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.
35 has been a long time coming. While I'm no longer 35, I began this painting when I was 34, I think. Sometime in 2012, I believe, or maybe 2013, those years are a bit of a blur. I was running my gallery in Newton, NJ, a large 1250 sq' space where I was teaching, curating and exhibiting shows, and painting. Those years were great, and I have fond memories of the space, the art, and the people I connected with through art.
At the same time, it was tough. We honor and lift up women who do it all, and laud all the hard work. But, behind all of the successes, events, and work, I was struggling. My oldest son was 3 and in daycare 4 days a week, I was working tremendous hours, and my husband was commuting an 1 1/2 by to Millburn, NJ, and traveling on top of it for work. In the midst, we wanted to have a second child. I grew up with a sibling, as did my husband, so we wanted that for my son. All the while, my husband and I were discussing a move from Newton, which on top of everything was draining; not knowing whether to close my gallery, where we would go, what I would do.
The second time around, this process was not easy. Looking back at my life at the time, I can see why. I eventually got pregnant sometime in 2011, and was so thrilled that I wanted to tell my family and close friends, earlier than most do. I always felt if something did happen, I would want the support of my family. Sadly, something did happen, and I miscarried around 6 weeks. It was hard. I sometimes minimize the difficulty by saying, well it wasn't as hard as others' situations, but it doesn't matter. A loss is a loss and it is emotionally difficult to deal with. Beyond that, recovering physically was something I wasn't prepared for. It took a toll on my body and it took me almost a year to move on, not so much emotionally, but to normalize my body and physically let go.
This piece was started sometime after I miscarried, which the term in itself has a negative connotation and suggests that the mother did something wrong. I never felt it was my fault, and was hopeful that I would be able to conceive in the future. During that time I put so much pressure on myself, that I ended up with increased anxiety, a trip to the ER for a panic attack, and of course the side effect was an inability to let my body relax and be open to a pregnancy. After therapy, many doctors appointments for various issues, I finally found an answer from a doctor who, after some minor medications worked, told me your body is healthy, you can start trying. He worked with me, he was honest with me, and his statement lifted a weight off my shoulders. About a month later, I was pregnant with my, now, 3-year old son.
I've dealt with appliances as a subject for various reasons; maybe out of fear or just not knowing yet how to deal with the figure. They have become metaphors for people. Many are unfamiliar with the small appliance depicted in my work; it's a Sunbeam egg cooker. It was my mother's; she gave it to me several years ago to use in my work. This entire work is an evolution from my Maésta paintings featuring an appliance version of a Madonna and child seated on a throne. No longer is the chair the seat of the appliance, but a reference to a kitchen sink that has been collaged with egg shells. If you count the pearls, you will see there are 34. At the time after my miscarriage, 35 was the year when all things fertility-wise start going downhill (so we were told) and you become classified as high risk. This year hung over the head of many of my friends, including myself at the time. I ended up pregnant at 34, and delivered at 35, a healthy natural birth.
We ended up selling our house and closing my gallery two months prior to his birth, and relocating to a temporary apartment in Short Hills. All of my art supplies were boxed up shy of a sketchbook and a few watercolors. We were there for only 5 months before moving permanently to our home in West Orange. I took the time after having my son to care for him, minimize the time my oldest was in pre-school and get our house settled. That first year and a half are a bit of a blur with lots of sleepless nights and very full days. I produced little if any artwork during that time.
I gradually set up my studio, began teaching again, and I believe it wasn't until last year, that I pulled out this painting to resume work on it. I'm not one that easily lets go of things (as you can see). And, while some artists can just toss out a painting, say it's not significant for me, that wasn't the case. I needed to finish this, see it through to the end; it was important. So finally after 3 intense months working on this a few hours a week, I felt it was completed. It is done. That period of my life is over, but not forgotten. It was beautiful, tough, and while I often felt discouraged, there was hope that a second child would come, despite 35 hanging over my head.
Now, 35 is not such a problem and new research is coming out that suggests women who give birth at later ages, actually live longer! I stumbled on an article in The Daily Beast by Jean Twenge, psychologist and author of The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant, that noted 35 was derived based on French birth records from 1670 and 1830! It was thought that 1 out of 3 women could not get pregnant between the ages of 35 - 39. Those statistics lasted so far into the future that it affected my thinking about my pregnancy capabilities only a few years ago. New studies show 80% of that age group does become pregnant. So to those who have experienced miscarriage, struggles with pregnancy, fertility, you are not alone. I'm so thankful that this is a conversation that we are starting to have, and am very grateful that my second child did arrive, and thrilled that "35" has been resolved and is no longer on my easel.
Head over to my Facebook album of works in progress if you'd like to see the development and transformation of "35" over the past several years. Contact me for interest in the "35" or exhibit opportunities for the work.
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.
I've been eating a lot of citrus fruit as I try to clear my head of a month-long cold. These clementines became the inspiration for my December calendar, and a great exercise in exploring complementary colors and the play of shadows, while pushing my watercolor technique during a class of mine at Work and Play in South Orange, NJ. And of course, I live in West Orange, so oranges are on my mind. Enjoy and stay healthy as we approach winter and the treats of the holidays.
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.