Friday, November 30, 2007

A Pretty Good Argument for Art

Auroches in a Cave Painting, Lascaux, France, Paleolithic

In Tuesday's NY Times, science writer, Natalie Angier, writes about new theories on the origins of art. The history and evolution of art is no doubt intrinsic to my life as an emerging artist. Prior to journeying on the path of becoming a full-time artist, I was a public school art teacher in New Jersey. I was passionate, excited, and couldn't wait to share all of the mysteries and visual stuff that man has created with my students.

Unfortunately, my principal at my first teaching job felt art was the lowest aspect of the curriculum and deemed it more appropriate for use as playtime, rather than an opportunity to create art and learn culture and history through the vehicle of art, which is a visual testament to humanity. In The Dance of Evolution, or How Art Got Its Start, Angier overviews a recent conference devoted to the "
evolutionary value of art and why we humans spend so much time at it." I wish this article was written in 2001 when I was trying to shift the perspective of my principal.

One of the speakers was Ellen Dissanayake of the University of Washington who shared a quite different rationale that makes a whole lot of sense to me. She argued that while contemporary westerners view art as elitist and detached from reality art is really intrinsically connected to reality and plays a large role in creating community. I have experienced this myself in moving to a rural county, where by becoming a member of a local arts council, I have become part of a community that is not only made up of artists, but all sorts of people who love art. The only other large draw for community is religion, argues Dissanayake. I have not known such an energetic, impassioned crowd of people since I was in a college setting, doing what else but studying art.

Art making is a magical experience that I believe all people have the capacity for in some way. But, when it is not supported in our schools, by our families, by our friends, art becomes less important. Without art, humans are not humans. Become part of a lively community - make art, buy art, encourage others to make art, support arts events.

The Line

Line, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6", © 2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Just completed before Thanksgiving, this painting is a continuation of my investigation of Italy and response to my trip in March. It, like all of the other paintings, is done from photo reference I took. What drew me and continues to drive my interest is the laundry line against the backdrop of an old-world building. We were walking through a magnificent Tuscan town, Castellina in Chianti, when I spotted the elegant laundry line. Perceiving laundry lines as elegant is a foreigners' perspective. But, it makes me reconsider my past critical views of Americans who hung laundry. It's a fabulous tradition that really makes a lot of sense both for reconnecting to the past and bridging to a future where global warming fills the headlines and being "green" is en vogue.

I am reminded of an article entitled, HOME WORK; The Quiet Pleasures of a Line in the Sun, in the NY Times last year about the tradition, resurgence and the art of hanging laundry. The author truly beautified and realized the process of hanging a line. I have never hung laundry to dry myself; we moved into our home two years ago and cut down the rusty looking clothing line that stretched 50 feet to the back yard. My mom never hung a line that I can remember. Maybe one day I will return to it when I have the chance to learn the art of hanging a line.

In the meantime I will continue to deal with the laundry line through my artwork. Here's relief print I did depicting a laundry line from Siracusa, Italy after returning from studying abroad in art school:

Memory of Italia, limited edition of 5, linoleum print, 10" x 8", © 2000 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Monday, November 19, 2007

Calendars Make Great Stocking Stuffers!

2008 Calendars are still available for purchase before for Christmas.

Go to the following local retailers to purchase in person:
  • Radiant Essentials
214 Spring St.
Newton, NJ 07860
(973) 940-0777

5669 Berkshire Valley Road
Oak Ridge, NJ 07438

81 Route 10 East
Randolph, NJ 07869

OR Purchase from Jennie directly by:

Calling 973-383-3418

December 14th
is the last date to order for regular shipping and Christmas Delivery!
December 21st
is the last date to order for express shipping and Christmas Delivery!

Type Calendar in Subject Field and the quantity of calendars you'd like to order. I will get back to you with totals including shipping and tax.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Studio Recap

It's been two weeks since I held my first annual open studio/open house. I blogged about this event a few weeks back, regarding my nervousness about it's success. All in all, my nervousness was for nothing.

The turnout was fabulous with about 23 people attending. Though I was hoping for 100 -- I had 23 wonderful people show up to see my work and to buy! It was my absolute best day ever for sales of all of the gallery and art shows I've ever done. There are many things I can attribute this to:
  • the art hung on a home wall giving people a sense of how it would look in their home
  • 20% of all proceeds went to support Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation
  • I was there; most of my sales of my art have been facilitated by me.
  • I published a press release in the local paper.
One of the best parts of the day was that my mom's best friend's husband purchased my painting, Town and Country, a piece many collectors have been interested in. His wife, Barbara, passed away from ovarian cancer last year. They both always wanted to travel to Italy, but unfortunately never had the opportunity. I am so thrilled that he owns this painting because I know it is that much more meaningful to him.

This is definitely an event I would hold again in the future and need to plan further in advance to get a larger turnout. Two of my friends planned the food and catered the event for me; the food was fabulous! To get a glimpse of the work in my house see the photos below, courtesy of my mom.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Puppies and Business

It's been awhile since I've posted on my blog due to my new furry friend, Ringo and a lousy cold which many people seem to have. Ringo has been an awesome addition to our home and my studio, but he's definitely making me adjust my schedule.

He's got a great disposition, can be pretty independent, loves to run with me, and many times will happily sleep during my lessons. The problem enters when he has not exercised enough and I'm trying to get some painting in.

I'm reading Cesar's Way right now and starting Ringo in obedience classes tonight. What caught my attention was an excerpt about a photographer who brought his dog into his studio every day. While on the walk to the studio, the dog was well-behaved, once at the studio, he became unruly. Now, Ringo is not unruly in my studio, but he has begun to test limits, eating a part of my student's watercolor painting, eating paper towels out of the garbage and getting his nose covered in red paint while sniffing a wet painting. I can definitely empathize with the owner that once in "work" mode, it's difficult to properly handle the dog.

I agree with some of Cesar's points, but much of his books leaves me wondering, how? He doesn't give me the toolbox to actually correct the dog and he talks constantly of 4 hour exercise sessions which is just unrealistic with most dogs. This was the same opinion evoked by writer, Pat Miller for Bark magazine. I will continue to read Cesar's Way taking his ideas with a grain of salt, take my dog to obedience school, work on developing my role as alpha and continue to paint. Ringo will help this emerging artist, not hinder her. Look out for some artwork of Ringo in the future!