Friday, May 25, 2007

Newton Spring Fling

If you haven't been to Newton, NJ, there are more and more reasons to visit. Last Sunday, Newton held its 2nd Annual Spring Fling -- an afternoon of food, wine, beer, art, music and antiques along historic Spring Street. I participated in the event last year and was quite impressed by the great turnout, and the sales I had! That's always a plus.

I've lived in Newton for almost two years now. It's a small town about 3 square miles small with approximately 8000 residents. Spring Street is the historic "main" street in Newton which was the center of commerce until the malls developed. Now, as more Americans are desiring main streets our town is working to get a Main Street designation to redevelop and attract new businesses both to Spring Street and the town at large.

It's an exciting time. We have six or seven terrific restaurants on Spring -- one that is Zagat rated (Bula) and another rated excellent by the NYTimes (Andre's) and a new soup/sandwich shop called Croutons. Love the name! And, the old Plaza Restaurant, an upscale diner, just reopened. Beyond the restaurants there are galleries, antiques, and boutiques.

Radiant Essentials is my favorite gift shop. Bernadette, the owner, also has exhibited my work for almost 6 months. So, yes, I'm biased, but the minute you go in, you will fall in love. Then there's the Chocolaterie across the street which sells imported Dutch / Belgian chocolates. Mmmmm. Just opened is a cute yarn store, called the Yarn Loft -- it makes me want to knit. Of course, I paint and don't have time to learn to knit but the colors of the yarn stacked on shelves is like paints in an art store. I just want to buy them! Let's see, then in June a cheese shop is opening called Cheddar Alley and a pet boutique is coming, too. There's also a framer on the street called Craft Creators. Oh, and I forgot Vivian's -- a fabulous clothing boutique. And, we have a book shop (Book Shelf) on Spring Street and I hear we are getting an old fashioned ice cream parlor.

Now, for the galleries. Radiant Essentials has a gallery within. The Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council is just off Spring Street. And, a new gallery just opened called Gallery on the Green.

So, if I haven't given you enough reasons to visit Newton, make an appointment to visit my studio! Now, you must come.

Newton has been a great location for an emerging artist to grow and build a business. Taking part in the Spring Fling, though I didn't have any sales this Sunday, is a great way for an artist to let the community know you're there. It's tough to reach people when you work from your home. I met many new people and added six new entries on my mailing list. Newton's truly the Pearl of Kittatinny and the people are wonderful. Please visit!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Recollections of Italy - Six New Paintings

Today I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time chatting, but simply will post six new paintings that I premiered at the Hoboken Fine Art Show a few weeks ago. My goal was to paint twelve paintings in three weeks, but in also getting ready for the shows over the last three weeks I achieved six. During that time, I also painted the new Colors of the Steel Tiles shown in my last post.

The six paintings featured below are all on 12" x 6" gallery-wrapped canvas. Striking without a frame, the sides of the canvas are stained a gorgeous golden ochre.

So, onto what you really want to see:

Ponte Vecchio in 2007, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

More than Just Ice Cream, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

The Arno Reconsidered, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

Olive Orchard at Castello di Verrazzano, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

Tuscany from Castello di Verrazzano, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

Olive Orchard at Castello di Verrazzano II, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 6" - $395
email Jennie to Order:

These paintings will be exhibited at Art at the Mill, in Lafayette, NJ starting June 4th for their summer show. If you'd like to be on my mailing list to receive an invitation, please go to my web site and click on "Sign Up" to get the latest news from TraillWorks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Colors of the Steel

At last weekend's Bethlehem Fine Art Show, I premiered new hand painted tile coasters called "Colors of the Steel". They were warmly received and one set was sold. A year ago, my husband and I, along with my parents, took a Steelworkers' Archives trolley tour of Bethlehem Steel. Growing up in Easton and travelling all over the Lehigh Valley, the steel factory was always a poignant landmark. Just last year Bethlehem Steel was taken over by the Sands Casino and part is being redeveloped by ArtsQuest and PBS 39, along with Bethlehem Opera Theatre, the Hispanic American League of Artists, Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. Go to Sands Bethworks for more information. Over the past few weeks demolition has begun to certain parts of the steel factory. The project to rejuvenate and reinvent Bethlehem Steel will focus on maintaining key architectural features as well as using significant structures such as the Blast Furnaces as part of the master plan.

