Empty hooks where sold work hung on the wall going up the stairs to my studio.
I'm loving all of those empty hooks and it's because of so many of you that I achieved my goal. During the month of February, I held a studio sale to accomplish three things: clear out old work that was no longer serving me, create space for new work both physically and in my mind, and to raise money for a local charity. BAM! BAM! BAM! We did it!
I have space, I've been creating new work, and I'm able to breathe in my studio again. At times it felt like my art and the walls were going to cave in on me. And, the bonus was that I was able to contribute a $190 donation last week to the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris from profits of my sale. They are an incredible organization that offers many services to mental health consumers and loved ones, maintaining a deeply held belief that recovery is possible. I personally have availed myself of some of their services and can't thank them enough.
My easel / oil painting area - bathed in midday northern light.
Shelf displaying TeaScapes as they are produced.
I still have some older work on my site still available. Over the upcoming months as I produce new works, I will be tweaking my store, reorganizing artwork, and adding new works that haven't been uploaded. A newsletter is going out soon detailing events coming up in May, new TeaScapes available online, and a Dachshund painting being made available to those lovers of the furry persuasion. Want first dibs? Get on my email list for those exclusive opportunities.
Paintings by teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer - 1, 2, 5 and 10 minutes on sulphite drawing paper.
Over the past month, loosening up has been the theme in my adult Watercolor and More class held at Oh Canary. My students have been exploring watercolor through the lens of gesture drawing, without the figure. Figure drawing sessions often begin with short, timed drawings that allow the artist an opportunity to detach and focus, really pushing perception and capturing a lot with very little. Using this approach, I brought in easels to create physical space between the artist, artwork, and asked that they stand and hold their brushes further down the handle, creating more energy and getting away from the urge to be too detailed.
The results have been tremendous - not only in the actual work, but in what it has taught my students. Seeing an object and painting it in only one minute forces you to include only the essential elements. Part of being an artist is deciding what to keep and what to ignore - it's a constant tightrope walk - whether a realist or abstractionist. This is super intense, and energizing at the same time.
My handbag was the subject for this student's first go at timed paintings.
A student painting one of her favorite things from the easel.
Yarn as subject matter.
This student discovered the benefit of adding another medium, water-soluble graphite, to add expressive lines, and emphasize direction, or texture in some cases. Both students at different points decided to return to full-on drawing to get a better sense of the objects' forms. After which they reverted back to watercolor only paintings.
When painting from the object using timed gestures, here are some tips that helped my students develop confidence and the ability to paint loosely:
Along the way we've explored the work of Sujean Rim, Samantha Hahn, and JMW Turner. I've also researched and learned from David Kessler's blog and Bev Jozwiak's article on the Artist's Network, in addition to my own experience running figure drawing sessions and partaking in them myself.
Want to do this on your own? Share it with me on Instagram, @traillworkslessons, and tell me your experience. I'll share it on my stories with my followers!
Enroll and work with me in person - Watercolor and More, held Tuesday mornings at Oh Canary Studio in Maplewood, NJ.
I’m in the midst of shifting gears in so many ways - personally, artistically, and the word that keeps coming up for me is SPACE! I’m grateful for the spaces I have, both physical and mentally, but am working on creating more. In my body, my mind, and reconfiguring my physical spaces.
This includes my studio. I love it - it’s my own private room with a lockable door, on the 3rd floor of my home, with decent light. Quite a good commute! But, in working in it for over 5 years, it’s feeling stale, cluttered, not painted in a way that’s me and filled with old, but GOOD work. I have storage, but not a ton for the amount of work I have. So most is hung on the walls and I need to start with a blank slate. I'd like to repaint the beige to a bright white, and paint my display wall a dark blue grey. I'd also like to better organize the work that remains, my supplies, and build a new desk area. I'm working towards better flow which will eventually result in new works.
What does this mean for you? I'm having a STUDIO SALE! My online shop has been temporarily taken down. So, I'm sure you're asking, how do you participate? SUBSCRIBE TO MY LIST! Subscribers will be notified this Friday with a password to enter the sale and will have through Sunday to shop exclusively. After Sunday, the shop will be offered to all and only remain up for a week.
Works, including oils, watercolors, drawings, and prints (excludes my TeaScapes and newer pieces) will be available up to 50% off retail price AND I will be donating 10% of profits to the Mental Health Association of Morris and Essex Counties in NJ. I'll be posting more on Instagram and Facebook about works included in the sale, as well as about the MHA. I hope you'll join in the rare opportunity to add something of mine to your collection. Know that in doing so, I'll be opening up spaces for new work and supporting a very valuable organization.
TeaScapes grew out of an experiment and a need to do something with a collection of empty tea packages I had saved. One night during an adult watercolor class I was teaching, while the students were working, I played around with transferring a tea bag onto a stretched piece of Arches watercolor paper that I had stained with tea several years ago. It had been sitting in my studio untouched. It wasn't precious to me, which gave me the freedom to play with the tea bag.
It happened almost too easily - using a gel medium coated on the surface of the paper and the package, I laid it down with the print facing the page, dried it, and then rubbed off with paper with a damp sponge. What was left was intriguing texturally. At the same time, I had cut out some mid-century styled chairs from a furniture catalog, and thought to transfer that as well. In doing so, it dawned on me the connection between the tea packaging design and contents and the landscape out West. Each collaged paper is then paired with a watercolored landscape that suits the transfer - the papers tell me what they want to be. You can watch a video of my process here.
