Now that Auggie, I mean my painting, "Jar of Optimism (Auggie)" has been delivered for tomorrow's opening of Paint the Town Yellow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery hosted by INT-O Yellow, I had a break from my routine. Instead of studio work, I spent an afternoon working on an online course with artist, Amira Rahim, who is an Instagram expert. We chatted about ways to vary our feed. As I was looking around my studio, I glanced at my art wall and saw something amazing: the connection between the works I painted with INT-O Yellow, my older Appliance Portraits, and a self portrait done while studying with painter, Jerome Witkin at Syracuse University.
Unless you know me personally or have been following me for a long time, you probably weren't aware that I have a history of figurative works. I've always enjoyed painting the human form; both in sum and the portrait. I believe Jerome helped instill that love, as well as my high school art teacher, Nancy Bossert. But, I've always felt unsure of a direction, figuratively speaking, as I desired something beyond glorifying the body. I'm interested in concept. That's what landed me back to the portrait I painted for INT-O Yellow of my son, Auggie. I became aware of a device to synthesize with a figure to communicate something bigger, more important than just the human body.
This is partly a result of having worked with INT-O Yellow; it helped me bridge this gap. Working with a color and structure outside my comfort level (50% of all the works created for the show Paint the Town Yellow had to include INT-O Yellow), coupled with my interest in painting reflections and surfaces (the use of a Ball canning jar is related to my Appliance Portraits), made something new happen.
This was an a-ha moment for me. As a teaching artist, I'm always striving to find connections for my students. They don't always see them. I don't always see them. Sometimes it comes from outside yourself, or at a time when you have a break and come back to something after deep focus. That was this instance; I was so involved with the painting, that I had lost sight of where it grew from. Over the past year I've wanted to move forward with new subject matter, but wasn't sure where to go. Jumping out of my comfort zone and INT-O Yellow, yet again was the driving force of a burst of creativity. What gets you out of your comfort zone and into creativity?
I hope you'll join me tomorrow in Madison, NJ, at the Peg Williams Gallery to see Auggie in person (the painting, I mean) and the opening of Paint the Town Yellow.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach
I have the pleasure of teaching an enthusiastic and talented group of students art each year, including kids, age 7 - 12, teens, and adults. I teach classes out of my West Orange, NJ, home studio, as well as at Work & Play, a co-working space in neighboring South Orange, and last year I also taught a workshop at Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, NJ.
In Einstein's words, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." I hope I've achieved this, even in the smallest of ways. Here's a smattering of the work accomplished by many of these students throughout the year, along with some takeaways.
AGES 7 - 12: From various renditions of Harry, the studio rubber duck, completed in a variety of media, to self portraits on mylar, to Google Doodles inspired by ancient Egypt, design work influenced by the Sagrada Familia, skulls, invented dragons from dinosaur figurines, and landscapes, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
TAKEAWAYS: Students understood how to perceive and represent a self-portrait, discovered how to incorporate text and images together to communicate an idea, learned how to use an X-Acto knife to cut foamcore, understood that some artwork is planned first while others are not, they always learn that making mistakes are ok, contrast is necessary to differentiate forms, and the use of negative space is integral to successful work.
PARENT / CHILD: I periodically taught a mother/daughter semiprivate with two of my students, and they went so far as to create two separate watercolor paintings that actually merge subject matter, from their own points of view. Can you see what is similar and connected? This was a great exercise for a parent and child to cooperate and grow together, artistically and relationally.
ADULTS: I teach adults primarily watercolor in a beautiful room in Work & Play (a co-working space) located in South Orange, NJ, as well as a program called JumpstART, out of my home studio, in West Orange. Over the course of 2016 I worked with several beginners as well as veteran students on the above work. Students explored botanical representations outside during the summer months, as well as inside during the cooler months. Etegami-style postcards were created as a way of lessening expectations and loosening approaches. Explorations in media have included collage, adding salt, alcohol, adding ink, working on different papers, including hot press and cold press and learning how to embrace the spontaneity of painting on YUPO. Students have learned how to perceive color by painting white and black objects. Newbies always start off with the basics of painting a singular object in monochrome, then building to complementary colors and eventually onto a full palette.
TAKEAWAYS: I'm frequently talking about mindfulness and finding space for creativity during class. I've referenced "Wired for Creativity" throughout the year, which has led us to start incorporating meditation in some classes. Students have learned the importance of walking away from their work, or setting it aside for a week to get a fresh perspective. Many have trusted the sometimes fearful process of trying new approaches or working with subject matter out of their comfort zone to open up new possibilities and to attain growth.
PETERS VALLEY WORKSHOP: Over a weekend in August, I taught a watercolor workshop at the beautiful Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, NJ. Some of the students were utter beginners while others were more seasoned, having studied with other watercolor artists. It was a really enjoyable group and spending the weekend teaching in the Delaware Water Gap National Park is always a treat. I won't be teaching this summer, but planning for 2018.
