• Start the Year in the Right Way
    The Arma Resort Ubud, Bali
    The Arma Resort Ubud, Bali

    We all have busy lives, I get it. Many things on the go at once, spreading your time between work, home, family. What if you could do all the things you currently do, but with a different mindset. Relaxed, not stressed. Rejuvinated instead of tired and fatigued. Inspired.

    Well I have a creative workshop planned that will help you start the year in the right way, relaxed, rejuvinated and inspired, and the good news is there are still a vouple of places left, but you’ll have to be quick! Im finalising numbers on the 20th December!

    I know you are going to love the beautiful gardens of the ARMA Resort in Ubud, Huge rambling tropical gardens with the sound of running water wherever you go. Freshly prepared meals from local produce, airconditioned rooms, lovely staff, in this Balinese owned resort that gives back to the arts in Bali, supporting local children with free dance and music lessons.

    Instead of a holiday lying by the pool (although there will be time for that too) you will spend the time reconnecting with your creativity. Learning how to make linocuts, and will receive a materials kit so you can continue at home. Whether you are an absolute beginner, an art teacher wanting to up skill or an experience artist, working on your own theme; you will get so much from a week fully immersed in your own creativity.

    Rediscover the joy of creating, and reconnect to yourself.

    Contact me now! see the website for dates cost and itinery, here

    Why wait, start the year feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and inspired!

  • Buy Original Art – 30% off Special Offer

    Original artwork turns a house into a home. By buying direct from the artist, you can often get a bargain. I’m about to embark on some new work and I need to create some space in the studio so I am offering 6 weeks of discounted artworks! Every Thursday I will post a new piece at 30% off that is a significant saving!

    So subscibe to my blog (at the top of the page) so you don’t miss seeing them all here is the first one…..

    Week 1

    Hand coloured linocut “Reflections – Ubud Water Garden” was Aus$250 unframed now $175 unframed. Pick up in Perth or add $20 postage. Contact me directly Shana James email or text me on 0448 331 519 (inside Australia) International buyers please email.








    This hand carved linocut is image size 20 cm x 30 cm (paper size is larger). The black areas are hand printed in black on 300gsm cotton watercolour paper, this means the paper is artist quality archival paper, when the black ink has been dried for 2 weeks and is fully cured I hand paint the colours onto the paper with artist quality pigmented ink, the beautiful transparent quality of these inks gives the image almost the quality of stained glass. Editioned to just 20 hand pulled and hand painted images.

    I sat and drew this watergarden in Ubud Bali, it is a very peaceful place, I remember the first time I saw this extraordinary garden, some of the flowers were as big as dinner plates. Most of the artwork I make is imaginative so its unusual for me to make an image directly from life like this, but I was so inspired by this garden I decided to sit down and draw. Sitting on the bank and drawing with the sound of running water in the background was a very medatitive experience. When I got home I decided to carve the image as a linocut.

    What is a linocut?

    You may have made one before if you did art at highschool. The artist draws an image onto a piece of linolium. The artist then carves away the white areas using special tools and prints the image by hand. I have beeen making linocuts for over 25 years, it’s a process I love. This video shows me printing a different one in my studio on my etching press.

    But wait there is more 🙂

    I also run a linocut workshop in Ubud Bali every January, maybe you’d like to join us in 2019, and make your own linocuts see website for dates costs and more details

    Reflections waterlilies in Ubud was $250 now $175 for a limited time only. Offer expires on 30th May 2018

  • STEAM Project for Primary – How Does it Contribute to Learning?

    STEAM has been the buzz word in primary schools lately. Recently I wrote and implemented a STEAM project in four primary schools in the City of Kwinana in Perth, Western Australia.

    When Artif Satar the Arts officer at the City of Kwinana contacted me I had only heard of STEAM which stands for Science, Technologogy, Environment Art and Mathematics and I wondered how I would get all of that into one project. I should explain here my background is in art rather than teaching. However being an artist who needs to pay the bills I have done a lot of teaching, mostly to adults and occasionally to kids. Actually, I really enjoy inventing cross curricular art projects, because its creative, and its something that comes easily for me. When I had my first meeting with Arif I had three ideas which we could persue after some discussion we decided on this one. “Environmental Histories a STEAM project”

    Practical visual art is such a naturally interdisipliary field that even a pure art lesson will have aspects of other subjects that it  reinforces. This is something that many school principals and teachers do not seem to realise.

