Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Wedding . . . Cake Portrait

I write frequent posts about my students, my fine artwork featuring my vintage appliances and aprons, but haven't spent much attention on the very interesting Wedding Cake Portrait. This month, the month of weddings, I finished my first Wedding Cake Portrait commission of the year. I was hired by one of my former college roommates to commemorate her sister and brother-in-law's wedding cake from their February nuptials.

The cake, photographed by Sara Schulte of the Philadelphia area, was composed of three white frosted layers, trimmed with black ribbon, garnished with red roses. It was a simple, and elegant cake. When I was coming up with composition ideas for Michelle, she told me her sister loved her dress, particularly the bow accent below the bodice. I came up with a piece that incorporated that aspect as a punctuation and backdrop for the portrait. 

If you're in Newton during the next two weeks, you can see it in person in my gallery window. I'll be working on framing suggestions to finish it off and send it to Michelle's sister and brother-in-law. This cake was a joy to paint and I wish the couple years of happiness.

Image Above: February 26, 2010, Oil on Canvas, 11" x 14", ©2010 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Student Saturday

More of my students have completed works in the past two weeks! Have I said before how amazed I am at their creativity and their technical capabilities before? Well, probably. Since there are so many works, I'll give a brief overview of each one.

Jade has been working on this intricate design, below, since last year. She took a break from classes and upon her recent return, completed this piece. From a flip flop, Jade had to create an abstracted design that involved movement, repetition, overlapping, and rhythm. For the color, Jade learned about the basics of the color wheel and their relationships. She selected a triad (three colors equidistant on the wheel) of blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange, mixing tints, tones, and shades to complete the piece.

Flip Flop Design, Gouache & Mat Acrylic on Illustration Board, 15" x 15", Jade Kellenberger, Age 14

The next four pieces all feature TraillWorks' ever popular "Harry" the duck. This is typically the first assignment I do with new students. "Harry" is an over-sized rubber duck, from which I teach observation and drawing skills based on some of the techniques in "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards and from one of my former teachers, artist, Nancy Bossert. Once the students draw Harry, they then invent a creative background, environment or design in which to place him. My only rule is that it cannot be a pond. The media for this lesson has varied, but in this case the students used Prismacolor Markers and soft pastels on Arches paper. What is fascinating in the four images below is how different each student's vision of Harry was!

Harry the Duck, Marker and Pastel on Arches, 30" x 20", Phillip Nezamis, Age 11

Harry the Duck, Marker and Pastel on Arches, 20" x 15", Andrei Burul

 Harry the Duck, Marker and Pastel on Arches, 20" x 15", Pheobe Nezamis, Age 14

 Harry the Duck, Marker and Pastel on Arches, 15" x 20", June Nezamis, Adult

Larson deWaal, one of my younger students, just finished this piece inspired by some of Eric Carle's techniques. The famous children's book illustrator, is known for his textured collage creatures, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Larson first chose an animal and then created numerous color sheets of textured papers using black Sharpie and oil pastel. Then he came up with a composition, in this case a monkey in the trees eating bananas, after which he cut out various select shapes and colors, glued them onto the board. Finally he chose to deviate from an entire collage picture and finish the piece with a variety of black Sharpie textures.  

 On the Wild Side, 15" x 20", Oil Pastel, Collage, Marker on Strathmore Illustration, Larson de Waal

Last, but not the least, Ariana Shah, one of my talented adult students just completed her first composed drawing. Ariana, a teacher at Hackettstown High School, has little formal artistic training, but a passionate desire to learn to sketch. She's an avid traveler and likes to journal through sketches in a sketchbook. Ariana selected my can of colored pencils as her first subject matter; not a simple still life. Through about sixteen hours of composing, drawing and finally shading she is a much more accomplished renderer. She worked so hard and moved beyond many moments of self-doubt to accomplish this excellent drawing.  

Colored Pencils, Graphite on Arches, 12" x 12", Ariana Shah, Adult

Follow TraillWorks on Facebook to see more frequent student artwork postings and keep up with what's going on in the studio and the gallery!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jewelry News at TraillWorks

Jasper, Unakite and Sterling Silver Bracelet, ©2010 Marty Traill Schaeffer,
$150 @ TraillWorks

Guest artist, Marty Traill Schaeffer, just created a new piece available at TraillWorks. It's a gorgeous beaded bracelet, showcasing a large Jasper stone, surrounded by two smaller Jasper stones, two Unakite stones and sterling silver tube beads, spacers and clasp. The main stone features an olive green background with traces of red and naples yellow.

Jasper is a beautiful stone that has been used in jewelry and referenced since ancient times by the Greeks, Minoans, Assyrians, Persians, and Jews. According to one site, Jasper has healing properties and the ability to provide courage, protection and justice. This bracelet has an excellent weight, with a very grounding feel to it. I know you will fall in love with it.

Liesl Carlson, another guest jewelry artist whose work I've featured in a previous blog post, has just been featured in the book,
30 Minute Earrings, launched this month by Lark Books. Carlson's earrings were selected for the main image gracing the book's cover. Congratulations to her - she's a very creative and talented jewelry artist and am honored to represent her at TraillWorks. Stop in to see her collection at the gallery and learn more about Liesl by catching her blog.

Bernadette Blaney's work, the "the glass lady" from Newton and former owner of Radiant Essentials, has been selling consistently to new and old collectors. Featuring fused Dichroic glass, Bernadette's pieces have an elegant modern quality. The iridescent glass is cut and layered in soft, geometric patterns, seemingly influenced by Kandinsky.

