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.
Next Thursday, March 31st, I invite you to stop by Trygve Lie Gallery for the Twitter Art Exhibit: NYC to take in and possibly purchase the works of over 1000 international artists, including my own 4" x 6" original watercolor postcard, "At Rest", seen above. This is a really awesome show that was created in 2010 by Swedish Americanized artist, David Sandum, who will captivate you through both his artwork and his efforts to help others while living with depression. Each year the exhibit is held in different cities and supports a local charity.
This year's #TwitterArtExhibit will benefit Foster Pride of NYC, which helps support kids in foster care through mentoring and the arts. Proceeds from Twitter Art Exhibit: NYC will go towards their program, Handmade, which provides teen girls in foster care the opportunity to learn about design, marketing, and small business skills, and develop personal and interpersonal qualities such as motivation, collaboration, and sustained effort that will be valuable to these young women as they age out of the foster care system. Wow, I'm thrilled to be able to help such an amazing organization's efforts. And, if that's not enticing enough, cards sell for $35 each or 3 for $95. I've seen a lot of intriguing works pop up over the past several weeks on Twitter.
If you'd like to join me, the exhibit opens on 3/31 with a reception beginning at 6:00PM, followed by speaches from Isha Setia, Curator of Twitter Art Exhibit: NYC, Thor-Erik Fjellvang, Director of Trygve Lie Gallery, Lynn Schnurnberger, Foster Pride, and David Sandum, Creator of Twitter Art Exhibit. The reception and sales will run through 8:30PM.
If you can't make it to NYC Thursday night, you can watch the exhibit opening LIVE on whatever personal device of your choice via Periscope. And you can view my postcard on the new watercolor portfolio page.
Several adults joined me over the course of the Fall to explore, either for the first time, or more deeply, the art of painting in watercolor at Work and Play in South Orange, NJ. The work above are just some of the products of their commitment. Lessons included painting white, exploring the range of marks made through a single paint brush, using peripheral materials like collaged papers or salt to create texture, layering paint, using blind contour drawing for the structure of a painting, and exploring the flowing nature of watercolor.
Through 12/16, I'm offering a $30 discount on tuition for early registration. Please consider joining us, whether you're a beginner or more experienced, I'd love to work with you on developing your technique and vision at Work and Play. It's a great gift for you or an artist you love! Learn more about Watercolor & More at traillworks.com.
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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