    Engage the Disengaged

    We all know that sitting behind a desk all day, writting things down and answering questions is not the best way to learn for many students. However with the tight curriculum, many teachers find this the best way to get through it all and keep control of kids. I don’t want to criticise teachers here, they are encapsulated in what I think is a bad system, and there is a lot of presure on outcomes.  I think its time for the pendulum to swing back! When process is good, a good outcome becomes the byproduct of that process. Experiential, experimental, play based learning is a must if we are going to re-engage the disengaged kids, and create children who can deal with change, be resiliant when things go wrong. We need to give children an education rather than a series of hoops to jump through, that tick boxes. The simple fact is that you learn better when you are  happy, engaged and engrossed in a project.

    In this project we had four guest speakers from the council give a twenty minute presentation once a week for 4 weeks covering: wetlands, bush care, coast care and waste. Each of these people did a practical demonstation or experiment. I was really surprised how even the most basic demonstration elicited so much enthusiasm from the kids. In the recap the following week they remembered the key points because they had seen it happen in the physical world in front of them rather than on a screen.

    Not that I’m anti-technology, I also showed them this video of my work, followed by a discussion of the topic “What makes a book a book?”

    I also showed them images of books made by contempory artists where the link was tenuous, and this promoted passionate discussion. Where each comment had to be back up with a reason why they felt that way.

    Artists’ Book by Shana James or Is it a book? How is it like a book? How is it not like a book?


    When it came to making their book, I had the paper cut size but they had to measure a line 4cm in and fold on the line, this created the tab that joined each of the three double pages together. Resulting in a six page concertina book with covers. This was the only bit of maths for the project, but I was surprised to find many children struggled with it. One embarrassed teacher said to me, “I can’t believe they are having trouble with this, they did a worksheet on measurement last week.” She shouldn’t have been embarassed, many less academic children who learn something without a practical application forget it soon after – even those who get it right on the day! Once the students realised the importance of getting the measurement right for the overall book the less able students were more motivated to perservere. This is another advantage to structured project based learning; you must finish each step to move to the next. Where as an unfinished worksheet, means nothing to a disengaged child.

    Time taken

    A project like this is not finished in an afternoon. We asked the class teachers to do a preparitary lesson where the students researched a native animal to be the main character in their book. Then we did four 1.5 hour contact lessons in each of the four schools. This included the twenty minute talk by the guest speaker and basically an hour of practical work, the class teachers then were required to follow up this lesson with more time, for the less specialised aspects of the program. So in the end it was 9 or 10 lessons over 4 weeks. I would have liked to have had a 5th lesson with the kids but budget didn’t allow so I had to let go and let the class teachers take over : ) This is my other difficulty with art in schools, I have several friends who are primary art specialists and the time allocated to them is just way too short (some just forty minutes). If the rest of the curriculum doesn’t allow for more lesson time it would be better to run the class less often for a more extended time  (say 80 minutes half as often). So much time is wasted in set up and pack up for these short lessons; it is a really inefficent use of the time and frustrating for the children who have no continuity of flow.

    Freedom Within Structure

    This was a very structured project. But it was not prescriptive. Children chose whatever native animal or insect they liked to research. They chose and mixed their own colours from a limited range. They designed the images to be the way they wanted them to be. Some children struggled with this freedom. Asking “what do I do here?” And I replied you could do it this way… or this way… or this way… or maybe you have a better way. The term problem solving is talked of so often it has become a cliche. Not only does the child get the practical outcome of problem solving, but they have autonomy and agency with the project. It gives them confidence and skills that can be applied to other areas of life.

    More cross curricular art projects, create better learning outcomes, more engaged students and happier children. Make sure you put the Arts into STEM and make it STEAM!


  • Why Alice?

