From left to right: Ginger Thermal, Mint Hemlock, Cold Season
WRITING AN ARTIST'S STATEMENT:
I began making TeaScapes in early 2018 after returning from a trip out west. While I've been offering the works in exhibits and in my online shop, and writing about them, I never officially wrote an artist's statement specific to them until last week. I submitted several of them to a juried show (which will remain secret until I hear the results) and needed a 1000 character statement. Every show has different requirements, and for this I began with a longer version, then whittled it down to what's included below.
Writing an artist statement usually pains me. Writing is never an act I come to with ease, and over the course of my education was always criticized for my inability to be succinct. Since becoming a professional artist I write more now than ever, and in the early years of my business, my husband who has a degree in English, helped me tremendously. Read on, and if you feel so moved, send me your feedback - I'd love to hear how readers and art lovers respond to my work, and to improve how I talk about it.
A GREAT RESOURCE:
Last week I stumbled upon a user friendly blog post by Sarah Hotchkiss on writing an artist's statement. The Creative Independent broke things down into an understandable format that helped me craft my latest statement. I didn't use all of her techniques, and I was writing at the last minute - against her recommendation - EEK! So, read on, and if you feel so moved, send me your feedback - I'd love to hear how readers and art lovers respond to my work, and advice on improving how I talk about it.
"After a family trip to Wyoming and Utah, I wanted to imbue my art with the peace and spaciousness that I experienced there – to make those places and feelings permanent in my art, and life. I started meditating and playing with image transfers of tea packaging, and made a connection between the tea and the places I had travelled. The surfaces could be layered with watercolors and gouache over the transferred packaging, connecting the teas’ ingredients, their colors and intended purpose to the landscape. I could both hold those places for myself and help viewers explore the landscape more deeply – creating a meditative artwork.
The paintings have become stylized interpretations of the landscape – while maintaining a clear reference to the location. I’m interested in using highly pigmented paint, often employing strong linear elements to help describe the energy in a place. The reversed labels from the packaging create a subtext of pattern, inviting the viewer to see more."
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you'd like to read the full version, subscribe to my newsletter for a free download. The entire current collection of available TeaScapes are available at traillworks.com.
If you're in the NJ area the weekend of November 2 - 3rd, I'll be exhibiting my work during the SOMA Artist's Studio Tour in Maplewood, NJ.
Your down dog may never be the same again. Truly - this mat will invigorate your yoga practice. I've been a practicing artist my entire life, but I discovered yoga in my early 20s as I began working after college and finding the beginnings of aches and pains. Over the past two decades, I've practiced yoga at numerous studios in New Jersey and have developed a fairly good knowledge of my go-to asanas when I need to stretch and ground myself.
Over the past two years I've gone through personal struggles - including mental and physical health. Yoga, with meditation, running, continued art making, along with supportive doctors and family, have all helped me come to a place of improved overall health. I'm still working at it. My TeaScapes - meditational environments painted in watercolor - developed out of this transformation.
A few months ago I was chatting with some artist friends about exploring products to expand my revenue and I stumbled upon a few printers using the yoga mat as a substrate. I found it! This was it. And, I was in need of a new yoga mat. So I played with some designs, tested out an order and the feedback has been amazing, both personally and from buyers.
A testimonial from one of my first buyers on her first use on a rainy day -
I can’t think of a better antidote to this rainy day than doing yoga on my gorgeous new yoga mat by TraillWorks. I want to do yoga all the time now.
The first issued TraillWorks Yoga Mat is "Cold Season" - a cropped portion of a TeaScape, titled "Cold Season" that features an abstracted geyser from my trip to Yellowstone layered over a transferred Yogi Tea Package. While doing a downward facing asana - the orange glows on your face - extending a feeling of energy and healing.
You can read more about the TeaScapes that inspired this TraillWorks Yoga Mat and learn more about the mats, and if so inclined, purchase one directly through my site. Shipping is now available worldwide.
I may play with issuing other mats from my TeaScapes in other color schemes and in other elemental themes - this one being geothermal. What TeaScape would you like to see on a yoga mat? Send me an email after you've explored them - I'd love your input.
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.
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.
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Studio on the 3rd Floor
West Orange, NJ
Want to Schedule a Studio Visit?
Call 973.271.9104 or email email@example.com