Friday, January 26, 2007

Painting to Paul Simon

I'm finding it harder and harder to discipline myself to studio time. As an emerging artist, I spend probably more than 50% of my work marketing myself. When you know you need to get press releases out, write blogs, finish a web site, apply to shows and contact potential clients, my time quickly disappears. It's also hard to get involved in a painting when the phone rings and the computer is next door. The challenges of trying to make it.

Yesterday I had some time to get in my studio and paint. I've had some stained panels waiting to be painted for a month. I have three, 8" x 12" MDF (medium density fibreboard) panels that were stained with a cadmium red (almost a primary red). I had cut them to a more vertical format with the intent of doing a trio of Neapolitan gelato paintings. So I began the first of the three yesterday. I put on Paul Simon's greatest hits, loud, and felt myself go into another world. Listening to Simon's catchy rhythmic style loosens up my technique and allows my painting to flow. It's amazing that music can have such an effect on how I paint.

I painted for a little over an hour and here is the result. It's not done yet, there's still more detail to add; highlights, shadows. I'm trying to keep the painting loose, light, expressive. It's gelato!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Paris Salon

The NYU Small Works show is a true experience just to submit your work. Not run like most other juried shows in our age of computers; it seemed to be something out of 19th century Paris.

I'm glad I did it both for the experience and the opportunity. In order to apply I drove to Hoboken over a week ago, met my sister who would be telling me if I got into the show or not, took the bus into Manhattan and made my way to NYU. Fortunately I was able to carry around my paintings all day since they were under 12". The show does all the jurying from the actual work, so you either have to mail the work or bring it in person. I was an absolute nut about getting ready for this show as I was hoping to finish some new work in time. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, so I submitted work from 2006 that has not been shown in NYC.

Getting prepared for a juried show can make a person a bit self-consumed. It's really no different than going for a job interview, but artists forget this and lose some composure. My sister was with me to drop off the work, we entered the gallery where there was a system in place of stations to register and then leave your work. Several artists were in the room with me and it was as if each of us were in our own bubble. With my sister there reminding me to be calm I tried to retain as much composure as possible. Many of the artists were so nervous, filling out all of the forms and getting their work where it was supposed to go, that they were placing their artwork on other artists' works! After witnessing several unnerving exchanges between a couple of anxcious applicants, I filled out my forms, submitted my paintings and breathed.

I waited a week for the jurying process to end and for my sister's phone call on Friday to let me know if my name was listed on the gallery door. Most juried shows call you or send you a letter in the mail. The Small Works show posts a 14 page list on the door, to which you have to go in person to read or be lucky enough to have a sister willing to do anything to help you get into a show. Luck was on my side last Friday and I received the call I was hoping for.

The show was juried by Jim Kempner of Jim Kempner Fine Art in Chelsea. Over 400 works were selected from about 1400. It's a large show with mostly one work per artist on exhibit. So you'll have to come to the opening to see which of the three works was accepted into the show. I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, January 19, 2007

NYU Small Works Show

So I just came home from gallery sitting at Art at the Mill in Lafayette, NJ and am still on "cloud nine" after hearing from my sister that my work was selected to be included in NYU's 30th Annual Small Works show in NYC. On the verge of my first inclusion in a NYC gallery, I read an article in Modern Painters Dec. '06/Jan. '07 issue about the dangers of the label "emerging artist" written by art historian and critic Katy Siegel. She's ultimately concerned with the fact that today's young artists have to " . . . fit into an existing social structure governed by the aesthetic mood at the moment . . . To 'emerge,' an artist must respond to the climate, and so be recognized for being whatever it is we want today."

I agree with Siegel that there is an existing social structure, and an artist must respond to her climate, but I disagree with her negativity. Unless your philosophy of art is defined by working in an absolute void, how can social structure and climate not affect an artist? She worries there are no more "breakthroughs in the studio" and that for the few artists who are making it there is way too much money tied to them. Ok, maybe there are too few artists who are successful financially speaking and maybe breakthroughs are minimized, that I don't really know for sure.

All I can do is talk about my situation as an emerging artist. I am completely dependent upon my climate and social structure. That is who makes me who I am, along with my own worldview. I do consider what people may buy and let that influence some of my work. I always go back to the scenario of the artist / teacher. Many artists go into the collegiate teaching profession for a steady income so that they can go home and make art. Great! On the other hand, what is wrong with making art that you know will have a greater chance of selling to make a living, and then making the "art for art's sake"? That is precisely what I'm doing. I hand paint tiles that are under the $200 price range, many of which are functional, to try to make ends meet. It's been pretty good so far. It's a different way of thinking, but I'm still using subject matter interesting to me: kitchen appliances, food, Italy. Then, my oils which I call "Appliance Portraits" and the "Anniversary Stills" and the "Sainted Appliances" have all been ideas spawned by my interests, but also developed out of situations in my life. I do have "aha" moments in the studio and what I think are breakthroughs. But, because I do spend time trying to make a full-time living as an artist maybe my ahas are not as frequent as I would like. But I suggest they are no fewer than the artist working full time as a teacher and painting only what she chooses.

But, what's the fault in being able to live your passion and make a living doing it? I don't think anything.

Regarding the show I was accepted into, here's the info:
Small Works: 30th Annual Competition & Exhibition
Opening: Saturday, February 3rd, 12 - 4pm
80 Washington Square East Galleries, NYC

Below are the three works I submitted, not all were accepted. I don't know which one(s) got in and which didn't. I'll find out tomorrow when I go to pick them up! Funny how that works.


A. First Anniversary I, 8" x 8", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer
B. Wedding Day I, 8" x 8", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer
C. Pistachio, Retro-Designed Chrome Flour Mixer II, 8" x 10", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Welcome to the first Emerging Artist blog post. My name is Jennie Traill Schaeffer of Newton, NJ, owner of TraillWorks: Painting & Design Studio.

Through this blog I hope to share with you what it is like to be an artist, and to emerge as a successful artist. Success is a subjective term, for me it is three-pronged. Success is feeling the excitement when a painting clicks, my heart flutters like it did when I fell in love. There's an emotional connection that occurrs between me and a painting when it works. Success is finding the right audience for my work; if my paintings collect in my home then no one else can enjoy them and they don't exist except for myself. Success is making a living wage through creating and selling my art. The great Modernist sculptor Henry Moore said
, "There's no retirement for an artist, it's your way of living so there's no end to it."

I am now in my third year of painting for a living. My past got me where I am today, going to art school, getting my degree, teaching art in public schools, and then making the conscious decision to become an artist. I am not the stereotypical artist who knows nothing about business; I enjoy the business side of art as much as the process of painting. It's a thrill to make the painting, talk to the customer and make the sale.

In upcoming blogs I plan on sharing works in-progress, upcoming events that I'm involved in, and other tid-bits about becoming a known artist.

To view my in-progress web site
click here.