Now that Auggie, I mean my painting, "Jar of Optimism (Auggie)" has been delivered for tomorrow's opening of Paint the Town Yellow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery hosted by INT-O Yellow, I had a break from my routine. Instead of studio work, I spent an afternoon working on an online course with artist, Amira Rahim, who is an Instagram expert. We chatted about ways to vary our feed. As I was looking around my studio, I glanced at my art wall and saw something amazing: the connection between the works I painted with INT-O Yellow, my older Appliance Portraits, and a self portrait done while studying with painter, Jerome Witkin at Syracuse University.
Unless you know me personally or have been following me for a long time, you probably weren't aware that I have a history of figurative works. I've always enjoyed painting the human form; both in sum and the portrait. I believe Jerome helped instill that love, as well as my high school art teacher, Nancy Bossert. But, I've always felt unsure of a direction, figuratively speaking, as I desired something beyond glorifying the body. I'm interested in concept. That's what landed me back to the portrait I painted for INT-O Yellow of my son, Auggie. I became aware of a device to synthesize with a figure to communicate something bigger, more important than just the human body.
This is partly a result of having worked with INT-O Yellow; it helped me bridge this gap. Working with a color and structure outside my comfort level (50% of all the works created for the show Paint the Town Yellow had to include INT-O Yellow), coupled with my interest in painting reflections and surfaces (the use of a Ball canning jar is related to my Appliance Portraits), made something new happen.
This was an a-ha moment for me. As a teaching artist, I'm always striving to find connections for my students. They don't always see them. I don't always see them. Sometimes it comes from outside yourself, or at a time when you have a break and come back to something after deep focus. That was this instance; I was so involved with the painting, that I had lost sight of where it grew from. Over the past year I've wanted to move forward with new subject matter, but wasn't sure where to go. Jumping out of my comfort zone and INT-O Yellow, yet again was the driving force of a burst of creativity. What gets you out of your comfort zone and into creativity?
I hope you'll join me tomorrow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery to see Auggie in person (the painting, I mean) and the opening of Paint the Town Yellow.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach
"A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through and about the arts."
After earning my degree in Art Education, alongside a Painting degree from Syracuse University, I entered into the field of public education as an art teacher in my early 20s. It was an eye-opening experience, one that ultimately wasn't the best fit for me. As a novice teacher, I had the dream that I would develop as a professional artist, alongside teaching professionally. Unfortunately, I learned within the first year of teaching, that I wouldn't have the luxury of time to devote to that kind of creativity, as all of my energy was being put into my teaching. I deeply admire public educators, but realized that I needed to pursue a different path to maintain my art-making.
That path led me to offering private art lessons from home, which in hindsight was modeled for me by teaching artist, Nancy Bossert, whom I studied art with in high school. Within a few years of working form home, I opened a space that operated for five years as both a gallery and studio from which I exhibited and created my own work, sold work by other artists, and taught art lessons. Several years and two kids later, I'm on a slightly different road, though the trajectory of teaching and making my art is still constant.
This past fall, I started offering my art classes at Oh! Canary Art Studio in Maplewood, NJ. This new space has allowed me to breathe life back to my lessons, after having taught in a small home studio for a few years in West Orange. Simultaneously I started identifying myself as a teaching artist. During the past year, I've been thinking about ways to redesign and rebrand my blog, which I've been posting to since 2007. After hiring a local web strategist, Dani Geraci, to review my site, she suggested a blog overhaul. The new name came to me recently when a lightbulb went off - "The Teaching Artist."
From here on, you can expect to see posts under the name, "The Teaching Artist." The direction of posts will move towards showing the connections between what I'm teaching and what I'm making. Sometimes it may be an influence from a book I'm reading, unrelated to art, or it may be a direct connection to work I'm creating. I'm teaching in Maplewood and making in West Orange, NJ. Showing up in this arena, gives me purpose, structure and forces new ideas that often filters into my own work. Keep on following, sharing, and please connect with me.
