Thursday, May 31, 2007


In my earlier post, I spoke of doing my beloved (NOT) chore of yard work all day today. I was determined to get it ALL done in one day, because I need to work in my studio tomorrow. I was just finishing up pulling some of the weeds in my front flowerbed and something seemed strange. I looked around and noticed two of my RED FLAMINGOS have been stolen!!! I made these especially for my yard because I have red awnings. So last summer, I made a flock of red flamingos. Pink ones just aren't my style! LOL LOL LOL
I imagine the thief was on foot and took one for each arm. What a thug! So if anybody sees two red flamingos around St. Pete, tell them to get their tails home!

A TREAT for me!

Lawn mowing! There should be a law against it! I had put it off for weeks. Consequently, I feared the city would come and raid the place! So I drug the mower out and did the deed. Now my eyes are puffy. My nose is running. I am so dusty I look grey. I have insect bites all over, but at least my lawn is done for a while!
While mowing, I got a surprise! The mailman brought me a book I preordered months ago. I opened the box and it looks FANTASTIC! “Artists In Their Studios” is a compilation of photos, source materials, letters, lists etc. offered for view from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. I haven’t had a chance to really dive into it yet. (I have been mowing weeds remember?) However after a quick flip, I can’t wait until later tonight to start to take a good look.
Check it out!

Click to go to Amazon for more info

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why do we do this?

What a Yin/Yang day! What I mean by that statement is that I love creating, but sometimes I wonder why I am so obsessive. A week or so I saw a prospectus for a show that asked such an interesting question. “When you die, how do you want to be remembered?” Of course, you were required to answer this question verbally and/or visually. I laughed at first and then I started thinking. I don’t fear dying at all. I know for sure I have tried very hard to live a good life and to make this world better. I am sure, I have done the best job I could. As I thought about this question, I imagined a big bubble. I had a vision. I imagined the bubble popping. THE END
I love when this happens. I had a complete image of a work I wanted to make. The picture was crystal clear in my mind. I would be blowing a bubble gum bubble. It would pop. It would all be over! DEAD!
I saw the image in my head. Now, I had to make it. My first thought was I need printer ink. I drove up to Office Depot and got that. Then I needed bubble gum. I wanted Double Bubble. That is my favorite! I drove from store to store trying to find Double Bubble gum. Finally, I found it at Walmart. I came home to make the work. First, I had to make the photo of my bubble. Lots of chewing and 7 pieces of Double Bubble later, I finally got a photo worthy bubble. PRINT IT!
Then, I proceeded to paint, draw, cut, and paste for hours.
I think the results are splendid!
I am drinking a beer now and relaxing. I am so glad I did this piece. However, I think of the day and wonder why artists do this to themselves.

"When the Bubble Bursts"
Mixed Media on Arches
Click to enlarge

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gizmo! What have we done?

Why is it sometimes when you clean, things get messier before they get cleaner? I decided to reorganize my studio. YIKES! What a mess! I am putting new shelves in and cleaning out boxes of stuff I haven’t used in at least five years. Like most artists, I am a pack rat. However, I am also a modified version of a neat freak. Actually, I don’t need things “neat”; I need things organized. Otherwise, I can’t think straight. So my goal is to create an environment of organized clutter.
One thing has lead to another. After taking out the old shelves and file cabinet, I noticed the floor around the rug was so ugly. I had bunches of half used cups of paint lying around, so I started to paint the perimeter of the room with wild swashes of paint. I love those “I am glad this is MY house moments!” I would love to do the entire floor in this DeKooningesque pattern. I just don’t want to take all the furniture out of the studio to do this. I will have to be happy with the edges around the rug for now. I don’t want to spend the next month working on my studio. I want to make art! Back to cleaning.

“Gizmo, Wizard of Wizzlewolf” supervising my studio cleaning

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dr. Maya Angelou

As you know, yesterday was the first day of my 81-day vacation. I worked on my art. Also, I started to clean my house. Then, I went to see Dr. Maya Angelou speak! I knew before I went, this was a once in a lifetime experience and would be incredible. After seeing and hearing her, I can say that is an understatement! She is so wise and honest. Also to my surprise, she is hysterically funny! She had the audience laughing so hard! She is a funny lady!!! She is so confident; she is very willing to laugh at herself and her experiences. I was mesmerized. I am so thankful I got to see her. She is 79 years old, seems in great health, but nobody lives forever. As I watched her, I thought "I want to be that way at 80!" Even when she spoke of tragedy, there was strength and calm she exuded that was palpable.

