the outdoors.  This strange obsession must coincide with the full moon! I would say it's PMS but I haven't had an overwhelming urge for chocolate, so I cannot attribute it to that haha

Working with the group of models, it's still been rainy and hard to coordinate, but that didn't slow me down too much.  I just decided to work par Coeur -- and go from there.  I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted the paintings to look like -- limited palette, reminiscent of Manet, with an emphasis on the textures of the environment rather than the figure itself.  Naked and unashamed, but rather, an object in the landscape rather than the actual focal point itself.

These things madden me.  Trying to photograph the finished work is enough to make one want to down a gallon of moonshine -- the shadows were so deep, and the reflections wash those tones away.  I tried my best and had to let it go.  The painting DID have the quality I set out to capture, even if the camera would not cooperate with me.  That age-old struggle will never end.

I guess I can't be too dismayed.  I feel the painting is a success, even if the camera is telling me to go jump in a lake.  I will attempt to re-photo it in the next few days.  I'm just too tired and frustrated now.  The hits don't stop because you are creating -- on the contrary, they seem to ramp up while I concentrating on a task! I was being lazy and didn't set up the lighting etc.  -- it was a long day and I just didn't want to be bothered.  Tomorrow! Like Scarlett said, "after all, tomorrow is another day!" ;-)


Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Robin

Here is the finished painting, 12” x12” oil on hardwood gallery wrapped panel. The sides will be painted white, so it will have a beautiful modern feeling to it and will hang wired and unframed.

I really enjoyed to do this painting— it was a change painting on the wooden panel and the super smooth surface was a pleasure to paint on. I love conveying different textures, and when painting on a very smooth surface, all the depth and textural dimensions are left for my own creation, which is very enjoyable.

The Robin was in all the purple flowers and ground cover, so I gave it a minimalist, dreamy, sort of ethereal background, to keep focus on the curious robin.

I gave my robin a look of curiosity— they are very smart birds! I don’t think that the average bird is worthy of lesser treatment than the “average” person. Sure, a robin may not be a fancy schmancy bird, any more than an average person isn’t some fancy schmancy “celebrity”— but I find the humble even more beautiful than the peacocks of the world. I’ve always been attracted to that— the quiet beauty of humble objects, people, landscapes— their beauty is magnificent— and I like to treat it as such! 

Cheers to the beautiful, mundane robins of the world ❤️❤️

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mt. Tabor and Wildflowers

"Mt. Tabor and the Megiddo Valley in bloom" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

Mt. Tabor and the Megiddo Valley

When I was in the Megiddo valley, it was unusual that the valley was in such a full bloom, but the rains had been unusually heavy for the month before my arrival, and the valley was a carpet of colorful wildflowers: Poppies, Queen Anne's lace, and an assortment of yellow hued posies -- just wonderful!
The original painting I did was small and lean -- I had no time to get too fanciful, so with the acrylics drying as I was painting, I tried to capture the essence of the dreamy scene -- some haze still lingering in the distance, lending to the scenery an ethereal quality.  It was hard to believe that this would be the scene of a great battle someday

Oils versus Acrylic

Acrylic is extremely lean and spare, so the ability to paint in oil was wonderful.  The acrylic dries extremely quickly, whereas the oil can be made to stay "juicy" for more than a day, allowing for wonderful, thick strokes and working alla prima (fresh on the canvas).  I just love acrylic and there really is no other medium like it to me, not to knock anyone that loves acrylics.  

In the end, I was just looking for an excuse to relive the lovely scene in the valley 💖  

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Day 20 Tel Aviv, and Day 21 - Home

Royal Beach, Tel Aviv

Enjoying the beautiful day on the beach!

Late night travelers in Ben Gurion

The time has certainly flown by!  Here are the last entries for my 3 week trip to Israel.

Day 20: Tel Aviv

Day 20 was an anticipatory day -- I was leaving at 530 am the next morning, which put me into a bit of a quandary: do I stay in Jerusalem and leave in the middle of the night -- hoping the shuttle or cab arrives when it's supposed to, or do I get closer to the airport and see some new sights? I opted for the second option -- go to Tel Aviv for the day, and be closer to the airport.

