Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Greetings from TraillWorks

2011 has been a year of growth at TraillWorks because of you; thank you for your continued support throughout this, my fourth year on Spring Street in Newton, NJ (7 years in business all-together)! I'm looking forward to exciting news and changes for 2012.
I'd like to acknowledge the many artists who have entrusted TraillWorks with the care and sale of their work, including: Brenda Decker, Martha C. Hall, David Ohlerking, Amanda Gordon Miller, Kristin Muller, Phylis Barfoot, Linda Finkelstein, Janet Howard-Fatta, Christine Marie Murphy, Heidi Lanino, Lisa Hirkaler, Ted Petrochko, Karin Lowney-Seed, Andrea Rosenfeld, Emily Bittner, Martha Traill Schaeffer, and Bernadette Blaney.
I'd also like to express gratitude to the many interns and employees  who have worked with me over the year.  You played an integral part in the positive developments at the studio and gallery. Thank you to Corrie Guddemi, Kassandra Talmadge, Ashley Allenforth, Tim Conkling, Alyse DiBlasio, and Janelle Ferraro for your hard work and commitment.
Finally, to all of my students, collectors, fans and supporters, I look forward to helping you grow creatively in 2012.  Experience the brilliance of handmade art at TraillWorks all year long.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Giclée Release and Promotion by Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Homage to Julia, Mixed Media on Panel, 24" x 24", ©2009 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Original in Private Collection

I'm pleased to announce the release of a new limited edition giclée featuring one of my most-loved recent paintings, Homage to Julia. Painted in 2009, around the time of the film, Julie and Julia, I wanted to learn more about Julia Child and was deeply impressed by her success in the professional kitchen, then a male-dominated arena.

After doing some research mostly through the Smithsonian's fabulous virtual tour of her kitchen, I composed this painting.  Using her Kitchen-Aid stand mixer as a metaphor for Child, I pulled colors and other elements from her kitchen, incorporating the french whisk, a tool she introduced to American cooks.

This painting actually evolved after a clipping from the newspaper was stuck in my studio door by my friend, Linda Hirsch. The clipping was Julia's recipe for French omelettes, along with a column encouraging Americans to get rid of their egg beaters. Child both loved tools that worked, whether old or new. She embraced technology when it worked well. She loved her mixing machine. I felt it was appropriate to collage both of these clippings into the painting.

The original painting sold last year and is now in a private collection in New Jersey. I've had many people express interest in the painting, so now you have an opportunity to own a canvas reproduction.

To celebrate the release of the giclée, I'm offering them now through Christmas* at 10% off the retail price of $125. The 14" x 14" giclée is printed on Fredrix canvas with archival inks and coated with a satin UV-resistant finish. Only 75 will be printed. They will be stretched on 1.25" deep stretcher bars. The wrap of the canvas around the stretchers will be left white. For an additional $20, the canvas wrap can be painted gold. The giclée may be left unframed for a contemporary look, or framed for an additional cost.

Homage to Julia
Limited Edition (75) Giclée 14" x 14"
gallery wrap stretch canvas on 1.25" wood frame
white sides (gold paint for an additional $20 - contact the artist)
Satin Finish UV Coat

$125 (regular price)
10% off through December 25th

*Delivery for Christmas will not be possible due to printing and stretching times. Giclées will be shipped within two weeks of purchase or can be purchased and picked up upon completion at TraillWorks in Newton, NJ.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TraillWorks Gives Thanks

The holidays come around every year too quickly for me, and now having a toddler and a retail gallery, every one's birthdays, my anniversary and multiple religious celebrations, it sometimes seems too much. But, I want to switch gears from the usual grumble of the holidays and express my gratitude for so many people in my life and for the ability to celebrate to many people in my life for the next month.

I have been surrounded by the most supportive people throughout my life and most importantly, I am so grateful to my husband for his unending confidence in my business and in me as a mother. He is my best friend, and as I've heard stories of families being apart for the holidays - I am fortunate to spend mine with my entire family. My son, the joy of my life, brings me unending love, hugs and kisses. He reminds me to stay young, and I believe he makes me more creative. My parents and sister, all artists in their own right, have been by my side as TraillWorks has grown from my bedroom studio in my home almost 7 years ago! I also have the most supportive in-laws, who continue to encourage and help in numerous ways.

I want to individually thank all of the people directly responsible at TraillWorks, from the artists who exhibit, to the employees and interns without whom we couldn't have the success we're having. 

