Making Art Every Day in 2021
Kind of on a whim, but more inspired by Sybil Archibald, a local artist, friend, and collector's own daily practice, I finally felt moved to make this commitment. I've struggled for years feeling "not good enough" and wondering, "why can't I make this commitment to create every day"?
I am good enough, and my life has been very full of many responsibilities. But, that being said, I've increased my exercise practice, my meditation practice, but not my creative practice. I realized that I've been trying to encourage my students to do the same thing - but how can I if I'm not practicing what I preach? So . . . I've started. Officially on January 2nd, I made a commitment to minimally make art 30 minutes a day. To show up, because it's in the frequency and the work, that develops good work.
REALITY: I made it consecutively to day 39. It's not perfect, and some days I've allowed myself the compassion of counting a sketchbook session in front of the TV towards my practice. Other days I'm sneaking up to the studio after the kids have gone to bed while catching an episode of The Durrells in Corfu - a PBS program that I stream on Amazon. It truly makes me smile, giggle, and lets me travel to a beautiful place, if only for an hour. Then a few weeks later, we lost the boiler in our house, and we temporarily landed at my in-laws for a week. I didn't create much that week.
INSIGHT: I just took the CliftonStrengths test, inspired by some personal growth work my sis is doing and found out some incredibly affirming and enlightening things about myself. Created by Gallup, the test assesses your top ten strengths, and lists out a total of 34. My top tens are spot on, but the last one shocked me - consistency. It is a strength, but it is my weakest. This was freeing to learn - and explained a lot of the blips every time I attempt to complete a social media challenge! And, with that I'm allowing myself the space to skip days when I need to - because if I can't be consistent those days, it's because my other strengths, like being responsible to my clients or family, will win out.
The above artworks are only about 1/2 of what I've created for the month of January. I have another series going on simultaneously, as well as working on some intermittent commissions. At this point in mid-March, I've completed 16 new pieces - I've surpassed my production last year, so I'm thrilled with this.
The upshot for you? I'm going to be dropping these works in small groups every Friday, beginning March 19th, to my VIPS who subscribe to my newsletter. They will have 24 hours to snatch up these new works. Then, if the works are still available, I'll release them on Instagram. Much of the works will be unframed watercolors on handmade papers featuring my new TeaScapes. Additionally, I'm participating in the #ArtistSupportPledge which asks that I agree to sell works that are $200 or less, and once I hit $1000 in sales, I spend $200 on collecting another artist's work.
SOUND GOOD? Please sign up below to become a VIP to make certain you have early access and first dibs at these new wonders coming out of my studio. Until Friday, you can follow my Instagram / Facebook feeds, and you can explore all of the progress in my #ArtEveryDay Story on IG.
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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New Works have Landed
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.
Loosening up in Watercolor
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.
Mother Daughter Exhibit
It's been over four years now since I've had the pleasure of showing my work with my mom's jewelry. When I operated TraillWorks as a gallery in Newton, NJ, I had a permanent collection of her work on exhibit and the pleasure of selling many pieces to a great number of clients. We both have had many changes since then, and when a childhood friend and former neighbor from Easton, PA, contacted me about having a show at her hometown library, I jumped at the opportunity to invite my mom to join me.
Mother Daughter will feature a collection of pieces by both of us, all completed in the past few years. My Red Carpet Icons, apron paintings, giclées, note cards, and a selection of small new watercolors, including prints of my blueberry painting, "June's Pearls," will be available. My mom will be including several pieces influenced by the colors and textures of trees. Her recent jewelry is created using sterling silver, precious metal clay, torched copper, along with beads and stone. References to leaves and branches, along with blue, green, and brown colors of nature, dominate the work. Of particular interest is the ginkgo leaf, due to it's symbol of survival, along with its intriguing fanlike shape.
A little bit about my mom: she was born in Allentown, PA and began making jewelry in high school with James P. Musselman. Her love of jewelry making developed then and grew during an intensive course she took in Mexico, after completing college at the University of Toledo where she earned a BA in art education. Her uncle (my great-uncle "Fred") was a painter and owned a hotel in Taxco, known for its silver mining and crafting of jewelry. Upon returning she took a job teaching art in Scotch Plains, NJ, and began making jewelry which she mainly sold to her colleagues. After marrying my father, they moved to PA to raise me, at which point she halted her jewelry making. It wasn't until I opened up my gallery in 2008 that she began taking classes and crafting jewelry again.
If you can't make it to the exhibit, but are interested in seeing the works, please email me and I'll share what I can. You can also follow me on instagram to see snippets of the show.
MOTHER DAUGHTER: Jewelry by Martha Traill Schaeffer and Paintings by Jennie Traill Schaeffer. Hosted by the Oceanic Free Library, located in Rumson, NJ. Exhibit runs for the Month of October.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, our new pup, Cider, while making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my home studio, but is often spurred through my teaching, and travels. I just relocated to Durham, NC, from West Orange, NJ, so my studio is in renovation right now.
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Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.