Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 27 at Peters Valley

Artists Mary Butler, Dave Robinson, Allyn Cantor, Jennie Schaeffer, Yong Hyun Chung, Missing - Lisa Cecere & Joe Iscaro. Dinner Last Night at the Blue Ribbon in Culver Lake, NJ - Photo courtesy Mary Butler

All good things must come to an end, but before they do I'd like to share the work of the other six artists with whom I've spent the past month. They are each quite different and talented in their own right. The photos I'm going to post are mostly all works in progress, so it will be difficult in some cases to visualize the end result. Many of the artists have web sites or work online so click on their links to get a better idea of the finished product.

David Robinson:
Dave is a woodworker from Trenton, NJ who works in a variety of woods, but predominantly cedar. Dave's art has a natural bent to it, ranging from womb-like meditation spaces like above to "curious" birdhouses. His work is meant to be interacted, used and explored. To see more of what Dave creates, go to Natural Edge.

Allyn Cantor:Originally from Rockaway, NJ, Allyn now resides in the Pacific Northwest on the coast of Oregon. Allyn has a passion for painting, but has found a way to fuse it to her new interest in fabric and sewing. Her works are abstract assemblages of fabrics, papers, embroidery and paint that hint at her home landscape. Above is a work in progress of various blue fabrics sewn together which will then be stretched and painted. Some of her older works can be viewed at White Bird Gallery.

Mary Butler:
Mary is a quilter from NYC who has frequented Peters Valley for its many opportunities. She works within the quilting tradition, while creating contemporary themes. Above, is one of Mary's "notes" using a flying geese quilting pattern to convey the movement and pulsing of music. It was fascinating to watch the evolution of Mary's idea. Two of her completed works can be viewed through the Empire Quilters Guild.

Lisa Cecere:Lisa's work comprises itself of two separate bodies: one that is functional and streamlined featuring transfers of various design motifs, another that is much more earthy and organic with influence of ancient ruins. She is a ceramics artist and ceramics teacher at Ocean County Community College in NJ.

Joe Iscaro:
Joe spent two and a half weeks with us because he had to return to Rutgers to finish his undergraduate photo degree. He is a prolific photographer who is extremely inventive, working with film and producing both bichromate and gelatin prints. I anticipate seeing more of his work in the future and hope he takes the path of photography over computer science.

Yong Hyun Chung:
Yong is a native of Seoul, Korea and a resident of Chicago. He recently graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in ceramics. The above tiles feature Rorschach images of vessels. He is constantly exploring the idea of "interactive relation . . . to communicate with people", says Yong. His work goes beyond beauty, form and function. For more about Yong's art go to his site:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 24 at Peters Valley

Valley Brook Dorm, My home away from home, © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

This month is quickly drawing to a close and though I have had the most spectacular time painting and more painting, I am getting anxious to pack up and return to my husband and puppy. I think they're stopping by tomorrow to go for a hike in Stokes State Forest.

Mother and Child, 18" x 24", Oil on Stretched Linen, © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

This past week I completed another painting, but as I see it in a digital form there is one structural thing that is irking me that I will have to fix. This photo is also slightly blurry. Post a comment to me if you know what it is.

Perker Maesta in Progress, Oil on Stretched Linen, 3' x 5', © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Above is the Perker Maesta I began working on yesterday. I am currently laying on the "under painting" which are thinned out oils to mass in volume and color which I will then palette knife over with heavier paint.

My last post from Peters Valley will be Monday where I will give you an overview of the other artists who I've spent the past month will. I was very fortunate to have had their guidance, friendship, and company.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 22 at Peters Valley

Conte Drawing from my Studio Window

Black Pen Drawing from my Studio Window

Oil Pastel Drawing from my Studio Window

Oil Pastel Drawing from my Studio Window

Oil Painting from my Studio Window

Artists end up collecting and saving a lot of "stuff". Some which is worthwhile and others that are useless. I never throw out mat board pieces and I held onto a bunch for a few years that I hadn't used. Thinking I might do something with them during my residency, I brought them up to Peters Valley. The above studies are about one-hour drawings / paintings using different media to explore the landscape from my studio window. These may or may not end up in finished paintings in the future. Each one was completed at different times of day but all with mostly the same point of view.

Madonna and Child in Progress (temporary title), Oil on Stretched Linen, 18" x 24" © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

The painting above was started before I arrived at PV, and thought I would try to finish it. It has proven to be a challenging piece because I'm still pushing my technique and found the color combinations not working. Since this photo was taken earlier yesterday, I've almost completed it. I chose to remove what were initially halos for a more abstract way of utilizing the gold to emphasize the spiritual nature of the objects and also breakup the monotony of the negative space behind the percolators.

Can't wait for you to see it! I'll be starting my last big painting while at Peters Valley. I only have five more true working days.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 20 at Peters Valley

Frozen Wetlands, Thunder Mountain, Peters Valley/Delaware Water Gap National Park © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

I had promised you two posts ago that I would show you some of the small sketches I've been working on.