Employees / Interns: 
Kassandra Talmadge, graphic designer / marketing / sales associate
Alyse DiBlasio, former gallery intern
Janelle Farrero, current graphic design intern

Marie Christine Murphy, David Ohlerking, Ted Petrochko, 
Andrea Rosenfeld, Martha Traill Schaeffer

And, most importantly, I am grateful for the collectors, students, followers and fans of TraillWorks, as well as the merchants on Spring Street, who continue to believe in what we're creating here in Sussex County, NJ. 

May you all have a scrumptious and blessed Thanksgiving with whomever is special to you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Film Screening at TraillWorks this Weekend!

October 22nd, 8pm
214 Spring Street
Newton, NJ
admission by donation, 
proceeds to benefit Birth Haven

Pass the tissues! This coming Saturday, TraillWorks will be hosting a screening of the film, Who Does She Think She Is? by Academy Award winning director, Pamela Tanner Boll.  I saw this film with artist, Martha C. Hall, earlier this year at the Morris Museum and knew that I had to share it with you at my gallery. I bought the DVD from Amazon within the week and starting planning this screening. 

The documentary film follows five female artists who are all mothers and examines the pressures of following their passions and careers while balancing their individual family lives. When I discovered this film almost a year ago, prior to seeing it, I had already had my son, Joel, and was furiously juggling caring for him, running a household, running an art business, and making my own work. I found this film to be profoundly inspiring both spiritually and artistically, as well as an amazing stimulus of passion. 

Joann Wells Greenbaum with her "Lady of the House
Jennie Traill Schaeffer ©Alex Cena

Amy S. Brooks with her Stained Glass Mobile
Please join us at 8pm on Saturday, October 22nd for a moving and intimate look at how five women choose both their art and their children. Following the screening, three artists (Amy S. Brooks, Joann Wells Greenbaum, and myself) will sit for a panel discussion offering a look at their own experiences mothering and art making.

Amy S. Brooks is the owner of Paradise Stained Glass of Metuchen, NJ and is the mother of two teenage sons. Joann Wells Greenbaum, now an empty-nester, is a successful independent artist from Shohola, PA, a mother of two grown sons. And I am entering motherhood on the other end with an almost three-year old son. I am a painter who owns TraillWorks - my studio and gallery.

This screening marks the end of a two-month long exhibit of women's art in our 1st Annual Women's Invitational Exhibit which featured 13 women who interpreted the play, "Hope Throws her Heart Away" by playwright Susan Goodell. We hosted a play reading in September performed by Tri-State Actors Theater; the artists' reception was held last Saturday and this will bookend the exhibit on Saturday. The exhibit runs through November 5th. To learn more about the exhibit and its artists, click here. View an album of photos from the exhibit reception here.

Admission to the film is by donation. All donations will be going to support Birth Haven, a local 501(c)3 that provides shelter and hope to young pregnant mothers. Just before the film starts, the director of Birth Haven will present a brief overview video of the opportunities and love that the organization provides to its residents. I felt this was a fitting charity to extend support to given the hard choices that both the artists in the film and the residents of Birth Haven have to make to pursue a better life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sitting in Cezanne's Studio

I recently had the opportunity of a European vacation, all due to a marriage in Tuscany of a very close friend. Since I studied in Florence during art school and had the chance to visit again in 2007, my husband and I decided after the wedding festivities were over we would visit somewhere outside of Italy. The original plan was to visit Provence for a week, but a variety of things caused us to switch gears, mostly due to having a little less time than previously imagined. 

 Rue Gaston de Sapora - Aix-en-Provence ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Instead we spend four days located in Monaco, with one day set aside for a trip to Aix-en-Provence. Though I could have spent a week or more relaxing in Monaco, I'm utterly grateful for our brief introduction to Aix and the chance to visit artist, Paul Cézanne's studio

I've loved the artist's work since seeing a show of his at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and I now reference his work over and over again to my students. Considered by most scholars to be the harbinger of modernism, Picasso called Cézanne, “My one and only master. … Cézanne was like the father of us all.” It was Cezanne who started breaking down space and playing with perspective more abstractly. Our docent showed us the ladder that reaches almost to the ceiling in the studio; it was on this that Cezanne would climb to get different vantage points of his still lives in order to paint a variety of views in one piece.

Cezanne's Studio, from Atelier Cezanne
We trekked all over Aix and wound our way to the northern part of the city, where the Atelier Cezanne is located. It's a beautiful building, located up a hill, that once was a solitary structure. Our docent told us the trees were quite short and Cezanne would have had quite a view from which to paint in his backyard. Now, that part of the city is filled in with apartment buildings, homes and the trees have grown in significantly.

