Love who you are…

Posted on: November 8, 2015

In which ‘the Artist’ works on an exhibition of small and large watercolours, intaglio and relief prints and small ceramic objects, and takes advice from her yoga teacher.


I’ve always been wary of calling myself an artist. I didn’t ever have any problem calling myself a cartoonist, it was a term I embraced almost as soon as I’d done my first cartoon, which was in my mid-20s. But an Artist (I always think of it with a capital A) – that seems quite a different thing – someone working on a higher plane, connected to Art in a way that defies words, making work full of deep and obscure meanings. Certainly not someone whose work constantly attracts the adjective ‘quirky’.Blog - Only Sleeping
But in working on my recent exhibition, Far and Near’ I felt more like an artist than I have ever done before. The making of the work brought me great joy some of the time, and other times filled me with fear. I found myself some nights waking at 3am and unable to go back to sleep, because my head was whirring with ideas, my hands were itching to get on with things. So I would get up and work, and maybe grab some catch up sleep later in the day. But I also found I actually needed less sleep, I could work incredibly long days because I felt so buoyed by the work. It wasn’t that I was suddenly superhuman, I often felt drowsy, (and I wouldn’t have wanted to operate heavy machinery), but there was an energy that allowed me to produce lots of work. And that brought with it a precision to my decision-making, an ability to think ‘Yes, that!’ rather than wavering,  unsure of the next step.Blog - Flock & Fleet

All of these things – the joy, the fear, the strange hours that I was keeping, the energy – they all felt like part of a wave of creativity that I was riding – just like a ‘real artist’ surely does.

But of course there was doubt as well. Doubt that I was ‘doing it right’.  And for this, the words that my yoga teacher says at the every class came in very handy.  ‘Love who you are, and what you do, and how you do it’.  The first two bits, yeah yeah same old, but that last bit – ‘and how you do it’ was perfect.  It was the realisation that actually I can only do things the way I do them, and that comparing myself to some other achievement is no help.  This phrase became my mantra.

Here is part of what I said in my artist’s statement: ‘I love old maps, travel, boats and flying. I wanted to make work that tried to capture the beauty, spirit and idiosyncracies of these things’

The exhibition contains prints, watercolours, and small objects. I loved working with three different mediums – images fed into each other and threaded through all the work, thoughts and ideas done in one kind of work would insert themselves unexpectedly other places. The symbols (for want of a better word) of maps, boats, islands, flying women, were joined one day by an owl, then by other owls. I still don’t know quite where the owls came from or what they mean, and I love it that I don’t know.  (In fact, unlike my cartoons which generally have a fixed, pre-determined meaning,  I’m not sure I know what most of the works in the exhibition ‘mean’. Arty, huh.)

Blog - Far & Near Watercolour postcards

I’ve been using watercolour for many years, in my cartoons and picture books, but for the work for ‘Far and Near’ I took much greater advantage of the potentials of the medium, rather than just colouring in. I did big (for me) watercolours, A3 in size, and smaller ones that were postcard size.

Blog - Map Mountain


The intaglio prints I did were also postcard size, and the relief prints were quite small, about 7 cm in diameter.


Blog - JourneyBlog - Flying

I don’t know why, but from very early on in my thinking about this exhibition, I knew I wanted to make some 3D objects. So I investigated ceramics, took a course, got a lot of advice from a ceramicist friend, and spent many of the wee small hours in my pyjamas at the kitchen table making things from clay. I’m not even sure how to describe them – little bowls, tiny plates?- but I know that the sense of discovery that came with this completely new medium, assisted me with the rest of the work. I don’t know why that was so. Maybe it’s because it added to the feeling that I was being an Artist – what other kind of a lunatic takes on an entirely new thing and adds in a whole new dimension to work in 3D on the eve of an exhibition?

The riskiness was exhilarating.Blog - Map bowls green

Blog - Spotted owlsblog
I’m not sure if I’ve captured how it did feel making the work. I wish I had had time while it was going on to make notes, but the process was too intense and busy for that. It was wonderful to see the final work all installed in the gallery ­– some pieces framed, some in display boxes, to see the original idea I had of putting all these differents together made manifest. And see that it worked as an exhibition, at least I’m pretty sure it did. I definitely know it was interesting, and that’s important too.   And as to whether it was art and whether I am an Artist with a capital A, well, maybe that doesn’t actually matter. (Or at least, no more than deciding whether my quirky has a capital Q or not.)  I do know now absolutely that in making an exhibition, it is of great help to love what you do, and all important to love how you do it too.


‘Far and Near’ is on in Canberra until 29 November 2015 at Beaver Galleries, 81 Denison Street, Deakin ACT. You can see an online version of the 2D part of the exhibition at (please note, the pictures display as the same size, so you need to look at the dimensions to see what is big and what is small)

Far & Near-inviteACT-INSIDE-PG1


Far & Near-inviteACT-OUTSIDE-FRONT


  1. Jan , says:

    Judy, Pete and I went to see the exhibition at Beaver. We loved it and encourage others to go before it closes at the end of November.

  2. Rose Momsen , says:

    Judy – love your paintings and happy pieces. I hope your show is a resounding success for you. You are definitely a fine Fine Artist. Thanks so much for sharing your work via the Net. I am all admiration, from the Pacific Northwest of North America.

    • judy horacek , says:

      Thanks Rose. A North American Admirer – that’s really something. The show has been going very well so far, and it’s great that it is finally up. Isn’t it wonderful that we have the Net – I love the way it takes my work on travels. Warm wishes, Judy

  3. eliza ivison , says:

    Call yourself an Artist?? I call you a Genius! (capital G). Still following your career from the other side of the world. Best of Luck for new branch of “quirkiness”. Long may it keep you sane.
    from 1990s Katoomba Woman with Altitude.

    • judy horacek , says:

      Thanks Eliza, that’s very lovely of you to say. Hope things are going well for you, and that you are enjoying where you are now (I mean that literally but of course metaphorically works too)

  4. Barbary , says:

    Hi Judy
    GREAT to see all this! and to read about your process of engagement. It all sounds and feels very familiar. All the very best for the show and lots of love from Barbary xxxx

    • judy horacek , says:

      Thanks Barbary. Yes, it would be familiar to you, and to lots of other people as well. Just so long as we all keep doing what we do! love to you, Judy

  5. Shirley Randell , says:

    Love this, and i may well be able to visit in Canberra this time Judy



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