© Reish Art Store
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Rachael Elisheva Henderson aka @ReishArtStore. I am a 23 year old visual and graphic artist. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, I moved to Israel a couple of years ago. I grew up in a non-religious environment, attended Art school for a year in Dundee, the city that birthed the British comic industry, and later finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Film studies. I became more connected to my Judaism during university and afterward attended Shearim seminary. Today I create Judaic art in styles that are illustrative and modern and have recently opened up an online store Reish Art Store.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I wasn’t a particularly talented artist as a child but I loved it – drawing was my favourite thing to do. As a teenager, I never stopped drawing and painting until my work got better, and with the support of my family, and pushy high school art teachers, I started taking it more seriously as a career path. The visual medium has simply spoken to me more and this is where I find the source of my passion.
What is your specialty?
I specialize in stylized watercolour and ink paintings and portraiture. My portraiture is definitely influenced by the hundreds of comics I have read in the past, and I think it brings a very fresh outlook to Judaic art.
How and where do you work?
I work from my lovely airy flat in Baka, Jerusalem thanks to my flatmate who didn’t mind me turning our living room into a semi studio! I have plans to rent a space in the coming year where I can sell and create work.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
It’s between my trusty yellow paint brush – that I’ve had since I was 14 and starting my art exams that would eventually lead me to be accepted to art school – and my noise cancelling wireless headphones.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
I take inspiration from literature, nature, cities, shiurim (Torah classes), Pasukim in the Torah, different art movements throughout history such as post-impressionism and pop art, other artists, music, comic books and so much more. I try to find inspiration for art in as much as possible.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a series of paintings of different spots in Israel of cultural and religious significance to me, and making them in a sketchy pen and ink style, over a watercolour background. I developed this style for the first time when I was asked to do an observational drawing in art school – but that was just not my thing at the time so I ended up with this style that I feel is quite unique to me and I am absolutely in love with it. My painting of the kotel in this style is below, or here.
What is your favourite item in your current collection?
I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with a recent portrait I completed of the Lubavitcher Rebbe but I really have grown to love it. It was a bit of an evolution in my style – I have usually had two quite different styles – very stylized and bright watercolour pieces, or realistic acrylic portraits. This was my first time bridging the two styles on a canvas with acrylics.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
It’s always a struggle. I usually try to look at it from far away, make sure to take breaks and not to overwork a section if I’m struggling with it. Usually, I just sort of feel it and make sure the painting is balanced.
Do you do bespoke work?
I do! Most of my recent pieces have been bespoke, collabs with the clients to fit the piece to their personality and passions. I love to find out from my client how they feel about certain colour schemes to make sure it is the right piece for them. I recently made my first wedding suite – benchers and invitations. The client wanted something that really showed off her personality and love of colour. I worked with the couple to find the keywords that inspired them and the end product was a beautiful and romantic expression of their personalities and they were very happy with the result. You can find out more details here.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
My amazing mother ‘commissioned’ me to paint a very unique family portrait for the central painting in our living room. It’s a huge, bright, colourful snapshot of a family car trip as if it is a panel in a comic. I love it, it says so much about all of our personalities and it has stood the test of time. I’m so grateful to my mother for pushing me to take it seriously and she even gave me a deadline!
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
One of my favourite things to do is Hebrew calligraphy. I created a Blessing of the Home , Birkat Habayit, for a dear friend who moved to Israel in a bright, watercolour style, and it was my first time really making a piece with a dip pen.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
My goal is to beautify all aspects of Judaism in my own way. As someone who loves art history, different cultural movements and the aesthetics of pop art, it is amazing to me to bring this style to our ancient Jewish tradition. In the future, I hope to move into creating original books, calendars and cards with my illustrations, and I have plans in development! Stay tuned at my social media!
Where can we find your work?
You can find me @reishartstore on facebook and instagram, and at my site www.reishartstore.com where you can order original pieces and prints. I look forward to connecting with the Judaica in the Spotlight community!