Paintings by teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer - 1, 2, 5 and 10 minutes on sulphite drawing paper.
Over the past month, loosening up has been the theme in my adult Watercolor and More class held at Oh Canary. My students have been exploring watercolor through the lens of gesture drawing, without the figure. Figure drawing sessions often begin with short, timed drawings that allow the artist an opportunity to detach and focus, really pushing perception and capturing a lot with very little. Using this approach, I brought in easels to create physical space between the artist, artwork, and asked that they stand and hold their brushes further down the handle, creating more energy and getting away from the urge to be too detailed.
The results have been tremendous - not only in the actual work, but in what it has taught my students. Seeing an object and painting it in only one minute forces you to include only the essential elements. Part of being an artist is deciding what to keep and what to ignore - it's a constant tightrope walk - whether a realist or abstractionist. This is super intense, and energizing at the same time.
My handbag was the subject for this student's first go at timed paintings.
A student painting one of her favorite things from the easel.
Yarn as subject matter.
This student discovered the benefit of adding another medium, water-soluble graphite, to add expressive lines, and emphasize direction, or texture in some cases. Both students at different points decided to return to full-on drawing to get a better sense of the objects' forms. After which they reverted back to watercolor only paintings.
When painting from the object using timed gestures, here are some tips that helped my students develop confidence and the ability to paint loosely:
Along the way we've explored the work of Sujean Rim, Samantha Hahn, and JMW Turner. I've also researched and learned from David Kessler's blog and Bev Jozwiak's article on the Artist's Network, in addition to my own experience running figure drawing sessions and partaking in them myself.
Want to do this on your own? Share it with me on Instagram, @traillworkslessons, and tell me your experience. I'll share it on my stories with my followers!
Enroll and work with me in person - Watercolor and More, held Tuesday mornings at Oh Canary Studio in Maplewood, NJ.
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.
Saturday and Sunday, June 2 - 3rd, I'll be exhibiting new works alongside two other West Orange artists, Samar Hussaini and Peggy Pardon, at the studio where I teach my classes, Oh! Canary. We all happen to have kids around the same age within the town and are each striving to work as professional artists. You'll have an opportunity to meet us all, see and purchase our work, watch us work when we're not chatting with visitors, and see a sampling of student work from the students of Oh! Canary. Plus, you'll be entered to win one of my limited edition prints, "June's Pearls," a nod to the ever so wonderful Jersey Blueberry. The SOMA Studio Tour encompasses both South Orange and Maplewood, along with some artists from surrounding areas (like us). View the map of all the studio locations which include 75 artists!
ENTER TO WIN DURING THE TOUR:
June's Pearls, Limited Edition Giclée,
12" x 6", printed on 100% textured rag,
© Jennie Traill Schaeffer
ABOUT SAMAR HUSSAINI: Samar Hussaini is an Arab-American, Fine Artist and Graphic Designer working, creating, and living outside of NYC in West Orange, NJ, and also a friend of mine. Designed with multiple layers showing the enriching distinctions of being an Arab-American her work creates thought-provoking ideas of dialogue and hope. Hussaini tells the story of Arab identity in a positive way transforming the prevalent misconceptions portrayed in the media and revealing the story of Arab people in a humanizing way. Hussaini earned her Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, with a double major in Studio Art and Art History and her Masters at Pratt Institute in Communication Design.
ABOUT PEGGY PARDON: For several years Sasha Huetz owned and operated a well known high-end vintage boutique in New York City's lower east side called Peggy Pardon. After the shop closed, Huetz started a family and continues to work as fashion stylist for editorial shoots and celebrities alike. Peggy Pardon (2.0) is a pet project of hers - setting out to create something with her hands and in doing so taught herself the art of porcelain clay, resin and metalsmithing. In the process Huetz came up with a collection of hand-crafted jewelry that she herself would wear.
ABOUT JENNIE TRAILL SCHAEFFER: If you're new to TraillWorks or you've been following for awhile but don't know a lot about me, I'm a teaching artist living in West Orange, NJ, just west of NYC. I earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in both painting and art education from Syracuse University, and had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy. I've spent more than a decade painting oils that juxtapose kitchen appliances and food with religious symbology, along with landscapes of importance. Over the past two years, my work has started to shift and I believe I'm finally discovering a new body of work, returning to the landscape in a new way. Some of these works will be exhibited for the first time this weekend.
Please join me Saturday and Sunday at Oh Canary, located at 513A Valley Street, Maplewood, NJ. And, if you can't be there, join us on social media (Instagram & Facebook - @traillworks) over the weekend, or subscribe to my newsletter for the official release of these works in my online shop.
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Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, a big mutt Ringo, making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my West Orange home studio, but is sometimes spurred through my teaching, which takes place at Oh! Canary Studio, located in Maplewood, NJ.
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Studio on the 3rd Floor
West Orange, NJ
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Photos of Jennie by Kat Dela Cruz..