Several years ago, I met a local floral designer, Josi Stone, of Wildly Floral Co. Her approach to floral design is one that embraces local flower growers and sustainable practices, with a more organic flow to her arrangements - making them feel like they still belong in nature. I painted one of her arrangements into a watercolor several years ago and realized since I loved her subject matter, so might my students.
With that idea in mind, and everyone getting restless this summer, I put together a 2-hour workshop called Painting Florals in Watercolor. Held in mid-September, each student received their own bud vase with a small grouping of flowers including: a dahlia, a zinnia, a carnation, Japanese anemone, and bridal veil spirea. I set up tables in the backyard and used my patio as a demonstration area.
I began the workshop with a brief, incomplete demo of my flowers, showing my students how I move around a painting, gradually building up from light to dark. Sometimes showing them areas where I move into spaces with intentional darker values to bring out the lighter ones. Throughout that 2 hours, I added areas to the painting as students had questions - such as how to create the lip of the glass, or make the water's edge apparent. We spoke about darkening spaces to create more depth (such as in the interior spaces of the dahlia's petals), and then deciding what colors to use in the background. Each student was also given an easel on which to prop a colored backing board - helping them to focus on the flowers, and not the visual noise in the backyard.
Students brought their own materials from which to paint, but I used the following:
Completed by a student who started taking classes with me over ten years ago. She drove to my home, all the way from PA to take the workshop. She had an ah ha moment when I suggested she add a dark color around the background to try and pull it all together.
This painting was completed at Christine Anderson's home post-workshop. She took at the subject matter and decided to make it part of another painting. Since we met over ten years ago, she's developed her own watercolor practice and now has an Etsy shop.
These two works are by a couple that came together to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary. They happen to also be two very creative individuals in their vocations. Marcia LeBeau is a poet and the founder of The Write Space, a co-writing space. Lee Seidenberg is a photographer and the owner of Exploratory Creative. Nothing says love like a couple who paints together!
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
FINALLY, my work, mostly completed after the workshop ended. I hope to offer a workshop like this again, but as we are now nearing the colder months, I'm thinking that a Zoom workshop over the winter might be JUST THE THING.
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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.
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.
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
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.