Friday, February 22, 2008

Living the Artist’s Life

I love reading. However, I have to admit, I am stuck in a reading rut. I only like to read about art. Specifically, I love artist biographies and other books covering areas of art life and marketing. Today, I stumbled on a website that spoke of
Paul Dorrell.
He is a gallery director and has written a book.
"Living the Artist's Life"

As I read and looked, I kept thinking. This seems like an interesting book. Why haven’t I read it? Then I kept thinking. Wait a minute. I know I have this book. Why haven’t I read it yet?
When I got home from work today, I made a beeline to my bookshelves. I searched and searched. I FOUND it! There was a bookmark on the 10th page. I can’t remember what distracted me. I don’t know why I didn’t finish. I can say I listened to a radio recording today of an interview with Dorrell. I was impressed. This is what spurred me on to want to read his book. Since I have it in my library already, this is a great thing. It sounds like I will be reading this in the next week. COOL. I love reading and learning.
Obviously, I can neither recommend or steer you away from this book. I haven’t read it yet. However I can say for sure, if you listen to his interview (link below), you will see why I want to read his book. Click and see what I mean.

Dorrell Radio Interview

Click to listen to “Nobody said ART would be Easy”
He is correct.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What is your STYLE?

Did you ever go to a party, look across the room, and see someone you WISH you looked like? Generally, I have accepted my physical looks over time. However, my Achilles Heel has always been women with pointed noses. HA!! Since I am 4’8” tall, you would think it would be that leggy, model type that would set me dreaming. It isn’t. Everything about me is round. My eyes, my face, my nose, and my features in general are circular. In fact, I could be the model for the “HAPPY FACE”. There is nothing there except a round head with round eyes, round nose, and thin lipped line for a smile. Therefore, when I see anyone with angular features and especially a long, pointed nose, I feel lesser.
All this is just a primer for the point of this entry. I was shuffling through a big stack of books today. All of them were biographies of artists. As I skimmed through the pile, I was amazed at how each artist had their own unique style. Monet, Matisse, Warhol, Kahlo, etc. are all examples of creative styles that are unique to each individual. It amazes me that it is possible to look at a masterwork and immediately recognize the artist. Their style is like a portrait of their personality and documents the method in which they work.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a realistic painter. I loved the old masters. I wanted to make things look REAL. When I went to the university, making things look REAL wasn’t in vogue. I was taught about Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt, Eva Hesse, et al. Consequently, I learned to make art of a contemporary sort that had nothing to do with realism. Yet there was always a longing. I looked (in secret) at paintings by artists like Audrey Flack and drooled. I still do. However, I realize I have my own style. Even if I try to paint in a photo realistic way, I fail. My painting style is kind of clunky. It resembles the folk artists I also admire. I accept that calling. I am willing to realize this is my style and realize I am always going to have a round nose. That is OK. People recognize me and my art!

"Wheel of Fortune" by Audrey Flack
Even though this is not my style, I can look and appreciate.
Maybe in another life, I will be a photorealist painter with a pointed nose.
Hey, it could happen!! LOL

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Perfect timing. Even though it is not a part of my usual diet, I ordered Chinese after writing the last post. As I put the leftovers away, I cracked open the fortune cookie. HA!! Yes Confucius. You are so correct!!

I gotta go turn some stones now!

Drive ON!

OK… Here I am. I am having one of those days. Life is a real Yin/Yang kind of thing. After a three day weekend, I went to work all spunky and excited. I was jazzed. Less than an hour after arriving, I had been cursed out at least fifteen times…. (You “F”in B!, You “F”in white cracker midget!, You “F-in, F-in, F-in” WHATEVER!!!) Oh just shut UP!! Then, a few hours later, a sweet young thing totally, undeniably, trashed my art studio classroom. I wish I could post pictures. You would be amazed. I am talking destruction. There were hundreds of markers and colored pencils all over the floor. There was paint dripping down the walls. There were chairs lying on their side next to a full size loom lying dead on the floor. My masks from Bali were tossed and marred. My pirate treasure chest with treats for these……….children, was upside down and missing some of the surface gems.
I think this was a wakeup call. I am so TIRED. I am so over all this. I am so WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW??
I loved this job at one time. However, I found myself wishing my life away today. I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get older faster so I can “legally” retire!” This is more than awful. Yet, I just don’t know what to do. I have a life and financial responsibilities. If I give up this job, I have to give up this life. In an effort to make sense of all this, I made a short video. I thought, “Maybe if I SEE it, I will know what to do.” Wish me luck!
I used the Joni Mitchell song “Harry’s House/Centerpiece” as the soundtrack. For me, there is no HARRY. I am the one and only who supports me and my life. However, I can relate to Joni’s rants. I can relate to her yelling at kids and mentioning “take home pay”. Boy do I get it!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Damien and Bono

