Since moving to Durham, NC, I've joined two Artist / Mother groups - one a global network and second, a local, in person group based in the Triangle. It's been a boon of education, support and collaboration. I've done everything from getting involved in a professional development course, called Wearing All the Hats, to participating in a one-month Virtual Artist Mother Residency during February all through the Artist/Mother Network (both an online community, as well as a podcast). Now, the local group has gotten together to participate in a group show that is part of a global initiative of women artists taking up space (developed through the collaboration of the Artist Mother Network and the Thrive Artist Network.
Opening on Friday, May 6th, from 6 - 8pm, at the Pocket Gallery in Raleigh, NC, and running through the month of May, Taking Up Space includes a group of eight women artists living around the Triangle, specifically in Durham, Hillsborough, and Raleigh. The Pocket Gallery is the working studio and and gallery of artist/owner, Caitlin Cary, who is showing us and exhibiting with us in her space. We are just one of 80 shows that will be hosted globally!
Featured artists include: Caitlin Cary - Jean Gray Mohs - Natalia Torres del Valle - Kelly Sheppherd Murray - Susan Martin - Joanna Moody - Jennie Traill Schaeffer - Shanny Kohli
The work women artists create is important and deserves to be seen by our communities. “13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women,” according to Julia Halperin of artnet News in “The 4 Glass Ceilings: How Women Artists Get Stiffed at Every Stage of their Careers," cited by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This all-inclusive exhibition is the beginning of a yearly invitation for female-identifying artists to exhibit work and invite our communities to view important contemporary art made by living working women artists. This is the beginning of a large community project to bring women artists into conversation with each other.
LEARN MORE about the show here.
Works possibly included by Jennie Traill Schaeffer. You can learn more about these works on Jennie's Instagram feed. AND, follow #TAKINGUPSPACE2022 on Instagram.
On Friday, 4/22/22 at noon, I'll be offering an intimate tour of my new studio in Durham, NC, on Zoom. This has been a work of love, that has been in progress since July of 2021, after we moved from NJ. This room has faced a lot of challenges since we bought the home remotely, gasp, in 2021. I know - crazy, right? It was the only way in the current real estate market in the Triangle.
Anyway, the back story: we bought the house with the 3rd floor finished, however we learned just a day prior to closing that permits had never been taken out on the work. We were told if we wanted to resell the house based on the square footage we were buying, we would need to permit the space. That meant we might need to tear down all of the drywall and redo rough inspections of electrical and HVAC. This was beyond a headache, but fortunately we found an amazing electrician who was able to work within reason with the building inspector and get access points to the electrical without tearing down the drywall. He did find some problems which he corrected.
We then learned through our HVAC professional that the room had been shared with the 2nd floor zone and to be up to code, needed to be on it's own zone. Given the labyrinth of ductwork that was done, they felt it best to take the 3rd floor off the 2nd floor zone, and install a mini-split system. Geez!
Once all of that work was done, we finally embarked on removing the wall to wall carpeting. My handyman pulled out the rug - which was a huge help in getting us over the overwhelm of starting the project. Next, my husband learned how to build a floating wall - by sinking 2 x 4s into the floor joists below. Then sometime in January, we started laying the vinyl plank flooring I took some time to source and purchase. Finally in March I embarked on a Facebook Marketplace hunt for specific pieces that I needed to store everything I still had boxed from NJ. I found four really good finds - I'll point them out on the tour.
We are close to finish - the floating wall needs drywall, spackel and paint, and we need to finish installing finishing trim around 1/3 of the room. Then, I'm thinking about repainting a wall or two - that might come later . . . we'll see!
If you have some time at noon, EST, on Friday, RSVP below to get an invite for the Zoom. Who knows, I might even have some art hanging! PS - I can also tell you about an upcoming exhibit, part of the #TakingUpSpace2022 initiative, with the Artist Mothers Triangle area below, opening in Raleigh, NC, next month.