I'll leave you with a quote that resonates with me and accurately describes one of the drives behind a teaching artist, by Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, "You teach best what you most need to learn."
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach
Over the summer a Facebook post popped up for a new art studio called Oh! Canary. It caught my attention and thought I should wish the owner much success on her new biz. After sending a quick Facebook message, Lacey Buccellato responded and invited me for coffee. A mutual friend, Leana, mentioned me to Lacey (unbeknownst to me) and suggested she contact me. A few hours later, she told me of her plans to find a new location and we were discussing sharing a space. The rest is history, or shall we say just the beginning.
Saturday we are hosting an Open House to kick off the holidays and announce our winter schedule. Come check out our new digs and see what we have to offer at our open house event! Meet Lacey, owner of Oh! Canary, Leana of Sew Leana, Comic Book Art Studio teacher, Vicki Herzfeld Arlein, and me (Jennie of TraillWorks). Each teacher will have a maker table, customized to the nature of our classes. Talk to the teachers, feel out the space, and gather with our creative community.
Classes offered at the studio range from babies to adults. Join us to find joy in art-making.
WHERE: Oh! Canary Studio, 513A Valley St., Maplewood, NJ
WHEN: Saturday, November 18th, 1 - 3pm
LEARN MORE ABOUT CLASSES with TRAILLWORKS: traillworks.com/classes.html
It's been over four years now since I've had the pleasure of showing my work with my mom's jewelry. When I operated TraillWorks as a gallery in Newton, NJ, I had a permanent collection of her work on exhibit and the pleasure of selling many pieces to a great number of clients. We both have had many changes since then, and when a childhood friend and former neighbor from Easton, PA, contacted me about having a show at her hometown library, I jumped at the opportunity to invite my mom to join me.
Mother Daughter will feature a collection of pieces by both of us, all completed in the past few years. My Red Carpet Icons, apron paintings, giclées, note cards, and a selection of small new watercolors, including prints of my blueberry painting, "June's Pearls," will be available. My mom will be including several pieces influenced by the colors and textures of trees. Her recent jewelry is created using sterling silver, precious metal clay, torched copper, along with beads and stone. References to leaves and branches, along with blue, green, and brown colors of nature, dominate the work. Of particular interest is the ginkgo leaf, due to it's symbol of survival, along with its intriguing fanlike shape.
A little bit about my mom: she was born in Allentown, PA and began making jewelry in high school with James P. Musselman. Her love of jewelry making developed then and grew during an intensive course she took in Mexico, after completing college at the University of Toledo where she earned a BA in art education. Her uncle (my great-uncle "Fred") was a painter and owned a hotel in Taxco, known for its silver mining and crafting of jewelry. Upon returning she took a job teaching art in Scotch Plains, NJ, and began making jewelry which she mainly sold to her colleagues. After marrying my father, they moved to PA to raise me, at which point she halted her jewelry making. It wasn't until I opened up my gallery in 2008 that she began taking classes and crafting jewelry again.
If you can't make it to the exhibit, but are interested in seeing the works, please email me and I'll share what I can. You can also follow me on instagram to see snippets of the show.
MOTHER DAUGHTER: Jewelry by Martha Traill Schaeffer and Paintings by Jennie Traill Schaeffer. Hosted by the Oceanic Free Library, located in Rumson, NJ. Exhibit runs for the Month of October.
Upon returning from a week-long family road trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I learned I was accepted to participate in this weekend's 1st Annual Plein Air Event to benefit Essex County Parks. I've been painting "en plein air" mostly in my sketchbook and while traveling, as well as teaching it this summer out in South Mountain Reservation. I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to get out there and paint for an extended period of time on a finished piece.
I'm planning to participate part of Friday, as well as Saturday, and will finish 1, maybe 2 paintings, time and weather-permitting. There will be an exhibit and awards ceremony on Sunday at Riker Hill Art Park's Gallery 509, from 6 -8pm. You can learn more about the event, along with what's currently going on in my studio in my recent newsletter.
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..