I had packed up on the Shabbat, taking advantage of the downtime and doing all of my laundries and getting everything together, so that on Monday morning, I had time for a little breakfast and to say goodbye to Shterny and Sensei.  Around 10 am, I departed Jerusalem, taking the train to Ben Gurion, where I had hoped to stow my luggage.  

Apparently, everyone who worked in the airport was completely unaware of this option being advertised and I was unable to be pointed in a direction to the lockers.  After an hour of searching around, and seeing my day tick on to beyond 1 pm, I grew frustrated and decided to just take my luggage with me to the hostel accommodations I had rented for the day.  

I had to take a rather high priced cab to the hostel because also at Ben Gurion, the sherut that was advertised to run 24 hrs a day to Tel Aviv had now also mysteriously disappeared.  I was a bit peeved but decided I would not think too much on it and just enjoy some time on the beach.  

The cab driver also had problems finding the hostel, but I told him the fare wasn't going to go up for his searching, and that ended that scheme.  

I arrived at the hostel at 3 pm, later than I had hoped, but the place was small and clean, and I was able to stow my luggage, get changed into my bathing suit and beach clothes, and head to the water, which was literally across the street.

I spent the rest of the day, from 3 to 6 pm, just lounging and swimming in the very calm Mediterranean.  It was a beautiful beach day with gorgeous weather, and I was happy to be able to decompress a bit before having to head back to Ben Gurion at 1230 am.  

At a little after 6 pm, I meandered the area a bit, and found a very nice outdoor restaurant, and had a yummy meal of beef medallions and salad for dinner.  I knew I had to eat carefully because the coming hours would be stressful with all the travel--eat too little, and you will be hungry and bloated, eat too much, and you will be uncomfortable and bloated.  Haha, it's a very careful balancing act!

When I arrived back at the hostel at around 730 pm, I showered up and relaxed in my bed for about 2 hours.  After, I wandered out onto the veranda and began chatting with the five women who were out there, from all different places in the world.  We talked and laughed on a number of subjects, until about 1130 pm, when I realized that I had not received the confirmation call from my driver that he would be arriving within the next hour.  

I called the service and no one had any record of the scheduled taxi ride.  I was shocked.  They had no availability for another cab, without an Israeli phone number to confirm it.  The hostel had no real "phone" number, except the mobile number of the front desk person, who was now also missing -- of enjoying the nightlife on the beach.  I had to get a cab quickly, but the streets were now quiet with none zipping by to hail, and I had no Israeli phone number to secure one online or via phone.  I felt my stomach start churning.  It was creeping close to midnight.

One of the gals in the hostel luckily had an Israeli sim and number, and we were able to secure the cab that way.  I thanked her profusely, for saving my American skin and not leaving me stranded in Tel Aviv, and within 10 minutes, I was off to Ben Gurion.

Day 21: Home

I arrived back at Ben Gurion at 1230 am, after a pleasant ride with a very knowledgeable lady cabby, which also put me at ease.  I was glad I didn't stow my luggage, because it would've required me going out of the way back to Terminal 1 to retrieve it, making things more complicated.

In the airport, I grabbed a cup of coffee in a cafe, playing the waiting game with the other airport denizens.  We all know the game.  Biding our time to check in.  I like that period of anticipation -- I might be strange, but I do.  I get things done, and I always feel excited to be heading out or heading home.  

At around 2 am, I began the check-in, which went smoothly and without issue.  The security was tight, but I had no problems, and at around 430, I was in the terminal waiting to board.  I was exhausted by then, and just looking forward to getting on the plane so I could sleep without fear of missing boarding! 

