TeaScapes: An Artist Statement
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.
I live so close to NYC, but historically I seldom take advantage of its proximity, shy of attending family celebrations. Now that I'm a short train ride away and I've made a commitment this year to start seeing work by other artists and attending shows other than my own, I finally planned a weekday art day in NYC. As a working teaching artist, this is something I need to prioritize more and with my kids in school for longer stretches, it's actually doable, or so I thought.
I've been lucky to spend time getting to know another creative mom from South Orange (next door to West Orange), who happens to be a published poet. Our meeting is a long story, and I'm not good at short stories. So as brief as I can, it involves meeting her husband, Lee Seidenberg, while figure drawing during a South Orange creative festival, mutually admiring our works, having a conversation, discovering his wife, Marcia Le Beau, worked with my sister-in-law in the advertising industry, told my sister-in-law about the chance meeting, she said Marcia was great, we tried to link up to socialize, hasn't happened because of our crazy schedules, and then Lee gives Marcia watercolor lessons as a gift, taught by, none other than, me. It also happens that my husband's name is also Lee and Marcia and I are both SU alums, oh and we're both Pennsylvania gals. Marcia has been taking my class at Work and Play since January, and I've had the opportunity to get to know her, help her develop her visual art, and discover her amazing creativity as a poet.
While I opened my field trip to all of my students, only Marcia was free to join me. The intended plan was to head to The Met Breuer to see the Unfinished exhibit. However, the NJTransit delays had other plans for us, and we decided to stay closer to Penn Station, walk the Highline and check out some galleries in Chelsea. We headed down the Highline, stopped in for a water at a sweet cafe near 10th and something, where I saw my first eye candy of the day: a Synesso espresso maker, an appliance after my own heart. Beyond the art today, I ended up shooting some reference shots of two beautiful coffee makers and a coffee grinder. As it turns out, Marcia has an acquaintance, Debra Marcoux, who is the director of Markel Fine Arts, and as it turns out, lives in my neighborhood.
Markel Fine Arts has a show featuring two artists, Sarah Irvin and Josette Urso, both abstractionists, but entirely different focuses. Sarah is a mom, using writing, ink, and Yupo paper to convey the temporality of memory and language, inspired by her experiences during pregnancy and early motherhood. I didn't get a chance to photograph her work, but you can explore it more through Markel Fine Arts. Josette Urso is a Brooklyn-based artist who uses landscape as her schema. Not only does she work in oil, but also renders incredibly complex ink drawings from her studio window. We bounced around a few other galleries, finally ending up at George Billis Gallery where I discovered the abstract, patterned works of John Belingheri. My photos don't do the work any justice. You need to see them in person. And, John Belingheri's show, alongside with David Febland and Chuck Aydlett, opens tonight from 6 - 8pm if you're in Chelsea.
We ended our trip with a visit to Underline Coffee which is owned by partners and husband and wife, Brandon and Debra, the same Debra who directs Kathryn Markel. They opened up about two years ago and everything, including much of the interior design, is hand cut, hand brewed, and hand built. We had delicious toast, and amazing coffee and tea, plus got a chance to meet and chat with Brandon.
Our time was short, our plans changed, but we rolled with it and booked it home in the nick of time for Marcia to pick up her kids from school. We're hoping to make another trip in to actually get to the Met Breuer. Keep your fingers crossed that we can make it happen; in the meantime, I highly suggest you read some of Marcia's poetry at www.marcialebeau.com. They are quick, witty, in some cases funny, and a pleasure to read.
Looking forward to my next post? Here's what's in the works: the background to my newly finished painting, a rare opportunity to purchase work by artist Tony Lordi, and a chance to own a one of a kind original work that will soon get a lot of viewing. Want to get these in your inbox? Follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe on the right.
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 home studio, but is often spurred through my teaching, and travels. I just relocated to Durham, NC, from West Orange, NJ, so my studio is in renovation right now.
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