Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Layla Blenden and I live in Jerusalem and work at Yad Vashem. In my free time, I enjoy doing anything creative – painting, drawing, baking/decorating and any other form of creativity that I can think of at the time.
Why do you do what you do and how did you get started in the first place?
I have been “artsy” my entire life. As a kid my preferred medium was drawing; in high school I turned to jewelry making; after high school I came to Israel on a year program that combined Jewish studies and art, where I started focusing on painting – and have been painting ever since.
What is your specialty?
My specialty is incorporating Pasukim (biblical verses) and Hebrew quotes into my paintings. I generally paint Hebrew verses on an abstract background. But sometimes I change it up, too!
How and where do you work?
I work when the inspiration comes to me. Either I find a verse that I know I have to paint, or I have the urge to paint and see what comes of it.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
The most indispensable item in my art supplies is my detail brush.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
My inspiration comes from the Tanakh and Hebrew poetry. A lot of my paintings are of verses from Tehillim (Psalms) – the perfect medium between the two.
What projects are you currently working on?
I recently bought a big canvas and covered it in a multi-color wash. I am still figuring out what it will turn into
What is your favourite item in your current collection?
My favourite piece is a painting that was done as a special request for a good friend. It is an outline of the map of Israel with verses from Psalms 27 on a blue and purple background.
How do you know when a piece is finished? Sometimes it just feels finished, and other times I can’t tell whether a piece is finished. It just depends on the piece. When I am really in doubt, I text a photo to my go-to friends and they give their opinions.
Do you do bespoke work?
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
One of my first painting assignments in my gap year program was to “watch” music playing on the windows player that shows colourful motion while music is playing, and then paint it with an instrument incorporated. That led me to painting my first “background,” a blue and purple spiral with a tie-dye look (which later became another specialty of mine). Before painting the instrument, the project made me think of the verses from Psalms 150:3-6 describing praising God with various instruments, so I painted the words and all of the instruments. That painting, “music in motion,” hung on the wall in our house for the year, and once when our landlord came to fix something in the house, he asked if he could buy it. I ended up painting a duplicate of that painting for him and then for one of my teachers and two other girls in my program that year. So, I guess my first painting sold was actually my first 4 paintings sold.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
For a contest in high school I drew a picture of an adult hand holding a baby’s hand with the verse in Psalms 145:18. Years later I decided to create an acrylic-on-canvas version (on a much larger scale), which was intimidating at first because I had never painted any human form before and didn’t know how I wanted to go about it. After some deliberation, I finally decided and had a good time painting and discovering that element of my style.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
Since painting is my hobby, I paint when and what the mood strikes. I like being able to share my art on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, through which I have been able to sell some more paintings
Where can we find your work?