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.
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.
TeaScapes grew out of an experiment and a need to do something with a collection of empty tea packages I had saved. One night during an adult watercolor class I was teaching, while the students were working, I played around with transferring a tea bag onto a stretched piece of Arches watercolor paper that I had stained with tea several years ago. It had been sitting in my studio untouched. It wasn't precious to me, which gave me the freedom to play with the tea bag.
It happened almost too easily - using a gel medium coated on the surface of the paper and the package, I laid it down with the print facing the page, dried it, and then rubbed off with paper with a damp sponge. What was left was intriguing texturally. At the same time, I had cut out some mid-century styled chairs from a furniture catalog, and thought to transfer that as well. In doing so, it dawned on me the connection between the tea packaging design and contents and the landscape out West. Each collaged paper is then paired with a watercolored landscape that suits the transfer - the papers tell me what they want to be. You can watch a video of my process here.
I got giddy over the juxtaposition - the way an artist does when she hits an "aha" moment. The meaningfulness behind the work how these pieces mirror my own personal growth through a traumatic period as a mother. The past two years took a toll on my spiritual, mental and physical self. The prior work I was doing with appliances no longer felt important, or relevant. With this, I was able to detach from my environment and go back to places where I felt whole, lightened and free. The works currently are focused on images that tie landscapes from Utah and Wyoming to the tea I'm drinking now (after my coffee - my first love).
The small size, 5" x 7", lends itself to having a sense of completion since my studio time has been historically choppy and short. Each one is painted on Strathmore 500 Series watercolor paper and then mounted onto archival cradled wood panels by Ampersand, coated with UV spray and varnish, and wired and ready for hanging. Since beginning these in February, I'm now verging on 16 #TeaScapes with hopes of creating more.
Six of them are already listed on my site, while any others not sold at this weekend's Maplewood Art & Music Walk, will be added next week. So, here's a peak at the pieces available online now, as well as new works getting ready for Sunday. If you purchase anything, they will be hung on Sunday and marked as sold, shipping next week. Stop by my booth on Sunday from 11 - 5pm - #42 on Highland Place, use 9 Highland Place, Maplewood, NJ on your navigation.
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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Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.