"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
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
Upon returning from a week-long family road trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I learned I was accepted to participate in this weekend's 1st Annual Plein Air Event to benefit Essex County Parks. I've been painting "en plein air" mostly in my sketchbook and while traveling, as well as teaching it this summer out in South Mountain Reservation. I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to get out there and paint for an extended period of time on a finished piece.
I'm planning to participate part of Friday, as well as Saturday, and will finish 1, maybe 2 paintings, time and weather-permitting. There will be an exhibit and awards ceremony on Sunday at Riker Hill Art Park's Gallery 509, from 6 -8pm. You can learn more about the event, along with what's currently going on in my studio in my recent newsletter.
I've been painting custom ARTaments, which are hand-painted ornaments, for almost 5 years. Geez! I can't believe it's been that long, and that my son, who was 4 at the time, is now 8 1/2. (Watch the video above for the explanation of how I started painting ARTaments and my son's role in their development).
These are both a joy and a bit of a struggle to paint, considering that I'm working on a blank "canvas" that is about 3" large. It's actually blank ceramic involves the following steps to create:
These little gems get me out of the scale I normally paint, and force me to attempt to work quickly, though I've discovered each time I paint one, I usually spend minimally 4 hours on each. And, thru this discovery, I know I'm greatly underpricing my custom pieces. But, lucky for you, you can take advantage of those introductory prices through the end of May on any ARTament commissioned. Now is certainly not too early to think ahead to the end of the year. I will be increasing their pricing come May, so get your orders in ASAP!
The most recent ARTament I completed was for my friend's sister, featuring her niece. It was such an absolute joy to paint, considering that her niece is utterly adorable, and the colors of her clothes screamed a yellow background, which justly fits into my recent work with #INTOYellow.
Interested in a custom ARTament? Explore the options at http://www.traillworks.com/artaments.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, 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, which takes place at Oh! Canary Studio, located in Maplewood, NJ.
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