I got giddy over the juxtaposition - the way an artist does when she hits an "aha" moment. The meaningfulness behind the work how these pieces mirror my own personal growth through a traumatic period as a mother. The past two years took a toll on my spiritual, mental and physical self. The prior work I was doing with appliances no longer felt important, or relevant. With this, I was able to detach from my environment and go back to places where I felt whole, lightened and free. The works currently are focused on images that tie landscapes from Utah and Wyoming to the tea I'm drinking now (after my coffee - my first love).
The small size, 5" x 7", lends itself to having a sense of completion since my studio time has been historically choppy and short. Each one is painted on Strathmore 500 Series watercolor paper and then mounted onto archival cradled wood panels by Ampersand, coated with UV spray and varnish, and wired and ready for hanging. Since beginning these in February, I'm now verging on 16 #TeaScapes with hopes of creating more.
Six of them are already listed on my site, while any others not sold at this weekend's Maplewood Art & Music Walk, will be added next week. So, here's a peak at the pieces available online now, as well as new works getting ready for Sunday. If you purchase anything, they will be hung on Sunday and marked as sold, shipping next week. Stop by my booth on Sunday from 11 - 5pm - #42 on Highland Place, use 9 Highland Place, Maplewood, NJ on your navigation.
Luna Parc and Randyland are two treasures I had the joy of visiting this summer. Luna Parc is located in northwestern NJ, and Randyland is located in Pittsburgh, PA. Both were begun by artist visionaries who have, over time - through donations, innovation, and hard work - have transformed their homes into works of art. These artistic homes have far exceeded their walls in both ornamentation and outreach. I invite you to explore some of the many photos I took, along with a brief background to each.
For over seven years, my family lived in Sussex County, NJ, within 30 minutes of Luna Parc, one of the state's most artistically unique homes. During our residence in nearby Newton, I ran a brick and mortar gallery / studio (TraillWorks) and was raising my first son. Suffice it to say, while I had met Ricky, Luna Parc's founder, I could never make his biannual open house. This summer, I happened to have a free day during his June open house and met up with former fellow Newton shop owner, turned realtor, Leigh Pecoriello.
The home was started in 1989, and when originally purchased, was a dilapidated structure in the woods. It is continually in a state of change - additions, elaborations, and collections. Ricky Boscarino, originally from Paterson, NJ and a graduate of RISD, is descended from an artistic family that stems from the Medicis; his influence from Italian art, mathematics, Latin, religion, and science is evident in just about everything in the home. The Fibonacci sequence, its formula actually affixed to the exterior, is realized is many of the spiraling mosaics found around the home. Not limited to Italy, there are incorporations of many influences from around the globe. He is a Renaissance man who is capable beyond most in many media including, but not limited to: ceramics, jewelry making, and painting.
The house was an utter delight to traipse through and these photos barely scratch the surface of what's inside and around the grounds. Beyond his personal home, the grounds holds metal and ceramics studios, a gift shop with Ricky's art pieces, collections of things yet to be organized into new art, and gorgeous landscaping. He has turned Luna Parc into a 501c3 that is aiming to facilitate creativity in youth through hands on learning / making. His next open house is in the Fall.
Located in the Mexican War Streets of Pittsburgh, PA, we stumbled upon Randyland during my family's "art day" while on our summer vacation. Pittsburgh is of course known for Andy Warhol, but with two active boys who needed to run around after starting the day with a trip to the National Aviary, we decided, rather than visit the Andy Warhol Museum, we would play in a neighborhood park, then walk around the Mexican War Streets along the way to the Mattress Factory, with a possible stop to Randyland. It was an incredibly hot day, but we managed to keep the kids moving, fueling them with homemade chocolate chip cookies (and us with coffee) at Commonplace Coffee.
Our visit to the Mattress Factory was brief - the Yayoi Kusama exhibit delighted all of us. But it could only hold our tired boys for so long; on our walk back to our hotel we discovered Randyland. It was too hot and late to linger, but we took a moment to soak it in, play and marvel at the beauty, collections, and space Randy Gilson, a writer, gardener and community activist has created. He doesn't consider himself to be an artist (I would beg to differ), but I can't make that argument with him. Unfortunately, he wasn't around when we were there.
I was taken by his story of poverty and ADHD that was transformed through his love of repurposing, giving and hard work using his own hands, coupled by a strong belief in his capability by several teachers in his teen years. Randy purchased the property in 1995 for $10,000 on credit after having gained the support of a neighborhood group. His revitalization of several abandoned lots in the surrounding neighborhood with barrel gardens helped support his effort to buy the property at 1501 Arch Street. The home is full of installations featuring collections he's accumulated through dumpster dives and donations. The irony of this amazing community transformation, is that he may lose the house due to the discrepancy between his income as a waiter and the skyrocketing value of the house. According to an article in NorthHillsMonthly, he's intending to begin a non-profit that will take over the home. His courtyard is open to the public and free, but monetary donations are welcome.
TEACHABLE THOUGHT: these homes are the results of two artists who have used hard work and the support of others, to create joyful, inspiring structures out of detritus. Luna Parc is already a foundation striving to encourage making in youth, and Randyland looks like it is on its way of becoming something similar. Both artists are incredibly focused on their work, and in particular, Randy Gilson, is an example of someone who truly turned around his deficits into assets, not only for himself, but for the community. Beyond how each has used a strong work ethic to turn something around, the homes are amazing examples of repurposing, installation art, organizing and designing spaces, and exquisite artistry. I'm still processing my visits and am sure at some point, they will influence my lessons.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, a big mutt Ringo, making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my West Orange home studio, but is sometimes spurred through my teaching, which takes place at Oh! Canary Studio, located in Maplewood, NJ.
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Studio on the 3rd Floor
West Orange, NJ
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Photos of Jennie by Kat Dela Cruz..