I've been painting custom ARTaments, which are hand-painted ornaments, for almost 5 years. Geez! I can't believe it's been that long, and that my son, who was 4 at the time, is now 8 1/2. (Watch the video above for the explanation of how I started painting ARTaments and my son's role in their development).
These are both a joy and a bit of a struggle to paint, considering that I'm working on a blank "canvas" that is about 3" large. It's actually blank ceramic involves the following steps to create:
These little gems get me out of the scale I normally paint, and force me to attempt to work quickly, though I've discovered each time I paint one, I usually spend minimally 4 hours on each. And, thru this discovery, I know I'm greatly underpricing my custom pieces. But, lucky for you, you can take advantage of those introductory prices through the end of May on any ARTament commissioned. Now is certainly not too early to think ahead to the end of the year. I will be increasing their pricing come May, so get your orders in ASAP!
The most recent ARTament I completed was for my friend's sister, featuring her niece. It was such an absolute joy to paint, considering that her niece is utterly adorable, and the colors of her clothes screamed a yellow background, which justly fits into my recent work with #INTOYellow.
Interested in a custom ARTament? Explore the options at http://www.traillworks.com/artaments.html.
Although I have found ways through our modern food system to incorporate blueberries in my diet year-round, I always anticipate Jersey blueberry season. Even growing up in PA on the border of NJ, it was a much-anticipated part of the summer. Back in 2012, while on our annual family vacation to Cape May, my husband and I discovered a local jewel, Beach Plum Farm. We rented bikes, plopped our then 3.5-year old on the back, and rode out to West Cape May in search of local produce. Not only did we enjoy the ride and the food, but were astounded by the beauty of the farm.
Upon entering, at the time, was a front garden, planted in an English-style, with herbs, flowers, and smaller vegetables. We were welcomed to follow the rustic seashell path to the back of the farm to tour the rest of the crops and stumbled upon ripening blueberry bushes. Amazingly, this was the first time I had ever seen them in person. The shades of blue got me thinking of my palette and which pigments I would use; surely manganese, a little ultramarine, maybe turquoise, definitely some pthalo.
The work above was created upon my return from several photos I took. We've been back to Cape May since, but have had another son in the meantime and haven't had the opportunity to take the bike ride out to the farm. Hopefully we can make it work this August when we take our annual trip, now that the youngest is capable of sitting in a bike seat and the oldest has the endurance to probably bike the distance himself.
In the meantime, I'm offering the above piece at a reduced price in honor of the start of Jersey blueberry season, now through Friday only, along with a summer print sale of my works available on Fine Art America.
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Our local ShopRite is selling flats of Jersey blueberries that I keep hoarding. I used to be able to freeze the extras, but with a family of four, and a 3-year old that could live on them alone, they aren't making it to the freezer. (Great tip: you can pop the blueberries directly in the freezer in the clamshell). Enjoy!
35 has been a long time coming. While I'm no longer 35, I began this painting when I was 34, I think. Sometime in 2012, I believe, or maybe 2013, those years are a bit of a blur. I was running my gallery in Newton, NJ, a large 1250 sq' space where I was teaching, curating and exhibiting shows, and painting. Those years were great, and I have fond memories of the space, the art, and the people I connected with through art.
At the same time, it was tough. We honor and lift up women who do it all, and laud all the hard work. But, behind all of the successes, events, and work, I was struggling. My oldest son was 3 and in daycare 4 days a week, I was working tremendous hours, and my husband was commuting an 1 1/2 by to Millburn, NJ, and traveling on top of it for work. In the midst, we wanted to have a second child. I grew up with a sibling, as did my husband, so we wanted that for my son. All the while, my husband and I were discussing a move from Newton, which on top of everything was draining; not knowing whether to close my gallery, where we would go, what I would do.
The second time around, this process was not easy. Looking back at my life at the time, I can see why. I eventually got pregnant sometime in 2011, and was so thrilled that I wanted to tell my family and close friends, earlier than most do. I always felt if something did happen, I would want the support of my family. Sadly, something did happen, and I miscarried around 6 weeks. It was hard. I sometimes minimize the difficulty by saying, well it wasn't as hard as others' situations, but it doesn't matter. A loss is a loss and it is emotionally difficult to deal with. Beyond that, recovering physically was something I wasn't prepared for. It took a toll on my body and it took me almost a year to move on, not so much emotionally, but to normalize my body and physically let go.
