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!"
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 we come to the end of 2014, the studio has been getting busier. I'm pleased to announce the opening of enrollment for the 2015 Winter session at my Studio on the 3rd Floor. Now through December 31st, save 15% on whatever tuition package you purchase. Two sessions are set with spaces available: JUMPSTART for adults on Tuesday mornings and a teen portfolio group on Saturday mornings. Sessions begin January 5th. Additional groups or private lessons may be scheduled based on availability and interest for children, teens and adults.
If you've been thinking about making creativity a priority in your life or your child's life, start the year right at TraillWorks! Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist who needs some coaching, consider TraillWorks for a nurturing, yet serious commitment to your art.
Learn more about Winter enrollment and art lessons at traillworks.com/art-lessons--workshops.html. Look for a post soon with a very special announcement about one of my students.
EARLY REGISTRATION HAS BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH JANUARY 10th!
As we roll into October, the students at TraillWorks have been doing amazing work in just a few short weeks since the start of the Fall session. Although we are three weeks in, my lessons are structured for flexibility and open enrollment throughout the session. I am currently offering a Saturday morning teen group, a Thursday afternoon 5 -7 year old group, and am planning to start a Tuesday morning adult group (perfect for moms / dads who have some flexibility after school drop-off and want to devote time to art making.
The pieces below were created by a six year old student in only two one-hour sessions. At TraillWorks, due to small class sizes, I specialize in offering very individualized attention so a lot can be accomplished. The student spent the first week working on several blind contour drawings of a model horse and llama set up for observation. She decided to draw the furry penguin during her next session where we focused on gesture drawings in conté crayon. She was able to achieve drawing on a large scale; these took up full sheets of paper. Her first contour drawings were only about the size of a fist. Lastly, she began visual brainstorming with thumbnail sketches, which are small quick studies to work out the composition of an artwork. While it might be hard to tell what she has drawn, they are shorthand drawings that she and I understand. She will use these to help her create a larger drawing incorporating the penguin, and utilizing the drawing skills she's learned thus far.
Below, longtime student, Emily, a senior at Sparta High School, finished her self portrait that she began earlier in the year, destined for her portfolio. This was a labor of love, one that involved time, hard work, perseverance and creativity. I think the finished piece speaks for itself and I know that she was more than pleased with the end result. Bravo Emily!
If you or someone you know is interested in a nurturing, intimate environment where you can grow and learn, please get in touch or share! I'd love to speak with you about your personal goals and interests to see if we might be a good fit. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest or questions.
When I first read over the list of project options for my son's pre-kindergarten summer project, I started having palpitations. No way could he do all of this, I thought! After calming myself down, and deciding to let him make a choice, he selected the "write a story project".
Writing a story is a new endeavor, though making a book is not. Last year when his brother was born, we created a simple pamphlet brag book, sewn with ribbon, to showcase photos of him with his new brother. While I guided and gave directions and demonstrations, he did a lot of the work himself.
So, after deciding to write a story, I suggested that he could do the same. He in turn said he wanted to make a real book. I replied, "a real book? Show me what you mean." I pulled out a great resource I've used since I learned bookmaking in my freshmen year 2-D design class at Syracuse University, Cover to Cover by Shareen LaPlantz, and flipped through examples of books. He found the codex page and was set. I thought like mother like son, he's trying to make a big project more complicated.
So, in early August I reread the codex steps and we began with the basics: folding signature pages. I happen to have a lot of bookmaking supplies on hand including: book board (very thick chipboard), glues, papers, a bone folder, tapestry needles, and wax-coated thread. He folded and grouped the signatures with me, punches holes in the signatures for the thread, sewed the pattern to attach the pages in the signatures and hold the signatures together, selected the paper, helped cut and glued the cover papers and end papers. Finally once all was dry, he set out to illustrate the cover and some of the interior pages after I wrote out his story, "Mr. Freeze Captures Batman".
All told, we spent about an hour each day we worked and probably devoted about three or four days for the actual production of the book, plus the additional days spent to illustrate.
He's very proud of his accomplishments, and while he couldn't have created this book completely independently, he did learn how to make a book and did a majority of the hands-on work himself. So, thank you Gregory School for encouraging us to work on this project over the summer; it was time well-spent and will be a strong memory for both of us, and maybe my students will start bookmaking in lessons!
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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