Kind of on a whim, but more inspired by Sybil Archibald, a local artist, friend, and collector's own daily practice, I finally felt moved to make this commitment. I've struggled for years feeling "not good enough" and wondering, "why can't I make this commitment to create every day"?
I am good enough, and my life has been very full of many responsibilities. But, that being said, I've increased my exercise practice, my meditation practice, but not my creative practice. I realized that I've been trying to encourage my students to do the same thing - but how can I if I'm not practicing what I preach? So . . . I've started. Officially on January 2nd, I made a commitment to minimally make art 30 minutes a day. To show up, because it's in the frequency and the work, that develops good work.
REALITY: I made it consecutively to day 39. It's not perfect, and some days I've allowed myself the compassion of counting a sketchbook session in front of the TV towards my practice. Other days I'm sneaking up to the studio after the kids have gone to bed while catching an episode of The Durrells in Corfu - a PBS program that I stream on Amazon. It truly makes me smile, giggle, and lets me travel to a beautiful place, if only for an hour. Then a few weeks later, we lost the boiler in our house, and we temporarily landed at my in-laws for a week. I didn't create much that week.
INSIGHT: I just took the CliftonStrengths test, inspired by some personal growth work my sis is doing and found out some incredibly affirming and enlightening things about myself. Created by Gallup, the test assesses your top ten strengths, and lists out a total of 34. My top tens are spot on, but the last one shocked me - consistency. It is a strength, but it is my weakest. This was freeing to learn - and explained a lot of the blips every time I attempt to complete a social media challenge! And, with that I'm allowing myself the space to skip days when I need to - because if I can't be consistent those days, it's because my other strengths, like being responsible to my clients or family, will win out.
The above artworks are only about 1/2 of what I've created for the month of January. I have another series going on simultaneously, as well as working on some intermittent commissions. At this point in mid-March, I've completed 16 new pieces - I've surpassed my production last year, so I'm thrilled with this.
The upshot for you? I'm going to be dropping these works in small groups every Friday, beginning March 19th, to my VIPS who subscribe to my newsletter. They will have 24 hours to snatch up these new works. Then, if the works are still available, I'll release them on Instagram. Much of the works will be unframed watercolors on handmade papers featuring my new TeaScapes. Additionally, I'm participating in the #ArtistSupportPledge which asks that I agree to sell works that are $200 or less, and once I hit $1000 in sales, I spend $200 on collecting another artist's work.
SOUND GOOD? Please sign up below to become a VIP to make certain you have early access and first dibs at these new wonders coming out of my studio. Until Friday, you can follow my Instagram / Facebook feeds, and you can explore all of the progress in my #ArtEveryDay Story on IG.
Several years ago, I met a local floral designer, Josi Stone, of Wildly Floral Co. Her approach to floral design is one that embraces local flower growers and sustainable practices, with a more organic flow to her arrangements - making them feel like they still belong in nature. I painted one of her arrangements into a watercolor several years ago and realized since I loved her subject matter, so might my students.
With that idea in mind, and everyone getting restless this summer, I put together a 2-hour workshop called Painting Florals in Watercolor. Held in mid-September, each student received their own bud vase with a small grouping of flowers including: a dahlia, a zinnia, a carnation, Japanese anemone, and bridal veil spirea. I set up tables in the backyard and used my patio as a demonstration area.
I began the workshop with a brief, incomplete demo of my flowers, showing my students how I move around a painting, gradually building up from light to dark. Sometimes showing them areas where I move into spaces with intentional darker values to bring out the lighter ones. Throughout that 2 hours, I added areas to the painting as students had questions - such as how to create the lip of the glass, or make the water's edge apparent. We spoke about darkening spaces to create more depth (such as in the interior spaces of the dahlia's petals), and then deciding what colors to use in the background. Each student was also given an easel on which to prop a colored backing board - helping them to focus on the flowers, and not the visual noise in the backyard.
Students brought their own materials from which to paint, but I used the following:
Completed by a student who started taking classes with me over ten years ago. She drove to my home, all the way from PA to take the workshop. She had an ah ha moment when I suggested she add a dark color around the background to try and pull it all together.
This painting was completed at Christine Anderson's home post-workshop. She took at the subject matter and decided to make it part of another painting. Since we met over ten years ago, she's developed her own watercolor practice and now has an Etsy shop.
