Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thinking about next year.

The Contemplative.      Touch Drawing and Mixed Media  30" x 24"

This was a painting that I knew needed just a little more but wasn't sure what. I tentatively worked on it this morning and I am happier with it now.

Danielle Smith, our next artist-in residence arrived from California today via a residency in China. She is 22 and will stay here in Beverley till the 29th December. She says her parents are celebrating thanksgiving today and she will have Christmas here in Beverley, just for something different!

I have booked myself in to Beverley for another residency April 2014. I am also checking out what else is available within Australia. There are plenty of great looking places to go overseas but I will need to save up enough funds to get there and back, so maybe 2015 I will go to Portugal, France, Scotland or Turkey! In the meantime I'm registering to do house sitting in Australia. That way I can have a continuous stream of getaways to focus on my work. I still need my studio in Perth which is close to home  as my base so I can work on the larger and messier compositions that don't fit easily into the car. 

So, I think 2014 may be a very interesting and productive year for me now that I know how I can get the best out of my creative self and the kind of environment that is conducive to hours of uninterrupted creativity and contemplation.

Reflecting On The Last Few Days

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” ~Neil Gaiman

One of the joys and purposes of an extended residency, is letting go of expectations and following whatever leads  you. 

How and in what ways my small, quick drawings and paintings, and my rumination about artists and poets will carry through in my work once I am back home, remains to be seen. 

Possibly these are in-the-moment responses to materials and experience and will have little carry-over outside this time. But I feel the very act of doing has been important in some freeing way.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pre- Exhibition Anxiety

Today has been one of those days when I decide I don't want to be an artist anymore...
For me, I always seem to go to war just a few days before an exhibition.  I find myself battling with some bitchy, judgemental, finicky, demanding, impatient school teacher type personality who has very unreasonable expectations! She pushes and pushes until I can't think anymore and knowing that nothing is ever good enough for her , I just want to throw the towel in! I end up exhausted, teary, hungry and all the while running out of time to prepare paintings for hanging!

Problem is, In my mind the work is not ready for showing. I start comparing my work to the exquisitely rendered photographic artwork of other artists that I hold in my mind. I continuously put paint on and take it off in my effort to get the perfect finish while instead it is slowly loosing it's freshness and turning to mud. I tell myself I have come this far, I must fight my demons and see this through to the end!

But, I am learning that doesn't work at all. I mostly end up with slap dash work that I am not proud of and a big headache! So, instead I am getting more familiar with this battle and today I stopped it fair and square in it's tracks and took a more sane approach.

I needed my own love and acceptance of myself and my work, exactly as it is TODAY. I am what I am, and my art work is what it is, and that is how it will be for this exhibition.  I took a short break, tried to completely forget about all the difficulties. Then I come back and centred myself by coming into the present moment, letting everything  go, especially the bitchy school teacher and prayed,  asking  what I needed to do next.   Staying calm was  important for me and waiting to see what ideas come. No rushing or panic or self abuse. 

I am learning that if I am not sure what needs to be done next then I LEAVE it alone!  I may ask someone what they think, but I must be sure before changing anything. Though I still have many choices to make, I try not to dip my brush in paint till I am 100% sure. This is not the time to be taking risks, exploring new techniques and playing. It is either the right step or it is not. It is better for me to leave the work as it is, maybe not even exhibit that one,  if I am unsure.

Finally, I have to accept that I may not yet have the skills required to achieve what I want and that this is not failure. I must work with what I have right now. I can always learn new skills later... after this exhibition. I need to accept that if I keep on learning, my  next paintings will be better than the current ones and the time leading up to my exhibitions will hopefully not be so stressful. Now back to it!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Busy hanging works for a showing on Sat 29th 2013

It is over 30 degrees here today so I am staying indoors. My body is not holding up too well. Always seems to be worse on the days that I walk with the group. Aches and pains and really tired...I'm too young for all that!

