Friday, August 31, 2007

On the Verge of Big Things

I always thought I would bring it up. I was so wrong. Maybe I wanted him to bring it up to avoid the decision. After all I was the one who brought up marriage. My mom keeps telling me I'm brutally honest on this blog, and I think well maybe, but I could be so much more so. I'm hesitant to even go in this direction due to the very intimate conversation that was had. But, my blog is about telling the world about my life as an emerging artist. And, this is significant.

We had the children discussion. Though we had it over a week ago over a slight buzz from some Chianti wine the timing has changed. Lee's turning 32 and I'm turning 30. We certainly are still very young, especially with many women having children at 35 +. But, I knew that was too late for me only because I don't want to be turning 60 when my kids are going to college.

I've always dreamed of being an artist and a teacher and a mom. Now that the last one is creeping closer to reality I have a lot of concerns and questions as an emerging artist. The main one is how will I have the space to paint and teach. We currently live in a tiny home which does have room for a studio or nursery. I could do both by purchasing a laptop, and somehow condensing all of my office supplies/files to a small space in the living room. Then there's the idea of renting an outside studio space which would really solve the problem. I have the opportunity to possibly share space with a local photographer. But, will I be able to cover the rent?

It's all very exciting as our lives could change significantly over the next year or so. I don't want to lose momentum in my career but being an artist does afford a lot of flexibility. I guess with every change in life you just have to dive in and have faith that everything will work out. And, like Lee says, there's never an ideal time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Goal Achieved!

Since last writing, I've accomplished one of my goals -- applying to Peters Valley's Guest Artist Residency for '07/'08. I completed the application last night and popped it in the mail today; due on the 1st. Whew!

And now I've realized after listening to NPR today I'm just another statistic of Generation X-ers posting their life lists online for all of the world to see. Humph!

Today on Talk of the Nation, an NPR program, one of the stories was "A List of To-Dos Before You Die", stimulated by Alex William's article, "Ten Things to Do Before this Article is Over" in Sunday's New York Times. Apparently there is a growing movement or trend to write life goals. Not surprising considering our society is burgeoning with self-help, therapy, and coaching gurus. And, I am pro lists -- always have been. Ask any of my friends or family.

Also today I was listening to Sound Check on WNYC's 93.9 and John Schaefer's guest was Brad Warner, a Zen-Buddhist and punk rocker. Yes, you can laugh all you want, I'm an NPR junky. That's what happens when you don't have TV and you drive without satellite radio. Well, I don't care for punk rock, but I do practice yoga once a week and have grown to appreciate many aspects of Zen, the little that I know.

So you can see my tidy, anal self was crashing with the sensitive, mindful self in one day on the radio. I want to be focused, I want to achieve my goals and since writing them down I feel more directed. But, I want to be present, not loose sight of NOW, and be able to adapt when my goals don't come to fruition or they do in a different way. My personality has always been to want the best of both worlds, happy in the middle. Maybe I'll be the one to find a way to inner peace through my lists. Hmmmm.

In the meantime, check out my latest saint that I finished today.

St. Perker, Oil on MDF Panel, 12" x 16" ©2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Goal Setting

I always thought I was the most anal and organized person; slightly out of whack for an artist. Yes, maybe I still am, but I've definitely changed since my mom used to turn things out of place on my desk just to annoy me. I was a little OCD growing up. And now there is an entire culture devoted to organizing our messy lives. Maybe I missed my calling?

Since starting a business and growing as an emerging artist, I've learned to live with clutter a bit more. True, I always need to clean up before I start a new work or project, but it inevitably gets messy. I never could have tolerated a messy desk, things out of their place. And yesterday I did break down an purchase very attractive storage crates for our laundry room because I couldn't handle the stuff falling off the wire shelving unit. Ok. I'm still a little OCD. But, the studio and office I can handle messy when I'm in the midst of work. And, I'm glad I chose art as a profession and not professional organization.

So I've been writing about my split personality regarding mess, you might be wondering what does this have to do with goal setting? Well, I think the two are intrinsically tied together. I've been working for almost 2 1/2 years as an artist, growing, pursuing new avenues, getting more known, but somehow without much of a concrete goal except to be able to financially contribute to my marriage. I'm starting to do this, but I've taken some workshops on marketing and developing goals and I'm realizing the importance of it and occasionally organizing the stuff around me so I can remain focused.

Suddenly after working through a workbook called The Artist's Marketing and Action Plan Workbook by artist, Jonathan Talbot, and sitting down and really evaluating my goals I've got some clarity. This was further realized when I reorganized my bulletin board toaday with a list of goals and various shows I'm applying for in the upcoming months. So if you're at all curious what my plans are here are my goals for the short term and as I broach them I will keep you informed. Hopefully you will see me accomplishing these things with the help of the knowledge that you are reading about it! I don't want to let me or you down.