These two works are by a couple that came together to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary. They happen to also be two very creative individuals in their vocations. Marcia LeBeau is a poet and the founder of The Write Space, a co-writing space. Lee Seidenberg is a photographer and the owner of Exploratory Creative. Nothing says love like a couple who paints together!
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
FINALLY, my work, mostly completed after the workshop ended. I hope to offer a workshop like this again, but as we are now nearing the colder months, I'm thinking that a Zoom workshop over the winter might be JUST THE THING.
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Spicy Sweet Seat, Mixed Media on Nujabi Paper, 5" x 7", ©2020 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
I've had personal struggles with mental health - both myself - and people very close to me in my family. I have seen first-hand how mental health support can move people towards and through recovery. But, that mental health support all too often is limited, out of reach - and even more so Black communities due to a variety of barriers.
Last week, I stumbled upon The Loveland Foundation, Inc. searching for mental health organizations that focus support on the Black community. As I browsed through their site I was taken by their mission to provide Black women and girls funding towards therapy sessions. They are a relatively local organization, based out of Newburgh, NY. but aim to reach a national audience. They have partnered with Therapy for Black Girls, Open Path Collective, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, and Talkspace, as well as networks and service providers that match their mission. Founded by Rachel Cargle in 2018 when she successfully raised $250,000 through a social media campaign for her birthday. Their current goal is to hit $600,000 to offer over 5,000 hours of free therapy.
This is just one way that I can be an ally to the Black community. My own TeaScapes artwork - which focuses on meditational environments in watercolor - has grown out of my experience through a personal mental health crisis. The making of art can be a therapeutic modality, as well as a vehicle towards mindfulness. It is my hope that the end result of my artwork also assists in a peacefulness to the collector. Throughout the month of June, I'm aiming to raise $480 (which equates to 4 therapy sessions for an individual) through sales of my work to benefit The Loveland Foundation, Inc.'s Therapy Fund. 50% of profits from sale of my original art and 20% of yoga mats / functional art will go to The Loveland Foundation, Inc. If you decide you'd rather donate directly to the fund you can do so through this link. Please join me in this initiative to help women and girls within the Black community.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Teaching artist from NJ making art, raising kids and helping people find mindfulness through making and collecting art.
I don't always realize how productive I have been until I take a moment to pause and gather everything for a shop update. My studio doesn't have much wall space so I can't always see everything at once - it gets shuffled to drawers or shelves. This past week 8 new works from my growing TeaScapes series have been organized, photographed, titled, described, priced and uploaded to my site.
Corresponding with this artwork release is my Give or Save Event which I have periodically run in the past with a lot of success. What is it? In brief - through May 5th, you have the opportunity to purchase my original work and have me either donate 50% to Feeding America or choose to save 50% on my work. You can read more about the event, how to participate and get almost first dibs on the work by subscribing to my list. Currently, only subscribers are accessing the work through April 30th.
It feels good to release them to the world, and I hope you'll join in for a change to collect new pieces, and possibly GIVE to an organization that is much needed now, before I open it up to the public Friday. Simply enter your email address below. I hope you're staying safe, healthy, and finding some way of reaching peace at this time. My heart goes out to everyone and my hope is that I can support the greater population through my work, and give you something to cherish in your home.
A Seat by the Firehole, Watercolor and Gouache with Image Transfer on Paper, 14" x 9.75", ©2018 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world. - Amy Poehler, from Yes, Please
I think I forgot over the past few decades that I was one of those dreamers, a thinker, somehow magical for what I do. I grew up as a dreamer - playing, creating, and then I became a mother, at the same time as opening a studio / gallery in a storefront. A lot of energy went into creating that space, the events, the shows, the lessons, and some artwork along the way.
Since closing my brick and mortar in 2013, I birthed another son, took time off from creating art, but then slowly started pulling myself up and out of my house. My art classes moved locations, grew in number and then shrank again while I tended to some very personal needs for my family. All the while, I was making, exhibiting, but something was shifting. During that contrition, my artwork started blossoming again, changing, emerging as something wholly new.
While motherhood may spark dreaming in some people, I have found in some ways the opposite. There were moments of creativity and bursts of ingenuity that surprised me, but for the most part I was tired, exhausted, and spent - trying to juggle so many things. The truth of motherhood is that it is so damned hard. And, it doesn't get easier. But, somehow in the past two years, I have worked equally damned hard on myself and have found a burst of growth that is too amazing not to notice. I have found peace, I have found more space for my ideas, and I have found new places for my work.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, our new pup, Cider, while 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 often spurred through my teaching, and travels.
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