Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The “SAFE ZONE”

I am not really sure what got me on this path of thought. All I know for sure is I started thinking about the issue of “RISK” this week. Maybe it was because I wrote about aiming high and getting out of your comfort zone via various blog posts this week. Regardless, I started to sniff around. I opened my journal. I had a chart in there that described my usual activities. I made note of an activity, the cost, the expense, if it was social or solitary, if it was day job related, if it dealt with issues of the mind, body, or spirit, AND if it involved any risk. As I scanned the chart, I noticed how NONE of my activities involved risk. NONE NADA ZILCH!! This is particularly unbelievable because this simple chart is about the same person who broke her leg in five places while hot-dogging on a skateboard when skateboards were basically a wooden plank attached to 4 metal skate wheels. I was FEARLESS!!!
I interpret this as staying on the safe side of life in the past few years. I understand this in some bizarre way. I was a “wild child” in my younger years. Even well into adulthood, I did things that were wild, crazy, and dangerous. I think in the back of my mind, I now think I have used up 8 of my 9 lives. That is why I have been aiming low. Sheeeeittttt!!! I have a 6-year-old car with 17K miles on it!! I am staying home out of some weird fear of life. I am hunkered down hiding in my art cave. This is so ironic. When I lived in Detroit, I was an artist with wheels attached to my butt!! I would drive 3 or 4 hundred miles per week going from art place to art place. I had no fear at all!!
So now, I have to think about this. In order to accomplish the goals I am WORKING ON NOW, I have to throw this attitude out the window. I have to learn to be fearless again!! I only have to figure out how I am going to achieve that!

I put this pic to illustrate RISK because this is the last time I remember feeling like I was really going out on a limb.
I let a bunch of kids paint my truck.
I will never do it again because it was a true hassle. Cleaning it was an awful experience!
However, in some weird, unexplainable way, it was worth it because I have this great memory.
Some of the kids still talk about this.
I made memories for them too!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Doorway to Heaven

We human beings think we are so smart. We really aren’t. In fact, the ratio of what we DO know and what we DON’T know is most likely vast. We are running around like little ants busily trying to figure things out. I love factual stories about science and our world. I really don’t care about the technical aspects. I like the elements of the stories, which reveal something about human nature. Today I was browsing the news. One story told of a blogger who found an error in some NASA calculation data used to determine predictions of global warming. Oh…maybe NASA should hire that blogger(?) Another article that struck me was a blip about a teenager who cracked the code for the iPhone. Oh geesh, that evil little hacker!!! LOL LOL
Then, I stumbled across this headline:
”Astronomers Find Huge Hole In The Universe” My very first thought was “Of course! That must be the doorway to heaven!!” This is why I am an artist and not a scientist!
Seriously, this is why I don’t care about all the science behind science. It makes my head hurt, REALLY!! My first recollection of this physical trauma to my brain came when I was around seven years old. I remember the Catholic nuns telling us about heaven. I would lie in bed at night trying to sort out the images induced by this religious training. I would actually visualize the universe in a box, the stars floating around the planetary spheres, and everything outside of the box was the white light of heaven. When I grew up and became an artist, I made this piece “Spherical Harmonics” about this memory. This piece was sold long ago. It is one of those pieces I miss terribly. Maybe I will make a new one for me!!!

”Spherical Harmonics”
Acrylic / Mixed Media
6” X 8” X 6”ish
Click to Enlarge

I love the smell of DETERMINATION in the morning!

I can hear it now!! Da da da DAH dum, Da da da DAH dum, Da da da DAH dum, DA DA DA DUM! Sorry if I sound off key!!! LOL LOL Yes, I hear it now. I feel like Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now cranking up the WAGNER in preparation for the next attack.
One of my great qualities is that I am a fighter and a survivor. These attributes have served me well in this art life. One of the things that I love about getting older is my recouperation time seems to get shorter after negative life attacks. I bounce back much quicker and arm my battle stations!
This week I took a hit from a couple of vantage points. I hunkered down in the bunker licking my art and teaching wounds for a day or two. Yesterday, I made the plan for my retaliation. One thing for sure is I have to take responsibility for my own actions. I haven’t been taking care of myself as well as I could. This was apparent when I was shot down in the barrage of fire this week. SO, my first strategy is getting back my strength and building up my protective physical and emotional muscles. I can’t fix the world. I can only fix myself!
I sat down yesterday morning and started my “work out” regime. I wrote for an hour in my journal. I made some quick fire goals for the week. Then I went grocery shopping for HEALTHY food. Oh and I bought a book! (See below). I decided I needed to take my physical fitness routine seriously, so I registered for a 5K in October. That gives me 8 weeks to get in good enough shape to at LEAST finish the race. Stay tuned. 7 weeks and 6 days to go! I will be victorious!!!
:-)

