When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”~ Paul Coelho

"Some Mad Hope..."
A young and vital child knows no limit to his own will, and it is the only reality to him. It is not that he wants at the outset to fight other wills, but that they simply do not exist for him. Like the artist, he goes forth to the work of creation, gloriously alone.
Jane Harrison

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator
My art is a reflection of my effort to recognize and embrace the beauty in the world around me, even when it seems most difficult to find. Contact me at judiharz@aol.com or visit my website at http://www.judeharzerfineart.com

Visit My Website


"Most of us have two lives- the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance."Steven Pressfield

"The greatest freedoms are freedom from regret, freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety, and freedom from sorrow."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, February 3, 2014

My MFA Thesis Exhibit

Yesterday, I officially concluded the necessary requirements to complete my MFA degree in Painting  from the Savannah College of Art and Design with my culminating thesis exhibit held at the Ocean County Artists' Guild in Island Heights, NJ. It was an exceptional day attended by incredibly supportive family, friends, students and colleagues.

So today begins a new phase in my life. I have taken a leave from my job. For a "moment" I am not restricted by the typical structure and daily obligations that have defined my days and years. All there is...is me and the motivation and discipline to move forward and paint. But today I just feel like reading a book that I received, For The Benefit Of Those Who See by Rosemary Mahoney. It has great personal relevance that I will share at a later time.

Here are some images from my thesis exhibit! Enjoy and thank you!
my thesis exhibit

To view images from the show on Facebook click HERE!

Jude Harzer Thesis Exhibit Feb. 2, 2014 Ocean County Artists' Guild
photograph by David Steele

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Photography As Reference and Inspiration

As a pre-teen, I taught myself how to draw the human face and figure by pouring over Seventeen Magazine advertisements featuring Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs and the apparel sections of the voluminous annual  Sears Christmas catalogue.  Basically, I used whatever visual references were available and trust me, there weren't many. On butcher's paper that I "borrowed" from my Mom's kitchen, I  made detailed and time consuming pencil studies of eyes, faces and torsos. Substrates were limited as well and so I carefully rolled out several feet of this clean white surface onto the crowded floor of a bedroom I shared with my two sisters and then would spend hours looking and copying without any regard for rules or technique. I just felt the need to draw people, particularly kids, and as I recall, my five siblings were not the most stationary subject matter . I made work and either discarded it or tucked it safely under my bed. I was more interested in learning and improving than sharing my art.

Since then of course, I have had the experience of drawing from life using a model . It is an invaluable resource that has enriched my work but it is not always convenient or affordable. So photographs are my "go to" for subject references, made even more accessible by the immediacy of digital photography and top notch editing programs. I encourage my students to use every resource possible but not to rely on any one of  them exclusively. They are simply" tools" that when paired with the experience, knowledge, skill and imagination of the artist, can strengthen and inform their work. There is no magical singular solution or "way." I only know what I feel works for me and that is what I share but always with the willingness to try alternate methods and new materials.

During the past two years I have been teaching basic Digital Photography and Photoshop editing at the high school level . I had no prior experience and had to learn along with my class.  It has significantly impacted my own way of "seeing" and has exposed me to the works of some masterful contemporary photographers who create imagery that seems as precious to me as the finest oil paintings on Belgian linen. These artists happen to all be women.  They capture the human form while telling some underlying and often thought provoking story, whether or not that was their intention. Intensely captivating children are featured as subject for a few of them. I am drawn to them. I hope that my paintings share a similar sensibility. So I thought I'd share the excellence of their work.

I was asked why I don't just make photos. Because when I paint, I am aware how much I love the process , the error  and the evidence of my very own fumbling marks when using pigment .

Here are a few of my favorite photographers:
1. Sally Mann
Sally Mann
b. 1951 Lexington, Va.
 2.Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman
 b. 1958-1981 Denver, CO
3. Diana Arbus

Diane Arbus
b. 1923-1971 New York , NY
4. Loretta Lux
Loretta Lux
b. 1969 Dresden


5. Deborah Parkin
Deborah Parkin

7. Tierney Gearon
Tierney Gearon
b.  1963 Atlanta, GA   

Sunday, January 12, 2014


This painting, entitled Progeny is part of my White Rabbit, White Rabbit: Rituals of Painting, Progeny and Play exhibit. It can be viewed at the Ocean County Artist's Guild at 22 Chestnut Ave, Island Heights, NJ from February 2-26, 2014. Please join me for the opening reception Feb. 2 between 1-4 pm at this location. http://ocartistsguild.org/
Progeny  oil on wood 30 x 30 2013 Jude Harzer

Project 365

Why do any of us create? That is such a broad question, unanswerable by a single response. Obviously it differs for each of us. I know that for myself, this desire is persistent, necessary and therefore important. Finding time to do it with all of life's happenings  poses challenges but it seems in life,  we tend to make time for that which we value most....or we don't and that is often more about our choices and priorities rather than about time itself.  So although I have neglected writing about my efforts in an organized and chronological way, I have certainly not abandoned my effort to create an image a day , every day, since the start date, my 50th birthday: Nov. 6th.