Atelier Cezanne, ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

When Cezanne passed away in 1906, his friend, Emile Bernard, moved into the studio, occupying the first floor and leaving the second floor where Cezanne worked alone. In 1921, Marcel Provence purchased the studio from Paul's son and maintained the space to preserve Cezanne's heritage. In 1954 when developers wanted to raise the building to make way for apartments, 2 American students gathered 150 investors to buy the property from Provence's heirs and pass on the property to the University of Aix-Marseille. In 1969, the city of Aix took on ownership of the studio.

Cezanne's Studio, from Atelier Cezanne

As a painter, I was pretty amazed to not only see his studio intact, but to walk around and identify objects that I've seen in his paintings - in particular a plaster cast of Cupid. Another compelling aspect was a slot that the artist had designed into the wall, about 10' or so tall and about a foot wide, with a door leading out into his back gardens. The docent relayed how Cezanne used the passage way to port his large works in and out of the studio - for ease as well as to paint portions of a painting, such as the many bathers, outside.

In Cezanne's Studio ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Cezanne's Cupid ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
 It was my husband, Lee, who suggested I sketch some of the studio while we were there. (I have the most fabulous husband!) So I spent about 30 minutes sketching the cupid and a still life setup on Cezanne's table. While I was working, one of the docents suggested to Lee that we walk up the Avenue Paul Cezanne another 15 minutes to Mont Sainte-Victoire, the limestone landmark made famous by Cezanne's numerous depictions in watercolor and oil. At the top of the hill, the city of Aix designated a portion of land, terrain des peintres, or painters' ground, where Cezanne often painted the mountain. Of course, we walked up the road to the hallowed ground of Cezanne and I sat down for a quick watercolor study. While I painted, Lee took dozens of photos of Mont Sainte-Victoire and me painting.

Large Bathers 1899-1906 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 208 x 249 cm (81 7/8 x 98 in); Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jennie Traill Schaeffer painting Mont Sainte-Victoire, photo ©2011, Lee Goldberg

Jennie Traill Schaeffer painting Mont Sainte-Victoire, photo ©2011, Lee Goldberg

Though our time in Aix was brief, in about eight hours I learned a great deal about Cezanne, soaked in the city, and got an appreciation for Cezanne's landscapes. Aix-en-Provence will be on my top list of places to spend an extended vacation in the future. I think this visit will resonate with me for year's to come.

 Mont Sainte-Victoire ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

Thursday, September 22, 2011

TraillWorks' Artists Donating to Support Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Every September I have supported efforts to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Prompted in 2007, a while after my mom's very good college friend, Barbara Salamy, passed away after battling ovarian cancer, I hosted an open studio at my home with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Kaleidoscope for Hope

Eventually I got more involved by helping to "Teal" Newton about three years ago. Last year and this year I have organized the "Tealing" of Newton and held special exhibits and made donations to Turn the Towns Teal, Inc. the 501(c)(3) that ties teal ribbons in towns throughout the country every September to raise awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms. The reason for the campaign is due to the lack of early detection screening tests, so too frequently, ovarian cancer is discovered at late stages when the chance of recovery decreases significantly.

This September, I've asked all of the artists at TraillWorks to donate a portion of retail sales to Turn the Towns Teal, Inc. I was overwhelmed by the participation I received. Below is a list of artists who have agreed to share a 10% donation with me on all gallery sales during the month of September. If you've had your eye on something, now is a great time to purchase knowing that a portion of your sale is going to help more women learn when to seek medical care and thereby save more lives.

Artists Donating 10% of Retail Sales to Turn the Towns Teal, Inc:

Learn more by reading the full press release here. Our 1st Annual Women's Invitational Exhibit is now up with new works by thirteen artists who have interpreted the script of "Hope Throws her Heart Away" by Susan Goodell, being acted live by Tri-State Actors Theatre at TraillWorks on Saturday, September 24th. I hope you'll join us but also help us in saving the lives of our moms, sisters, grandmothers, nieces, cousins, and granddaughters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mural Progress - St. Joseph's Regional School

The summer has come and gone so quickly. Having a child and a business really does speed up life, even while I'm trying my best to focus on the now. The months of July and August have been very productive and full at TraillWorks from art lessons, commissions, creating my own artwork, and hosting events.

Several posts ago, I wrote about a big mural commission that I had taken on for a local private school. It is in progress, though it is not as progressed as I would have expected at this point. But, I'm thrilled with where it is going and I've needed the time. I've ended up working on about a window a week - the creation aspect is the hardest, not necessarily the execution of the mural. Some of the images are pulled directly from student drawings, but most are mine that were developed after working with the students, learning about their school, and then going to the drawing board in my studio. I've been in constant touch with a parent at the school and thus far she is thrilled with what I've done.