I forgot to mention I teach people with emotional disabilities
I am screamed at, threatened, and told to F%#& off on the hour
This kind of battering taken daily can wear you down too.
5K here I come!!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

ART Freedom, Joy, and Happiness

This week has been a bummer in some ways. As stated previously, I went back to work, teaching. This is such a sticky wicket. I love JUST being an artist, but the Universe has shown me over and over and over again that I need to be teaching. I am a gifted teacher. After about life lesson # 3489, I finally got that. Even this week, there were moments that I saw that look in the face of my students. Not only did they “get it”, but they beamed with the joy of feeling the self esteem related to being smarter! Meanwhile, I am sitting here on Saturday morning feeling like a half dead fruit rat that has been beaten with a broomstick. Teaching takes so much out of me. It isn’t just the students and the energy to teach them that is so difficult. It is the emotional stress of dealing with the bureaucratic catch-22s, which makes doing a great job almost impossible. I feel drained. No in fact, I feel like I have experienced rounds of shock treatment every day this week. I can’t live like this.
Speaking of intent (last post and comments), I just have to figure out what I DO WANT to do with the rest of my life. I think I am in a rut. I thought of putting a big, piece of butcher paper up on my living room wall and start to list the great things in my life and the things I want to leave behind. It is funny because there seems to be no gray areas. There are things in my life that are either truly wondrous or terrifically crappy. This paper chart can be my DREAMS chart. I don’t have any true solid dreams or aspirations at this moment. That’s TERRIBLE! Also, it is such an awful feeling to have.
This brings me to a memory of “Tracy Dancing”. I knew an artist years ago named Tracy. She was vibrant, kind of ditzy, yet brilliant in her own way. She had the gift of happiness. When you saw her, she exuded resilience and you could see the joy in her face. She was a FREE SPIRIT. She dressed kind of artsy wacky. Her hair was Bozo orange before it was commonplace. She dressed in vintage clothes that never fit her. Yet, she was a beauty. One time I was at “Dally in the Alley”, an annual art festival in Detroit. As I peered through the crowd, I saw Tracy dancing under a streetlight. Her glowing lavender and blue gown was wildly swinging in the breeze, her orange hair was beaming bright, and her face was an illustration of freedom, joy, and happiness. I went back to my studio and made the sculpture shown below to commemorate that vision. I am remembering this right now because that is what I really want in my art life. I want to FEEL freedom, joy, and happiness. Now I just have to figure out how to capture it.

”Tracy Dancing”
Acrylic / Wood / Mixed Media>

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Seeking CALM

Yesterday I posted an awful post. I had a hissy fit about being rejected from a rinky dink show. I was and I am still outraged. However after posting the negative rant, I took a nap, got up, got online, and deleted it. I did this because it just didn’t make me feel good. I am better than that. I KNOW better. I have better things to do with my emotional energy.
In the past 24 hours, I have received “counseling” from my friend Gilda. Now, I realize this is more than a stupid reaction. I also concluded I need to aim higher. This sounds strange because I have been ranting about being rejected from a little, insignificant exhibition. I think this is my problem. I don’t really care about stupid, local exhibitions. I think more of my art and myself. However, I choose to do those kinds of shows for my own mental and emotional protection. I need to think about this more. I have to start understanding my intent. I have to start visualizing what I really want. I have to find my true targets, point my arrow, shoot at that target, and see where it lands. Also, I have to realize there are a lot of idiots (OPPS, I mean people who don't understand my art!) out there who jury shows. LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

”Calm”
Acrylic on (gallery wrapped) Canvas
24” X 24”
Click to go to “STATES” page
Click “Calm” to Enlarge

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What the HELL??

