It all started with a simple photo. It was one that I had seen on Instagram while scrolling mindlessly one night. It just stopped me in my tracks! It was a photo of Ivanka Trump praying at the kosel. It was so vivid, the wall full of emotion with a woman praying deeply. It was oozing out of my screen. It took me directly to my saved photos where I inserted it for a later point. I knew I was painting it.
The colors were being mixed sooner than I had expected. I moved a few other “to paint” paintings around and got working on Ivanka right away. When the inspiration hits, it hits!
It was no easy feat, This image. Since the kotel is all one color, I had to focus on the bumps and texture and created that effect by painting layer after layer after layer. It took a long time and I remember thinking, what are you even doing Yaeli? Why are you putting in all this time? What’s your point? Then I thought, like I always do, if it’s for nothing, then I got great practice and that is worth every minute of my time!
I was adding yet another layer, the brush swinging from one side to the next with added strokes, when I stood back and saw it. I saw the feeling. The one I saw in the beginning. Breathing a deep breath of accomplishment and satisfaction, I knew it was complete.
People ood and aad at its sight, and as they did, I couldn’t help but wonder how long this painting would be stored with me. That thought annoyed me, so I just stuck the painting in between another few canvases where I could forget about it for the time being.
People came to view paintings. We would go through them piles of canvases and Ivanka was always there. It was hard to forget about it. My mother’s husband, who is a huge supporter of my work, especially back in those early days, asked me what was with the painting? I said “nothing”. He then popped the idea of sending it to her directly. He said “ just send it to her!” What have you go to loose?? (Um. my painting. Minor detail.)
I decided to do it. I told everyone on social media that I was doing this, this way it was real to me and I couldn’t back out. I managed to get a hold of Ivanka’s new Washington home address and got to work.
It was Sunday afternoon. I sat down and put together a few words to send it off with. I wrote why I painted the painting and sent it out from behalf of myself and my entire community . I wrapped it up as well as I could. (Those were the days before custom boxes and headed straight for the post office. This was a large painting – 30” x 40” and I was waiting on line with it. I felt funny. When I got to the desk, I landed the painting with the address facing down - I was too embarrassed for the clerk to see where the parcel was headed! He gave me the tracking and told me it should arrive in about ten days.
I knew that tracking number by heart. I checked it daily. It was in transit. Oh my gosh! This was all happening and it was exhilarating! Until…it wasn’t. I tracked it again, to see if it arrived and it said delayed. What did that mean? Where was it? These things can happen so I waited. Three days later, the same message appeared. I called. They said that it was in the post office near Washington and if it wasn’t going to be picked up then it would be shipped back. I was disappointed but relieved that my painting was alive and well. I then set a mental reminder to begin waiting for it to arrive back home ten days from where I was.
It didn’t arrive back. I called the post office again and they said it had been removed. WHAT?? Removed to where? I was so nervous. Did someone throw it out? Was was I supposed to do? I figured something would turn up so I just waited.
It originally shipped out in November, and by now it was December. I received a phone call from an unknown number and so naturally I didn’t respond. There was a voicemail. So I clicked and listened. I heard: “ Hi, Mr. Yaeli, this is the appraiser for the president of the United States….as I heard those words I back tracked the message to the beginning. WHO?? I listened again. The appraiser for the president of the United States of America!! He was calling regarding the painting and wanted to know it’s retail value. I immediately pressed the call back button and gave him the value. He informed me that there were a lot of gifts being sent their way and the ones they liked and wanted to keep, they purchase. He said we would be in touch.
A month later I emailed him asking what was going on. Did Ivanka see the painting? He got back to me saying that he doesn’t quite know, but from what he’s heard, Ivanka really likes the painting.
Great! I thought. It’s safe and good. All is well. I kept dreaming about different scenarios of Ivanka loving the painting. It excited me!
Then one afternoon in the beginning of January, we received a letter. I actually didn’t see it. My husband saw it and texted a picture to me. It said TRUMP on it. I knew what it was. I just knew. He handed it to me when he got home and I open it up. It was a check for the retail value of the painting signed by Ivanka Trump. THAT was satisfying. There was no letter. Just a check. She liked it. She purchased it. And it’s hanging on her wall!
If you want to do something, DO IT. Don’t listen to others opinions or beliefs. The way they view things is on them. If you can think it, and dream it, then how ever it will happen, you can do it. Don’t think of “how” think of “why” – why do you want to do it? The “why” will fuel you, and as it’s said “ nothing stands in front of desire.” YOU CAN DO IT. Anything.