The mural is comprised of nine windows, coincidentally, just as many grades are in the school. The school desired the incorporation of Noah's Ark, the Resurrection and the Ascension. From there I worked with several of the students to spark other ideas about their school. The school's mission, academic subjects and the idea of God in all things drove the rest of the mural.

I decided to label the windows with numbers to symbolize each grade in the school. The overall composition is carried visually by a prop plane, drawn by one of the students, pulling a banner with the school's mission through the windows. The mural is somewhat narrative and chronological in that it begins in Kindergarten with the Flood and the animals embarking on New Jersey and ends in window 9, with the Ascension of Christ, handing over a mortar board to an 8th grader.

I'm reaching the finished state of the design and am striving to complete it before school begins in September. The next big step is determining how I will transfer these large drawings onto the exterior of the school. I believe I have two options: grid the entire drawing by hand, or use a projector at night. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

TraillWorks Artist to Follow: Karin Lowney-Seed

Thank you to TraillWorks' intern, Ashley Allenfort, for interviewing Karin and putting together this month's "TraillWorks' Artist to Follow."

Karin Lowney-Seed is this month's [TraillWorks Artist to Follow]. Her work is on exhibit at TraillWorks through the end of the summer. Karin is a contemporary painter and interior designer who likes to use bold colors and shapes in her pieces. She uses words, flowers, collages, and a bright color palette to show her eye for beauty. When Jennie asked me to interview Karin I was especially excited about the opportunity. Karin was my professor at the County College of Morris during this past Spring Semester. To say that she was an inspiration would be an understatement. Karin helped our class look at art work and the art world in a different way. It was a great experience to be able to have a conversation with her outside of the classroom.

"Rose Water", Acrylic, 36" x 36", Karin Lowney-Seed, $2250

Ashley: You recently had a faux opening at TraillWorks to film the pilot for a new TV reality show. How did that get started and what will the show be about?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I was approached 8 months ago to film a pilot about my life and what I do. I've been doing interior design for years. I help clients in all aspects of life and guide them in the right direction. I was on another reality show on TLC and they wanted to explore that.

Ashley: What's the progress and when or where will it be available for viewing?

Karin Lowney-Seed: The working title is "Karin Clothes to Home" and it is in the preview stage right now. It will then go into editing in around September or November. So we won't know anything until the end of editing which should be sometime in the fall.
Ashley: How did you know you were meant to be an artist?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I have always been driven by anything creative. It's what gets me up and going. I'm never bored. It's a passion that won't go away.

Ashley: I heard you had an exhibit in Alaska with your sister. How was that? And what is your sister's medium of choice?

Karin Lowney-Seed: It was a great experience. The biggest challenge was getting the work up there and the expense. [My sister] is a sculptor. We were working together helping each other on our projects. I also put together some collages up there.

Ashley: Other than your sister and yourself, are there any other artists in your family?

Karin Lowney-Seed: My father actually was a sculptor and painter. But children and life kind of took him away from it.

Ashley: What artists inspire you?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Every artist inspires me. I am inspired by anybody why thinks outside the box. I am inspired by the classics like Matisse and Picasso. Also Robert Motherwell. There are too many to name.

Ashley: What is your process when beginning a painting? Is it spontaneous, planned, or a little bit of both?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Both, definitely both. I have a tendency to work tight and loose. If I work too tight it comes out too controlled. If I work too loose it's not controlled enough. I try to find a balance between the two.

Ashley: What got you started painting the roses? Do you have a favorite?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I always have a favorite and then the next one I create becomes the favorite. I've done these [circular flower patterns] for over 30 years in my work. It started out that I was working on something and felt instead of it being a part of the [background of the painting] it should be the [subject of the] painting.
"Fish Pond", Acrylic, 36" x 48", Karin Lowney-Seed, $1695

Ashley: Some of the writing in your paintings remind me of graffiti, was that intentional?

Karin Lowney-Seed: Absolutely. For me...I couldn't see a landscape and abstract it [in my mind]. It wasn't my thing. In Florida I was on the beach and wanted to be able to paint the water in a different way. I decided to write what I saw. I did 25 to 30 sketches and then I got it. I knew what I had to do.

Ashley: What inspires your choice of words for these paintings?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I write what I see. Its just words written over and over until it becomes a landscape.

"Believe", collage, 16" x 20", Karin Lowney-Seed, $225

Ashley: Do you create your collages around a single word within the piece?

Karin Lowney-Seed: No, I usually create them, see where they're going...they're thematic...poetic. They take on a poetic sense. Once they're done a word pops out and that's the only word it could be.