Some of these have been 5 minute scribbles and others have been day long oil paintings but  all are evidence of the fact that I have indeed made the time. I value my work no matter the end result. I have deemed it " Project 365." Perhaps next year I will work on a more sequential, highly organized and deliberate version of this project, faithfully documenting it along the way .....or maybe  I won' t. For now, I would simply like to share a sampling of the images that have resulted from time I feel is well spent. In these moments of scribbling, scrawling and pushing paint about, I feel most aware of what I need and value.

I hope you find the time for what matters to you and discover your joy.

“You will touch this joy and you will suddenly know it is what you were looking for your whole life, but you were afraid to even acknowledge the absence because the hunger for it was so encompassing.”
Eve Ensler

12 x 12 oil on canvas Jude Harzer 2014

Rolodex cards graphite sketches Jude Harzer 2014

Rolodex cards (enlarged) Jude Harzer 2014

Crowned oil on canvas 24 x 24 Jude Harzer 2014

Flock oil on canvas 24 x 24 Jude Harzer 2014

The Wait oil on canvas 24 x 36 Jude Harzer 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

You Are Invited! FEBRUARY 2, 2014 1-4 pm Jude Harzer Thesis Exhibit

A belated and abundant New Year to all!

On Sunday , February 2nd, my graduate thesis exhibit opens at the Ocean County Artist's Guild in Island Heights, NJ. This concludes the requirements necessary for me to successfully complete my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the  Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. This is the culmination of a 3 year commitment , one that I chose not necessarily to acquire a degree but to immerse myself in a creative and learning community dedicated toward rediscovering and establishing my own art practice.

It took a great deal of persistence, balance and encouragement to actually complete this program... and so I did, despite the whole lot of life that happened in the midst of it all. I finished my academic work just two weeks prior to the passing of my mother and a week after I celebrated my 50th birthday. Yes, life goes on and I am moving forward and through it all.

And so I celebrate the start of this New Year with my exhibit entitled, "White Rabbit, White Rabbit: The Rituals of Paint. Progeny and Play." If on February 2. 2014 you are available between 1-4 pm, I'd love to share my work with you and simply say hello and thank you!

Hope to see you there!

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
― Neil Gaiman

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Phyllis Frances Vereb: Remembrances of Our Mother

Phyllis Frances Vereb, 73, passed away at Bayshore Hospital in the late evening of Dec. 4th, surrounded by her loving family. Phyllis was born on July 27, 1940 in Trenton, NJ to parents Edward and Bernadette Wierzbicki. Visually impaired since birth, this platinum blonde beauty with a “Colgate” smile was raised, along with her younger sister and brother, by their devoted mother, in their Lalor Street home where Mrs. Wierzbicki remained until her death in January, 2008 at the age of 87. The passing of Phyllis’s mother, who was her most treasured friend and greatest supporter, was a profoundly sad event in her life.

Phyllis graduated from Cathedral High School in 1958 before marrying her childhood sweetheart David Vereb in 1960. Together they had six children, all of whom were raised in Trenton before the family relocated to Clarksburg, NJ, Millstone Township in 1972. Phyllis independently reared her spirited brood of six in this picturesque Monmouth County farming community. She proudly lived in her Stagecoach home residence until her recent fall and subsequent illness in late October.

Phyllis leaves behind her beloved six children: Lisa Diez, (CA), David P. Vereb (VA), Judith Harzer (NJ), Beth Martin (NJ), Christopher Vereb (NJ), Robert Vereb (VA) and thirteen grandchildren: Christopher, Shannon, Kelly, Christina, Justin, Maurice, Robert, Mary, Michael, Mario, Patricia, Jordan and Jacob. She helped to create and inspire all of these beautiful, passionate and accomplished young lives. She is also survived by many valued immediate and extended family members and friends. Phyllis was pre-desceased by both of her parents and her ex-husband.