    It has been said that Lewis Carroll’s famous story Alice in Wonderland, was a reaction against the strict structure and rules of Victorian English Society by some literary commentators. I have an affinity for this point of view, sometimes having the same frustrations with our current society and asking myself why we humans have set up the world this way.
    When I was a child, I listened to the story of Alice in Wonderland over and over. It was an LP record, an abridged version of the story where all the characters had American accents. I loved it.
    Later as an art student, at Curtin University in the late 1980’s I used to visit the Art Gallery of WA which has a large Blackman painting of Alice in shades of blue, called “Down the Rabbit Hole” in the permanent collection. Whenever I visited the gallery I made a point of finding this painting and seeing if it was on display.
    After finishing art school, I found a book on Charles Blackman at my local library, filled with coloured images of his paintings, I had it out for months continually renewing it, I just didn’t want to give it back. Eventually I did and my work took another direction. It was years later that I became re-aquainted with the story when my daughter was in primary school. She won the book and I read it to her. This Alice, the original completely unabridged was much better than what I had known as a child. Humerous and intelligent, I could see why artists from Blackman to Dali had been inspired by this story.

    Linocut by Shana James “Allow – with william Morris Wallpaper”

    Ideas had been fermenting in my head for some time, when several years later I went to Bali to run a Linocut workshop, which I now run every January. We stayed in Ubud, in a place where the magical garden was even more exotic that the one Alice wanted to get into. After teaching the workshop, I embarked on linocuts for a show at the Firestation Print Studio in Melbourne.
    Images flowed, my images took on their own life, breaking away from the story and becoming my metaphor for everything in my world, all of my experiences seemed to present themselves as Alice images. Rather than illustrating the story I  reinterpreted it, using the symbols to tell my own stories. You can see all the images from this series here
    In an essay about the exhibition Dr Ric Spencer wrote.
    “Understanding Alice prompts and pushes at Shana’s comprehension of her own journey, of herself wrapped up in space and time, nestled and wrestled through experiences. As an escapade of Symbology Understanding Alice pits the dreamlike nature of the world against the reality of life being a very real set of events and circumstances.”
    Poured like Dreams between Silence - Drypoint print by Shana James $720 unframed

    Poured like Dreams between Silence – Drypoint print by Shana James $720 unframed

    My next exhibition was as part of a group show for the 2016 year of Print at Heathcote Gallery in Applecross Perth. Seven Printmakers Respond to Place. Initially I thought I would drop Alice as a theme for this place related work. As images flowed and didn’t flow, it became apparent that the Alice theme would continue (nothing else would work). Exploring the psychological aspects of place, I called this body of work, Falling into Place – which is what Alice literally did. These works are drypoints with a very different quality to the linocuts from the first show; the velvety quality of the line contributing to the dream like nature of the work. You can see all the work for this series here
    I am now part way through a masters of visual art at Edith Cowan University, where I am continuing to examine Alice. Aren’t we all trying to navigate this strange world and get into that beautiful garden?
    See videos about the Alice Work here

  • Making Linocuts in Bali

    I’ve just got back from visiting my sister Debbie in Pemberton, she and her husband Pete run Pemberton Lake View Chalets, a beautiful place which as the name suggests overlooks a lake, there is something about water to calm the mind and nourish the soul. The property is also surrounded by beautiful forest.

    Pemberton Lake View Chalets

    Pemberton Lake View Chalets

    While I was there with my family,  I met one of the participants of my linocut workshop in Ubud. Sue Nigg from Hidden River winery, she and her husband Ardel run a gorgeous winery and restaurant in Pemberton with outstanding wines and food. Sue will be one of the 12 participants at the Ubud Linocut workshop which is fully booked and starts on the 7th of January 2018.
    So now I’m cutting up Lino and packing together all the materials for our Bali workshop, I’ve also made a booklet which goes step by step through linocut, to be part of the materials kit, which all the participants receive included in the trip. I have actually improved the materials kit slightly since I made this video before the last workshop.

