Loosening up in Watercolor
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.
Summer Art Classes for Adults
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.
The Teaching Artist
"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
Open House at Maplewood Art Studio
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
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!"
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, our new pup, Cider, while making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my home studio, but is often spurred through my teaching, and travels. I just relocated to Durham, NC, from West Orange, NJ, so my studio is in renovation right now.
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Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.