The theme was being a "Rainbow in the Clouds". She spoke about all the people who have had an effect on her life and ultimately, helped to make her who she is today. This was a synchronistic concept for me. I already know I have made a difference in a lot of lives and have thought about this a lot recently. Likewise, I frequently think about all the people who have had an effect on my life.
She went on to speak about how we are all unique. We are the only ones who can live OUR lives. I say, YES! I understand that completely. She ended with the question: "Who will think of you as a "Rainbow in the Clouds"?
That question made me smile. Considering I have taught hundreds of troubled kids for years and years, I know for sure I have TRIED to be the rainbow for thousands! This was my way of making a difference. How about you?

Dr. Maya Angelou in St. Petersburg
Click pic to go to article

Thursday, May 24, 2007

81 DAYS!

I feel like I was just let out of prison. For the next 81 days, I am FREE to do whatever I want, when I want. I can stay up all night to work on art. I can sleep until noon (I won’t but it is still nice to think about it!) I can lock myself in the house and not speak to anybody for days. This time will be my heaven!
I have a long list of things I want to happen in these next 81 days. Of course, I will be stepping into high gear in regards to art production. I have bunches of small home related tasks to complete. Also, I want to concentrate on getting healthy. This year, I let myself go and ran myself ragged. I take responsibility for that. I had an “I just don’t care” attitude about eating and exercising. I get that way when I am too stressed. Consequently, I feel like crap right now, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Sometimes, I tend to keep my eye on the wrong prize. In this case, instead of focusing on the prize of health, I was just eyeing May 24th (Today, the start of my summer vacation.). Well, I made it so now I have to refocus on ME.
I have a great start to my vacation. I was accepted into an exhibition at Rawls Museum Arts, an affiliate of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. One of my “Sight Bites” will be there. This is a series of work I have continued to do for years. One day, I would like to have an entire exhibition devoted to just my Sight Bites series. They are cool, thought provoking, small, painted, collages. Without giving a complete art statement here, I will say this series represents visual “teasers” to get the viewers thought processes dusted off and moving.
Well, gotta go make Day ONE of my vacation productive! I will, for sure!

”School Uniforms”
Acrylic, Mixed Media on Canvas
Sight Bite Series

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Can you tell I need a break?

It is almost like a “click” goes off in my head. I am so accustomed to this yearly routine; I can almost hear my brain shift into artist HIGH GEAR when my day job is about to end. I was licking my wounds yesterday. I allowed myself to do nothing and think of the past months. I looked around my studio and watched a lot of TV. I fell asleep relatively early and didn’t wake up until 9:30 AM. That is the longest I have slept in recent memory!
During the night, I had repeated nightmares with little “wild child” images lurking everywhere. Can you tell I need a break? I have been planning on doing a series called “The Misbehaviorists”. That is why I have been collecting children’s drawings. I am not interested in the work of gifted artistic children. Instead, I love the spur of the moment, scrawls of kids in the almost presymbolic stage of development. Tadpole people are my favorite! This work is one step beyond the “scribble” stage. Even though the nightmares were disturbing, it gave me a clear visualization of how to go about this series of work.
Despite feeling a bit anxious today, I did get a lot done. I did research for the “Misbehaviorists”. I did some primitive sketches (see below). I ordered art supplies and new shelves for my studio. Now I am getting ready to go out to dinner with an old friend. That will be good. I still have three more days of my day job. However, those are for cleaning up, putting things in order, and a few meetings to attend. NO KIDS. I look forward to the moment in about two months when I actually miss seeing the students. That will happen as it always does. In the meantime when I go to the restaurant today, I want to sit in the bar to be around adults. It will be just my luck there will be a 10 year old with fake ID in there trying to order a beer! If so, I am leaving!!!

I slept 11 hours last night.
I had repeated nightmares about my new “Misbehaviorists” series
It was a good thing though.
The dreams helped me solidify the images of the new work.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Miracles Happen

As I have mentioned before, my day job is a thorn in my side. However, attached to every thorn is a rose. I suppose this is why my decision to leave or not to leave is driving me crazy. I work with students who are severely emotionally disturbed. I don't want to get into the details, but the situation is very complicated. Many of my students are involved in the criminal justice system or the mental health facility system.
Anyway, just ONE of our projects this year was a mural. In fact, it is our "Ocean Mural". It is 18' X 7'. We worked on it for 45 minutes per week since November.
There were times when I wanted to just roll up into a ball and say, "Forget this!!!” However, I kept going and so did my kids.
Well, we finished. It is marvelous!! This mural is a testament to the concepts of tenacity, positive thinking, and just plain guts! I am reminded of my mantra: "On that which you focus will come to fruition!"
As of next Thursday, I will have my own life back. I have decided to dedicate this summer and name it as the "SUMMER OF ME". I have done my work for others. Now it will be my turn! Looking at this and all the other 100's of projects I have done with students since last August, I think I deserve it!!!!!!!

