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

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"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

Saturday, December 27, 2008


"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old." ~ Franz Kafka

Images and words can be powerful and revealing. They can convey the secrets of your soul and the abundance in your heart.Inspired still by the words of a 12 year old,posted in a prior blog entry,I intend to live and celebrate 2009 with a "full heart." I want my images and words this year to represent the joy and love in my life.I am fortunate because it truly is plentiful.It is difficult to admit that I sometimes cling to the "negative" because it is comfortable being the victim... but that is a heavy weight to bear. I am no longer a child.Those who imposed great pain are gone and many years have passed.I was recently advised that it is time to forgive,(myself included.)How strange that someone should fear "success" or "happiness".I do it seems.Embracing both,admitting both,involves,believing in my own self worth. That must seem inconceivable to some. I am almost there:)

So I have decided to choose words to focus upon, my own "daily affirmations", as inspiration for my art.I will select one simple word per month,posted alongside the wise writing of a 12 year old and the artwork of a friend on my easel, and I will create with that word in mind.Seriously, how powerful and "full" are words like love,peace,beauty?...We overuse them and tend to dismiss their value. We diminish the essence of their genuine meaning.An entry by artist, Vivi-Mari Carpelan on her blog,A Spiritual Journey On Planet Earth, reminded me of the need to "see" beauty,the meaning of true beauty (she is it),the necessity to find it,unearth it,appreciate it.
So for January, the word is BEAUTY...it surrounds me... I know it:) 258

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Upcoming Art Exhibit

Jude Harzer
Fly:Recognizing Possibilities
oil on canvas 48" w x 36" h
National Association of Women Artists
2/19 - 4/26/09 - HUB/Robeson Galleries, Penn State, State College, PA
(Reception: TBD)

Wisdom From A Twelve Year Old: On Living With A Full Heart

I came upon this as I was perusing a counseling site. I surround myself with children. They love abundantly. They accept life with a graceful ease and honesty. I have learned more from my children and students than from any adult. I tend to build protective walls and then "challenge" others to a point where they either stay or go.It seems more comfortable and "painless" to remain guarded.Unlike my sister who loves fully and generously,I prefer to avoid potential hurt.Children,however,seem to be the exception for me...I easily connect with them.They require immediate attention,trust and kindness...there are no overriding expectations. They simply choose to love.I discovered these words, written by a 12 year old. How perfect that a child can "see" so clearly and with great wisdom."Out of the mouths of babes..."

On Living With A Full Heart
When one is too hurt one cannot see others' pain, is too blind with one's own.
When one has many weights to lift, one cannot enjoy life.
When one has many expectations, one cannot be patient with others.
When one has fear, one cannot enjoy life.
When one does not give, one is making the heart lonely.
When one does not take, one is making the heart feel inferior
When one does not hope, one is shutting oneself into a tight closet.
But when one does not love, one is killing one's self.

(written by 12-year old Olivia, Berkeley, California, 2/12/02)

So in 2009, my purpose will be to live with a full heart. I posted this on my desk next to a treasured image entitled, Slaughter Run.
2009...moving forward,moving on.
The joy of life is the forward road...—Tertius Van Dyke

Quiet Your Mind

A recurring bit of advice from several of my most trusted friends and family: "Quiet your mind,quiet your actions and words and look within yourself because all that is needed to succeed is within you, not elsewhere. Let your art be your voice." I know all of this. I advise people to do the same and the work that lies before me, is personal and internal. It is the act of BELIEVING. Actions do speak louder than words. I know, I hear, I see, I just have to believe and trust myself.I somehow believe that others are smarter,more talented,more worthy and will lead the way.I already know the way.I am tired of my self-defeating repetitive thoughts and actions.Beth Anne,my baby sister, you have become an unlikely source of inspiration and wisdom. Who would have thought? :) Congratulations on this years achievements.You've had many. I'll be there to see you successfully finish your 18 mile run. Run, run for your life. I'll paint for mine.I am proud of you and thank you with all my heart.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

“It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception.” Robert Motherwell

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Message From Zimbabwe

I received this message from Janice Ashby,a friend,artist and humanitarian who has selflessly devoted her life to helping a community of papercrafters in Zimbabwe. To read about Janice and her non-profit organization, Eco-Africa,click on the following link: http://www.ecoafricasocialventures.org/home
Janice and her efforts are a wonderful reminder of the abundance that we share and the generosity and the resilience of the human spirit. Happy Christmas!