This summer was a whirlwind of art and self-improvement. I made this my mission intentionally. After working in my studio each day, I would let myself veg out and watch TV in the evening. For some bizarre, unexplainable reason, I became addicted to the reality show “Ice Road Truckers”. Yeah, I know….HUH?????? I have been asking myself that same question for weeks. I just can’t believe how this is such an unexpected interest! It is particularly weird in my case. I HATE cold. (That is why I moved to Florida.). I HATE driving (I have a 6 year old SUV with only 17K miles on it!) Yet there is something, SOMETHING that has me mesmerized by this show. It is about the Alaskan ice road. During winter months, truckers take supplies over an “ice road” to the diamond mines and other areas of the Artic while driving hundreds of scheduled miles. They all get HUGE bucks to do this! I am wondering if I would have it in me. The road has been created over a frozen lake that crackles each time a truck starts to move on it.
So in my desire to improve myself, I am analyzing why I love this show so much. In fact, today the HISTORY channel is having an “Ice Road Truckers” marathon. Oh shit. This is just as potent to me as heroin is to a junkie!! I am watching now!!!
So I have been asking myself…”What the hell does any of this have to do with me or my art???” Well first of all HUGH reminds me of my Dad. My father was not a trucker, but he was a take no prisoners blue-collar worker. I relate to that. Secondly, I relate in an ART way to the journey these guys take. I admire them so much. They are alone. They are very brave. They are determined. They have to figure out what to do next during any given hour. They have courage and bravery I don’t have now, but wish I could develop! So I guess I answered my own question. People don’t have to be exactly like you for you to relate. In fact, they can be very different and you can still learn volumes! You can relate to their situation and emotional experience. I am doing that now as I watch the Ice Road Trucker marathon! THEY are my new mentors!
My last words on this topic and my realization as to why I love this show is simple. I look at these guys and realize their determination. I can relate to this. If I got trained in truck driving, I would want to try this. I bet I would do well too! Even though I am not a big, burly, hunka hunka man, I know for sure, I would give Hugh a run for his potential money. I am not being brash. I am being honest. I think it has a lot to do with ATTITUDE.
:-)
Sheree the Ice Road Trucker in my NEXT life!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Regrouping

I am SO WASTED (not drunk, just tired!!!) I started back to work this week and I haven’t got my “rhythm” yet. I totally understand why some artists just give up if they work another full time job. I have done this for years. However, it takes me a few weeks to get back in the groove of juggling. To complicate matters, I had to get up at dawn and clean my house (kind of…I cleaned enough so I wouldn’t be embarrassed! LOL). Then, I had to go out and mow my back lawn. A state home inspector was coming this morning and I didn’t want it to look like my house was abandoned. This summer, I really let my yard go because I wanted to PAINT! Consequently, my back yard looked like a two foot tall field of weeds. After working on that for over an hour, I dealt with the inspector. Then, I went out into the studio, looked at the work waiting for me and thought, “Screw this!!” I just need to rest and get my energy level back up. In the meantime, this is what I am working on now. I have eight “Misbehaviorists” two thirds done. Also, I have a painting that isn’t really part of any series, but relates to some pieces I did a few years ago. I liked that direction, so I am going to see how it goes.
I am going to see “Kathy Griffin” in concert tonight. I went to see her last year and laughed so hard my face hurt. I hope she is as funny tonight. I just LOVE her!!
Talk to you tomorrow AFTER I paint!!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What I Do For LOVE

Today I had to go back to my day job. For the kick off, they told us to dress in 50’s “threads”. Well, I am a brown noser from way back!! Since I am experienced (getting old!), I understand if the BOSS wants something, you do it. It makes life SO much easier. To be honest, I like stuff like this, so I am cool with it! When I saw the call to dress 50’s my first thought was “I HATE the 50’s!” I just don’t relate. Now, if they wanted to do a hippie day, I could be right there!!! LOL LOL Oh well, I put my opinions aside and jumped in with both feet. I put this get up together and I actually liked it! It was a fun day. Also, the icing on the cake was I won the prize for the best outfit. So, I guess it was all worth it!! I do this not because I LOVE this job (but I like it a lot). I do this because I LOVE my art and this job pays for that affection!!!!

ME in my 50’s get up
Hey! This is what makes life FUN!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Such a Sad, Sad Day

My artist friend, Gilda Snowden emailed me today. She sent me the link below to a NY Times article. It is such a sad, sad day. The great painter, Elizabeth Murray died. She was only 66 years old. This might sound ancient to the 20 or 30 somethings out there. However, if you want to live to be over 100, 66 years old isn’t old enough. I told Gilda I have a relatively recent video of Elizabeth speaking about her life and art. She was such an inspiration. Not only was she a great artist, but she seemed like such a vibrant, wonderful, sincere human being.
She has gone from this earth too soon, but she has left behind a legacy of magnificent art.