Ashley: How do you decide whether to do a collage or a painting to express your ideas?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I wouldn't say "decide"'s usually where I am in the process of thinking. Collages come from wondering where to go next. I'm not going to paint the same thing over and over. A collage will be the in between stage. I use collages to problem solve.

Ashley: What are you reading right now?

Karin Lowney-Seed: I just finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I'm halfway through Sarah's Key by Tatiana be Rosnay.

Ashley: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Karin Lowney-Seed: One thing that's world between interior design and fine arts had collided. I'm interested to see what's happened between the two. What's happening in the art...the materials and how I see things have become one with my interior designs.

Her work is on exhibit at TraillWorks, 214 Spring St. Newton, through the end of the summer. She'll be stopping in soon to swap in some newer work. Stop in a see what the buzz is all about!

"Suck", Acrylic, 36" x 36", Karin Lowney-Seed, $995

Friday, July 15, 2011

Meet artist Brenda A. Decker

Several weeks ago, my associate, Corrie Guddemi, suggested we do a Q & A  profiling the different artists exhibiting at TraillWorks for a monthly feature in our newsletter. So she took it a step further to write as a guest blogger. You might recall her post earlier this month on artist, Martha C. Hall. Without further, adieu, here's her interview with Brenda Decker:

Continuing with my Q & A with TraillWorks' guest artists, this month I'll be speaking with Brenda A. Decker, a very multifaceted artist. I decided to do this interview with Brenda after she brought in two very realistic paintings which were different than the abstract acrylic prints and paintings I was used to seeing from her. I hope you enjoy reading the back story behind this very intriguing artist. Thanks Brenda for satisfying my curiosity!

Corrie: Do you have any formal training in the arts/framing?

Brenda A. Decker: I'm a self taught artist. I've been creating art all of my life. I have studied with a few other artists, always experimenting with different styles and mediums.

Corrie: Do you have a preferred medium?

Brenda A. Decker: I prefer water based mediums like acrylics and inks. The acrylics are very versatile where as you can create with endless possibilities. The quick drying time allows me to paint multiple layers of color and texture.

 Composition 414, acrylic on wood panel, $1200, © 2011 Brenda A. Decker

Corrie: When did you paint “Graceful morning” and “Along the coast”? I couldn’t believe they were yours when I saw them, very different then the gelatin prints I am familiar with! Do you work in both styles at the same time, or do you go through periods where you focus on one way of painting?

Brenda A. Decker: Those traditional style paintings were done about two years ago. I work periodically, switching styles as to where my needs take me. Right now I'm in my
"contemporary phase" painting larger format abstracts with acrylics. I believe that next I will be printing gelatin plate monotypes. Although all of my styles are different, I approach them in a very similar manner. My inspiration for all of my work comes from what I see around me. A peaceful farm scene, colors in nature, an abandoned building, or just a feeling. The painting process starts with multiple layers of carefully chosen color. Then many hours of laboring over the right details, textures or elements, until I'm satisfied with the result. The gelatin prints are slightly different. The colors and design are loosely planned ahead. Since it's a monotype, you print once and marvel at end result.

 Along the coast, acrylic on canvas board, 9.75" x 14.5", $425, © Brenda A. Decker

Graceful Morning, acrylic on canvas board, 8.75" x 14.5", $425,  © Brenda A. Decker

Corrie: I really like “Telephony,” and noticed that the phone book page collaged into that piece is a listing of social service agencies, what was the intent/social message behind that piece?

Brenda A. Decker: "Telephony" of course has a telephone theme that started with the beautiful woman on the phone, collage element. The background is a listing of social services from a phone book. I feel that sometimes help IS just a phone call away. I believe there are people in need of help, and people that are willing to help. I try not to force any specific messages in my art. I would rather the viewer see the art and create their own feelings, making it more personal.

 Telephony, mixed media collage, 10" x 12", $325, © Brenda A.  Decker

Corrie: Is collage a new way of working for you?

Brenda A. Decker: I started collage many years ago with Jonathan Talbot. It's a fun process that simply lets me express myself in a different way. It also lets me recycle and utilize my cool found objects.

Brenda is currently working on creating her own website with the help of artist Jonathan Talbot, which will showcase her artwork. In the mean time, the work pictured here as well as additional pieces can be purchased at TraillWorks. To view more of her work, please continue on to TraillWorks'  Facebook page where Brenda has her own artist's album here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A really BIG announcement about a really BIG public art commission!