I've been given free reign to hang and display my work ready for showing on Sat. What more could an artist want but a  little bit of gallery space, set up with a good hanging system and, hundreds of people coming to see a band named 'Chain Reaction who are doing the monthly show on the stage out in the garden at the back. A bar is setup and among other news the audience will be invited to browse through the gallery and see my little exhibition!

  Right now I am sort of having fun putting on the finishing touches to paintings, attaching wire to the back, climbing up and down wobbly tables and ladders displaying the work. A little frustrating when I attach my hanging wire to the wrong end or see so parts of my artwork that I want to change once they are on the wall and under a healthy spotlight!

By the end of today I'll take another photo and it should look a lot more presentable than this one. A number of the works are just on plain canvas board so I will have to lean them up against the wall. Wish I had the knack for whipping up a few frames out of discarded wood. Something else I'll have to learn one day soon, especially as framing can be so expensive.

Well I feel like a nap but I had better get back into the gallery and do some work!

Harvesting in Beverley

Before I knew it, I found myself sat next to farmer, Simon Braun ( once I managed to get up the steps) and watched him harvest one of his paddocks yesterday afternoon. Those machines are amazing! 

Inside the cabin is air-con so it is nice and cool and free of dust. You can see everything that goes on from behind a giant window. The cutters, collectors, spreaders and sifters - not sure they are the right names. Directly behind me is a window where you can see tons of wheat  piling up ready to be transferred into the bins that are carried away by the trucks. 
As I turn around in my seat, this is the view looking through the window behind my head. The harvested wheat filling up so is almost chockers!

I really wish I had recorded my chat to Chris, who has been a farmer for 40 years and said this was  of the most dense crop he had harvested in a long while. After 3 or 4 lengths of the field he had to off load all the grain. Most impressive was the precision in which Simon controlled the machine to manoeuvre so swiftly around tree stumps or rocks, and even more stunning was to see the whole machine do a 2-point turn in a narrow part of the field. Simon was saying that he has to stay alert for the rocks because that can be a costly repair job. 

He spends up to ten hours a day inside that cabin when the conditions for harvesting are good and he wouldn't want it any other way. He loves the farming life and comes from a generation of farmers in Beverly going back 120 years. He and Jenny live in the original farm home that has been renovated of course. 

Jenny is an artist and a key organiser of the station gallery monthly performances. In the house she had the best art collection I've ever seen in a private home including her own work.  Most of them are not by well -known artists and are average to small in size, but it was the variety of styles and media that I appreciated. I am gifting her one my own found-paper-collages which she was admiring when I first arrived. She doesn't have room for anymore on her walls but I will be proud to have one of mine in her house somewhere, maybe I could suggest pride of place on the back of a 'dunny' door

Now home for a roast dinner thanks to Jenny.

Jenny's gift.

Monday, November 25, 2013

May my artwork never become a blur!

One of the  great websites that I follow is Artsy Shark. Carolyn has this to say:

I’m Carolyn Edlund, the founder and author of Artsy Shark – devoted to helping artists grow their businesses. I work with artists every day in one-on-one personalized consultations to help them build strong, sustainable businesses. In my everyday work, I’m exposed to a lot of work that artists are currently making. And in looking at artwork every day, I see a lot of sameness. Similar subject matter, similar styles and themes. It can become a blur after a while. Yet many artists want their work to be memorable, to shine – and to stand out from the pack.

What gives art that “Wow factor” that causes your audience to sit up and take notice? What is that elusive quality that transcends the usual and makes your work truly remarkable? Seth Godin defines remarkable as being “beyond the edge”. Would you agree?

Does your work elicit remarks, and start conversations? 

Beyond the edge...I like that!  In the meantime I'll keep working, especially on my figure drawings. Really don't want to get too picture perfect with these drawings,which is why I prefer not to use someone else's images to learn from just yet. Even a real live model could make it difficult for me to capture the essence of what's going on in my imagination, but I will just have to trial that and see how I go.

