Hemming and Hawing
September is a very full month if you're a parent with kids on a traditional school year calendar. This September was especially full, given two new schools for my 5th and 9th grade sons. As an artist mother, I was embarking on the decision whether to participate in the Thrive Together Network's bi-annual virtual artist residency, I was fearful it would be too much.
I'm thrilled to announce that I'm opening up dog portrait commissions again and supporting the Animal Protection Society of Durham during the month of August. In reviewing my history of making dog portraits, I recognized that I was building momentum in creating more portraits just prior to the Pandemic. With my relocation to NC, I've completed a couple, but haven't been able to promote them. My studio is almost 100% finished (enough that it is operable) and the renovations in our home are complete. Now, as we move into the Dog Days of Summer, I'm ready to officially open them up and donate 10% of the profits of all booked portraits to APS.
I've been making dog portraits since we rescued our first dog, Ringo, back in 2007. It started with just an oil pastel of him, roughly drawn on cardboard. I adore that drawing and have a dedicated spot in our powder room. At some point when I ran my studio/gallery in Newton, NJ, I began accepting dog portrait commissions, with one of the first subjects coming in for a photo shoot:
I don't always realize how productive I have been until I take a moment to pause and gather everything for a shop update. My studio doesn't have much wall space so I can't always see everything at once - it gets shuffled to drawers or shelves. This past week 8 new works from my growing TeaScapes series have been organized, photographed, titled, described, priced and uploaded to my site.
Corresponding with this artwork release is my Give or Save Event which I have periodically run in the past with a lot of success. What is it? In brief - through May 5th, you have the opportunity to purchase my original work and have me either donate 50% to Feeding America or choose to save 50% on my work. You can read more about the event, how to participate and get almost first dibs on the work by subscribing to my list. Currently, only subscribers are accessing the work through April 30th.
It feels good to release them to the world, and I hope you'll join in for a change to collect new pieces, and possibly GIVE to an organization that is much needed now, before I open it up to the public Friday. Simply enter your email address below. I hope you're staying safe, healthy, and finding some way of reaching peace at this time. My heart goes out to everyone and my hope is that I can support the greater population through my work, and give you something to cherish in your home.
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.
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.