    Please like or comment on the video, as you can see it packs away neatly into a beautiful traditional Balinese hand-woven case. It was important to me to support this incredible local craft. Besides the practicality of keeping everything together its a beautiful handmade object and  a lovely memento of the trip. Previous students have commented to me that they are still using the materials and love that they are ready to go any time with everything organised together.  I’m delighted to be sharing linocut on this fantastic trip – not long to go!
    Now I have to get back to cutting up lino.
    See this general video about the workshop or go to the website for more details

  • The Ideas behind the painting

    This is my painting that was shortlisted for the Busselton Art prize I now have it back. 152cm x 965cm it is titled. “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

    I cant go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

    I cant go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

    The title is taken from a line in Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland, which I have been exploring for my masters study in Visual Art at ECU. I have been using the text as a critical lens to

    Detail: I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

    examine ideas around choice, desire and agency. When I embarked on this study I didn’t realise how many other artists have responded to Carroll’s story. Charles Blackman and Jenny Watson are well known contemporary examples, but I wasn’t aware that the surrealists saw the story as a journey into the unconscious; with many including Dali and Breton making Alice inspired work.
    Alice in Wonderland is a story rich with symbolism and metaphor, and it is this aspect that most inspires me. The symbols I have chosen for the painting are archetypal and can be interpreted in different ways, each person brings their own experience to the work and as such experiences it in a different way. The main character in the painting, Alice has many choices, climb the ladder, walk through the door, enjoy the tree sit on the chair. Each choice to some extent precludes the other; of course, she could do one thing after the other, and this is where time comes into it. As we all change over time our choices change, what was once a burning desire becomes less relevant. Other things take hold we make different decisions.
    This painting took a while to complete see a previous blog for more info. As I started to rework this painting, all the experience from the two previous exhibitions seemed to seep into it, the pattern started to emerge informed by my printmaking. Gradually the painting emerged with countless layers. (See previous exhibitions which inspired this work by clicking here
    This work is for sale $4200, oil on canvas 152cm x 965cm, like everything I make only artist quality materials were used, for the longevity of the work. Contact me if you are interested email:

  • Fully Immersed in Study

    I start most things, with an unrealistic optimism, I think many artists do. So when I embarked on a masters of visual arts by research, I thought if I’m going to have another solo exhibition I may as well write about it and get a masters degree at the same time.  Actually not that easy :-/  I should mention here that writing does not come naturally to me and one of my motivations for studying was to improve my writing skills as they are needed more and more for a serious art career.
    In the age of specialisation it seems artists are expected to be the opposite. When I was a young emerging artist in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was looked after by a gallery and all I had to do was make work. (People who were in Perth at that time will remember Brigitte and Artplace.) Those days are over; the modern, contemporary artist has to do and be everything. Now I have my own website – which I built, I teach, I do demonstrations and residencies,  I am active on social media and I am expected to be able to write about my art.
    I have probably had to spend more time writing and researching than someone else who was more proficient, it takes longer for any new skill. Those of you who know my work will not be surprised that topic is to do with the symbolism of Alice in Wonderland and contextualising that through the life of the author Lewis Carroll and Victorian society – I haven’t thought up the question yet. I have almost finished my literature review, my supervisor and other staff at ECU have been extraordinarily good at whipping me into shape and I am seeing my formal writing skills improve before my eyes! I am more amazed than they are.
    So what about the making? – everything I read is feeding into ideas, lots of ideas – too many. I am writing them down ready for when I have done enough writing to start what I feel is the proper work, but don’t tell my lecturers that 🙂
    You can see my artwork here, email me if you are interested in an unframed print.
    For those of you who are unfamiliar with my Alice in Wonderland based work here me being  interviewed from a couple of years ago on ABC radio.


  • "Its no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then."

    The Creation of a Painting

    This painting’s  title is a quote from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. People who know my work will know that my last two exhibitions were inspired by the story. I am now studying my Masters of Visual Art by research and I’m getting more and more into Alice.