TAKEAWAYS: Students felt they stretched themselves and pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone. Some felt working outdoors was the best part of the weekend, as well as thinking large, rather than the details. A beginner was impressed that he could "paint anything at all" and that he "actually likes some of what [he] did." They were amazed with the amount of varied expereices we accomplished in two days. The monochromatic painting exercise is the most valuable lesson many learned.
Want to Study with Me?
Lessons are enrolling throughout the year for kids, teens and adults, both in my West Orange studio, as well as at Work and Play in South Orange, NJ. I encourage you to explore the class options and reach out if you have any questions.
If you're not sure, here's what a recent workshop student said about working with me:
"How stimulating being with a teacher like Jenny could be and inspiring!"
Several adults joined me over the course of the Fall to explore, either for the first time, or more deeply, the art of painting in watercolor at Work and Play in South Orange, NJ. The work above are just some of the products of their commitment. Lessons included painting white, exploring the range of marks made through a single paint brush, using peripheral materials like collaged papers or salt to create texture, layering paint, using blind contour drawing for the structure of a painting, and exploring the flowing nature of watercolor.
Through 12/16, I'm offering a $30 discount on tuition for early registration. Please consider joining us, whether you're a beginner or more experienced, I'd love to work with you on developing your technique and vision at Work and Play. It's a great gift for you or an artist you love! Learn more about Watercolor & More at traillworks.com.
UPDATE: Due to rain, we are moving to the underpass under the South Orange Train Station!
Tomorrow afternoon, weather-dependent, I'll be enjoying a unique opportunity to moderate part of a day-long FREE Life Drawing Marathon in a public park in South Orange, NJ! Artist, Charles Hawthorne, would be pleased. No, the model will not be nude, but I'm pretty excited about the event regardless. The Life Drawing Marathon is part of the South by South Orange Festival which is touted to be the "first of its kind" in New Jersey by Jay Lustig, founder of NJArts.net.
From 10 - 4pm in Spiotta Park, three artists (Ed Gunneson, Sarah Petruzielo, and myself), will be guiding a model and visitors in life drawing sessions. I will be moderating from 12:40 - 2:30, should you want to stop by and see me. Spiotta Park is considered the Creative Midway which is free to visitors and will offer a host of other events including: paint ball art, Celebration Singers’ performances, an improv poetry scavenger hunt, a creative collisions open mic sound stage, a ‘zine workshop, Theatre Group Dzieci, buskers and assorted performers, and a group art and architectural project hosted by David Everitt-Carlson of DEC Design and iThinkOutsideMyBox.com. Whoa!
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The festival is a "3-day collision of Art, Ideas, Music and Exploration" with too many speakers, artists, and performers to list. You must spend some time exploring the event listing, and really take advantage of the terrific topics and tantalizing timetables. Plus, I just discovered there is childcare available through the Baird and Work & Play (my host for the upcoming Watercolor Workshop I'm teaching)!
Art and camp shouldn't just be for the kids! Take a break this summer and enrich yourself artistically with a workshop designed to allow you to explore the art of painting in watercolor. This is an affordable and accessible medium that you can participate in with little investment and you don’t need a studio at home to create in watercolors. We will begin the workshop with some basics about painting in watercolor and each week build on your skills, eventually exploring ways of including collage and mixed media in your watercolors. The entire workshop will focus on creating art in a watercolor pad (similar to a sketchbook that is portable and easy to store).
It's a five week workshop, Exploring the Art of Painting in Watercolor (July 8th - August 5th, Wednesday mornings from 9:30 - 11:30am AND now, Wednesday evenings from 7:30 - 9:30pm) designed to offer you an introduction to the medium and gradually allow you to develop an understanding of its breadth, starting with the basics of painting in one color to incorporating collage into your watercolors. No experience is necessary and on-site babysitting is available!
What I love about Work & Play is the setting and space. The photos below show the workroom where the watercolor workshop will be hosted. Can't you just wait to spend time painting in this brightly lit, open and airy room? Congrats to designer, Hanh Truong, for creating a simple, yet inviting room that just begs for creativity.
Owner, Deborah Engel, founded Work & Play in 2010 after her own experiences juggling young children, commuting into the city, then freelancing from home and wanting an opportunity for connection with other professionals. Work and Play opened in early 2015. In short it's a membership-driven coworking space that allows for drop in babysitting, caregiver & me classes and birthday party space, and now Adult Camp, located in downtown South Orange.
Enrollment will be accepted through July 1st only, since your tuition covers all supplies, plus coffee and healthy snacks! If the timing of this workshop doesn't work for you, but you are interested in the topic, please send me a message or fill out the survey below and if we generate enough interest, I might be able to offer another time or day. Offering these workshops are always a shot in the dark, so the more you tell me, the more I can accommodate you. Hopefully I will get a chance to work on letting you play with watercolors this summer at Work and Play!
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.
Join my VIPs for First Dibs
Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.