When remembering Phyllis, her children wish to recall her devout faith and the affirmations that motivated her despite a life filled with tragedy and hardship. Daily she would assert, “This too shall pass.” “ One day at a time.” “Patience is a virtue.” and “Life is easy as long as you don’t weaken.” Phyllis loved music, especially Johnny Mathis and Broadway show tunes. She played the accordion as a child and was a graceful dancer mastering the Lindy, Jitterbug, Waltz and Polka. Phyllis valued art, literature and fashion, having been a model for local Trenton department stores as a young woman. She prided herself on baking authentic traditional Polish holiday nut rolls and Chrusciki for her family. She appreciated history, Shark Week, Jeopardy, the ocean, Anne of Green Gables, dogs, the color pink and wonderful food. She adopted the butterfly as a symbol for her life as it represented freedom, beauty, evolution and flight. And with what little she had, Phyllis regularly contributed to charities and organizations that supported children and the underprivileged. These are the memories that help define who Phyllis was and how her family wishes to remember her.

Phyllis will be cremated and celebrated privately by her immediate family. She was recognized, post mortem by the New Jersey Sharing Network for a successful organ and tissue donation. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider making a donation to Catholic Charities who greatly assisted Phyllis while raising her children, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Blind Commission.


“to live in this world you must be able to do three things
 to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;
 and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” ~Mary Oliver

Friday, November 29, 2013

Project 365: Unexpected Challenges

Project 365 is progressing slowly. It seemed an exceptionally simple objective: to execute a single daily image of a child, given whatever time was available, using any medium. Start date: November 6th, my 50th birthday.

I have not abandoned this concept so early on in the process but have realized more than ever that factors such as real world occurrences above and beyond the typical demands of full time work, family and life in general, potentially impact time, energy and motivation in a way that is down right paralyzing. This goes without saying perhaps but my own deep-seated sense of inadequacy that conceived this basic project to purposely keep my ever wandering mind on track makes personal failure at something so seemingly “easy”, difficult to bear.

As of late, even putting a single stroke on a page seems uninteresting and laborious. My motivation has waned and yet I am scribbling my way through but not with the intended fervor that I had imagined. I am embarrassed by my inability to perform better.

The “real world occurrence”, without over dramatization or a laundry listing of the many heart wrenching details …was the hospitalization of my 73 year old mother two weeks prior to my project start date. In many ways it was expected… inevitable. I knew immediately that this would not have a positive outcome and that she would possibly never return to her home of 41 years. It was confirmed two weeks ago that indeed she will not. This has been excruciating for her to process on many levels, the most significant being that my 47 year old, mentally impaired brother who lived with her, will as a result, also be displaced.

The lives of my sister Beth and I have been consumed by the juggling act of the resulting upheaval. Beth is the strong and gracious one shouldering much of the precipitating burden. Near daily hospital visits and sharing custody of my brother who suffered trauma that caused extensive short term memory impairment 20 years ago, have become the norm. My Mom, coherent and depressed, reluctantly resigned herself to being situated in a convalescent home for the duration of her life. The care she requires is so incredibly extensive, that this seemed the only alternative. She knows this and was relocated this past Saturday to her new residence.

On Sunday morning, November 24th, she flatlined…coded…whatever the appropriate terminology. She was rushed to the nearest E.R. They responded efficiently and effectively, worked furiously to revive her unaware of the “Do not resuscitate” orders which had not yet been transferred from the rehab center to her new "home."

This week, she has been surrounded by family. She is awake without any recollection of her lapse into a permanent sleep or the resuscitation that followed. She is amazingly able to converse and respond quite well. However, her challenges are greater. She is unable to breathe independent of a Bi-pap ventilator. The trauma to her chest from the CPR caused physical damage and pain. Her body is retaining fluid. She is reliant on others to accommodate her basic needs. She is not ambulatory and is trapped in her own body.This is her current state of existence.

Along with my sister,while we are able,  we wait, feed her, talk with her, watch monitor levels rise and fall. I fail to imagine her pain and place. I asked her what she thinks during all of these hours immobilized and alone. “Life and death,” she emphatically stated. However, she does express hopefulness that she will recover but also how tired she is at trying.

I cannot remember why I paint at the moment. In comparison to real challenges, mine are ridiculously small...near non-existent and yet I do not move. I know this is a time to just be and accept events as they unfold.

Project 365: more to come….

Jude, Art and Inspiration