    I cant go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

    I cant go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

    This is oil on canvas and nearly a metre and a half wide. The making of it has been a saga. I started it shortly after we moved into our current house 9 years ago. I now had a larger studio and was able to make larger paintings. At that time it was just a tree in the landscape, with the red chair. No figures, no ladder, and no cat. The tree was inspired by a tree in a local park in Spearwood, which I took some photos of and drew directly onto the canvas. I wasn’t particularly happy with it so I put it in the corner and ignored it for about 8 years 🙂
    Over the last Christmas break, I don’t know why, but I pulled it out and started painting on it. I think I felt like painting didn’t have new canvas and this one was as good as any. I added the floating figure and the ladder. After patterning the floating girls dress, influenced by the linocuts I had made, I just started to add more pattern.
    Again I left it not really happy, I hung it up in my art room to think about it. A few months passed, then my friend Ros Nolen saw it (also an artist). She liked it, I was really not happy with it, and we talked about what changes it would benefit from. So newly inspired (thanks, Ros) I went back to it and made more changes. I got it to a place where I was feeling pretty good about it, so I entered it into the Busselton Art Prize.
    This work has really come directly from my subconscious. It evolved. I didn’t plan it to be this way. It does have meaning though. The ladder not quite connecting to the tree, the cat, the doorway in the distance, the floating girl holding flowers, the blue area that belongs to the rest but is slightly separated by the colour change. These all have meanings;. to be interpreted as you choose. These archetypal symbols are not hard to interpret, trust your instincts. The title is a clue.
    I am happy to announce that this painting was shortlisted for the Busselton Art Award which opens Friday 21st September and will be on display until 29th of October at Art Geo Gallery, 7 Queens Street Busselton. Yes it is for sale! So if you are in Busselton drop in and have a look.
    Also if you would like to subscribe to this blog go to the top righthand side and click the subscribe button.

  • Why Study Art?

    Last Thursday, it was my pleasure to open the student exhibition at Penrhos College, where I had been artist in residence earlier in the year.
    I thought I would publish the body of my speech because many people outside of the arts are not aware of the benefits of studying art, even if you do not choose to be an artist. This was about studying art at high school, but you can start your journey into art at any stage of life. So here it is…
    I loved art at school, and I studied Visual Art at Curtin University straight after leaving Penrhos. I have been an artist all my life, but not everybody who does art at school will make it their career.
    So why study art? If you are not going to be an artist, why study it?
    When you learn art, you learn more than how to make a drawing, a painting, a print or a sculpture.
    You learn how to plan, organise and execute your idea. You learn how to follow through and finish what you started. You learn to do things out of your comfort zone.
    You learn how to evaluate, you learn how to deal with problems as they arise, and you learn how to fail!
    This is really important.
    You cannot be creative unless you are prepared to fail. After you have failed; you learn how to deconstruct what happened and make the necessary changes. You learn how to be resilient, and that failure is just part of creativity. You gain confidence after turning failure around, making changes or even starting again, not giving up, doing it differently.
    Art teaches all these lessons, life skills, which you will take into any career.
    But don’t do art for these reasons. Take art because you love it, you love the feeling of being in flow, when it’s all coming together, when you lose track of time. When there is just you, the paper and the pencil and all the world has ceased to exist.
    This is the real benefit.
    And whatever career you do either in the arts or outside of the arts you can go to that place of making, and find peace in this crazy world. You can take that peacefulness, that

    Bev Bell Head of Department, Arts Captain and Shana James

    became part of you while you were making, out with you – into the world and to everything you do. Whatever you choose.

  • Ubud Linocut Workshop Series – The Gardens

    Last blog I wrote about the excellent food on our linocut workshop, this time I’m going to tell you about the beautiful gardens.

    We all know being in a beautiful garden is good for the soul. It changes you somehow. At the Arma museum and resort where our linocut workshop is held, the gardens are absolutely extodinary inspiration is everywhere. There is a river that runs through the property and several water gardens. So almost wherever you go you can hear the sound of running water, this really had a positive affect on me when I was there, it has such a calming influence. And to sit and draw this beauty, which you are surrounded by, really calms your mind and takes you out of yourself. The venue is an important aspect of the workshop, the gardens contribute to the shift in consiousness created by making in this environment. So you can come back feeling rejuvinated and inspired.