I just love these scribbled gestures, in unusual positions, revealing all the guess work involved as I carve out the body. The markings are like the first slices a sculptor removes from the lump of wood, clay or stone. The quicker I work the better but I have to stay with it until it is resolved and that can take time. I scratched these out on computer paper (hence the wrinkles) before going to bed last night. I wanted to do more but I was very tired. I like the idea of using the water colour pencils.

U2 Lyrics - Some Days Are Better Than Others

Last night I literally fell into bed quite early in the evening. My feet, ankles, legs and lower back were aching like crazy! Possibly from way too many hours standing and walking on the hard wooden floors, I think. Not so good today either, though I managed my 60 min walk with the locals.  I had planned to clean the house today ready for the next artist in residence who is coming from America, Danielle Smith. I am looking forward to meeting her as she too is trying to characterize the feeling of spirituality through  painting. 

So far I'm not getting much cleaning up done as I'm lying flat on my back resting my feet. At least I can sort of do this blog and maybe some more life drawing. Early this morning I was working on the tissue sculptured vase of flowers, getting them in place and gluing them down. Choosing where to place them took forever. I liked the idea of the floral shapes being transparent and delicate but with the dark faux wood background I'm going to have to build them up more to add some depth. It also needs to look more contemporary. Looks way too seventies for me at the moment!

Not sure where I'm going with these little critters! Maybe a whole pile of them with a light shining up through them. If I don't get any inspiration soon they will get a light from my box of matches. 

And this one was really bugging me last night. Originally, I had chosen the colors quite randomly and that was the problem. Random doesn't always work. 
Finishing it off, I tried to create some sort of colour harmony but it still wasn't working. Another common mistake is when I  try to save the bits I like no matter what problems they may be causing to the rest of the painting as a whole so, that was it...I white-washed the troublesome areas with gesso. Hope I've made the right choice...too late now!

    'Grounded'     18" x 36 " Mixed Media 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Way It Is

The Way It Is, by William Stafford

Hello Poets,

William Stafford’s journey with words began most mornings before sunrise. This simple poem was written 26 days before he passed. The day before he wrote “Haycutters” and four days later on August 6, 1993 he wrote “November” in honor of Hiroshima Day.
One of his students, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote, “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford. There has been no one who gave more courage to a journey with words, and silence, and an awakened life.”

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998

Ann died in a terrible road accident on her way home from Perth one evening. I couldn't help thinking of her when I read this poem. Ann was only 59 years old. This little memorial is in the Beverley Station garden and is cared for lovingly by her friends. I water and dead head the roses so that I can play a small part in remembering Ann. There is a brass ballet slipper on the stone podium in the centre crafted by a close friend Jenny Broun.

Falling In Love With Teaching Children Again!

So far we only had four kids booked in for todays workshop and the organisers were apologising to me for so few attendees. Then there were eight. That was okay as I had 12 candles. The workshop was set to start at 12:30 today.  By 11.o'clock the numbers had doubled to sixteen children, aged from 3-11. I needed to buy more supplies quickly. All the shops in Beverley close at 12:30! I think I also needed a stiff drink!

I used teach kids everyday but I took a break because I wasn't giving any of my own creative work the time and attention it needed so, as you can imagine I was a bit anxious about today. So anxious I gobbled down some nuts for lunch and gave myself a bad stomach cramp. I decided I was being stupid getting all wound up, so I 10 min in prayer just letting all my anxiety go.  I was organised, so all I needed to do now was enjoy myself and that I did! I have to say, I think I had the 16 most beautiful kids in the world. Thank you God! They were just gorgeous and a real pleasure to teach. Their parents can be very proud!