Hi everyone.
Here is a picture out of Zimbabwe which is good news for a change. The distribution to our artisans of the food that was purchased with your donations of US dollars.

This means Christmas time for Eco Africa’s artisans and their families will be not spent desperately searching for food sources.

The truck arrived at St Alois mission Wednesday morning and was quickly unloaded by teams of women ready for distribution later in the day. The smiles of relief and joy on their faces made it worth all of the efforts we, together with you our friends and supporters, went to to make it happen. Then there was the Christmas Party, our fifth at Eco Africa. Finally we all went home, tired but happy, never mind that it poured sheets of rain the whole day. It’s the rainy season!

I thought I would make this more of a Holiday Picture Show than a newsletter. I went deep into the township of Chitungwiza on Sunday and saw first hand the horrible effects of the total breakdown of services there. The huge piles of trash that line the roads uncollected, the streams of raw sewage that runs down each side of the streets and collects in fetid pools. I have graphic pictures that would horrify and sadden you – but instead I chose these. While parked outside the tiny modest cottage, home to one of our artisans, I contemplated the devastating neglect that has caused the sickness and extreme hardships in these peoples lives.

Then - a moment that brightened my day – a tribute to the resilience of children. Even in intolerable circumstances - kids will be kids!

Happy Holidays every one.

Friday, December 19, 2008


“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

Seeing Beauty When It Seems Most Difficult To Find

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back." ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

I remember reading this in college. The words struck me because I always knew that if you look hard enough, despite the "noise" and ugliness,the unkindness,the pain...God is there. Beauty is there. It is however sometimes hard to find.But it is there.God(which for me equals beauty,hope,the goodness and potential within us all),can be found in the smiling face of a child, the kindness of a stranger,vibrant purple flowers growing amid a field of weeds...

Alice Walker's, The Color Purple, often makes me think about my students,..actually all children and people in general. We are naturally attracted to the physically beautiful,the talented,intelligent,funny or socially outgoing.It is human nature really and certainly all of those qualities are evidence of beauty. But the more satisfying beauty, for those that wish to "see",sometimes is not quite so obvious.

During the first several weeks of school, I make an effort to "see" all 700 of my students. There are those who are outwardly naughty and misbehaved. You can't help but notice them and learn their names quickly but the beauty is in the fact that they demand to be seen. They make you very aware of their existence and that is actually wonderful because they command attention,good or bad, and will be cared for. Then of course there are the attractive,the sweet,the gifted and talented...the children who are "easy" to teach and "easy" to love.They provide a refreshing, constant source of beauty and inspiration." ..their beauty is "easy" to see. Finally, there are the silent,the mentally or physically challenged,the "plain", the painfully shy,the abused,the misunderstood,the "faceless" who seem invisible to most.Beauty is equally within those children, those people...it is quietly concealed and more difficult to find,especially if you have a limited and superficial understanding of what beauty is. But I assure you it is there.It is what lies beneath the "mask" that often offers the most beauty. In all of us, "true" beauty is not in appearances. It is in our goodness, our kindness and generosity, it is in discovering who we are.

So throughout my year,I do make a concerted effort to see and help my students discover their own beauty. It is my job as an Art educator but it is more importantly my mission as a parent and as a person.It is amazing when you actually stop and talk to a person who probably would go unnoticed by most, and ask them with sincerity, how they are and who they are. You will witness an immediate physical and emotional transformation. Sometimes the response is one of suspicion or surprise, but for a moment, they realize that someone cared to see....I think I will do a purple painting:)

May you always find beauty in the world around you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Works In Process:A Return To Color

I met with an artist friend yesterday who has become an unexpected source of inspiration and somewhat of a professional "coach." It does help to bounce ideas off other artists who you value and trust and who know you personally. It helps if they can physically see your work as much gets lost in photographs,... mine anyway. Artists tend to work in isolation but occasionaly it helps me to input from a fellow artist. When my daughter left for college, I lost her critical eye. She helped me immensely when I couldn't find direction or when I was struggling with a composition. And she was tough and vocal in her critiques,which I greatly appreciated. I wasn't looking for flowery compliments,only assistance so that I could improve....Anyway, I am uncluttering my head and my discussion yesterday confirmed that I need to focus more than ever and "just do it." You have to love those Nike guys:) So right now I am rapidly transferring new ideas onto canvas. This is effective in documenting the general concepts so that I can later return to refine them.I actually have an abundance of images swirling in my mind,waiting to be manifested...but some of the older work still needs to be completed and there is value in further developing them. Here are some of the numerous images,hastily painted for the sake of peace of mind. So I'm off to a good start for 2009, I actually have a plan and deadlines in January for projects, one of which I vowed to fulfill based on a handshake:)It is my integrity that is on the line, personally and artistically. Yikes! No more procrastination...

