Harmal (Peganum harmala) is a little shrub growing in the middle east. From its seeds a red dye is produced, used to dye the wool in Persian carpets. But these Harmal seeds also have a psychedelic effect, and so the carpet-makers would have the experience of riding on a flying carpet.
My father, Dr Ephraim Lansky, together with Helena Maaria Paavilainen, have recently finished writing a book about this mysterious plant. It deals with the botanical background, the chemistry, and the amazing medicinal properties of Peganum harmala.
(a link to the book: https://www.crcpress.com/Harmal-The-Genus-Peganum/Lansky-Paavilainen/p/book/9781482249569)
My father then came up with the idea for this painting, which I readily undertook to paint.
I sat with paper and pencil, and began the initial sketch. This is a flying carpet, so I wanted to create a sense of flow and movement. I let my pencil “fly” in curvy lines. I drew the carpet, and made it fly over dessert hills with harmal shrubs growing on them. I drew inspiration from trips to southern Israel, where this plant grows richly in the dessert soil.
I then transferred the sketch to water color paper, and used masking fluid to cover the shrubs, some details on the carpet, and the edge of the girl’s back. I hoped by this to give the painting better definition. I then mixed some watery washes, and covered the paper in the first layer of paint.
I added another few layers of paint, waiting for each layer to dry before applying the next.