Israeli-Californian artist Hadas Tal marries realism and abstraction with a designer’s eye

“Finding the emotional climate and capturing the feeling of a scene.”

That’s the name of the creative game for Hadas Tal, who approaches her paintings with a designer’s eye. Whether she’s painting a California coastline or an abstract representation of high-rise windows, she carefully considers the composition, color, shapes, form, and cropping of everything she creates. “I like clean design, white, contemporary—The Guggenheim in New York, for example—expansive white walls,” she says.

Tal is a full-time artist in Emeryville, California, located about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, but was born in Rishon Letzion, Israel. In 1980, her dad received a lucrative opportunity to work as a computer programmer for IBM, so her family moved to New Jersey, where Tal grew up. A new Minted artist, Tal earned a top-voted win for Windows,” in the Minted + West Elm on the Big Stage Challenge. “Windows” was inspired by a gray, rainy day in Chinatown, San Francisco—more specifically, the haziness of the gray rainy day and how it affected the light surrounding the building. “Each window looked like an abstract painting,” Tal says.

“Windows” by Hadas Tal won fourth place in the Minted + West Elm on the Big Stage Challenge

Minted: How do you describe your artistic or painting style?
Hadas Tal: I don’t really like to use the word painting “style,” per say. It’s more about how I apply the paint and what I do with the paint—which has endless possibilities. For example, the urban landscape paintings I’ve done are a marriage between realism and abstraction. There is an element of realism in the colors I choose, the size, the proportions. The abstraction comes from my own mark making, layers of the paint, and decision-making of what to highlight, and what to hide from the viewer. Lately I’ve been exploring pure abstraction and mark making without any attention to representation; ultimately, though, I like to come back to painting representationally.

What does “working as an artist” mean for you?
It means trying to be as flexible as I can with making time to create and having a work balance to enjoy life. I hold a studio practice upstairs in my home. I live in a beautiful light-filled loft in Emeryville with a lot of space, large windows, and very tall ceilings. I am constantly inspired, so I usually always carry my iPhone and snap pictures of whatever interests me at the moment—a building, a landscape, graffiti I see on the streets, or signs on my walks around the city, later i will look the at the photos and see what would be a potentially good fit to use for a painting.  

I try to keep several paintings going on at once. I try painting new things if I am stuck or feeling I need to expand my practice. For example, a large body of my work is oil on panel. Sometimes I will do a quick gestural study on paper or use oil pastels and pencil. It’s important to keep a constant flow going to keep things fluid.

How long does it take you to create one of your paintings, and what is your process like?
It depends on the piece. There are pieces that can be resolved in a few days, or a few weeks, but some can take months or years even if I put it aside for a while and revisit at a later time. Usually I start with basic shapes—the larger more dominant shapes first—and then I zoom in and add smaller shapes, tightening the focal point.  I premix my colors first in order to capture the color and atmosphere of the place I am inspired by, this can often take a while, but yields good results.

For your paintings of buildings, do you tend to paint buildings in particular cities?
I enjoy buildings because they are geometric shapes, and I like shapes and boxes. It is like trying to put together pieces in a puzzle. I love seeing different architecture in different cities and countries. A lot of the buildings I’ve done are from San Francisco and New York, some are from France and Israel, places I have lived and visited. I do often use photographs because it is easier to work from once back in the studio. It’s always best to work from life; although, nature is always our best teacher. The camera can’t quite capture the color as best as the human eye.

Why does California light and architecture inspire you?
The light here is special—it’s lighter and brighter than in the Eastern United States, for example. The architecture is brighter, and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, the palette is quite soft, shades of white, peach, blue, gray. There is more use of stone over brick, clean lines over complex ornate designs.

You earned your MFA from Academy of Art in San Francisco and your BFA from Mason Gross School of Art, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. What was the most important thing you learned in art school?
To keep going, and not quit, never give up. Keep learning, keep growing, do not allow fear to get in the way of trying new things. It’s a tough business being an artist—one that requires a great deal of focus, self-discipline, and strong work ethic. You need to be very loyal to your craft. There are ups and downs along the way. It’s important to stay positive, surround yourself with like minded individuals, & find the beauty in the mundane.

Is your 2-year-old daughter, Lillie Grey, also an artist?
She’s an artist in her own right—she likes to draw on the walls and loves to watch me paint and draw. I am very inspired by her courage and total lack of self-consciousness. Children are free when they create; it is very difficult to fake that kind of pure creativity, it is pure, innocent, and totally lacking in any pretension or self-criticism.

More about Hadas Tal
Hadas Tal’s Minted Artist Store
Hadas Tal’s website
Instagram @hadastal_painter  

About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, Pitchfork, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

Published July 20, 2017

  1. Hadas

    Hi Amy
    You’re the bomb!
    Thanks for doing such an amazing job on this!
    I love it.

    XO Hadas

  2. Leslie Morgan

    I’m familiar with Hadas Tal’s work and it is even more beautiful in person! She is an amazing young artist!