We started off with an hour of InterPlay on the Beverley Platform which is actually a performance stage. perfect! Also, it was still in the shade. 30 degrees in the midday sun in Beverley is not very comfortable. This was a first for me. I had never done InterPlay with kids before, except a little with my three grandchildren.So this was a new experience for me. Oh! my goodness. I have been missing out! They were so responsive and creative and really got into it. With my adults there are so many layers to sift through before I can tap into the playful, creative and free spirited inner child. I know it took me a long time when I first started InterPlay, but wow-with these kids it was right there. I had so much fun leading them. I realised then and there, I must seriously look into offering InterPlay 4 Kids. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to get any adults involved on a regular basis- I'm meant to be teaching children! Anyway I'll look into finding a venue and planning something in the New Year. I couldn't take any photos of the InterPlay session because I was too busy leading but my friend Jenny was clicking away and I can't wait to see some of the action shots of those inspiring kids! I'll post them soon.

The other thing I observed was that 5 of the children had up to 4 brothers or sisters in the workshop.  I guess if mum's bringing one or two, the others come along and join in too.  When I run an InterPlay class for adults it is highly unlikely that one participant will bring one sister or brother, let alone three!
I know it is not rocket science but it is a kind of awakening for me to stop struggling to push my wheelbarrow up hill for the adult groups, why not fly down hill with the kids - whee!

After InterPlay we sat down and talked about symbols of Christmas eg Baubles were originally round to remind us of God's creation- planet earth. The colours red and green for the blood sacrificed by Jesus and green is the evergreen Christmas Tree to remind us of eternal life and so on. One 4 yr. old proceeded to tell me how her father, a farmer, had to kill a lamb and there was red blood squirting out everywhere! Mmmm...okay, moving right along. While the kids were decorating their candles, it was the same little girl that said to all the older kids at her table "Do it properly like mine!" Priceless.

From past experience with kids I know when I have a great project choice because the kids have everything they need at their finger tips. They know exactly what to do and hardly need any assistance. They quietly chat among themselves and stay focused on their craft for a full 40 mins. Also, I get the chance to relax, take photos and enjoy watching them create.

A bonus too-they all finished at about the same time. I used to get frustrated when I'd plan a 60 min kids painting class and 10 minutes into the class a sweet child, having done a slap-dash job would say "I'm done, what do I do now?" and he/she would start wandering around the studio and distracting the other kids. I would try to expand their thinking on ways to add more to their work but the response would be " Nah...I like it like it just the way it is." Not wanting to squash any of that unteachable confidence out of them or loose my 'working with children' permit, I would have to come up with another project-on the spot to keep this 'special' child engaged till mum arrived to pick him/her up.

Anyway, after today, I confess I have fallen in love with teaching children again. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sticks, Soil, and Paper Craft

White Tissue Paper Stained with Rusty Bits and Bobs.

I haven't glued these down yet. Because I'm thinking I will lighten the background a little.

I've got about 10 kids age from 3 years old through to 11 coming to take part in workshop today. We'll have some fun doing InterPlay on a 'real' stage, that is the outdoor 'platform theatre' which is on the same block of land as the gallery and accommodation. 

After this we are going to look at some of the symbols surrounding Christmas and what they mean, including Saint Nicholas and the Christmas stocking story. Then, the kids will decorate a wax candle 'intaglio style' by making deep marks in the candle with a pencil and filling it with soft pastel/crayons.

After that I hope they will all go home, and peace and quiet will reign once again at the gallery! 

I should have been a librarian. I can remember wanting to be a librarian when I was a kid. I thought there must have been great satisfaction in opening up a pile of books, boldly stamping the date in them and closing up the books with a job-well-done-look on your face, and again, placing them in a pile to be taken away. When the books were retuned, you simply filed them back in place. The rest of the day you could read books and no one was aloud to make any noise or you got thrown out! Who wouldn't want to be a librarian if that was all they did? 

What is it about stamping your mark with authority. I have a clear picture of wanting to work in a bank or an office so that I could bang that stamp of approval or acceptance down and scribble my signature on the page. That's all I wanted to do! 