Click to go to NYTimes article

A weird one

I remember a long time ago reading “for every ten paintings, an artist might get one good one.” I think of that often. While I have been working on my “States of Being” series, I just keep making them sans judgment. THEN, I did this one. I am not judging whether it is bad or good. I just can’t get over how it is so different.
I thought I finished it three days ago. I had it out ready to photograph. Then, I started looking at it. Actually, I was quite obsessive. I would put it in the kitchen. Then I would move it to the computer room. I would lean it against the door. I would take it in my bedroom. I would put it in all these unexpected places just so I could surprise myself with its image. This is because I am trying to figure out what I am thinking about it!!!! Finally, I realized it wasn’t right. I took it back into the studio and worked for two more days. It is so strange now. I know it is done. I don’t have a definitive opinion. Yet, I can’t take my eyes off of it. It is different in many ways from the others I have done so far. This is a good thing. It is a bad thing. I have to put it in another room for a while so I can go visit it. In a few months, I will see how this piece affects my future paintings.

FREE
”States of Being” series
Click to Enlarge

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sheree Appleseed

Sometimes I miss my art. Over my life, I have sold a lot of work. I think of this often. It is as if I have been “Sheree Appleseed” leaving a little trail of myself all over the world. Some pieces I am glad to sell. There are others, which for whatever reason stay with me in my mind. Some I regret selling and want back. I can go decades and still think about them. I wonder where they are now. Yes. Often I don’t know where they are. I realize this is a bad, art business practice, but I never have kept track of who has bought my work. I never wanted to know. I just wanted to know they went to a good home!
Another way I spread little tidbits of myself around is by sending mail art. I love mail art shows. I don’t do them often, but sometimes a prospectus will strike my interest. I love doing these little projects because it is like instant creativity. Also, it reminds me of a school assignment. The shows are usually thematic. You can make something temporary because the piece won’t be for sale. You can basically have free reign with your imagination and flex your creative muscles. There is a sad part of this activity. Once you mail your little creations, they are gone for good. They become another seed for my art trail. Bye bye!
Here is a submission I just sent to the Asylum Gallery in Sacramento, California. The show is about global warming. I made this image "Worldafire". I think it is cool!! Oh wait...not "cool". ahhhhh...In the famous words of Paris, instead I will say "It's HOT"! (PUN INTENDED!!) LOL LOL



”Worldafire”
Mail Art submission in response to “global warming”
Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Almost Done!!

I am so excited! I am almost done with a new painting. It is titled “Free”. It will be part of my “States of Being” series. All the paintings in this series have round, central images on a square canvas. This will be number five of the series. I can’t wait until I have at least ten done!
Gotta go paint!!!

Center piece for my new work “FREE”
Acrylic on Canvas
Stay tuned for the entire painting coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We are ALL gifted

Almost teaching time again. One more week and I will be back to the grind. Teaching is my “day job”. I have a love / hate relationship with this job. However, whenever I watch somebody cleaning tables in the mall food court or stare down the supermarket cashier scanning one item after another and another and another, I am reminded teaching ain’t all that bad.
As a teacher, I don't believe in "gifted programs". Down here in my district that is a big thing and it makes my skin crawl when someone tells me their kid is "gifted". This is because I think we are ALL gifted in some way.
The kids I teach are a sorrowful bunch. They are all as far away from any gifted program as a kid could get. They are truly lost souls and most have never been told they do anything OK, let alone well. So at the beginning of each school year, I go from student to student, touch them on their shoulders and tell them one of their "GIFTS". Believe me, it is difficult at times trying to find something they are GOOD at. I do have to dig sometimes. The smiles on each kid’s face are worth the trouble though. I know this method makes an impact because I have kids come into my room years later and remind me what I told them is their gift.
Just today, I remembered being at my daughter’s 4th grade teacher conference. She had two teachers who team-taught. During the conference, all they did was tell me how "SOCIAL" she was. They complained that she was in everybody's business. No matter what the topic was (her grades were fine, she obeyed, etc.) it kept coming back to bitching because she was such a talker and a busy body. I left there feeling crappy and wondering why my child was like this. WELL, now I know that is her GIFT!!! She is 23 years old now and an associate producer for a major news network. That type of job needs a person to be social, talkative, in everybody’s business, and a general busy body! Her vocation REQUIRES that she has all the attributes those two teachers bitched about!
This is exactly why it is important to see the good and valuable traits in every individual we meet. We are all creative and special in our own ways. We are ALL gifted.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Transcending