Over the past few months I've been talking behind the scenes with a local private school about the possibility of creating an outdoor mural for their playground space. Jessie Martin, member of the SJRS Enrichment Committee, contacted me back in the beginning of April to inquire if I might be interested in coordinating a collaborative mural to fill the exterior walls of St. Joseph's Regional School in Newton, just up the street from my studio. To say the walls of the school are drab is an understatement. This mural project is part of a playground redevelopment initiative that will occur in phases, mural being Phase 1. Eventually they anticipate ripping up the macadam and replacing it with a brightly colored synthetic rubbery material, with hopscotch game grids, as well as potted plants.

View of the right side of the SJRS courtyard, playground area

View of the short wall on the left side of the larger wall of the SJRS courtyard
Of course, my answer first and foremost was yes. I'm generally one to see an opportunity and snag it; when it comes to my art and career that is. Plus, I've had a secret interest in painting a mural ever since I interned at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1999 and learned about the city's amazing Mural Arts Program. In 2004, I had the honor of designing and painting sets for a New York City modern dance company, ACFD, no longer in operation, which was a great stepping stone to working on a mural. So while I haven't worked at a scale of 40' x 15' (the rough dimensions of the walls at SJRS), I do feel equipped with my background of large scale painting, as well as my experience working with children. The only aspect I'm not been prepared for is climbing up on scaffolding, which I imagine, due to insurance, will be restricted to me, little Jennie. It's a little nerve wracking knowing that I have to ascend to reach heights of 15', when you're only 5' that's pretty high. But, I'm looking forward to experiencing a project which takes me higher and bigger than I'm used to working; I'm reminded of a recent PBS movie on Georgia O'Keeffe which depicted her painting a mural on scaffolding in NYC. I was amazed at that feat and know this commission will stretch me in more ways than just my muscles!

It's taken several months of planning, emailing, putting together a contract, meeting with selected students who spent two sessions brainstorming ideas and sketching with me, and as of today, it is final! I will be working with student and parent volunteers over the course of the summer, in the mornings, when weather permits, to paint a mural that will incorporate, as per Father Brian Sullivan's request, Noah's Ark, The Ascension and The Resurrection, and tie in the students' experiences at school, including, but not limited to, technology, the school mascot, its mission, and more.

Schemata for the SJRS mural, ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

My intent over the next few days is to design a final sketch of the overall mural that includes some of the students' actual sketches, as well as my own ideas. This will be presented to the school and upon approval, I can begin projecting and outlining the image on the exterior walls. The structure of the mural has been set using the visual armature of stained glass windows to break up the huge walls. This was suggested by Jessie as a way to simplify the space and incorporate references to their stained glass windows in the school. And then when I went to see the courtyard, I noticed the view of neighboring, St. Joseph's Church's bell tower peaking over the short wall. After researching a little bit about Italian architecture from the Middle Ages, I believe, though am not certain, that the design of the church stems from the Lombard Romanesque style and I wanted to tie that into the feel of the school's mural. The design will encompass the schemata of windows, and may in the future, break out of the windows in some areas.

A portion of one of the stained glass windows in the school's art room.

We're working on the possibility of recording the progress of the mural creation, maybe in video. So hopefully along the way, you'll be able to check in and see its development.

I'm looking forward to embarking on this creative endeavor and would like to extend a special thank you to Jessie Martin for thinking of me, reaching out, and pursuing this project with much passion. I'm honored to help St. Joseph's Regional School with such a large-scale and transformative project.

If you're in the Newton area and wish to contribute in any way to this project, we are looking for donations or discounted paint, brushes, lidded plastic containers for paint storage, rags, tarps, and scaffolding. You can contact me at TraillWorks via email or phone,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sterling Silver Jewelry Trunk Show at TraillWorks

In anticipation of our one-day trunk show on Saturday, featuring jewelry artist, Liesl Carlson, my associate, Corrie, spent some time getting to know Liesl a little bit better. Liesl has been selling her jewelry at TraillWorks since I opened last year. She and I met during my residency at Peters Valley in 2008. Soon after I left Peters Valley, I learned that she was pregnant, at the same time as me. But, I didn't get to know her very well until her husband, Steve Butler, exhibited his "Breadside Tables" at my old studio down the street, after we both had our sons.

At the time I learned I was relocating my studio to 214 Spring Street where I had more space and the capability to display jewelry, I contacted Liesl and invited her to sell her work. I immediately fell in love and have not only worn her pieces at a variety of functions, but also now own her jewelry. Liesl now lives in Massachusetts with Steve and their two-year old son, Quinn.

Liesl at work in her sunny studio in Massachusetts

So, without further adieu, here's a tid-bit more about Liesl and her jewelry-making. You can meet her in person on Saturday from 3 - 8pm at TraillWorks.

