A Seat by the Firehole, Watercolor and Gouache with Image Transfer on Paper, 14" x 9.75", ©2018 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, it’s very hard to be vulnerable, but those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators. They are the magic people of the world. - Amy Poehler, from Yes, Please
I think I forgot over the past few decades that I was one of those dreamers, a thinker, somehow magical for what I do. I grew up as a dreamer - playing, creating, and then I became a mother, at the same time as opening a studio / gallery in a storefront. A lot of energy went into creating that space, the events, the shows, the lessons, and some artwork along the way.
Since closing my brick and mortar in 2013, I birthed another son, took time off from creating art, but then slowly started pulling myself up and out of my house. My art classes moved locations, grew in number and then shrank again while I tended to some very personal needs for my family. All the while, I was making, exhibiting, but something was shifting. During that contrition, my artwork started blossoming again, changing, emerging as something wholly new.
While motherhood may spark dreaming in some people, I have found in some ways the opposite. There were moments of creativity and bursts of ingenuity that surprised me, but for the most part I was tired, exhausted, and spent - trying to juggle so many things. The truth of motherhood is that it is so damned hard. And, it doesn't get easier. But, somehow in the past two years, I have worked equally damned hard on myself and have found a burst of growth that is too amazing not to notice. I have found peace, I have found more space for my ideas, and I have found new places for my work.
Empty hooks where sold work hung on the wall going up the stairs to my studio.
I'm loving all of those empty hooks and it's because of so many of you that I achieved my goal. During the month of February, I held a studio sale to accomplish three things: clear out old work that was no longer serving me, create space for new work both physically and in my mind, and to raise money for a local charity. BAM! BAM! BAM! We did it!
I have space, I've been creating new work, and I'm able to breathe in my studio again. At times it felt like my art and the walls were going to cave in on me. And, the bonus was that I was able to contribute a $190 donation last week to the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris from profits of my sale. They are an incredible organization that offers many services to mental health consumers and loved ones, maintaining a deeply held belief that recovery is possible. I personally have availed myself of some of their services and can't thank them enough.
My easel / oil painting area - bathed in midday northern light.
Shelf displaying TeaScapes as they are produced.
I still have some older work on my site still available. Over the upcoming months as I produce new works, I will be tweaking my store, reorganizing artwork, and adding new works that haven't been uploaded. A newsletter is going out soon detailing events coming up in May, new TeaScapes available online, and a Dachshund painting being made available to those lovers of the furry persuasion. Want first dibs? Get on my email list for those exclusive opportunities.
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.
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.
Yellowstone Calm, 13" x 8 1/3", Watercolor on Arches 140lb. HP, ©2018 Jennie Traill Schaeffer, AVAILABLE
A teaching artist is always giving to her students. Over the years I've taught, I've had students coming from many backgrounds, facing various adversities and illnesses. Since moving to eastern NJ, I've reduced my audience of students due to my own personal family's needs. However, I'm fortunate to live near an amazing organization, Arts Unbound, that aims to provide an art education to adults who are either seniors or living with disabilities. The goal is to help them develop a career working as an artist.
Each year, they host an ArtBender, a weekend long celebration of making to raise money for their art coaching program. Many opportunities to create are offered throughout the local area, as well as individual artists supporting the cause. This weekend I'm hosting a 20/20 Sale. What does that mean for you and for Arts Unbound? All work will be discounted 20% for the weekend, and I will donate 20% of all sales to Arts Unbound. My personal goal is to raise $200 for the organization, which means I must sell $1000 worth of art.
Can I do it? You betcha, but I need your help. Please share link to my online shop far and wide to art lovers. It's a great time since it's the weekend prior to Mother's Day - might be an opportunity to give Mom a very artful gift.
Couple of important details:
Let's make this weekend's ArtBender a success to enrich the lives of so many! PS - I'm continually updating my site, so check back often for new works. Use COUPON CODE: ARTFORALL at checkout.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, a big mutt Ringo, making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my West Orange home studio, but is sometimes spurred through my teaching.
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Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.
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Studio on the 3rd Floor
West Orange, NJ
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