Your down dog may never be the same again. Truly - this mat will invigorate your yoga practice. I've been a practicing artist my entire life, but I discovered yoga in my early 20s as I began working after college and finding the beginnings of aches and pains. Over the past two decades, I've practiced yoga at numerous studios in New Jersey and have developed a fairly good knowledge of my go-to asanas when I need to stretch and ground myself.
Over the past two years I've gone through personal struggles - including mental and physical health. Yoga, with meditation, running, continued art making, along with supportive doctors and family, have all helped me come to a place of improved overall health. I'm still working at it. My TeaScapes - meditational environments painted in watercolor - developed out of this transformation.
A few months ago I was chatting with some artist friends about exploring products to expand my revenue and I stumbled upon a few printers using the yoga mat as a substrate. I found it! This was it. And, I was in need of a new yoga mat. So I played with some designs, tested out an order and the feedback has been amazing, both personally and from buyers.
A testimonial from one of my first buyers on her first use on a rainy day -
I can’t think of a better antidote to this rainy day than doing yoga on my gorgeous new yoga mat by TraillWorks. I want to do yoga all the time now.
The first issued TraillWorks Yoga Mat is "Cold Season" - a cropped portion of a TeaScape, titled "Cold Season" that features an abstracted geyser from my trip to Yellowstone layered over a transferred Yogi Tea Package. While doing a downward facing asana - the orange glows on your face - extending a feeling of energy and healing.
You can read more about the TeaScapes that inspired this TraillWorks Yoga Mat and learn more about the mats, and if so inclined, purchase one directly through my site. Shipping is now available worldwide.
I may play with issuing other mats from my TeaScapes in other color schemes and in other elemental themes - this one being geothermal. What TeaScape would you like to see on a yoga mat? Send me an email after you've explored them - I'd love your input.
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.
Welcome October, with something new from me! I've always wanted to offer a desktop wallpaper of my work to my fans, and I've finally figured out how to do it! Best part of it, it's FREE! So, take a minute to download and set it up as your desktop's wallpaper for the month of October.
This first image titled, Pick Me Up or Down, is a mixed media piece, featuring a watercolor of one of my favorite, handmade mugs, on a ground of collage Yogi tea bag wrappers. I'm a big coffee drinker who also appreciates an occasional, calming cup of tea. Enjoy and please share with friends!
This will arrive monthly on the blog and to my email subscribers, so be sure you're signed up!
Over the course of three days, from August 15 - 17th, I instructed five very eager students in a workshop called Painting the Texture of Tea at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. Located in the Delaware Water Gap National Park, its isolated location nestled in the hills overlooking the Delaware River provides for a space to focus on work without distractions. All of the students ranged in experience from a complete beginner to some who have not painted in 25 years. What I saw throughout the weekend was a lot of risk-taking and courage to get oneself in front of the easel, and each day struggle through a new problem. All overcame their own challenges and ended the workshop with a renewed confidence.
All of the workshops held last week were tea-themed in honor of the opening reception of Peters Valley's current exhibit, Sweet Tea. Each morning, we started our practice at the easel with a tea meditation and tasting. We learned how to appropriately taste tea and a little bit about its history and cultivation. The first day we began with a demo and set to work on a monochromatic painting, forcing the students to see the values in the subjects in front of them. The second day we upped the ante by creating full color paintings of our tea subject matter. And the final day was spent considering how to create works involving the subject of tea beyond a typical still life. I was amazed with the ideas that the students came up with, considering the relative short amount of time.
A fringe benefit of the workshop was all of the technical information the students learned about brushes, paints, and painting without the use of solvents. All were surprised and amazed by the obvious differences when switching to higher quality materials. I was fortunate to receive some sample paints from M.Graham which I shared during the workshop. The students couldn't get over the lovely texture of the paints as well as the purity and brightness of the colors when compared to some other lesser quality oils they were using. Thank you M.Graham for sharing your paints with us! And, a special thank you to our studio assistant, Signe Ballew, who went above and beyond to make our studio run smoothly.
Take a peak at the works created by my students:
This student had not painted in 25 years! She was extraordinarily nervous in the beginning, but after many adjustments and changes, finally grew comfortable with her work. We focused greatly on the reflections and textures of the tea and cups, as well as the composition of her second piece. Her final work in progress depicts two cups from which she shared tea with her mom who passed away last year, hence the depiction of only one hand.
Allison, my sister, had not painted in about 15 years and I had no idea how receptive she would be to my criticism. It turned out to be awesome! Throughout many of her works, they completely evolved into different compositions and color schemes than when they began. Eventually she would find the painting, not without much frustration. She brought a dried out lemon to the workshop which at some point found its way into almost all of her paintings (even if it was then painted out). The last piece began with the lemon stamped with oil on the canvas paper and a suggestion of a tea leaf, but ended with evocations of lemons in the background and the suggestion of a hill or mountain form in the foreground of an entirely different color.
This student had never painted in her life until last weekend! Unfortunately she was unable to attend on Friday's session, so we got her started with a monochrome on Saturday. As we ended the workshop on Sunday, she had only just gotten started with her color piece. But, she started to get the idea of painting metal and also decided to mix actual tea leaves into her oil paints!
Emily is one of my students from my studio who enrolled in my workshop. While she's been working with me for about three years, these were only her 2nd and 3rd oil painting. She is developing work for entrance to art school next year so she aimed to complete a few strong works to add to her portfolio. I think she is in the process of achieving that goal, and though she didn't get to the third painting, we will revisit the topic later on back at TraillWorks.
This was another student who had not painted in over 15 years! She was very self-conscious of her work at the start of the workshop, but by the end was boasting about her achievements in the dining hall. Not only was it interesting to see her still life objects which were direct from England, but it was fascinating to see her shift into a comfort zone with the paint and subject matter. By the end she was having so much fun, as you can see in her final painting of a tea bag and tea cups.
I will leave you with a few comments from my students:
"I can't tell you how safe you have made me feel."
"I especially realize how much you gave me in this class when I hear myself tell my husband all about it. Thank you for all your preparation and making the tea theme come alive. Thanks also for all the paint, mixing, brush, palette knife knowledge. I will be hearing your advise about putting colors next to one another every time I pick up a paint brush. I've decided not to put the paint stuff away in a closet, but get a spot set up in the house somewhere.The class time just flew! A great experience!"
If this looks interesting to you, don't miss my upcoming workshop, Painting in the Burbs, set for September. There is still time to enroll!
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.