Monday, December 15, 2008


"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also DREAM; not only plan, but also BELIEVE." ...."Existence would be intolerable if we were never to dream."
Anatole France

I am at heart a dreamer and I plan to keep it that way. There is a reason I surround myself with 700 Kindergartners everyday because they still BELIEVE and know how to dream.And color is so beautiful and my new art will reflect that. Kindergartners love color!

PS...so I arrive at school this morning and am setting up for the second portion of our "stained glass" lesson.I told my students how distracted I was attending Kindergarten because everyday at Holy Angels in Trenton we would go to mass and I would be mesmerized by the colors and patterns of the art...it was everywhere...the mosaic floors, the painted ceilings, statues and woodwork, but especially the stained glass windows. I revisited that church this year on the day of my Grandmother's funeral and it was just as beautiful and magical!I was distracted again:)I was in love with the visual richness and architecture of that sacred building. I really do paint my memories and dreams.

Anyway....speaking of dreams, two of my Kindergartners greeted each other this morning,after being separated all weekend and one exclaimed,"I dreamed about you last night!" Then they smiled and unabashedly hugged. We can learn a lot from five year olds. No apologies. A special someone gave me a button at my recent art exhibit...it read "Never apologize for your Art." To me that translates also to never apologizing for my dreams!
Make a great day!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Flying is not a magical process!
It requires focus,persistence,practice,hard work and a belief in one's own ability to fly. Someone important in my life,told me that failure was an option and that one must "see" possibilities rather than obstacles.It sounds easy,because obviously our hearts and heads,our lives and the lives of others,among so many other things,tend to get in the way.
But I assure you...it can be done. Patience,persistence,practice,discipline,focus,forgiveness of oneself,persistence,fearlessness,persistence,imagination,determination,persistence,desire...and acceptance that it is an ongoing practice are NECESSARY.
I knew this little girl once who was not particularly exceptional,save for her passion for art.I barely noticed her in school. She blended in...was nearly "invisible".Without sharing the tragic details, let's just say, she was a victim of pure dysfunction, dysfunction with a capital "D"...Her art became her solace and reserve.The sad thing is no one ever taught her that she could fly,that the ability and strength was within her.Not many people even knew that she was anything other than average,existing in an average life.I know that she was "paralyzed" by FEAR,embarrassment and confusion.But somehow,in the midst of all that "noise" and clutter,she did see and learn and grow.I haven't seen her for quite a while, but I heard that she recently found her wings:)I think of her often because as a parent and as an educator, I have a wonderful opportunity to encourage children to take flight,to tell them that there are no mistakes really,that the "bad" will pass and the true "magic" is within them. It isn't easy,but it can absolutely be done.
So persist and BELIEVE.Be patient and dream but at the same time,keep it real. People are watching and listening and craving assistance on their quest to fly.There are some exceptional mentors out there who provide guidance and support... if you let them, but in the end it all depends on you.
May you soar to new heights and find your magic.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Growing Up: A Beautiful and Bittersweet Wonder

Someone once told me that our children grow up, "in spite of us." As a parent of two older teens,I am fascinated at how grounded and independent my children are...yes, in spite of me.The ironic thing is that I was an embarrassingly over protective parent. I mistook the responsibility of loving my children,particularly my first, Christina,for guarding her and controlling her experiences. Tia was delicate and beautiful. I nursed her for 2 years, never sent her to preschool, let her sleep with me until she was 5....all in an effort to keep her safe... and where did she end up?...in a worry group. At five years old, she didn't want to leave mommy and so Kindergarten was traumatic. I missed the lesson that my primary job included preparing her for the real world.
I erred in the name of love. I tend to do that still.The daily visits to the beach,boardwalk,zoos,parks,play groups,..the building of homemade puppet theatres, pretend castles and pillow houses was the norm but not necessarily effective in readying her for school and friends and life:).
Now here is the incredible thing,kids are resilient, and when loved, they really do learn to "fly."One thing I do well, is love Christina and Robert.At five she came to me and pretty much said, "Hey, I'm sleeping in my own bed...and she never returned to mine." At 13, she criticized me for not allowing her to ever walk around the block by herself with the argument that she would be living away from me in several years and she barely knew how to cross the street alone. She didn't want to be afraid. That was painful to hear...that I had imposed my fears. She continued to educate me and demand her freedom.She became my teacher and then one day, several years ago,she took me aside and said,"Camel(her name for me),you are pretty much a hypocrite...as you encourage us(her brother included) to find our passions,live fearlessly and excel, you live in a safe,small world of your own,paralyzed by fear." She asked why I abandoned my dreams? Wow...that hurt. It hurt more that she could see me and even more to hear the truth. And then I began to paint and to dream for myself and for my children.I was painting for my life.
So kids really do grow up in spite of us:)
And that little girl, now 18, is a DREAMER and a free spirit but tough and focused. Nearly finishing her first semester in college with high honors, she has secured an internship that requires her to move far away.She leaves in January.I think she is about to fly:)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Progress:Discipline+Focus=A Happier Me!

