The Olive Tree by Yoram Gal inspired by a photograph by Dror Galili

Dror Galili is an acclaimed Galilee nature photographer. He is an old personal friend of Tzlila’s family, in the Galilee. I have painted, through getting his permission, from several of his photos. They are like poems. This painting, inspired by his photograph of this olive tree, was one of the almost realistic, most enjoyable landscapes to do.

The 300 – 500 hundred year old olive tree has so much character. The red poppies which pop up only once a year before spring time, for only two weeks, surround this heavy old tree like dancing little fairies around the throne of a big king in a fairytale. The faded blueish-greenish mountains in the far background, were not only so inviting to paint, but more, they were begging to be painted. And when something begs to be painted, it is easy, joyful, and fast. The road to the finished piece is clear, simple, and obvious. You just know how to do it. 

Photography credit: Dror Galili

Dror Galili was born in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShachar in Upper Galilee two years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. For his thirteenth birthday he received as a gift his first camera – a Kodak Box camera, made of plywood and fabric. From then on, he never stopped taking pictures of nature: “Over fifty years of documentary photography, the product of close scrutiny, observation, and studying the flora and fauna of the Land of Israel, has taught me to appreciate the wealth and beauty of local nature.”


Like most people, I like to be lazy, and work smoothly, swiftly, easily on a piece, and not sweat and struggle endlessly with draft upon draft, till I hate it. So when a photograph like this one fell into my lap, I mean into my inbox, from Tzlila who supplies me with a constant flow of images, hoping I’d paint them, I rejoiced. This is such a juicy, easy, beggar to be painted photo, and I can’t wait to start. I painted it twice. The first one was 48”x36” and sold immediately to a collector in Texas. This second time, it’s a slightly different one, of course, I cannot copy, I look at the photo and a painting grows differently each time, it is 48”x60”, and is the big leading painting in the studio-gallery in Jaffa. Everyone, when they walk in, sees it up high on the back wall and comments.

I love painting from my imagination. Inventing philosophical and whimsical fairytales. I love doing portraits. People are a mystery to be unraveled. But for representational-lyrical landscapes, I need a poetic and inspired photo to work from. This was one of the most beautiful photos to work from, ever.

Contact Yoram Gal for a custom commission of The Olive Tree or browse available paintings.