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.
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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Summer is a great time to test the waters in an art class with me, teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer, of TraillWorks. I'm offering two classes in watercolor for adults with a flex schedule. Choose to get outside for a Tuesday morning class (Watercolor in the Reservation) or stay inside for a Wednesday night studio class (Watercolor Painting & More). People often come to watercolor with much intimidation. However, I find it's a very approachable medium, and I teach techniques that enable forgiveness. It's a fabulous vehicle for finding a type of mindfulness, or just an artistic outlet that is within reach.
You have the choice of 6 weeks (full session) or a 4 week flex schedule, as well as drop in options. Pricing varies due to the location. Beginners through more experiences students are welcome and teaching is adapted to the individual.
You will learn how to use your brushes, paints, water, and set up for either in the studio or on the road. Not only will you develop techniques and perception, you might also improve your drawing, and ability to compose a picture, as well as color theory.
Not sure if an art class is for you? Here's what a former student had to say about her studio classes: "I wanted to thank you for introducing me to watercolor techniques and giving me this lifelong outlet for exploring paint. You not only inspired me to paint, but my husband and son, too. They'd see me with the set and supplies out so would grab a sheet and jump in. As a teacher the gifts you give your students are truly invaluable!" -Mary V, Student
Now through Memorial Day, save 10% on summer tuition. This applies to 4 week flex and 6 week classes. Use coupon code SUMMERH2O at checkout.
"A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through and about the arts."
After earning my degree in Art Education, alongside a Painting degree from Syracuse University, I entered into the field of public education as an art teacher in my early 20s. It was an eye-opening experience, one that ultimately wasn't the best fit for me. As a novice teacher, I had the dream that I would develop as a professional artist, alongside teaching professionally. Unfortunately, I learned within the first year of teaching, that I wouldn't have the luxury of time to devote to that kind of creativity, as all of my energy was being put into my teaching. I deeply admire public educators, but realized that I needed to pursue a different path to maintain my art-making.
That path led me to offering private art lessons from home, which in hindsight was modeled for me by teaching artist, Nancy Bossert, whom I studied art with in high school. Within a few years of working form home, I opened a space that operated for five years as both a gallery and studio from which I exhibited and created my own work, sold work by other artists, and taught art lessons. Several years and two kids later, I'm on a slightly different road, though the trajectory of teaching and making my art is still constant.
This past fall, I started offering my art classes at Oh! Canary Art Studio in Maplewood, NJ. This new space has allowed me to breathe life back to my lessons, after having taught in a small home studio for a few years in West Orange. Simultaneously I started identifying myself as a teaching artist. During the past year, I've been thinking about ways to redesign and rebrand my blog, which I've been posting to since 2007. After hiring a local web strategist, Dani Geraci, to review my site, she suggested a blog overhaul. The new name came to me recently when a lightbulb went off - "The Teaching Artist."
From here on, you can expect to see posts under the name, "The Teaching Artist." The direction of posts will move towards showing the connections between what I'm teaching and what I'm making. Sometimes it may be an influence from a book I'm reading, unrelated to art, or it may be a direct connection to work I'm creating. I'm teaching in Maplewood and making in West Orange, NJ. Showing up in this arena, gives me purpose, structure and forces new ideas that often filters into my own work. Keep on following, sharing, and please connect with me.
I'll leave you with a quote that resonates with me and accurately describes one of the drives behind a teaching artist, by Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, "You teach best what you most need to learn."
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach
Over the summer a Facebook post popped up for a new art studio called Oh! Canary. It caught my attention and thought I should wish the owner much success on her new biz. After sending a quick Facebook message, Lacey Buccellato responded and invited me for coffee. A mutual friend, Leana, mentioned me to Lacey (unbeknownst to me) and suggested she contact me. A few hours later, she told me of her plans to find a new location and we were discussing sharing a space. The rest is history, or shall we say just the beginning.
Saturday we are hosting an Open House to kick off the holidays and announce our winter schedule. Come check out our new digs and see what we have to offer at our open house event! Meet Lacey, owner of Oh! Canary, Leana of Sew Leana, Comic Book Art Studio teacher, Vicki Herzfeld Arlein, and me (Jennie of TraillWorks). Each teacher will have a maker table, customized to the nature of our classes. Talk to the teachers, feel out the space, and gather with our creative community.
Classes offered at the studio range from babies to adults. Join us to find joy in art-making.
WHERE: Oh! Canary Studio, 513A Valley St., Maplewood, NJ
WHEN: Saturday, November 18th, 1 - 3pm
LEARN MORE ABOUT CLASSES with TRAILLWORKS: traillworks.com/classes.html
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.