As all of this has been going on over the past year, I had been thinking about painting tiles that reflected something of Bethlehem Steel. Taking the trolley tour last year was a step in that direction. I came home with tons of photos, however, none were terrific. Being in the trolley, I had a difficult time with getting all that I wanted in the viewfinder and much of what would have made for great subject matter was cropped out and incomplete. So, I set my photos aside until two weeks ago.

Another look through my photos drew my attention to not so much the architecture, as the materials, textures and colors of the steel. So, rather than simply create a portrait of Bethlehem Steel, as so many other artists have done, I thought I would take a more modern approach. The result are coasters that depict textures and materials of the factory such as metal panels, rust, rivets on metal, oxidation. Once Bethworks is complete, this decaying state of the factories will never again be seen but in photographs and artist's renditions.

In addition to simply making the coasters I wanted to do something to help preserve Bethlehem Steel in our memories. I've decided to donate 30% of all Colors of the Steel tiles to the Steelworkers' Archives which is committed to preserving the history of the factory and educating younger generations about it. I think this is truly a great organization and there is much to be learned from Bethlehem Steel -- both in its successes and failure.

The tiles with prices are below. If you're interested in purchasing a set, please email me.

The Steel
Set of 4 - 4 x4 Tile Coasters
Ceramic Paint on Tile


Email Jennie to Order -

Set of 2 - 4 x4 Tile Coasters
Ceramic Paint on Tile


Email Jennie to Order -

Roof Tiles
Set of 2 - 4 x4 Tile Coasters
Ceramic Paint on Tile


Email Jennie to Order

Set of 2 - 4 x4 Tile Coasters
Ceramic Paint on Tile

Email Jennie to Order

Rust (Sold)
Set of 2 - 4 x4 Tile Coasters
Ceramic Paint on Tile


Email Jennie to Order

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ceiling Height?

I've always been very aware of my space and thought that space is inextricably linked with my moods and productivity. There are others who have always disagreed with me; saying you should be able to create in any space. There is truth to that, but a recent study by researchers at the Universities of British Columbia and Minnesota have linked creativity with the clearance height over your head. Rui Zhu and Joan Meyers-Levy compared the results of problem solving tests completed by various people in eight- and ten-foot ceiling rooms.

"When a person is in a high-ceiling environment, they are going to process information in a more abstract, creative fashion," said Zhu. "Those in a room with relatively lower ceilings will process in a much more concrete, detail-oriented fashion." From Robert Glenn's Twice Weekly Letter

It is thought that people in a room with high ceilings get a sense of freedom which opens the mind. In smaller spaces people will think smaller and more focused. This is very much indicative of the work I've been doing in my small studio. Time and time again artists are suggesting I work larger, but honestly the space limits me and my work being small does tend to get very detailed though I'm consciously working against that inclination.

Recently as my production of work increases and the number of students I teach grows I've been toying with the idea of renting a larger space in the near future. Though I'm not yet ready to do that now, I know it will not only help with space but also with my freedom as an artist. It's no wonder why many artists have had studios with cathedral ceilings and lots of light. My husbands reaction was that the larger space I have, simply the more stuff I will collect. Maybe there's some truth to that, but I do buy into the idea that loftier space aids freedom and openness. I think my work could use some of that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Third View

There is always more than one way of doing something and there is also always more than one perspective about something. This weekend my in-laws came out to the Hoboken Art Fair early to help Lee and I set up my booth. Little did they know what they were in for, nor did I!