We boarded promptly at 5 am for our 530 flight, and I was so happy to see my upgraded seat into business class so now I could stretch out an additional 2 inches, haha.  I put on my little neck pillow boomerang, popped in my earplugs and put my hoodie over my face and went off to sleep  immediately, looking forward to arriving in Kiev at 830 am -- and slightly concerned about the short layover there -- it was only an hour -- but, knowing that Kiev was a small airport, and I was on UIA through the whole flight, which would not require a terminal change, and I was now onboard the plane, meaning no delays -- I was safe and would not miss my connection flight back home.  I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I woke up about an hour and a half later and was surprised at the great time we had made to Kiev -- wow.  One and a half hours instead of three!  I looked around and noticed something was wrong.  The doors of the plane were open.  Hasidic people were very agitated and yelling at the crew.  I became confused.  I scanned the area, and there was a flight attendant sitting quietly in the corner two seats away, looking sullen.  I asked her, "What's going on?" She just looked at me.  I stupidly asked her, "We're not in Kiev?" She shook her head no.  I became agitated and incredulous -- "We're still in Tel Aviv?!" I blurted out in shock.  She nodded her head and said, "Yes. We have a delay."  

We have a delay?  Huh??  My stomach dropped out.  I would miss my connecting flight home.  And, this time around, I didn't take flight insurance. The panic of sitting in Kiev waiting for an available flight in the coming DAYS fell on me like a dead weight.  I gulped.  "Why???? Why are we delayed?? Why?!" -- the words came out harsh and demanding.  

She looked guilty as if she had personally delayed the plane.  I felt immediately sorry for my reaction and composed myself.  "Please.  I am sorry, but I am very worried.  I have a connecting flight to JFK.  What will happen now? If I miss this flight, what will UIA do? How will they correct this situation? I can't be stranded." I felt exhausted and miserable, with the thought of being stranded in Kiev, waiting standby on some floor in the airport for a "next available flight".  I shuddered.  

Others who were pacing and complaining heard our exchange and came over to chime in too, desperate for reassurance they also would not be stranded in Kiev.  The flight attendant seemed overwhelmed for a moment, and then asked each of them -- "are you all catching the connection to JFK?"  They nodded and said yes.  She said, "No worries, over 100 passengers on this flight are connecting to that flight, and they should wait." That placated them, and they murmured amongst themselves.  I said, "Hey wait a second, you said 'should' wait.  What does that mean -- does that mean they may NOT wait?" She replied, "That's possible." My throat tightened again.  "That's possible??? When will we know?" The flight attendant shrugged.  "When we get there." 

I felt creeping rage and frustration.  "Listen, that's not acceptable.  I have my ride coming to pick me up, and he's driving *3* hours -- you need to let us know so that we can make arrangements" -- the crowd had come back and I had now become their spokesperson.  "Yes! Yes!" they began to say urgently.  "This is not right!" The flight attendant said, "No, please, they will wait in Kiev." That quieted us momentarily, and she slipped away, as we stood in the galley by the door, discussing all the ills of the situation.  

Apparently, luggage without an owner had made its way into the hull of the plane, and the entire plane had to be emptied, security checked, and reloaded.  We all fumed about this.  "How did this happen, with all of the security?"  We all talked and groused, as people do in these situations.  Then we agreed to pray about it in our seats, and back we went.

At 730 am, two hours later, the crew began to shout for everyone to buckle up, and very quickly, the loudspeaker crackled, and the doors were sealed, and within a few minutes, we took off hurriedly to Kiev.  

We made excellent time, but had to be fast-tracked through security, and lo and behold, our plane had not left without us.  We were only 1/2 hour late, due to the hour layover and the fast time the pilot made up for in the air.  We were all herded on board, and we took off a half an hour later, making our delay now only one hour.

It was a 10.5-hour flight, and we were all so happy to be onboard, at not waiting to be squeezed onto other flights back and the headache that would entail.  I was so thankful at that moment when our flight to JFK lifted off.  I had just dodged some major discomfort of that missed connection, and I was tired to my bones.  I knew the next 10 hours would be very uncomfortable -- long flights always are -- but I was so thankful for heading home, nothing would dampen my enthusiasm.

I arrived in JFK one hour later than originally scheduled, but I was full of gratitude to be home! I went through the security clearances, and lo and behold, my luggage also arrived, not lost in all the confusion.  And, my commute back home was without traffic and in excellent company, so it was a very positive end to my trip!!

