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
Since 2006 I've made it a point to give back through my artwork. While the work itself is significant and has meaning for me, and art does heal people's soul, I want my efforts to have more of an impact. While I've been growing my business and raising young kids, the best way I can do that is through charitable giving. Over the past decade I've worked with and donated to Kaleidoscope for Hope, Project Self-Sufficiency, Quinlan Hospice, Birth Haven, Oasis of NJ, and Dining for Women, among others.
Recently, I've been wanting to help a lot of different organizations, and with the state of the world now, there seemed to be too many good organizations to choose just one. Until recently, I met Whitny Sobala, wife of photographer, John Sobala, who was exhibiting at a show with me in Madison, NJ. In our conversations about the recent election, we ended up talking about her start-up UMEWE, which is an "art and design collaborative founded with the conceptual artist, Uncle Riley, and supports, promotes and disseminates Optimistic 'tools' and works of public art." UMEWE worked together with Uncle Riley and Pantone to develop INT-O YELLOW which aims to promote a new movement in art, "Optimism," and through it "heal depression, end suffering and save lives."
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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