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!"
I've started my first Instagram contest, and due to many local shows in the next few weeks, I decided, why not make the contest hyperlocal. I've started a new ARTament (one of my handpainted ornaments), featuring local scenery in Essex County, NJ. I'm hoping it will be finished in time for Sunday's ARTFULL HOLIDAY: a small art boutique located at the Firehouse Gallery, in Orange, NJ. It's hosted by Valley Arts and will feature jewelry, fiber art, paintings, vintage holiday decorations and more by more than 20 artists and organizations.
If you're in the Valley Arts District of Orange / West Orange, or in neighboring towns, or are out of the area and know someone in the Essex County, NJ area, please visit my INSTAGRAM page to enter.
Wanna know the rules?
Red Carpet Icons: New Works by Jennie Traill Schaeffer (ok, me) are on exhibit now through early March at the Valley's own Hat City Kitchen. I spent the better part of the end of the year producing several new pieces around the theme of the red carpet. Many of the works feature appliances, including several Crock Pots, a toaster, and espresso machine, along with a few baked goods and "thrones" of the home. The Crock Pot, in particular, was a pivotally important cook's tool. Through my research I learned it was the vogue appliance of the 1970s and I made the connection to the red carpet. Many of my appliances in past works (one included here, St. Mixer), were sainted with halos and personified in a way. This seemed to be a natural transition for me. All of the works in the exhibit are in oil (with the exception of one relief print), employing vivid colors and thick textural paint.
We had a soft opening reception in December during Valley Arts' monthly Artists Salon. Thank you to several of my friends and artists who showed up to support me. Thank you especially to Jeremy Moss, local artist and Valley Arts volunteer who helped me hang the show and invite me to exhibit. And, thank you to Patricia Rogers from Masconsumption.com who has Tweeted, Instagrammed, and paid me incredible compliments on my work. Luckily the work is up for two more months over the course of two more Artist Salons, tonight, January 11th and next month on February 8th. Please come down between 6 - 8pm to see the work, enjoy a drink or appetizer, and chat. I'll have 2016 Calendars and Assorted Prints / Small Works set up during the salons for sale also.
Summer art lessons and workshops finished off a few weeks ago with these fruits of my students' labors. I had the fullest teaching schedule I've experienced since closing my Newton studio, enrolling several new students in a part-time summer drawing camp, an after-camp art class, and a watercolor workshop. Since putting my youngest in part-time childcare, I've been able to promote my lessons to a wider audience and offer more sessions.
These are just the tip of the iceberg from the summer:
What's even better than this visual eye candy is the experience my students had. None of them wanted the classes to end; my watercolor workshop students couldn't come up with one criticism. I worked with several adults, particularly mothers, who carved out time for themselves for the first time this summer. To see their joy and satisfaction from their work was priceless. And, whether the students were children or adults, the process of making these works was a conduit to growth, learning, and joy (despite occasional frustration).
Interested in experiencing the joy of creating? Check out my Fall lesson schedule online. I'm offering several small group sessions in my West Orange Studio on the 3rd Floor including after school kids classes, an AM jumpstART for adults, and my signature Saturday teen class, as well as two classes (Painting in Watercolor and Taking Watercolor & Drawing Further) at Work & Play in South Orange.
As part of connecting with the artistic community, past and present, I've been making efforts to meet up with fellow artists. It's important to not only network, but develop relationships with artists you admire in order to gain feedback, new perspective on your work, and camaraderie. Being an artist is often a lonely endeavor and though I like to paint and work privately, I feed off personal interactions. This is something I miss about running my gallery in Newton.
Since closing the gallery, these personal interactions and connections are frequently very difficult to make happen now between family obligations and my teaching schedule. I've had to cancel numerous studio visits with artists due to changes in my schedule with sick kids, my husband's travel schedule or my own work deadlines.
Last month, with not much notice and schedules miraculously aligning, I visited West Orange artist, Sarah Canfield's studio. She and I have bumped into one another on numerous occasions and have been in a few local shows together. I admire and respect both her work and her dedication. Sarah is not only a remarkable artist, but also a dedicated volunteer for Studio Montclair and the West Orange Arts Council. Her studio is on the first floor of her bright and airy split level home. It's not a gigantic studio, but she's able to do some pretty big things in such a small space!
She comes from a photorealist oil painting tradition, but with a technological bent, creating almost hyperrealistic abstractions from electronic / computer elements, even "freezing time" as she describes in her artist statement by depicting circuit boards that have literally been frozen in her freezer! Despite the amount of detail and precision in the works, the scale and alteration of the subject matter distorts and becomes something almost organic. It is the tension between the "timeless and transient" that drives Sarah's work.
She recently has been taking a break from painting and experimenting with new multimedia and multidimensional works. I had the privilege of seeing them in progress and learning about her ideas, concepts, and processes. We spoke for a few hours about art-making, involvement in local arts organizations, studio practices, teaching and the balance of making art in a home studio.
Hopefully we'll get to see the results of her newest works soon; she's very protective of them due to their shift in direction, so I won't be sharing any pics. In the meantime, you can explore her portfolio at sarahcanfield.com. Hope to bump into you soon Sarah!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post with an exciting announcement!
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.