Portrait of a Survivor: Livia Shacter

The past week I had the unique opportunity to paint the portrait of incredible woman named Livia Shacter, who just turned 100 years old on Sunday April 2. An Auschwitz survivor who speaks 6 languages, she now has 54 great grandchildren (and more on the way). She is warm, gracious, and eloquent and it was a pleasure for me to get to know her over the past few weeks and hear the story of her life.

The name of the project is called פנים אל מול פנים (Face to Face) in conjunction with the Foundation for Holocaust Survivors in Israel. Portraits and biographies will be displayed in Jerusalem April 20-25, surrounding the date of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

I started with a couple sketches…

Livia sketch1

…then I transferred the drawing onto a 50×60 cm canvas and laid in a light wash with acrylic paints. That was to establish the main shapes and to give me a bit of confidence before I went in with the thick layers of paint…



And the finished portrait:Livia5




Quick Acrylic Painting: Tamar

I’ve been drawing my FB friends, and some of them have been drawing me in return. We all love selfies, so having a drawing of yourself is twice the fun!

But then, for a change, one of my friends did an actual PAINTING of me! So…. I had to return the favor. Overcame my laziness, got out my paints, and did a small portrait painting of her. It felt great to be working with my acrylics again!

Tamar, 5.5×8.5 inches, acrylic on paper

Here are the paintings she did of me…. yup, two of them! The first one she said aged me 10 years. so she did another one. I definitely got the better end of the deal… two for the price of one!

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In addition to portraits, Tamar does breathtaking landscape of Israel in oil. Check out more of her work on her FB page Tamar Rund Artwork.

Hilarious Facebook Portrait Swaps!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been doing sketches of my Facebook friends. Some of them have drawn me in return, so it’s become a kind of portrait-swap thing, and it’s really fun(ny) to see how very different I look in all my friends’ drawings!

Here are some of the results of the portrait swaps. As you can see, my friends have varying levels of talent, but what matters is that they took the time to draw me and I appreciate their efforts!

Some of them are really fabulous… and some of them just make me laugh (and think to myself, dear G-d, do I really look like that…?)

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You’d never know this was all the same person, would you?

(Except for my nose. My nose looks the same in every single picture. *sigh*)



Book Cover: Rebbe Nachman’s “Master of Prayer”

I just finished illustrating a story called “The Master of Prayer,” to be published as a 5-volume set by the Breslov Institute.

Here’s the cover that I just completed today:


Then there are 19 black-and-white illustrations inside the book. Here’s a preview!


Rebbe Nachman’s stories are parables used to impart deeply spiritual messages, but they read like fairy tales. Kings and queens, demons and dungeons, castles and quests! These elements of magic and fantasy make the illustrations really fun, especially for someone like me who grew up devouring the children’s fantasy section in the library.


For this book I am using Micron pens for the drawings, and inserting the textured background digitally. This is the fourth book in a set of five, so one more story to go!



Thanks for looking! Leave a comment & make my day!

My Thoughts on Free Drawings & Having Fun

A few weeks ago I became friends with someone on FB who, upon learning that I’m an artist, asked me if I would draw his picture. I was a bit taken aback at first, because I didn’t even know this person, and you hear a lot of artists saying, “Never do work for free!” But I’d recently been hearing the flip side of the issue, like Will Terry who says “You SHOULD work for free!” Personally that resonates with me more than those who keep harping on the fact that my time is valuable and I should be payed for every line I draw. I am lucky to be able to make a living with my artwork, but I also want to use my talents to have fun, and to make other people happy, even if it’s not bringing in any income.

So I said, “Sure, I’ll draw you.” I posted it on my FB page and tagged it #DrawYourFriends, and other friends started asking me to draw them too. I said, “Sure, I’ll put you on the list.” I felt that doing a quick sketch once a day or whenever I had free time was fun for me, a good warm-up to my illustration work, made my friends happy, and to be honest, drew attention to my artwork. And did I mention that it makes my friends really happy??

Now I have a list of people who want me to draw them and I’m trying to slowly get through it. Here are some of the beautiful people who make my life better by being in it (even virtually!). I am glad to get a chance to do something for them in return!

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As an extra bonus, I was commissioned to draw a couple of folks that I know and love, to be used on their website , Sukkah Hill Spirits, which features hand-crafted, award-winning liqueurs (no, they did not ask me to include a plug!) So in the end, my efforts did bring in some money, though that was not the goal starting out!


I will continue drawing my friends and spreading the love… for free. Stay tuned!

Quick Daily Painting #1: Baby Moses

I’ve started a new art challenge along with a group of Jewish artists on FB. The goal is to do a quick painting in about 30 minutes, with a Jewish theme for the month of January. I really want to explore some biblical scenes and personalities so, for my first painting I chose a scene that I find incredibly powerful and moving, as a mother…


I hope the subject is obvious but for those who are not familiar with it, it’s baby Moses and his mother  Yocheved, right before she sets him afloat on the Nile to save him from Pharaoh’s soldiers. This 9×12″ watercolor took close to an hour, so I will have to try to simplify my subject matter next time!

Shavuot means Cheesecake… and Paper dolls!

Last year I made up some paper dolls from the story of Ruth, which is read on Shavuos. I wish I had time to post a little bit more about Ruth and why we read about her on this holiday but you can go to Aish.com and read up on her yourself! I have to get back to my drawing :)

Hope the kids enjoy these, and gives you a few minutes of peace and quiet. Chag Sameach!

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If you like this project, please LIKE me on FB Art by Dena for more art & illustration!