Moral of the immediate story: Always be prepared for the unexpected when traveling.  Seriously.  Traveling will test every skill you have, but particularly, your patience!

Moral of the entire story: Take chances, laugh a lot, be grateful for all things even when you don't want to be, and trust God! I am very grateful that I was able to visit Israel -- God's special land -- and that I was blessed with a wonderful trip and memories of it!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 18- 19 Caesarea, Rosh Hankira, Acre, Haifa

The ruins of Caesarea and Herod's Summer Palace

In the underground sea grottos of Rosh Hankira

The views from B'hai Gardens, top of Haifa

It's been an amazing time in Jerusalem and Israel.  I will be leaving shortly, but my last few days were very interesting.


First, I explored Caesarea and the ruins from the Roman period/time of Christ.  Herod's summer palace at the shore with his incredible views of the Mediterranean, so aqua and sublime.  Roman and ancient ruins have always been my passion so this was a delight for me.

The amphitheater at Caesarea is still used by musical groups today, and I found that both magical and poignant at the same time: people sitting there thousands of years ago, watching their theater acts, had no idea that over 2000 years in the future, people would still be sitting there watching entertainment.  It's pretty mindblowing.

We also explored the different ruins that are preserved there, including the Templar/Crusader ruins, where they held off the Muslims, badly outnumbered until they could finally escape and flee to another port.  Very interesting history all around.

Rosh Hankira

From Caesarea, we went on to the upper point of Israel, to the sea grottoes of Rosh Hankira, right on the Lebanese/Israeli border.  These grottoes were a beautiful natural occurrence, and we used a cable car to descend to sea level to reach them, as the coastline here reminds me of Greece -- cliffs to the very edge of the sea.  

From there, we ascended back up to the top of the cliffs, and walked the border a little bit, discussing the politics and history of the region.


From Rosh Hankira, we went on to Acre/Akko, where there is still a strong Templar history, with a large Templar hospice that has been restored and is now a museum.  

First, we ate a traditional Muslim lunch of salads, hummus, fresh warm pitas, and shawarma meats (beef, turkey, and chicken), washed down with lemon water.  We had a leisurely lunch, continuing our talks of history and politics, and other places we've traveled to or would like to see.  

After lunch, we walked through the Templar hospice museum and grounds and the catacombs (pretty scary and claustrophobic) and after enjoying that bit of history, we went out into the markets of Akko, now Muslim controlled, and just did a bit of shopping and exploring.  There were foods and wares of all sorts, and the Arabs love to haggle.  I was offered 10 new children and 2000 camels to marry the sweets vendor.  When I politely declined, he changed his offer.  "How about just one new child and 5000 camels?"  Sorry buddy, the answer is still No.  


After Acre, we went on to do some exploring in the ancient port city of Haifa, which is now a thriving metropolis.  Daniel, our guide, showed us around with extreme pride, as this was the city he was born in.  He brought us up to the very top of the city, to the B'hai Gardens, and we spent some time up there, enjoying the views and having some coffee and "baguettes".  

We headed back to Jerusalem then, as it was a two-hour drive back, and to be honest, by the time I got back to my apartment, I was pretty exhausted.   I had only slept a few hours the night before, and it really seemed to catch up with me -- especially after so many hours in the blinding sun.  Thankfully, I didn't get burned (I slathered myself with sunscreen early on) but some of the others in our little group did.  This guy Vincenzo from Rome turned beet red on his arms, neck, and face by lunchtime.  OUCH.

Now, off to Tel Aviv today for a day at the beach, and then early tomorrow morning, the long flight(s) back to the USA and home! 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Day 17

"Impending storm- Sea of Galilee" acrylic on canvas panel, 8" x 11"

"Flowers and sun on the Jordan River" acrylic on canvas panel, 8" x 11"

I spent today relaxing, doing laundry, and catching up on work and research.  I photoed these two studies I did over the last week during my travels.  I have to say, acrylic paint (for how convenient it is for traveling) leaves a learning curve for me haha.  But, it's all good.