This piece was started sometime after I miscarried, which the term in itself has a negative connotation and suggests that the mother did something wrong. I never felt it was my fault, and was hopeful that I would be able to conceive in the future. During that time I put so much pressure on myself, that I ended up with increased anxiety, a trip to the ER for a panic attack, and of course the side effect was an inability to let my body relax and be open to a pregnancy. After therapy, many doctors appointments for various issues, I finally found an answer from a doctor who, after some minor medications worked, told me your body is healthy, you can start trying. He worked with me, he was honest with me, and his statement lifted a weight off my shoulders. About a month later, I was pregnant with my, now, 3-year old son.
I've dealt with appliances as a subject for various reasons; maybe out of fear or just not knowing yet how to deal with the figure. They have become metaphors for people. Many are unfamiliar with the small appliance depicted in my work; it's a Sunbeam egg cooker. It was my mother's; she gave it to me several years ago to use in my work. This entire work is an evolution from my Maésta paintings featuring an appliance version of a Madonna and child seated on a throne. No longer is the chair the seat of the appliance, but a reference to a kitchen sink that has been collaged with egg shells. If you count the pearls, you will see there are 34. At the time after my miscarriage, 35 was the year when all things fertility-wise start going downhill (so we were told) and you become classified as high risk. This year hung over the head of many of my friends, including myself at the time. I ended up pregnant at 34, and delivered at 35, a healthy natural birth.
We ended up selling our house and closing my gallery two months prior to his birth, and relocating to a temporary apartment in Short Hills. All of my art supplies were boxed up shy of a sketchbook and a few watercolors. We were there for only 5 months before moving permanently to our home in West Orange. I took the time after having my son to care for him, minimize the time my oldest was in pre-school and get our house settled. That first year and a half are a bit of a blur with lots of sleepless nights and very full days. I produced little if any artwork during that time.
I gradually set up my studio, began teaching again, and I believe it wasn't until last year, that I pulled out this painting to resume work on it. I'm not one that easily lets go of things (as you can see). And, while some artists can just toss out a painting, say it's not significant for me, that wasn't the case. I needed to finish this, see it through to the end; it was important. So finally after 3 intense months working on this a few hours a week, I felt it was completed. It is done. That period of my life is over, but not forgotten. It was beautiful, tough, and while I often felt discouraged, there was hope that a second child would come, despite 35 hanging over my head.
Now, 35 is not such a problem and new research is coming out that suggests women who give birth at later ages, actually live longer! I stumbled on an article in The Daily Beast by Jean Twenge, psychologist and author of The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant, that noted 35 was derived based on French birth records from 1670 and 1830! It was thought that 1 out of 3 women could not get pregnant between the ages of 35 - 39. Those statistics lasted so far into the future that it affected my thinking about my pregnancy capabilities only a few years ago. New studies show 80% of that age group does become pregnant. So to those who have experienced miscarriage, struggles with pregnancy, fertility, you are not alone. I'm so thankful that this is a conversation that we are starting to have, and am very grateful that my second child did arrive, and thrilled that "35" has been resolved and is no longer on my easel.
Head over to my Facebook album of works in progress if you'd like to see the development and transformation of "35" over the past several years. Contact me for interest in the "35" or exhibit opportunities for the work.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Deemed the Kitchen God's Artist by NJ Savvy Living for my sainted appliances, I'm now known more for my vibrant, meditational paintings of chairs set surprisingly in landscapes. Since relocating to NC from NJ, mothering my two sons, and caring for our rescue pup, Cider, took the lead. Now, that my Durham home studio is renovated it's open again for virtual art coaching and the resumption of my personal art and commissions. The work I make is inspired by my joy of teaching, exploring nature, and traveling. On The Teaching Artist Blog, I share my approach to teaching and educate my readers about my creative process.
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