After 35 hours of work, sleepless nights, praying, and habitual positive thinking, a mural is born!
Click the thumbnail to see the work in progress and close up details.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother’s Day?????

I have never been one to celebrate holidays. I make up my own holidays! “National Sheree’s Do NOTHING Day”, “National Sheree is HAPPY Day!” “National Sheree Feels Good About her ART Day!”…..You get the idea. This is especially true for “Mother’s Day”. I never related. Even though I have a daughter, it just never clicked that I am “MOTHER”.
When I was a little girl with two, younger, female siblings, I remember how they would sit and talk about their future children. They would describe them and name them. I would walk by their intense conversation rolling my eyes. I was going to be an artist with no children. That was set in stone or so I thought. Well, life happens. I had a baby. I had an “ART BABY” to be exact. I raised her by myself. We were the best buddies for years and years. Even though she wasn’t interested in being a visual artist, she has seen more art in her short life than most people in a lifetime. We have had our ups and downs especially during her teen years. Yet that needed to happen. When she was little, I looked at her so adoringly I couldn’t imagine ever wanting her to grow up. The teen years allowed me to see that she needed to grow up, I needed to let her go, and allow her to go out into the world to find her dreams.
She has done just that. As far as kids go, I won the MOTHER LOTTERY. She is an absolutely smart, talented, cool, motivated, hardworking, loving, and just plain great human being! I named her after a racecar driver and a pilot. I wanted her to be a person of ACTION! The name “Cristen” came from a Grand Prix driver who raced in Detroit the year she was born. I just changed the spelling. “Amelia” comes from Amelia Earhart. I wanted my girl to have speed and fly to great heights. She is doing that now.
So per usual form, I am not celebrating “Mother’s Day”. I am celebrating “Sheree Has a Phenomenal Daughter Day”. Yep! I sure do!!

These were delivered to my “day job” yesterday.
I started to open the box, but stopped.
My eyes started to well up and I didn’t want to cry at work.
Gosh, I miss my “Art Baby”!


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Appreciate your NOW

“It's been a bad day, please don't take my picture,
It's been a bad day, please
It's been a bad day, please don't take my picture,
It's been a bad day, please”
REM, song PSA (aka “Bad Day”)

To piggyback my last post, I have to write about this. I have always loathed cameras. I hate to have my picture taken to this day. As soon as I see a camera come out, I freeze. I feel my blood pressure go up. I don’t want to move; yet, I want to run! I know this has to do with self-esteem as it relates to my appearance. Early on, I was told I was ugly, not up to par; I was lucky to be smart because that is all I had. Oh gee…. Thanks!

I have tried so hard to get over this “mind tape” as it runs over and over in my mind for years and years. All I have heard for decades via the voice in my head are really stupid, repetitive mantras. “You are so ugly!” “You are so fat.” “You are so unattractive!” “Thank goodness you have your art, because you don’t have looks to get you anywhere.” You get the idea. This scenario is getting even more humorous now that I am aging. I am really getting wrinkly and weathered, to say the least. I am trying still to allow myself to love the me that is NOW.

I have tried so hard to rid myself of all this B.S. I have tried and tried. I have made a bit of progress. I remember telling a coworker that she shouldn’t be so upset about current photos. I am twenty years her senior. I told her “No matter how bad a picture of yourself appears to you, twenty years from now, you will WISH you looked like that!!!!!” I told her this because I have lived it. I look back on photos of myself ten, twenty, whatever years ago. I think, “How could I think I was such a monster?” “How could I think I was obese?” “How could I put myself down so much and why did you do this to yourself?”

The irony of this line of thinking is as I shuffle through photos of my past, I am AMAZED at how much I have accomplished in my life. I have done very well and I am proud! I could die today and know for sure I made a difference. I can say this for ABSOLUTE sure and know this is the truth. So, I can say with confidence, I will never have plastic surgery or Botox and any other kind of age remedy. I am going to get old and wrinkled and just be me. I just can't see the point. Even if you get a face lift or Botox, you still look old, but it is obvious you had "work" done. I looked a photo of the elder Georgia O’Keefe today. I thought about how she was so busy with her work, she didn’t care about all this “looks” junk. Well, I think the same way. I am going to get old and love every minute of it. I love my wrinkles because it is far better than the alternative!