I have worn all of the artists' jewelry and know that you will find something that suits your style at TraillWorks. In the photo above, I'm wearing an omega chain necklace by Carlson and earrings by Blaney. Not pictured, was one of my mom's (Schaeffer's) bracelets on my wrist. I've been lucky enough to represent very diverse and talented studio jewelers, who also all happen to be good friends and family. If you're a studio jeweler interested in submitting work for review, please send an email to with two sample images of your work no larger than 3mb each @300dpi, a resume / bio / statement, and web site link.

TraillWorks is open Tuesday - Friday 12 - 6pm, Thursdays late 'til 8pm, and Saturdays 12 - 5pm.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome My Newest Addition to TraillWorks

I am pleased to announce that TraillWorks has hired it's first employee - Corrie Guddemi! With growth of my space, I felt it was time to bring someone on board to help with a variety of things and Corrie seemed to fit the bill.

Corrie comes to TraillWorks with quite a coincidental background. Corrie and I attended Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts (she as an illustration major and I as a painting major), studied abroad in Italy, and then graduated together in 2000. Though we shared so many experiences, we existed in parallel lives at SU, with only a few friends intersecting our circles.

Corrie lives locally in Sussex County and was looking for opportunities in the arts when she found me at a time when I was considering hiring someone. It wasn't until after she looked more thoroughly into my bio on my web site that she realized our connection. SU is a big school, and interestingly most of my friends were and still are illustration majors, but we just weren't in the same group.

Corrie comes to TraillWorks in a transition from the social work and teaching fields. She is a passionate, creative person with experience reaching out to special needs populations and an interest in getting back in touch with her art. Prior to the closure of Art at the Mill in Lafayette, NJ, she was beginning to exhibit her work. Corrie's current role at TraillWorks includes marketing, sales, and administration. She will be the new voice behind my monthly e-newsletter (I know it's long overdue), will write some press releases and hopefully sell some art! We are in discussions about the possibility of her teaching in the future, as well. You can expect to see her when you visit on Thursdays and Saturdays.

I'm thrilled to have her here, get some much overdue things done, get some new ideas, and to be able to go home early once in a while. That's going to take some getting used to (I felt a little guilty leaving 15 minutes early the other night). I look forward to introducing you to Corrie in person and to the growth of TraillWorks! Welcome, Corrie!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vintage Apron Strings

Perker Maestá, Oil on Linen, 36" x 60", ©2008 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Available on ArtQuiver

Kitchen Saint, Oil on Paper, 24" x 72", ©2010 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
(unframed), available soon through ArtQuiver

I've become very engaged in the topic of the apron and have been contemplating its role in my life as well as its resurgence in popularity. The apron is a natural shift in focus for me considering my interest in kitchen appliances and woman's roles. Since my husband's grandmother passed away several years ago, I've been given numerous aprons from my family and friends. It was only in 2008 when the apron first entered into my work as a symbolic backdrop in one of my "maesta" pieces. Now it's taking up more weight.

As I was painting the two most recent works (the "apron strings" below), I stumbled upon a blog titled "Return of the Apron" by blogger, Lisa Bramen of's "Food and Think" blog. She's just embarking on marriage and writes about her own interest in aprons and what it means for a feminist to don a "stereotypical symbol of wifedom." She asks the question, "should feminists be concerned that one of the most powerful symbols of female domesticity and, by extension, sexism, has made a comeback?"

Her article was in response to a Huffington Post blog by Kristen Leigh Painter who, in turn had criticized the tone of a Denver Post article entitled, "Sassy, Sexy Aprons Shrug Off Sexism." I recommend you read all three.

These women have verbalized my thoughts on apron-wearing and even deeper, my struggles, conflicts and desires to be a good wife, mom, who has a successful business as an artist. I'm part of Generation X and we women were raised with the idea that we could be anything and everything.

I think the resurgence of the apron is a fashion statement, it's a symbol of our interests in reclaiming the kitchen and domesticity while also having our careers and using our minds. While it's all very conflicted and complicated, it's an amazing experience.

Pink Apron Composition #1, 12" x 36" (triptych), Oil on Canvas, ©2010 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
$749, unframed

Getting back to my paintings, I've started exploring these ideas with the aprons in my studio. I'm at the very beginning stages of getting my visual thoughts together on the subject. The first work, Pink Apron Composition #1, was just to get my brush wet and explore the subject compositionally. The apron curtains my studio window, functioning for decoration, and maybe a bit of irony by hanging an apron which would have been used to prance around, greeting guests and passing hors d' oeuvres.

Apron Strings #1, Oil on Canvas, 5" x 7", ©2010 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
$125, unframed

Apron Strings #2, Oil on Canvas, 5" x 7" ©2010 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
$125, unframed

The above two paintings, were quick studies, thinking about the idea of "apron strings." I've borrowed a mannequin from a local artist and am interested in the idea of the stereotype of the apron. From my point of view as a young wife, mother, career woman in the 21st century, the apron is tied with contradictions. However, these show only one view of the apron - as an objectifier, as a garment that binds women's roles. I painted the mannequin in flesh tones, without any reference to a personality. The focus is on the ribbon, the back of the apron. The phrase "the ties that bind" come to mind. Though there is still a little bit of nostalgia in the paintings.

This is just the beginning of my exploration of the apron and hope to get into the studio soon to delve deeper.