Q: How do you choose the stones used in your pieces, and do they “guide” the direction of the piece?

A:  Well let's see. Sometimes a stone or object do guide a piece, and sometimes a piece "asks" for a stone. On my bench I always have stones, pottery shards, beads, and some hollow form pieces waiting for the right time or the proper "magic" of the pieces to match up.

Q: What is your work process; how do you begin and how do you know when you are finished with a piece or a collection?

A: I really let the metal tell me what it would like to be. I am really drawn to circles. I also love texture and have a vast collection of hammers that I use to create texture. I also use a rolling mill to imprint texture. I love using all kinds of things from steel mesh to vintage lace ribbon. My recycled group is a freeing process because I really have no control of how it comes out, I can only guide the shape. But it is organic. I have yet to finish a collection, I take pauses.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration: artists, places, colors, sounds, etc? 

A: Inspiration. That is a tough one. New England winters is one - with its starkness and bare trees and the sparkle or reflection off the snow and ice. People is one -  everything has to feel good. Lately I have a love of medical prints from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. I find them fascinating, and I am working on how to incorporate that into a new collection. 

Q: Do you work in any other media?

A: I also do stained glass. I unfortunately have not had the space to set up since we moved back to Mass. I took my first class in 2003.

Q: What are your future goals/plans for your jewelry?

A: I plan on starting to show in the next year or two. Also I would like to teach. My husband, Steve Butler, and I have formed The Blackstone Valley School of Crafts, a multi-media craft school that is looking for a permanent home; we have several locations in mind. It is all very exciting. 

Corrie and I would like to thank Liesl for taking the time to let us know a little bit more about her work, and all the preparation she's done in travelling to New Jersey this weekend. TraillWorks would also like to thank "Art Partner", Trinity Restaurant, for providing refreshments.

If you're in the Northern NJ area this weekend, it's a great opportunity to plan to visit TraillWorks. And, if you want to make full day of your visit, there is a self-guided, free studio art tour in Sussex County earlier in the day, Common Thread Studios Art Tour.

I'll leave you with a preview of her display setup for Saturday, from Liesl's blog, along with the necklace Liesl has made that patrons can enter to win! Hope to see you on Saturday.

Liesl's mock setup in her home for Saturday's trunk show.
Sterling Silver Hollow Form Circle Pendant on 16" rubber cord by Liesl Carlson. Saturday's Trunk Show door prize.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reasons for my Blog Absense

Mother Earth, Watercolor and Collage on Arches, ©2011 Jennie Traill Schaeffer
I'm sorry to all who enjoy reading my blog that I haven't been posting as frequently. I have a list of ideas for great blog posts, that just never seem to get written. And, there's good reason.

Business is great, number one - keeping me very busy with commissions, exhibits, lessons, and more. Plus with the growth of TraillWorks that has meant employing help to run it; more responsibility handling employees. But, on top of that, I've not been the same health wise, since having my son in 2008. A year into opening my business and having Joel, I came down with chronic sinus infections, vitamin deficiencies, mono, and then chronic pain in my head and face, which continues today.

I love my business, and I love being able to run it, continue to make my work, teach others, and spend my time with husband and son. But, stress and not balancing life has taken a toll on my body. I've been from specialist to specialist, finally determining that I likely have myofascial pain caused by stress and overuse and misuse of my body. Over the past year I've been taking baby steps to determine a cause and seek proper treatment. I owe a lot of credit to my sister, Allison Schaeffer, an AWESOME personal trainer at NYSC in Manhattan with guiding me along the way and helping with exercises.

Today I went to see a physical therapist in Morristown who specializes in the treatment of posture and facial pain problems. I'm relearning how to open and close my mouth - the simplest thing you would think. But, no, gradually over time I've developed very bad habits that in effect do not allow me to sit, stand, or even breathe properly. I'm learning to nurture myself, take one step at a time, breathe, prioritize, and take time off.

That being said, my working time after work has been virtually cut off. After getting up with my son in the mornings, getting him off to daycare, fitting in a workout a few days a week, spending the day at the studio, and then picking Joel up, dinner, bedtime, etc., working is just not much of an option. I cannot continue my old habits, my old way of life. As I heard someone say recently, I'm a recovering control freak. I'm learning to let go and live again, much as I see Joel doing now.

I'm on a new journey which I believe will lead in a much more positive direction. I hope you'll join me on that journey and see where I end up. Thank you for continuing your interest in all that I do at TraillWorks. Exciting things are coming up!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet fiber artist Martha C. Hall

I (Corrie), often wish I had TraillWorks' guest artists in the gallery to pick their brains about their creative process. So, I conducted a little interview with two of our most recent artists. This month we'll be featuring fabric artist, Martha C. Hall. Stay tuned for next month's interview with Brenda Decker. Here's what Martha had to say:

Corrie: Do you have any formal training in the arts, specifically fabric arts?