Sheree and Cristen Rensel standing in front of Willis Gallery, 1984
23 years goes by so fast.
I look at this pic and see the beauty of our life back then
Now, I know to enjoy each minute regardless of where you are at in your life.
Also, I am learning to appreciate my NOW.
Can you do that?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Memories Lie Sometimes

Looking back on time and experiences of your life is like remembering an old boyfriend. You remember most of the GOOD things. Walking down memory lane, I have had an avalanche of boulders hit me like rushing rocks slamming me in the head this past week. Boing, Boing, Crash, Crash!!

It all started with a friend who I worked with on my day job. I had emailed him just to keep touch. He left our mutual employer about two years ago. He confided that he misses the old job sometimes. Then, he went on to say why. I read the email and commiserated with him. I remember all that too. However, it doesn’t exist anymore. In other words if he came back to this job, the reality wouldn’t fit the memory. Things have changed.

This weekend, my good artist friend, GILDA, sent me a YouTube link. She had uploaded a video of a gallery opening in my hometown of Detroit. This opened up a floodgate. I watched her videos and then proceeded to download another series about Detroit’s Willis Gallery. I am still on dial-up ($$$$$$). It took me the entire day to watch her videos and the Willis Gallery videos.
After watching, I realized how much I miss Detroit. No..........let me rephrase that…I miss what I had when I lived in Detroit. I miss the art community. I miss that there was always something going on at a gallery or museum. I miss the huge family of artists that were always around. I miss the familiar venues and grandiose openings. I miss all those things a lot.
However, I know all that is different or gone now. It doesn’t exist in the same way I remember it. Also, my memory sanitizes the reality. I can say it was such a fun, adventurous, bohemian, artist’s life. Yet, I also have to poke myself to remember that I was dirt poor, had a brand new baby, didn’t have money to buy good art supplies, didn’t know where my next meal (or anything else for that matter) was going to come from. Also, I don’t want to think about the mice and cockroaches that lived with me in my Third Street, Cass Corridor, three story, walk-up apartment. I just remember the happy things.

I wish I could go back there again, but as I am now. That isn’t possible. I didn’t realize then how things would transform. It is a Yin/Yang kind of deal. I love my life now with a bit of money/security, but I miss the feeling of a cohesive art community working for a purpose. There was always important work to be done. There were always important exhibitions to see. There were always friends in the same boat as I and I knew if I needed anything, they would be there for me. I don’t have that now. I am still an artist, but very isolated and alone. I am struggling to understand what is most important in my life. I guess I still need to work on this and weigh it all out.

I remember coming into downtown Detroit and seeing this sign.
I took it for granted.
The look was so “hippiesque” and visualized my feelings about my Detroit.
It is gone now, just like so many other things.
Appreciate your now because it won’t be there forever!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Some artists use sketchbooks. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on sketchbooks over my lifetime. I have filled none of them. I am not a sketchbook artist. I remember my best artist friend filling up sketchbooks by the month. I was so jealous! She would draw everything she saw. I could never hone or embrace that habit. One reason why this is not my forte is because I think verbally. Even though I am a visual artist, all my ideas come in the form of words. Occasionally, I will do a quick sketch to remember a visual idea. However most of the time, I think and remember with a verbal vocabulary that translates to a mental picture. Also, I hate carrying things around with me. A sketchbook is just too cumbersome for my lifestyle.
Consequently, I write bunches of words on scraps of paper. These scraps are found everywhere. I find them in around my house, around my studio, in the bottom of my purse, and around everywhere! A few months ago, I decided to stop this nonsense! Carrying around a full-blown sketchbook is still too much to deal with. Therefore, I invested in a bunch of small, pocket notebooks. Well…………now I have bunches of half filled notebooks lying around. I have a new summer project. I have to go through all the little notebooks and try to figure out what in the world I was thinking when I wrote these random passages. It is like sorting through bits and pieces or a treasure hunt, but at least they are in some kind of order now. LOL LOL LOL LOL
I hope I still have a few decades to continue to improve myself!!!!! Eventually, I will be as perfect as I would love to be!!!!!

I write it; I look at it; I finally figure out what I was talking about!
Then, I make art about the scribbles.
Well, it works for me! Tee HEE