Perhaps the framing of paintings is an art form in itself, but right now in the Pe'er Frame shop in Tel Aviv, visitors can find a remarkable exhibition of watercolors by a young local named Ruti Ben Yaakov. The front section of the shop has been set aside to form a small gallery, and three walls here are lined with Ben Yaakov's intimate, misty and at times bizarre paintings. The subject matter is mainly faces and animals, but the show's appeal stems from the artist's sensitive handling of the material. In terms of technique, Ben Yaakov's "ecoline" watercolors look wet, and there's a satisfying balance between permissiveness and discipline; the artist is clearly a master of her craft, but seems to let the paint to flow autonomously, allowing it to interact with the paper and other colors in an organic, spontaneous manner. The veils of color are transparent and ethereal, yet Ben Yaakov's unusual and effective style lends an almost sculptural presence to the works at times. For example, one floating head stares out toward the viewer through pale blue eyes that seem to melt into the hazy background, while strategically placed hints of orange force the jaw and eyes to project into the foreground. This creates an exciting formal tension, even if the paintings seem soft and na ve at first. Ruti Ben Yaakov has a knack for creating strange juxtapositions of color that are jarring, energizing and surprisingly harmonious. Viewers with a serious interest in colors - the relationships between them and their emotional effect - will certainly enjoy this compact but rich show. Pe'er Frames. Rehov Ma'azeh 42, Tel Aviv. Open Sunday through Thursday: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Telephone: (03) 528-2299. The exhibition is on view through March 25.