Putting Together the Materials Kits

I’m in Ubud Bali for my Linocut Workshop at the ARMA resort in Ubud. Had a really busy day yesterday putting the kits together.  The box the kit comes in is hand woven in Bali, it took some organising to get the boxes made to size, but totally worth it, and a great way to support local crafts people. They are exquisitely made. There is over $240 worth of materials in this kit and I’ve sourced quality  brands I’ve been using for years.


Understanding Alice Interview on Books and Arts ABC Radio National

Whatever Happens let go

Here is the link to my interview by Claire Nichols on Books and Arts Daily.


You can see more of the artwork on my website


Messy Desk, the newly carved lino blocksThank you Claire for doing such a great work putting the program together with the music and a bit of the recording I used to listen to as a child.

Printed Linocuts Drying on the KitchenTable
Printed Linocuts Drying on the KitchenTable
Alice Exhibition at the Fire Station Print Studio in Melbourne
“Desire” Linocut for the Understanding Alice Exhibition at the Fire Station Print Studio in Melbourne

How to Start Your Art Collection with Original Prints

Yes I am talking printmaking, hand pulled, hand made by the artist. Not digital prints of paintings not posters, not even limited edition posters, not even Giclee prints. (see info at the end about Giclee)

So what is an original print? What is Printmaking and what is meant by the term hand pulled. These prints

Handmade Linocuts by Shana James
Handmade Linocuts by Shana James

are made in limited editions by the artist. The plate is created whether it is an etching, a drypoint or linoblock by the artist. Hand pulled refers to the image being pulled from the plate by hand.

In this case I carved the lino by hand to create a lino block from my own drawing. The scooter is my daughters old scooter, the red and blue trike is a replica from one I had as a child.

Here is an image of the lino blocks

Carved Lino Blocks by Shana James
Carved Lino Blocks by Shana James

You can see what beautiful tactile objects they are. In these images above I printed the lino in black and then hand coloured the prints by painting with coloured inks. These inks are archival which means they are lightfast, your original linocut will last. Another thing is that it is not printed on normal paper its printed on paper made from 100% cotton, this means it will not yellow with age. This artwork is made to last, you can will it to your kids!

I made these linocuts for the Artisan store in Fremantle, they are just $280 each framed or $$210 unframed wanted to make some iconic objects which connected pe0ple to their own childhood, reminded

Shana James Drypoint Print
Shana James Drypoint Print

them of the first freedom of riding a trike. You can buy these framed works from the Artisan Store 81a High Street Fremantle. They are very reasonably priced they are editioned to just 20 prints. The way you know that it is a limited edition is the number and signature on the bottom of the print so 3/20 is the 3rd print out of a total of 20. It will be signed in pencil. To see a video of Shana printing Linocuts click here http://shanajames.com/linocut/

Another form of Printmaking is Drypoint. Where the artist scratches the drawing onto a plate and takes a print. Like the linocut printed on cotton paper and editioned the process is even more labour intensive, but the results are stunning beautiful soft line quality that cannot be obtained any other way to see more about the process click here. Here is another look at that rich fury  quality. These are also available to buy framed at the artisan store in Fremantle. They are just $450 each framed or $360 unframed.

The Chimes Detail
The Chimes Detail


Printmaking is a Less Expensive Way to Buy Original Art.

While quality oil paintings may be out of reach financially for many people that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a framed poster. You can buy meaningful and well crafted printmaking. Art is what makes your home individual. One of the nicest things to buy as present for a friend or spouse. Unique, handmade, tactile and personal.

And if you wanted to know what a Giclee print is it’s just a digital print which is archival, so it is probably better quality than you home printer, but it is not hand made it is often made from a photo of an original painting or a drawing.

If you are in Fremantle over the long weekend to the Artisan Store over the long weekend and have a look at local handmade artwork by local Artisans. If you are not in Perth contact me via email to buy any of these pieces unframed. shanajames@iinet.net.au I can flatpack unframed work and package it so it arrives in pristine condition.

Working on Linocuts for the Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition at the Fire Station Print Studio

As the Fremantle Arts Centre is closed this week for maintenance I have a week to focus on my art. This is what I carved yesterday.

Carved Lino Blocks by Shana James
Carved Lino Blocks inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Shana James

To say I’m getting into this theme is an understatement; I am finding more depth and symbology with each image. There is a quote From the Alice in Wonderland story which says “The chief difficulty Alice found was in managing her flamingo..” Here I equated the flamingo with all things in life which are difficult to manage, and a specific difficulty which I wont go into here. After carving the image I realised Alice is looking the flamingo in the eye – which you may have noticed is a human eye not a bird’s eye. I have found recently that looking at difficulties head on, with acceptance of the problem, is a beneficial approach. Rather than trying to escape them as I would have often done in the past. Interesting how this came through in the work, as it usually does.  I will post prints of these soon.

You may have noticed that Alice in in a tropical paradise not an English garden, this is the influence of the gardens in the Arma Resort Ubud, Bali where I ran a linocut art workshop in January.  In the images I am using the symbol of the garden with a place or a way of being that you wish to escape to or become part of.