The first painting was done in Migdal, before a storm rolled in over Galilee.  It was so peaceful that afternoon, like in a dream. 

The second painting was done at the Jordan River in the North, up by the Golan heights.  t was super sunny that day -- so bright and warm.

I have been enjoying working here in Israel -- it is a contemplative place, despite all the hubbub of Jerusalem.  It continues to be a wonderful journey!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Days 15 - 16 Jerusalem

Inside Christ's Garden Tomb

View from the Southern Rampart, Jerusalem Wall

View back to Jaffa Gate on the rampart corridor

Day 14 

I was sick.  No one wants to hear about bad shwarmas and food poisoning.  Nope.

Day 15 

I felt like I got somewhat better yesterday, so out I went, and although the stomach had calmed down, I still didn't feel like myself.  I meandered through the city, but it was so crowded, I thought I might go insane if I didn't find a quiet place to just be alone.

I decided to walk the ramparts of the city -- and it was a very beautiful and pleasant -- and SOLITARY -- walk.  I started from the Jaffa gate, and took it to the North, visiting the Arab quarters and the Damascus gate.  I got down off the wall there, and walked over to the Garden tomb again, and had an hour or so of quiet meditation in the Garden and in the tomb.  After, I left and wandered about in the Arab section for a little, buying some forbidden bread! It's still Passover week, so no bread in the Jewish areas -- but, the Arabs have zero inclination to stop selling it -- so I got myself a loaf for breakfast.

I headed back to the apartment, taking a pass through the shuk on the way, picking up some more rice and chicken to cook up for dinner, plus some fresh veggies, and just had a quiet night, because I still was not myself.

This morning, after a fitful night of a lingering belly ache and a relentless mosquito buzzing in my ear, I got up tired and crabby, but determined to do what I had planned to do today -- walk the ramparts to the South, plus explore down by the Kotel/Wailing wall, and go for a cup of coffee in Christchurch.

I headed out and the city was quieter today, with the pending close of the Passover holiday, and a full Shabbat coming a day early.  Everyone was busy at the shops buying for the weekend, so I was able to walk the ramparts to the South in peace.  This walk was a bit more precipitous than to the North, and with my fear of heights -- I had to push myself some of the way.  I was able to get some pretty views and a peaceful couple of hours up there before I descended back by the Jaffa gate, and went for a quiet cup of coffee in Christchurch. 

When I was leaving the bookstore by Christchurch, the cobblestones were slippery and I fell.  It was so sudden I didn't have time to be embarrassed -- my hand hit the cobbles with my phone face down.  I cringed, thinking, "that's that.  My phone is toast." But, to my surprise, no bones and no phone was broken.  Several people came to my aid, and kindly helped me, and I appreciated their concern.  There are still good people in this world, of every color and creed.

I took the slow path home and stopped to buy more milk, some fruit, and some fresh meat and veggies for the weekend.  Plus a few cookies-- the cookies in the shuk are amazing.  And, with everything closed, I felt a panic to make sure I had something sweet.  I'm not that disciplined even in the Holy Land! :-) 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Day 13 - Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Sea of Galilee

Mt. Tabor

Nazareth, campus of the Church of the Anunciation

Views from St. Peter's Primacy Church, Sea of Galilee

Today was a busy day.  We left at 5 am for the North -- to visit the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights, and the biblical cities of Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Migdal (Magdala) and to see the river Jordan in the North.

We began our travels with a scenic route that brought us by the Valley of Megiddo (Armageddon) and Mt. Tabor, where Jesus was in conference with Elijah and Moses.  The Mountain was awash in rain and thunder, and I could feel, with a shiver up my spine, how it seemed the place such an occurrence would happen.  It was both beautiful, fascinating, and humbling, even from a distance.  It was also surreal to look at the Valley of Megiddo, now so picturesque and fertile after all the recent rains, and think upon it awash in blood for the final battle. Pretty mindblowing.

