When I stepped into Jennie Traill Schaeffer’s gallery and studio I discovered that she was full of colorful surprises--the kind of surprises that make you feel really good on the inside. The day I met her to talk about her larger-than-life coffee makers, Kitchen-Aids, egg beaters and striped aprons, I saw that she was in the middle of working on a portrait of a wedding cake. Before I left her gallery that afternoon, I had made arrangements for my own commission, for the most thoughtful, amazingly unexpected anniversary present, a portrait of my own wedding cake.
In the initial planning stages Jennie and I talked about composition and concept. I remember being kind of proud that every layer of our cake was a different flavor and the frosting was made of marzipan (not fondant) because we wanted every bite to be delicious and I wanted that to be reflected. The other element I wanted incorporated in the painting was the maile lei I wore during a surprise wedding hula, but I was comfortable with Jennie using her own creative license to figure out exactly how it all came together. (You can see exactly just what she created at the bottom of this post).
Several years have passed and I am no longer married, Jennie has since moved her studio closer to the Atlantic than the Delaware, she now paints and teaches private lessons in West Orange, NJ. This month her Wedding Cake Portraits just launched a brand new website and to celebrate, I asked her to share a few of the stories behind a few of her favorite commissions.
|A preliminary sketch|
JTS: Your cake is of course, one of my favorites. I was happy to work with such a vibrantly colored cake as subject matter, and have the openness from you to incorporate the date of your wedding, referencing the ex-voto element of the scroll used by Frida Kahlo. In spite of the parameters that you wanted for your portrait, I had a lot of creative freedom which made for a painting that was not only interesting upon completion, but that I also really enjoyed creating.
This past fall, I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City with AFAR Magazine for one of their curated Experiences. There were many different occasions when I was up close and personal with the work of Frida Kahlo--and it had a profound affect on me. The art of Mexico, vibrant in color and rich in symbolism, was something I knew I wanted more of in my life. The “ex-voto” I've come to learn, is a tradition of personal storytelling through images to tell narratives of gratefulness and appreciation for when a miracle takes place or a wish is granted. When I look at this portrait now, I love it even more! This portrait, is more than the sum of it's parts, it's definitely more than the sugar and flour that I had such fond feelings for at the beginning, over time it's come to represent so much more.
For a catwalk of cake fashion, head over to www.weddingcakeportraits.com
And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WeddingCakePortraits