I liked the idea of having wads of papers and receipt books. I remember a block of shops close to my home when I was a kid. Someone had obviously cleaned out their office and there was boxes of rubbish next to the bins. I dived in like a kid in a lolly shop and I found two old rubber stamps and dried up old ink pad. I was in paper heaven. I gathered up as much as I could to take home, not do art, but to play offices and libraries and some empowering stamping! Strange girl.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Raining on the beach-#8

Building sand castles
rain falling from heavy clouds
Seagulls swoop in-shore

By JPfeiffer 2013

Just cut yesterday's blog post in half and placed it here!

I'm still keen on drawing figures and I was really happy with this one which iis charcoal on paper. I based it on an image by Debra Luccio. I haven't been able to find any figures in poses that I like but this was spot on. Thank you Debra!
   Then I tried using 'Touch Drawing' technique with water soluble oil paints on tissue paper. The whole image is drawn using fingers and there is no opportunity to rub out the unwanted lines with my fingers as I have been doing with the charcoal. The water lily was just a warm up Touch Drawing but I really like the loose flowing lines that have come directly from my finger tips over the paper which was laid over the rolled out oil paint on a non-porous board. See for more information.


In the evening I ran a 'Touch Drawing' workshop at the station gallery which was so enjoyable. We even had champagne and hot chips while we worked! I'll put some more photos of their work on the next post once I have edited them but here are a few. To top the day off I sold another small framed collage work!

    Touch Drawing workshop at Station Gallery Nov 21 2013

What a Busy Day!

All the things that I would like to do on a regular basis are considered better to do first thing in the morning before you get too far into the day's work. My list seems to be getting longer.

Morning Walk-60 min
Morning Stretches-10 min
Morning Prayer-30 min
Morning Pages  ( Journalling )-45 min
Morning Routine as in shower, breakfast, make the bed, do the dishes, feed the pets etc-60min
That is a total of about 31/2hrs before I get anywhere near the studio.
....and when is supposed to be the best time of the day to do your creative work? First thing in the morning!

Had a great day today playing with rusty metal, white vinegar and tissue paper.
Also making sculptures out of soft tissues, PVA glue and little broken sticks and leaf matter. The first one was made by nature herself.i found it in the bushes while out walking.

I then tried to make my own version and I was quite pleased with the result. Not a very good photo as it was taken indoors at night. 

This is what I made from the rust stained tissue paper. They are not glued down yet, so this could change. I love the organic nature of these works and I would like to experiment a great deal more with these ideas. The house smells of fish and chips because of the white vinegar that I soak the rust pieces in. The the circle at the centre of the flowers are from the imprint of flattened rusty bottle tops I found in the car park next door to where I am staying. Again, not a good photo.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The dictionary word that came up for the day on my iPhone captured my attention and I had to find out what on earth it meant? When I read the meaning- a miscellaneous collection, I decided that would be a great title for my next solo exhibition. 
Blow the thematic- line of thought-body of work. I have way to much of the curious adventurer bubbling within. Yes! my artwork is eclectic and yes, "omnium-gatherum" A gathering or collection of miscellaneous artworks, coming soon!

Foster's own room was a cramped omnium gatherum, cluttered with the paraphernalia of daily living.
-- Henry Blake Fuller, Bertram Cope's Year, 1919

 Oil on Pinewood     20 x 20 cm.    JPfeiffer



I started this painting just before I left Perth and I hope to finish it off over the next few days.

 It is acrylic on canvas and the size is about 91 x 55 cm. I haven't titled it yet but it has an abstract aussie landscape feel about it. 
 I enjoyed painting the solid bold and organic shapes that look like boulders. Thinking I would like to pour some clear glossy resin over this one to contrast with the earthiness and textured surface treatment.

In fact 'earthy' is what this painting is about. I think I will call it 'Grounded'. Grounded is a good strong word for me at the moment and I am very much drawn to mother earth and love down to earth people!