With my art, I hope I take someone on a mental journey. As they look at any given piece, I would like them to transcend reality. I want them to go back or forth to a different place. I want them to remember or forget. I want them to have a new and interesting moment of existence. This desire surfaced yesterday when I was listening to my iPod. Whenever Neil Young’s “Southern Man” comes on, I am almost paralyzed. I am immediately taken back decades. I am walking on a little street in Plymouth, Michigan feeling free as an uncaged bird. That is where I paid $75. per month for my very first apartment. I remember that place as well as I remember this song. I have no idea why this song stops me in my tracks. Ordinarily, I am a wordy girl. However, if you read the lyrics of “Southern Man” it is a sorrowful verse. It wasn’t the message that drew me to the song. There is just something in his voice, the time, and the place that hits a nerve.
Even though I am not musical at all, music has played such an important role in my life. I remember when Ally McBeal was on TV. There was an episode, which spoke of having a soundtrack to your life. If I have a soundtrack of my life it just has to be the composition “Rubic” by Philip Glass. In fact, the entire GLASSWORKS cd sends me off to some inner place. I think I mentioned this before in another blog post. I must think about this a lot! Whenever I hear it, my mind goes wild with flipping images moving as fast as a deck of shuffling cards. I can only wish to create some grand masterwork that has that power to allow others to rise above or go beyond the limits of the current moment. That is a grand goal!



”Daydream Chair”
Just finished!
Time to take a break and transcend

Sunday, August 5, 2007

FAVOR

I find it fascinating how series of events and thoughts help us to come to some realization about ourselves. The first part of my current “light bulb moment” started when I was at Payless Shoe Store yesterday. The store cashier was overly helpful and so nice. She was trying to help me find what I needed, made telephone calls, and even gave me a coupon for an online purchase for the shoes I wanted to buy. I thanked her profusely because good service is so rare these days. I walked out of the store feeling special. She showed me FAVOR. This made me start thinking again about life and what I want to happen in the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty years. In order to define our goals, we have to take account of our past and decide what we want for our future. As I drove home, I realized I really have just about everything I want. Like I have said before in other posts, I do feel lucky. I have never felt this much contentment. That is such a great thing to experience in life. I now realize I have had many encounters with favor in my life.
Art wise, I have thought a lot about what I want. I have had a degree of art success. I have been in oodles of exhibitions. I have participated in regional art worlds. Yet, I have never been an art celebrity or been a high roller. Yet, now I am wondering if that is such a bad thing. The art world today is nutty. It is like this huge, out of control machine that has nothing to do with my art or me. Much of the art that is celebrated is stupid in my opinion. The art stars are attached in some way to the rich and famous. Also, they sometimes get caught up in the wrath of that environment.
In the past few weeks a sad story of the suicides of artists Duncan and Blake have surfaced. I don’t want to go into the details. Besides, I don’t know them and didn’t know about them until they both died. There is a great deal of info about the scenario online if you want to know the story.
The laist blog is one of many blogs containing commentary on this saga. I have read a number of accounts feeling like I was reading the National Enquirer’s hot scoop about the newest, hippest, most devastating celebrity fiasco. I feel dirty after reading some of the articles that have come out about this art duo. Their fame is titillating, but their lives (as described) seemed so bizarre and psychologically skewed. So maybe my tiny world of fame and fortune (in my own mind) isn’t so bad. Maybe the calm and peace to make my art in private is a true gift I have been given. Maybe being “unknown” is a positive thing. Maybe I am living a life of favor.



Rest in Peace Theresa and Jeremy

Friday, August 3, 2007

In the ZONE

“I am a night painter, so when I come into the studio the next
morning the delirium is over. I come into the studio very
fearfully; I creep in to see what happened the night before.
And the feeling is one of, "My God, did I do that?"
Philip Guston

This Guston quote has always been one of my favorites. I relate to it so much. Being an artist never ceases to amaze me. I was just born this way. I do have a formal education, but those classes didn’t make me an artist. I was an artist long before the professors arrived. Yet even though I can’t imagine NOT being an artist, I am still intrigued by the way artists think, create, and the outcome of those processes. Like Guston, I too will wander around my house and studio looking at the stuff I made and see it as if it is the first time I have seen it. Sometimes I will stand in front of a painting and know full well I made it, but I can’t remember being there when I did. It is almost as if I am having an out of body experience when I paint. I go into an art ZONE.
There are times I long to get into the ”zone". This state is magical. You become so intensely focused on what you are doing, time flies by and the world stops. It is as if only you and your work are enveloped in a dreamlike, creative fog. After this happens, you don’t realize how you painted what you painted. You just know you did it, some how. The best part is that you know you can do it again. That is why being an artist makes me satisfied and happy. Speaking of which, I started another fun little series called “Gratitudes”. Here is the first of the bunch!

”HAPPY”
Acrylic on Canvas
8” X 8” X 1.5”
Click to go to Wizzle Works
Scroll down to see "Happy" from different angles