Hi there ,
My Virtual Artist Residency wrapped up earlier this month! I wanted to check in with you more frequently, but I was so focused on my commission that I
couldn't stop painting to message you. So, now that I have a minute, I wanted to share with you where I am at the end - whether I met my goals, and what I completed; including the finished commission.
Additionally, you've been hearing from me less consistently due to my need for added self care and family support. I've finally learned some of the cause of my ongoing
health challenges - mold. We need to have some of our home remediated and I'm currently on a detox diet, along with taking various supplements which has been periodically knocking out my energy. It's going to take time to recover - both self and home - but it is in my future. Over the three weeks I've been writing this email, I can say that my energy is improving and I'm starting to feel better. We are in the process of seeking contractors, estimates, and coordinating separate
Take heart, my artwork and studio is safe - no need to vacate our home or discard of our possessions! As I clear the mold from my body and feel improved energy, I will be working on new expansive works, and also soon provide another virtual collecting experience from my studio. I wanted to be much further along than I am, but no use fighting the present
In the meantime - ENJOY my newly finished Commission! You are a select group seeing it in its entirety for the first time. This was a tour de force to work on and I'm so glad that it's heading to its new owner soon!
Detail of Homage to Fu Pei-mei, upper portion
Detail of Homage to Fu Pei-mei, lower portion
Origin of this
Last year, as I was seeking new students in the area, Michelle King, reached out to me, asking if I took commissions. She stumbled upon some of my Appliance Portraits (you might remember my Homage to Julia) and was highly motivated to see if I might create something similar to honor a contemporary of Julia Child's, Taiwanese cookbook author and television personality, Fu Pei-mei.
Fu Pei-mei wrote the famed, bilingual, Chinese Cookbook that became a staple of Chinese cooking for women in Taiwan, and also beyond its borders. Michelle, as a child, leafed through her mother's
copy of the cookbook, but it wasn't until her own daughter was born, that her interest in Fu Pei-mei and in authentic Chinese cooking deepened. Since that time, she's done comparative research on Fu Pei-mei and Julia Child in "The Julia Child of Chinese Cooking, or the Fu Pei-mei of French Food? Comparative Contexts of Female Culinary Celebrity", published in Gastronomica in 2018. You can read the article here by creating a free account and downloading a pdf. She's currently authoring a book that will bring Fu Pei-mei to readers set to be
published next year.
Michelle shared with me the significance of Pei-mei's teaching of Chinese cooking to the
post-war Taiwanese population, particularly to women and college students coming to the US. It was the go-to book to learn to cook. "While King credits her mom as being an exceptional cook, she says her mother had to learn her skills. King’s mother was never taught to cook as a young woman and
focused instead on her studies. She learned to cook Chinese food after arriving in the United States in the 1960s and getting married, turning to Fu’s cookbooks for culinary knowledge," writes Emily Davis in "The Joy of Chinese Cooking" published by Endeavors, a UNC publication. According to Michelle, this is what set
her apart from Julia Child - she offered Chinese women an accessible way to learn how to cook their cuisine in both her show and cookbook.
I'm humbled to be chosen by Michelle to create such an important work to honor an icon in her culture, research, and subject of her forthcoming book.
Original sketches that began the commission. Michelle and I landed on the third as a starting point. The book cover became the backdrop of the painting, focusing on a Tatung rice cooker,
reminiscent of Michelle's family's own. As time went on, we made some changes and additions, even sketching poolside.
Below is the final iPad color sketch that we agreed upon. It moved the rice cooker, plays with objects from the book cover breaking into the foreground. We added in kumquats, bok choy and
green onions - a few staples of Chinese cooking - and I brought a motif from the apron below into the top portion of the painting to tie 🎀 (no pun intended) it together. Pei-mei was also an avid collector of aprons, owning over 300.
iPad color study - final version
It's been decided that the work will be
framed with a black floater moulding to tie it all together and finish it up to go home with Michelle in the next few weeks!
"Homage to Fu Pei-mei" Oil on Panel,
20" x 30", ©2023, Jennie Traill Schaeffer, Private Collection.
What's my Next Big Thing?
I'm not completely sure, but small steps are in the works. While the appliances might not be making their way into my current paintings, I'm noticing many connections between
this commission and the work that I'm starting. Do you know or see the links (check out the work below)? Drop me a note in a reply, or ask any questions about new work, commissions, or anything else on your mind! And, in case you're curious, I'm very content with this commission.😉
"I'm sounding like Oprah, but if you're not practicing
contentment where you are now, you're not getting contentment when you get what you want."