My booth set-up was the most complex yet. Previously, I lugged only my tiles and some tables with blankets to merchandise my art. However, I just purchased some used ProPanel display walls from a local artist, along with curtains to hang behind my panels to add color to the space. We were told by the organization handling the event that no spaces would be assigned prior to 8:30am that morning. So, Lee and I arrived at 8am, and were at our spot by 8:30. That gave us 2. 5 hours to set up which as we found out was not nearly enough time.

It was very windy Sunday morning and after each early attempt to set up the walls, they fell over. Finally we got them standing by about 9:15 and my in-laws arrived. They helped hang drapes, lights, artwork, label prices, etc. Lee and I couldn't have done this set up in 2.5 hours without them. And, we discovered upon arrival, that people were assigned spots around 7:30am. So much for rules!

My in-laws were amazed by the amount of work involved in setting up a show like this. They had no idea. They experienced the third way. There is the art show attendees' perspective -- just come and see the art with no consideration of the work involved to set it up. Then there's the artist's perspective -- a ton of work and it's very nerve-wracking to set up in a minimal amount of time. Lastly there's the people helping the artist -- spouses, family, friends. They see the incredible amount of work, are vested in it, not in quite the same way as the artist, but they give unconditionally. It's incredible what a loving, supporting family is capable of. Without them, the set up might possibly have been a disaster. They are the third view -- seeing the behind the scenes, sacrificing their beautiful Sunday for their wife / daughter - in - law.

To top the day off, a cute brittany spaniel peed right in front of my booth. I had to clean it up -- that's what you do to make the customer happy. Thank god for paper towels! Unfortunately, the owner didn't buy anything.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

On Titles

The Prelude: 'Spots of time'
There are in our existence spots of time,
Which with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating Virtue, whence,
... our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired
(Book XI, ls 258-278)

By William Wordsworth

I don't think I've ever had the honor to read a Wordsworth poem and I've never been one to pour over poetry. However, while researching how artists title their work, I came across an online community site for artists called Painter's Keys and on their main page was a letter by artist, Robert Glenn, titled "Spots of Time". It piqued my interest and started me on a search to learn more about Wordsworth.

I've discovered that Wordsworth was a naturalist living during the French Revolution who truly had an admiration for what he called spots of time, or moments mostly in nature when the mind is healed. So, what does this have to do with titles?

In planning for my upcoming shows, I have a new body of work that needed to be titled. Sometimes the titles flow, other times they are hard to come. Wordsworth's philosophy is very much what I've experienced in my life and attempt to put in a painted form. Traveling through Italy, my spirit and mind were calmed, soothed and awakened. One of the new paintings is a view of the Alt Arno (other side of the river). I didn't want to title it simply Alt Arno, because the location had more meaning to me. While living in Florence I had never been to this part of the river. This was a new experience of a city I spent so much time in, and my husband was there with me. After contemplating the emotional connection, I titled the painting The Arno Rediscovered.

My domestically - themed works have more conceptual titles that attempt to give a little more information to the viewer to decipher my slightly tongue and cheek representations. Though, I consider most of my works "spots of time" because I am so emotionally connected and changed by each work -- whether through the process of painting itself or the subject matter and meaning behind it.

I hope you'll join me on Sunday in Hoboken to see the works and titles of Emerging Artist. Good night!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Olive Orchard at Castello di Verrazzano

Olive Orchard at Castello di Verrazzano, Watersoluble Graphite on Arches, 6" x 3", © 2007 Jennie Traill Schaeffer

This was my last Coffee Hour Drawing completed on Thursday of last week. This is one of my favorite pencil drawings to date. I made an effort to keep the drawing somewhat looser and more abstract, letting the white of the paper show through. I have such an easier time with this when the subject is just a landscape. Once you throw buildings into the mix I insist on getting more detailed, even though that may not be what I'm aiming for. That's why artists keep going; to improve, grow, strive towards whatever their vision may be. Stay tuned for upcoming works that progress toward my vision of a blending of abstract-expressionism and realism.