Well, you'll just have to wait. I keep forgetting and am busy with refining Mixer Maesta. I know, I said it was done, but I organized a studio tour for the artists in residence on Friday night to see each others work.

In so doing, all of the artists unanimously agreed that the halos were problematic, not reading as halos but more like dishes. Being confronted with the painting every day, I didn't see it that way and was so glad for their feedback. Basically, everything in the painting is realistic, but the halos were painted in a flat, abstract shape. Towards the Renaissance, as paintings increased in depth and realism, so too did the halos.

I've decided to scratch out the halos, shift their perspective and make only a hint at a halo by using an edge and a thin transparent layer of gold paint.

I can't show you the piece yet, it's still not finished. Hopefully by the end of the week. In the meantime I painted another version of my wedding cake for my new web site to launch in February.
12/4/04, Oil on Panel, 11.5 x 16", © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

In the meantime, the photo of today shows a frozen over wetland on Thunder Mountain, a part of Peters Valley where the wood, photo, fiber, photography and fine metals studios are. I drove up there on Sunday to show my parents around. It's breathtaking!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 17 at Peters Valley

View from my studio at about 8:30 this morning

I woke up this morning and got to the studio early after having had a rare good night's sleep. It was just breathtaking in the Delaware Water Gap with the new snow. I had promised
that I would share some sketches I've been doing of the landscape outside of my window, but I finished Mixer Maesta last night and thought instead that you're probably anxiously awaiting it, or at least I hope. However, in finishing it I realized I forgot to paint in the bolts holding the stool together. I will paint those in quickly today before the stool collapses. But, for all intents and purposes I am done with the first Maesta painting!

Mixer Maesta, Oil on Stretched Linen, 3' x 5', © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 15 at Peters Valley

Mixer Maesta in Progress, Oil on Stretched Linen, 3' x 5', © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

As promised here's the latest installment of the Mixer Maesta. Yesterday was the fifth day of working on the painting. It was a pivotal day because I was frustrated with the shadow in the background. Initially it was bigger and more of a lavender left very open-ended with the palette knife. To my appreciation, one of the artist/teachers at Peters Valley stopped by yesterday and openly gave me criticism.

Kulvinder Kaur Dhew came by the studio to use the facilities and we ended up talking. We had met two years ago at an art show in Sparta. She's an accomplished artist, known recently for her sublime graphite drawings of atmospheric conditions that are metaphors for the busy lives we lead. I invited her into the studio to see my work and she immediately openly with criticism which she quickly apologized for. In the two and a half weeks I've been here, I've not received any comments on my work and so I requested she go on.

She pointed out things that I knew were problems, but couldn't quite pin-point how to resolve or specifically what the problem was. The shadow was problematic and she suggested I shift the tone down and emphasize the palette knife edging that I was working with. Additionally, she gave me some positive feedback about the subject matter, quality of my painting/brushwork, and color.

I was so relieved to hear constructive criticism. I'm always open to it to push my work and my ability. Sometimes you need to hear from an unbiased viewer. So above, you'll see the shadow as it's been changed and the painting is close to completion. There are some things I need to tighten up and the floor/shadows need to be finished. I'm hoping to accomplish this today, but alas we have a potluck dinner tonight. So I have to leave the studio early to be domestic and make my mom's macaroni and cheese.

I'll be posting some small landscape drawings I've been working on when I post again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day 14 at Peters Valley

My camera battery died, so I have no images of my current painting to show today. So I will be try to be brief since we are living in a culture of constant change and speed.

Since I don't have a photo of my work, I'll tell you about a show I applied to on Saturday in NYC. I did leave PV for a few hours to drive into NYC, drop off my paintings, and catch a quick dinner with my family in Hoboken before returning to NW NJ. I participated in the show last year: NYU's Small Works Show.

It is being juried by Richard Witter of OK Harris Works of Art, NYC. My wonderful sister will be stopping by the 80 Washington Square East Galleries on Saturday to see if I was accepted and pick up work if I wasn't. It's a terrific show; keep your fingers crossed. I submitted the new Cheese Slicer and Castrocielo paintings painted in the past two weeks, along with my Master of Drink Mixing, an appliance portrait.

Check in tomorrow to see the progress on the Mixer Maesta and next week to find out if my work is in Small Works.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 13 at Peters Valley

Castrocielo Roofs, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

I'm just about halfway through my residency. Last week I was worried about the short amount of time remaining, but now for some strange reason I'm feeling like I have a lot more time. Who knows what living out here is doing to my mind!

The painting above is the final work I will do involving Italy while I'm at Peters Valley. It brings together elements from most of the other paintings in this one view of roof tops and antennas. It also is somewhat similar in view to a painting I completed of Tuscany two years ago, Town and Country. It also utilizes the palette knife technique I started a few paintings ago.

And, onto bigger things . . .

As promised, I started my first big painting on Friday.

I waited for the canvas primer to cure and then started with a sketchbook sketch of the composition to determine scale, elements, and placement. Then, once happy with it, I scaled it up onto the canvas with a colored pencil drawing. After that was done I started applying early, thin layers of color using my medium. I spent about 9 hours Saturday and Sunday with that first layer. Today, I began applying paint with a palette knife, continuing the technique from the painting above.