Martha: I have a B.A. in Studio Art from Montclair State University. While there I studied Textile Design and Painting. For many years I have taken workshops at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. I try to take one each summer and I am always at the Fiber Studio! I’ve studied with some wonderful teachers there, exploring various techniques, among them paper making with natural plants. This summer I’ll be taking “Wired Once More” with Lindsay Ketterer Gates.

Corrie: When did you first learn to use a sewing machine?

Martha: I was around 9 years old when I first started using a sewing machine. Our first sewing project in third grade Home Ec. was to make an apron. That was to prepare us for the cooking segment. I wish I still had that apron! I also learned sewing with the Girl Scouts.

Corrie: What other machines do you use, and when did you first learn to use them?

Martha: In addition to my “regular” sewing machine I have what is called a “longarm” quilting machine. It’s a large industrial machine that is mounted on a track system on a 14’ long table. I pin my quilts on to rollers and hand guide the machine over the surface of the quilt to stitch it. Another tool I love is the Dremel. I did a mixed-media quilt a couple of years ago where I shaped and drilled holes into pieces of plastic credit cards, which I then hand-stitched onto the quilt surface.

Corrie: Do you always use a machine, or do you hand stitch anything in your work as well?

Martha: Nowadays most of my work is done on a sewing machine, even the quilting. Years ago I used to do a lot of hand work; growing up I did lots of embroidery, needlepoint, beading, and some knitting. When I started with traditional quilting I used to hand quilt my quilts, but that takes a long time. Although I have always done most of the piecing by machine, I also did some hand piecing. It was convenient and manageable to have as take-along work when my kids were young and there were many hours spent at soccer games and music lessons. I like to keep productive! I moved toward almost all machine work for two reasons, 1. For the speed of getting things done; hand-quilting, especially, takes a long time. And 2. Because of the physical strain on my wrist and thumb joints. About the only hand sewing I do now is the finish sewing on a quilt binding or facing. I do enjoy that process; it is calming and meditative to sew by hand.

Corrie: Where did the idea for the “Circle Chain” pieces come from? 

 Circle Chain 1, 4" x 6", Fabric Art, framed in 8" x 10" shadow box frame, $125. ©2011 Martha C. Hall

Martha: The small “Circle Chain” pieces are an offshoot of my larger “Split Circles” series of quilts. I was carrying through the idea of using the circle in the smaller piece. In the larger works in the “Split Circles” series the linear element is a narrow strip of fabric that I piece in. In the smaller format I adapt to the stitched line as the linear element. For added interest I decided to use a decorative machine stitch – and of course I used the one with circles! – hence the “Circle Chain”

Corrie: What gave you the idea to start making the bird pieces? Will there be more? 

Eastern Bluebird, 4" x 6",  ©2011 Martha C. Hall

Martha: The small bird pieces were so much fun to make. The whole thing got started when a pair of cardinals started making their nest in a tree right by our back door. It was fascinating to watch their activity. I was working in the small 4” x 6” format at the time and of course it seemed a perfect subject. I definitely want to make more of the birds and nests. Other people seemed to like the bird images as much as I liked making them. I started tagging my “Bird Guide” with the various birds I see in the yard and on my walks, and I want to chronicle more of them. I have been learning a lot about birds this Spring! Our cardinal family has flown the nest now and I miss their coming and goings.

Corrie: What are you currently working on?

Martha: Making the smaller framed fiber art pieces was a little break after I had completed a large quilt. Next up I will be returning to the “Split Circles” series and another large quilt.

As part of our interview I asked Martha if there was any additional information she would like to share about herself or her work. She told me about some upcoming exhibits that her work will be a part of. Her quilt, “Heaven and Earth” will be included as part of a show with Fiber Revolution, titled “Visual Thoughts” at the Morris Museum in Morristown NJ, from June 23 – October 16, 2011, with an opening reception on June 29th. Also, another one of her quilts, “Laundry Day” which made its debut at TraillWorks last fall will get another “airing” from October 7 – November 13, 2011 in the juried show “New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts” at the Lincoln Center Gallery in Fort Collins, CO. Thank you Martha for taking the time out of your busy schedule to satisfy my curiosity about the wonderful artwork you make that hangs here at TraillWorks! I'm sure I'm not the only one who will enjoy this interview. You can find more of Martha's artwork as well as her blog, on her website,