Jennie Traill Schaeffer's Short Term Goals - 2007
  • Complete Outstanding Commissions.
  • Finish two new "Sainted Appliance" paintings.
  • Paint Castrocielo, Italy.
  • Increase Sales.
  • Hold an Open Studio event.
  • Consider renting a studio.
  • Promote the Release of a New GiclĂ©e.
  • Apply for a Fellowship with Peters Valley.
  • Increase Calendar Sales from Last Year.
  • Start Promoting Paintings of Wedding Cakes.
  • Decide how to update my web site.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


From the wealth of responses that I got about my question of the significance of the gold shapes behind my wedding cake in the previous post, I had a tough decision. All of the answers were quite creative and thoughtful and nearly on. But, two were the closest and I've decided to give both respondents a 30% off certificate for their answers.

Congratulations to Rachel Jemison and Bob Kays. You will both receive a certificate via email.

Rachel answered, "my guess is that your cake is "sainted" and is a blessing on your marriage!"
Bob answered, "The gold shapes are [the throne] the king or queen to sit on. Or in this case a cake!"

You were both on the right track. Above is a sketch of a painting I saw at the Uffizi in Florence in March. The artist, like many others representing the Madonna and Child of the Renaissance, used gold halos and shapes surrounding thrones to signify the religious importance or status of the subjects. I am using the same technique to saint and enthrone my wedding cake!

Thank you to all who participated. I'm in the midst of lots of new ideas for paintings -- keep posted for more news and exciting stuff happening from now through the end of the year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Contest!

For my blog post today, in correlation with my email mailing on Wednesdays, I am creating a contest to give You, admirer of my art, an opportunity to win a 30% reduction of a single artwork purchased between now and December 31st, 2007. Read on art lover.

Look at the artwork below, read the question and email me the answer through the link below. You have until Thursday, August 16th at midnight to respond with the correct answer. The first correct response wins the 30% reduction certificate. To find out if you won, go to my blog ( on Friday, August 17th.

And The Artwork Please . . .

Enthroned Wedding Cake, Oil on Panel, 12" x 16", ©2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

And the Question is. . .
  • What is the significance of the gold shapes in the background flanking the wedding cake?
Email your answer here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

To teach or not to Teach . . .

Artwork by Laurel, Graphite on Paper

Artwork by Laurel, Pastel and Cut Paper Collage

Artwork by Andre, Graphite and Pastel on Paper

Artwork by Andre, Colored Pencil on Board

Before becoming a professional artist I was a full-time public art school teacher who after two years decided that wasn't the life I wanted for myself. Though I loved the act of teaching and working with individual students, I wasn't painting and became jealous watching the students make work while I wasn't. After two years, and talking with my then fiance, we decided together I should make a try at becoming a full-time artist.

Well, 2 1/2 years later, I consider myself a full-time artist but I'm still teaching. Yes, I'm selling my work but not yet at a rate to contribute financially to our household solely on sales of art. I started teaching privately a year and a half ago and what started as maybe teaching just a couple of students has become a part-time job, about 15% of my work week. Now I have six students, with one coming for four hours each Friday for the month of August.

I love working with these students who are all very motivated, talented people eager to learn. It's also been a nice way for me to be able to start paying Lee and myself in terms of income. Some people say that by teaching, artists aren't confident in their selves to really be a self-supported artist. Well, my professors warned me of this when I left art school. Unfortunately, few artists start out selling their work at rates to make a living. It takes time, as with any business, to become established and known. So, I believe teaching is worth it for an emerging and established artist, but on my terms.

Go to LessonWorks for more information about lessons with Jennie.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dad's Fender

Study for Elegant, Refurbished Maker of Music, 4" x 4", Watersoluble Graphite on Arches, © 2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

I completed the study above for the painting below at the end of June as one of my Coffee Hour Drawings. The painting was given to my dad for a very belated Father's Day gift last weekend. My dad is an avid guitar player, was in a band in college, and now plays for several hours each night. He plays both acoustic and electric -- Beatles, Steely Dan among others. The guitar featured in the sketch was his '65 Fender Stratacaster which was damaged in a fire during the '70s. As a kid my dad played nightly and my sister and I used to sit in the guitar case while listening to Yellow Submarine. As we got older, he gave up the guitar for awhile. At some point he regained interest, took out the Fender and found someone to restore it. He's played it ever since until recently selling it. You can see it at Guitar Villa online though it was recently sold.

Elegant, Refurbished Maker of Music, Oil on Panel, 8" x 8", © 2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

He was intending to replace the '65 Strat with a newer model, but I think that's on hold for the moment. So I gave him the finished painting on Saturday and he was enamored; saying that now he wished he hadn't sold it. The other remark was "where is the rest of the guitar"! Maybe he'll get bits and pieces in the future.