The photo below shows the painting in its preliminary state. I assure you it will change dramatically from now to its completion.

Mixer Maesta in Progress, 3' x 5', Oil on Stretched Linen, © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

More about the subject matter in my next blog . . .

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day 10 at Peters Valley

My home away from home at Valley Brook dorm, Peters Valley
This bed remained empty last night. I've been heavily conflicted over the past two weeks about whether or not to apply to some upcoming shows because the deadlines were this month. In an ideal world, I would have planned in advance and had the applications ready in December before I left, but December turned out to be full of sales and left little time for anything else.

So, I hemmed and hauled and decided that if I didn't apply to these shows, I would be up a creek for the next few months without exhibition opportunities. This is a time when a laptop would come in very handy. The reason I had to go home was to retrieve image files that I don't have access to at the PC at Peters Valley. I had intended to return to Peters Valley last night after I finished, but it was after 11pm and my husband was very nervous about me driving back so late. So, I remained home.

Hence, this morning I'm exhausted from rising early to get back here before the rooster crowed. Being at a residency so close to home definitely creates a bit of conflict in that you're not supposed to go home. In the future, if attend another residency, I hope to have a laptop to ease modern-day communication and so my career as an emerging artist doesn't take a step back while being away.

And, you've been waiting for the latest work while I've been chattering away:

Castrocielo Street #2, Oil on Canvas, 6" x 12", © Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Stay tuned for the last Italy painting of my residency, posting on Monday! Then it's onto bigger things . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 8 at Peters Valley

Yesterday's studio time was abbreviated due to a severe headache probably caused by my increasingly changing schedule and the solvents I'm breathing in without proper ventilation. On my list of goals in 2008 is to find a medium to replace my oderific turpentine/dammar varnish/stand oil mix.

Despite the only 5 hours that I painted, I felt I had a breakthrough with my paint application. Yesterday I wrote about the influence of Thiebaud in my work and though I am happy with what I accomplished thus far and do enamour the artist, I kept looking at the painting I completed entitled Castrocielo Street and thinking that it reminded me of a Disney animation cell backdrop. I can't put my finger on it exactly but maybe it was the small amount of detail and the relative evenness of the paint application.

To fight that I started working with a palette knife. After applying initial layers of paint to "block in" my composition, I applied heavier layers with this new tool. I let the surface build up and in some places mimic the textural surface of the buildings in my photo reference, but also leaving some areas a little abstract in the way colors / paint converged. I'm much more satisfied with this painting, but as always I need some real perspective by stepping away from it for awhile.
So, here's the latest from Peters Valley that I finished today:

Number 6, Castrocielo, Oil on Canvas, 6" x 12"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Day 7 at Peters Valley

Lower Treible, My Painting Studio at Peters Valley

I've been at Peters Valley for a complete week, though I did spend the night at home with my dog last night since Lee was out of town. But for all intents and purposes, I've been here a week. And, in this amount of time I have completed 4 paintings and am working on my 5th. As I mentioned in my previous post, I stretched/primed two large canvases that have to cure before I paint on them.

In the meantime, I've been working on small paintings both involving appliances and some long-overdue works of Castrocielo, IT. Below you can see the three I've finished over the weekend. I focused my free time reading about the works and intents of artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Part of this residency I'm devoting to thought about my subject matter and compositions; my intent as a painter. I'm interested not necessarily in depicting beautiful objects; for me there is beauty in the ugly. But I'm interested in painting the places that have held great meaning for me; Italy is a place where I lived for an extended period of time and my family originates from there. I find a great amount of energy in these places and hope to convey that as well.

Theibaud's subject matter greatly relates to my own as well as his painterly approach. You can see a hint of Thiebaud in the colored outlines I've employed in the Italy landscapes and in the everyday objects I've chosen to paint.

From left to right (temporary titles): Cheese Slicer, 8" x 8", Oil on Panel, Finished Saturday; Castrocielo Bell Tower, 6" x 12", Oil on Canvas, Finished Sunday; Castrocielo Street, 6" x 12", Oil on Canvas, Finished Monday.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Beginning of a Residency

I'm back at the computer! I've been at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ for three days now. Already in 2 1/2 days working in the studio I've stretched / primed two 3' x 5' canvases and finished a Wedding Cake Portrait that was sitting untended for months at my home studio.

I've never before done an artist's residency and I'm in love with the experience. It dawned on me the first day that I've also never, even in art school, had the opportunity to work solely on my painting. There were always other classes, social distractions, etc. I know I'm going to get a lot of painting done and in just the seven hours I spent yesterday on the cake there were so many things I saw to change and work on.
I hope to blog about three times a week while I'm here to tell you both about being in a residency program and to share what I'm doing.

To the left is a view of my studio taken yesterday. I'm working in the living room of a house that I have to myself. In the center you can see the two linen canvases. They are sized with rabbit skin glue to seal the surface of the linen prior to priming.