Meet the Artist: Hester Strumpfer


I doubt a member challenge has gone unnoticed by Hester Strumpfer – her creativity just shines and I find myself looking forward to her submissions. High time I had a chat with this interesting and inspiring lady.

Hester lives in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley in the Western Cape – a place she loves for the mountains and walks in the vineyards.

“I have always loved making art, but only started doing art seriously and full-time about seven years ago.”

She enjoys collecting silver-plated items, like plates and spoons, lace – anything she can use in her art.  Hester also often designs costumes for models and photograph most of the models herself.

“I use professional photographers if I cannot do what I want or need to art direct.”

I ask Hester about her art journey and being a qualified art councillor.

“My art journey started as therapy during an incredibly stressful time. I attended part-time art classes for six years and it taught me all about exhibitions and reaching out to other artists.”

“I have a Science Background and have always been interested in alternative therapies.  I studied Brain Gym, Kinesiology and Art Counselling. Dr. Bernie Siegel inspired me to study art
as therapy and I obtained my qualification in Art Counselling through the Helios Art Healing Academy.  They plan to introduce a master’s degree in South Africa in the future to enable students to qualify as Art Therapists.”

Hester prefers calling it Creative Therapy as she feels people always fear they are not good enough in art, and according to her it is merely about the process and not the product.

“It is incredibly challenging to find funding to help those who really need therapy. I have worked with traumatised and autistic children and there is such a need for therapy in schools as well.  I enjoy working with adults too, but sadly now, I only do art. My dream is to collaborate with other therapists in the future.”

“My first love is to create portraits.”

She did her first portrait at the age of 14. By creating portraits,
she feels she can communicate messages and emotions through facial expressions and the poses of the models.

“I love to create in any medium and enjoy combining mediums. Fabriano Academia is my preferred paper for use with charcoal and I create tooth on Fabriano Artistico for pastel drawings with ink and Gesso. I paint on paper, card, board and canvas when using oils and acrylics. I must admit, oil is the toughest medium although it is more forgiving.”

With every artist I chat to, I just have to ask what inspires them and I absolutely love Hester’s answer:  “My passion is to take part in art competitions and challenges. If I have a theme, the image just jumps to mind. I do a lot of research and planning and buy and alter clothes for models, or I design and create what I want. I collect props and interesting items like wigs, masks, umbrellas, or hats.”

Hester also loves illustrations and takes part in the Inktober Challenge every year.

“I work hard and I can concentrate for hours; I normally stand behind my easel. My reference photos are from my own photos and I use my computer for finer details after which I draw freehand with charcoal sticks or pastel pencils to place my sketches.”

Her proudest moment was when her paintings were selected and featured in the Top 80 and Top 40 of The Vuleka National Art Competition in 2021 and in the Top 100 for the All Women
Matter National Art Competition in 2020.

“My dream is to create unique art that will be considered collectables. My vision is to sell my work abroad to art collectors and I regularly attend workshops to improve my skills and sharpen my eye. I am a sucker for art materials and enjoy experimenting with new products.”

This makes me smile as I am yet to meet the artist who doesn’t have a love affair with art supplies and just playing!

“My dream for oil paintings is to afford Michael Harding oil paints and then of course I dream to draw some form of hairy or furry animal in the future. I also plan to do a landscape or two this

Hester answers candidly when I ask her what the hardest lesson is she’s had to learn as an artist.

“I have learned hard lessons. People do not always appreciate your hard work or effort. I will never sell myself short again and would rather not take on a commission than work for nothing. Another lesson is to use quality art materials. I am very particular with my pastels and pastel pencils. I am a perfectionist and it could sometimes have a negative impact on productivity.”

You have to admire her honesty as she continues and admits that she often feels frustrated and doubts herself. Sometimes the weather affects the drying time of oils and then she feels stuck and says she just makes a total mess. At times, she tells me, she does not understand what buyers want and that makes her feel totally frustrated.

I ask her how she deals with it when she has such a ‘stuck’ day.

“I build my Instagram account to include a variety of artists. I engage with artists across the globe and if I am down, I spill my heart to my art friends. They always give me perspective. And of course, I take a walk in my village and clear my mind. It helps to work on more than one work at once; I see problem areas with fresh eyes after a break.

I belong to the Stellenbosch and Art Gallery Art Societies and feel incredibly privileged to be part of the South African Drawing Guild too.”

Hester – thank you for sharing your soul and your journey with us.  We are glad to have you and grateful for the spirit with which you complete each challenge!  Congratulations as well on being included in the Degrees of Realism 2021 line-up, we look forward to seeing your art on the walls!