My meditative practice begins each day with prayer, the recitation of psalms, and fresh air. I rush to the door and for the prayer book. I love to see the growth in my garden as I awaken, whether it is the sprouting of my peas, or the tiny leaves of arugula peeking up from the soil. Winter challenges me, but Spring emboldens me.
My study of classical and mystical Jewish texts and the daily prayer book spark my creative/artistic imagination. I am intrigued by complex descriptive phrases, many from the natural world, and by profound mystical ideas. I am not interested in literal illustration. I see my finished work as a medium for contemplation—the fields of color and the lack of recognizable imagery all encourage the viewer to imagine with me, to be arrested by the brilliance of the colors, or to be transported to imaginary places by the implied landscape.
The words of the Irish poet and scholar, John O’Donohue, speak to me profoundly and guide me on a universal path filled with deep conversation and sensual appreciation. His writings allow me to linger on concepts like ‘threshold’ and what it means to be a spiritual traveler. I seek the company of those who recognize that our common spiritual journeys are on sacred landscapes.
For me, the abstract nature of my artwork creates a meta-language that allows us to share meanings, to translate and to interpret from color to words, to silence, to breath, to stillness, and to risk sharing personal meaning sparked by the artwork or the silence.
As I am painting, it is as though I am having a three-dimensional conversation—the colors on the canvas, what I see with my eyes, and the ideas and words in my mind from the texts I have read. While I was painting “The Gates are Open” I saw the dripping action of the oil paints. As I watched the drips and the effect of the oil on the colors, I began to imagine (i.e.visualize a profound idea) from Jewish philosophy of the compelling idea of a reciprocal relationship between our prayers on this plane, which trigger the ‘showering’ of Blessings and Holiness from Above. It’s as if the intensity of our prayers can pierce the heavens and release an energy field of blessings. The dark color in the painting began to represent for me, the chasm that is to be crossed in our efforts to connect, to cling to, and to become one with God.
Just as melody, chants, and chimes, what the Hasidim call a ’nigun’, are all forms of music without words, but which are deeply felt, I see my abstract paintings as ‘color without form.’ I hope the finished work conveys deep feeling and meaning, that it activates subjective perceptions, and calms minds.
There is a Rabbinic statement that says, “Words that come from the heart, go to the heart.” I feel, believe, think, and hope that the paintings I create come from my soul and go directly to the soul of the viewer.
Ruth Feldman, aka Dr. Ruth Pinkenson Feldman, lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she, along with her husband, Gedalia, have raised three children who all now visit frequently from around the country with their own loving spouses and many children. Ruth is the author of The Green Bubbie: Nurturing the Future, and she is surrounded by many local “sprouts” and “grand-sprouts” who she nourishes spiritually, artistically, and with the occasional baked Mandelbroit!
More on Ruth Feldman's work can be found on our Links page.