I am now taking bookings for January 2016, find out more at http://ubudartworkshops.com/

All of these Alice and Wonderland inspired pieces will be available for purchase at the Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at the Fire Station Print Studio in Melbourne in September, contact me for further information. Email:  shanajames@iinet.net.au

Conversations with Ghosts – Images Inspired by the Music

Last year I went to a concert called Conversations with Ghosts, which was a collaboration by Paul Kelly, James Ledger and about 10 or 15 classical musicians including Genevieve Lacy on recorder.  I had no idea what to expect. (Click here to go to conversations with ghosts YouTube)

Drypoint by Shana James inspired by the Song Bound to Follow
Drypoint by Shana James inspired by the Song Bound to Follow

The music was haunting and full of imagery, I was hooked, I bought the CD and started listening in the car. Some of the lyrics were from famous poetry and some were Paul Kelly’s distinctive story telling. Parts of it were discordant, others melodic – it extended me a bit, but the more I listened, the more I appreciated it. The art I make, has always been narrative, so I guess it’s no surprise that I am attracted to music with such a rich narrative. In the catalogue Paul said, when speaking of the process involved in creating these songs Genevieve’s recorder was “a guide throughout a kind of Ariel.”

“You need a guide in broader country. It can get dangerous out there.”

I am no stranger to the dangers of falling (and failing) during the creative process – or being lost in the desert:)  This music became my guide, a guide to the fantastic visual world of the imagination, introducing me to poetry I wasn’t aware of, transmitting me without fail to the space where pictures are created. I listened to the music over and over, while driving to and from the Fremantle Arts Centre (where I teach art ). At one stage I remember I took the CD out – scared that if I listened too much I would lose the magic and the imagery would disappear before I had time to record it in my sketch book. Lost like a dream which you hopelessly try to recall after it has dissolved in the harsh light of the waking world. I needn’t have worried, the images continued to flow in like water when the space was created.

The other worldliness of these images is perfectly suited to the medium of dry point. A printmaking process where the drawing is scratched into a plate (traditionally metal, now more commonly plastic) and printed intaglio – the same way an etching is printed. This process is labour intensive but quite addictive and totally worth it when you see the rich furry line and the atmospheric results. I have finished 2 so far one is from the song Bound to Follow which you can hear some of on this link. This is one of several pieces I think I will make inspired by the song.   The second is from Sailing to Byzantium  the poem by WB Yeats. The undercurrent of the harp giving the song a circular flow. The momentum  and movement, creating pictures which I seemed to pull out of the air as I listened.

Drypoint by Shana James inspired by Sailing to Byzantium
Drypoint by Shana James inspired by Sailing to Byzantium

I plan to continue the series, based on this music I already have some scribbles in my sketch book. So I’ll post more as they are finished.

You can contact me through my website www.shanajames.com or leave a comment below.

New Website for Teachers

Many of you will know that this blog links back to my art website by clicking on the gallery page at the top or the link in the sidebar. As well as for my art practise, I now have a another new website just for my Teacher Workshops. it’s called Art Upskill – professional development workshops for teachers.

In Australian primary schools, art has just become a compulsory subject – I was shocked to find out it wasn’t before!

Art teachers in high schools  are expected to know a lot about a broad range of specialty areas – ceramics, painting, screen printing, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry making, graphic design etc. It’s just not possible to be an expert in all these subject areas.

I think all teachers benefit from increasing knowledge in a particular subject, it gets them out of the classroom for a day and allows them the space to create  interesting and inspiring lessons.

The PD workshops I run are everything from teacher basics – giving teachers basic skills in colour mixing and drawing through to more specialist workshops in non toxic copper etching.

Ink Drawing by Pre-primary student Sienna
Ink Drawing by Pre-primary student Sienna

Here is an excerpt from my new website:

So what are the benefits of a strong visual arts program at school?

What do the visual arts have to offer? Besides skills in drawing or painting, how can visual art lesson benefit students?

Visual literacy – The digital world, is a predominately visual world and visual literacy in this world is an important 21st century skill. In Thomas L Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” he states that aesthetics and creativity are just as important as technical knowledge in the new economy…………read more

All workshops are tailor made to the requirements of the participants. Check out my new website. Let me know what you think.

Believing in Unlikely Events

That is what I called this Linocut……

Believing in Unlikely Events Linocut by Shana James
Believing in Unlikely Events Linocut by Shana James

The black and white print fades to grey at the top which is a little bit tricky to ink up in a seemless way. The colours in the grey flowers are handpainted after the print is dry. I used the colours of the light spectrum (rainbow) it just seemed fitting to use all the colours that light is.

Its pretty big too …for a linocut about 50cm square although its not really a square image.
The idea for this linocut was in my head for months before I made it. The chair is the chair in my lounge room, which in real life sits in front of a window and I think I’ve created the feeling of light without cluttering the image by having to include the window. In that space  all else ceases to be.

There is a space of imagining which happens before change takes place this image depicts that space.

Linocut in my studio after handcolouring flowers.
Linocut in my studio after handcolouring flowers.

You can buy this image or see more of my work on my Etsy page or my Website

“Cup of Tree” What were you thinking?


These are three linocuts I have just finished for an exhhibition at Newman College.

Well obviously “Cup of Tree” is the linocut on the bottom left. Its one of those pieces that intrigues people. Those of you who know my work will know I often make images to do with growth and change although I hate that phrase. I am an artist not a writer and sometimes when I talk about my work I resort to cliche’s and I don’t think it really does the artwork justice. I am also interested in the internal and external worlds that people inhabit and the real and the imagined.

In this image the juxtaposition of the ordinary (What could be more ordinary than a cup of tea?) and the extraordinary (Tree growing out of said cup.) Is designed to make the viewer stop and think, to wonder.

The trees out of the window offer a clue, they have no leaves, I think of them as being deciduous, kind of in a state of hibernation a state of consolidation. The contrast of the leafy sapling growing out of the cup reminds us that growth happens in the most ordinary and unlikely of circumstances.  It is not always the big events that change peoples lives…. sometimes its the small things, the quiet consolidation, the contemplation over a cup of tea. The penny drops. Ordinary lives can still be wonderful.