We continued to the city of Nazareth, now broken into two districts: Nazareth (lower) and Nazareth Ilit (upper).  The lower city is Muslim controlled, the city on the heights is Israeli.  We would need to visit the lower city to see the birthplace of Mary, and the home she lived in when she was visited by the angel Gabriel, about her task of bearing Jesus.  There were several beautiful churches marking these events: The Church of the Annunciation, the Basilica for Mary, and a Basilica for St. Joseph, which included the workshop of Joseph -- presumably where Jesus apprenticed and worked as a carpenter/craftsman, before beginning his Ministry.

From there, we drove through the scenic upper Nazareth, and on to Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding.  This is now also a Muslim controlled town, with many mosques.  There was a Greek Orthodox church to mark the spot of the wedding, but we didn't stop to investigate it.

We drove on through the picturesque countryside, stopping here and then to get tidbits of local history and to just rest and absorb the beautiful rolling hills and mountains.  As we approached the Sea of Galilee we stopped for a coffee and snack break.  The Arabs were running the coffee shop, so pastries were available (no pastries in Jewish shops for obeyance of Passover) and we had a little time to just chat about the current history of Israel and the ongoing conflicts with the Muslims.

We continued on to the Sea of Galilee, and to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, at the base of the mountain where Jesus gave the Beatitudes (there was a chapel there built during the Byzantine era that the Crusaders took apart, and rebuilt at the top of the mountain -- better real estate!).  The little chapel at the edge of the "sea" was so charming-- and the Sea, well, it was absolutely breathtaking.  The water was in a constant color change from the fast-moving clouds -- one minute, steel grey, the next, bright aqua blue, moving into a navy blue when the sun crept behind the cover.  The flowers, the breeze, the clean, sparkling vista -- it was just sublime.

We stayed there for a while so I could record some impressions, notes, and color studies. Personally, I could just pitch a tent there and stay, but we had to move on to other places and the day was starting to wear into late afternoon.

We decided to explore the ruins Capernaum, which is now a beautiful site of Roman and Hebrew relics, with a Church and a Synagogue on site.  The ruins are very impressive, with maps of the whole area clearly delineated, and are extensive enough to get a good idea of what the city looked like in the time of Christ.

A little while later, we lunched at a restaurant right on the Sea, and no, I did not eat the St. Peter's fish, haha.  I decided on some lamb kebobs and different salads, and for dessert, dates and Turkish coffee.

After, I took a leisurely stroll around the area, and many families were happily eating and picnicking together, looking very contented.  It was a happy sight, for Easter Monday -- although these were all Jewish folk, they were enjoying their Passover time together as well.

We moved along the coast to a Kibbutz called Ein Gev and stopped in there momentarily to look around, and take some photos of their piers and boats, etc. as well as chat with the residents.

We toured through the Golan Heights, visiting the spot that Jesus cast out Legion, and the herd of swine ran down the slopeside into the waters and stopped there for a little bit for a leg stretch.

Our last official stop was to visit the Jordan River in the North, another popular spot for Christian baptism, although that was not our purpose for the visit.  This place was pretty but a bit touristy, with hundreds of people flocking to pay the $40 to buy a kitschy white robe with a screenprint of the Crusader cross or some other such thing on it, and get a dunk in the deep green of the river by either a Pastor of their choice, or the Pastor at the resort, who was there, in mechanical order, dunking one person after another.  The lady in charge was extra angry, thinking we were trying to jump the line or get baptized without paying, but we assured her we were just there to watch.  Daniel thought this was hilarious, and he asked me, "Would God mind?" I said, "With her around, everyone pays $40 to get baptized in anger!" We all had a good laugh over it.

We sat outside a while, and we discussed the other baptism site I had visited the other day, in the desert, and he was amazed the guide was venturous to bring us.  "You know, that is considered the authentic site, but there are still active land mines there." I nodded, recalling the stern warnings of "lest you go ka-boom", but I was glad he brought us anyway.

We ended our touring late, about 9 pm, was when we finally returned to Jerusalem.  I was pretty exhausted by that point, ate a hasty meal, and just fell into bed.  But, it was a lot of ground to cover, and I'm glad we, as we say in the States, "got r done!"

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