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 ultimately decided to throw my hat in the ring, because the accountability is beneficial and I thought I'd be better off. The beauty of this residency is it's do it your way. It turned out favorable, despite several derailments including illnesses and family needs.
The Thrive Together Network sets you up for success, especially if you follow their guidance and formula. They've broken down the residency into small steps, making SMART goals. It forced me to prep my materials and organize my sources. So, because my focus for the residency was to expand on ideas developed in a sketchbook last February, I decided to print out copies of images from my sketchbook. It's very hard for my brain to flip through the sketchbook and gain a holistic understanding of what I was developing. Printing everything out and taping it to my floating wall, pushed me into the creative process.
Ready to Paint
Once the sketches were done, after I had selected which idea to pursue, I could begin my painting. I haven't bought new materials in a while, and decided to source from what was already in my studio. I found a stained, stretched linen surface that had never been used and thought it was perfect for the painting. And, the golden yellow stain was useful as a ground.
I haven't painted on linen in awhile, as I've been focusing more on panels, so this took some patience. I also don't use turps in my studio, or odorless for that matter, so my initial layers are dry-brushed, scumbled. I use M. Graham oils, and while they are super buttery and easy out of the tube, this was a frustrating process on the linen that didn't yield the pleasure of brushing a thinned oil with turpentine on the surface. But, I got through it.
About the Painting
Gosh - so much to tell, and that I'm still thinking about. This is part of my Take a Seat series which has been in development for a few years, a sub-series of my TeaScapes. However, this painting does not include transfers of tea packages. What went into that decision? Purely wanting to be more productive this month. I didn't want to take up so much time layering in the image transfers, and I didn't feel the linen was the right surface for them.
This is the second painting in which a chair is suspended over the landscape, and in this one, tethers are holding it. I'm not sure if it's dropping or lifting. I think that's the beauty of the idea. I'm considering both comfort and instability in the placement of the chair in the trees. We find the desire to take a seat in a chair, especially one like the Womb Chair, designed by Eero Saarinen to embrace us as we were in utero. As with the challenges of life, we are often left ungrounded, uncertain, and unsteady. When we sit in that discomfort, we can find security. The hovering chair symbolizes that duality.
These works come out of a growing meditation practice, and a need to confront my own anxiety. Pema Chodron says, as quoted in the blog, Always Well Within, “Wanting situations and relationships to be solid, permanent, and graspable obscures the pith of the matter, which is that things are fundamentally groundless.”
The painting is not finished as hoped, but well on it's way and more resolved than the last photo above. If you'd like to be notified upon the completion of the painting, you can subscribe to my VIP newsletter, where I first share new work, and information about upcoming opportunities. I'm going to let you sit with this, and maybe you'll come up with a question about the painting or the process, or about my membership in the Thrive Together Network, in the comments below.
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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