"One-half of life is luck; the other half is discipline — and that's the important half, for without discipline you wouldn't know what to do with luck."
— Carl Zuckmayer: Was a German dramatist
I know that I am lucky,although it took until I was 40ish to realize the value of being disciplined to translate that "luck" into something more meaningful.I believe that I am happiest when I am productive, creating art. I think it is funny when people express concern and encourage me to relax or to rest.I live for those quiet, uninterrupted moments when I am painting.
I actually want to "work" more and have only devoted several hours a week to my art since September. Hmmm...so I assure those nearest and dearest to me, that I will try to rest my mind but certainly not my schedule.I aim to simplify and focus. Discipline is key ...and somehow I always manage to notice the beauty in the world around me, I am surrounded by it...but when I am working, I realize the beauty within myself.It's all good.

So here is 15 minutes more on my self portrait( about an hour in all) and progress on my Simple Dreams painting. I am also returning to COLOR! 2009 will be colorful...I am sure of it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Simple Dreams: My Current Works In Process

I will let my images be my voice. I did spend ten minutes starting a self portrait in an effort to salvage a canvas which originally had the beginnings of a sketched figure. I also did it while struggling to get started painting this evening. I think I might actually attempt to complete this one:)

Tim Maslyn sculptor 1957-2008

Tim Maslyn sculptor 1957-2008
Last night I received unexpected news that the husband of my sister's childhood friend, died suddenly. Three young daughters are left behind. Words cannot express the pain and loss that they must feel. I wrote to Janine last night,wanting to express my condolences.A recurring thought, that I did share with her, was that Tim would continue to inspire, and his memory survive, because he shared with others his purpose and passion...his art.
Tim Maslyn was a NJ based sculptor. Several years ago, I remember standing in my sister's kitchen in upstate NY,at a family gathering,listening to Tim talk about his choice to sculpt and his success in supporting his family doing so. He encouraged me to return to my art and have faith that if I was doing the thing I loved most, the rest would fall in to place. Many others, including my sister Lisa, have relentlessly tried to do the same. And finally I am doing just that,and I trust that what I am doing is important.That my art is meaningful to someone other than myself.
Upon hearing of Tim's passing, I thought about what is most important to me and questioned what it is I will leave behind that is greater than my life with my immediate family.For the first time, without hesitation, I am confident that it will be my art.
Art gives myself and other artists their own unique voice,and the ability to speak to a great many others in a manner that transcends words,time,socioeconomics and culture. Art has the power to touch hearts,lives and the human spirit. It is a universal language... a gift. And so, when I think of Tim, I think how wonderful it is that he created so many meaningful works that others will continue to appreciate and share, especially his family.Tim ensured the perpetuation of his memory through his sculpture.
May Janine and her children find comfort in his memory and generous spirit.
To read about Tim Maslyn and to view his work, please visit his site at:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Visit Michael Keropian's Site and Then Link to Me!

The internet offers wonderful opportunities to communicate and network with other artists.It enables me to view quality art from the comfort of my home. It is a source of inspiration and instruction for me personally.
At my recent exhibit at Gallery 638, it was an honor to have New York based sculptor, Michael Keropian and his talented wife, artist/art educator, Jan Malin, in attendance.Mr. Keropian has graciously added me as a link on his site. Please check out his monumental and brilliantly sculpted bronzes. His new page featuring his historic figures is particularly impressive! Enjoy! http://www.keropiansculpture.com/HISTORY.html

Jude, Art and Inspiration