We have all heard the stories about Damien Hirst. Very few commentaries I have read have been raves or even complimentary. Perhaps this is due to the reading material I choose. Apparently, my library includes most of the detractors of mega art stars (?)
On February 13th, I was falling asleep and watching television with one eye. As I drifted in and out of conscientiousness, I heard male voices chatting away. I heard the word ART and woke up immediately. The voices were coming from the Charlie Rose show. He was interviewing Damien Hirst. I sat up to watch. I was so ready to hate Damien or at least want to throw stuff at the TV screen. I had read so many stories trashing him. I wanted to jump on the "I hate him" bandwagon or at least feel jealous. Neither happened. I can understand why some artists are so aghast. He is so smug and confident. He makes no apologies for making and spending millions. He hobnobs with the upper, upper social and art classes. He throws high power names around like 100 dollar bills. What a dream life, huh?
However, he has worked hard. I think of him as being akin to Andy Warhol. He understands what art marketing really is and does it on a level most of us cannot imagine. With his success and money, he has fabulous connections. It is due to this cadre of friends, one such friend Bono of U2 suggested Damien help with an art auction to benefit the RED campaign. The proceeds are to go the United Nations Foundation to support HIV/AIDS relief programs in Africa conducted by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Damien followed through and organized Auction RED.
So the auction happened. The “cause” raised 42 million smackeroonies. Isn’t it astonishing art has so much power? So I just have to give them that. BRAVO!!! Bono and Damien are movers and shakers. All that money will go to help people who need help desperately. I just can’t say anything bad about that. All I can say is MORE POWER TO THEM ALL!
Here is a link to the auction results:
Sotheby's Auction Red
Click here to watch a good portion of Damien on Charlie Rose

Here is a very poor quality video of an interview with Bono and Damien discussing the auction in a gallery full of the work available for sale.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Things happen. Every day, we encounter momentary events that sway our thoughts and have the potential to give us a surge of energy or make us feel like there is no point. Yet, we keep going. For the last few days, I have thought about a post on the EVA LAKE blog. Her “Ambition” post references the web blog “Sellout”. I was especially taken by her quote:

Every few years I tell someone that I might just quit painting. It’s not the paint itself - paint is good. It's the immense ambition and blind faith to keep at it, to maintain belief and that sense of self-importance.”

I have never considered giving up painting. In fact, I can’t imagine that at all. However, I have felt like giving up the “Look at me, I am an ARTIST!” stuff. The ongoing feeling I am screaming in my own ear “Pick ME! Pick Me!” drives me nuts. As most artists do, I continually work at getting my work out there, looking for opportunities to exhibit, edit photos, make CDs, write emails, make videos, make webpages, promote, promote, promote, ad nauseam. All these tasks are done in the name of “wanting”. Now I am asking, “wanting what”? After being given a tip on another promotional art website, I asked the tipster, Why should I put my stuff up on another website? My goodness, I am all over the internet now. I am starting to feel like I am chasing my own tail!
So getting back to thinking about Eva’s post about WANTING, I continue to think about “desire” in regards to art success.
What do we really want?
1. Attention?
2. Recognition?
3. Fame?
4. Money?
5. Adulation?
6. Stature?
7. Social prominence?
8. ????????
After watching the Kalm Report videos showing the “IT” artists of the day floating around their openings like creative butterflies, I realize so many of the attributes of art success are superficial and fleeting. Is art success something real and palpable? Is it sincere? Of course, art fame makes your art life easier, allows you more resources, and is fun. However, I question whether the seeking to gain the worldly accoutrements of art success is what we really DESIRE. If you distill the reasons for continual art ambition, isn’t the underlying longing really to be loved and appreciated?
In the comment section of Eva’s “Ambition” post, the artist, Namastenancy remarks:

“The Buddhists say that desire is the root of all suffering. How do you give up a desire that is an integral part of your soul? How do you separate making art from wanting to be recognized for making that art, to achieve something and be known for that achievement? It’s not all in the marketing for if it were, a lot of us would be much better known.”
I agree.

What do you REALLY want?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Who do you KNOW?

After spending the day painting, filling out entry forms, making CDs, and running to the post office, I settled down to read blogs and look at art videos. One of my favorite art video channels is the James Kalm Report. He is a videographer who rides his bike to gallery openings and documents them. Many of the shows are in New York. I live vicariously through these videos. They remind me in a strange way of the openings of my past. It is like a who’s who of the art scene. His latest video is about a show at MITCHELL-INNES & NASH Gallery. As I watched, James name drops like crazy. Even Mark Kostabi (ick!) appears in front of the Kalm camera. After watching the video, I read the comments on the page. Many are related to the social networking aspects of the art scene. This is where I realized I am truly DOOMED.
As if being too OLD and "out of touch" is not enough, I am also not into social networking. I am not social. I don't have time for chit chat or smoozing. Yet, I totally understand the need and benefit of both. Many, many opportunities gained by artists have a lot to do with who they know. I have to admit, many of my successes have to do with my former connections. Right now, I don't have a social network. This is to my detriment.
Maybe it is good I am realizing this. I hate the idea that my work isn't notable because I don't know anybody with art power to say "Hey, this is good stuff!" As I looked at the work in the James Kalm report video, I can say my work is just as good. Art is subjective and takes on it's own light when people of power condone it. At this moment, I just don't have that social network supporting my art. Being isolated is a scary thing. For example, I was filling out an application to submit to a gallery and it asked for three references. Well, I am assuming they want art dignitaries or at least, art related references. Since I have worked alone for so long and currently not affiliated with the gallery scene, I only know ONE person with art stature who would vouch for me as an artist. That is sad, but true. Maybe I need to work on this social thingy. Oh geesh, just another thing to do!

James Kalm Report

Creative Momentum

It is so difficult to juggle all that we have to juggle in a day. Making time to eat right, exercise, go to jobs, appointments, and then, make ART on top of all that. Today, I made this video about a few things I know to be true. While working on a painting, I am doing some productive rambling. I too struggle with keeping creative momentum day after day after day.

In this video, I talk about "juggling" and putting in the TIME.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

ART BLOG: Giving Art 1010% Effort

Once again, my artist friend Gilda Snowden put the voice of reason in my ear. We were discussing rejection and she asked me why I keep applying for small things. She applies for very prestigious grants and shows. I just haven’t done that recently. I am not sure why. Yet in my rejection video I am complaining about not getting into a rinky dink local show. Maybe I think bigger opportunities will bring bigger rejection pain (???) LOL

Anyway, I told her I would think about this.
In the past 24 hours of soul searching and mental refocus, I remembered years ago another colleague said to me “Sheree, you always get picked! You get into every show you enter!” I laughed and responded, “No, I don’t! I just apply for EVERYTHING and the odds are in my favor! I get into a lot of shows because I enter zillions!” Having remembered that conversation, I compared it to what is going on now. I don’t apply to zillions anymore. I enter here and there on an occasional basis. I am nonchalant and just put things together when the mood strikes or something looks vaguely interesting.

This is SLOPPY. Yes, it is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! I mentioned my art goals in a post last month. I sat here and realized I couldn’t even remember what I wrote. How can I attain my goals, if I can’t remember them? I can’t! I had to look them up! Oh geeshhhhh!! Sloppy again. Also, in my rejection video I mentioned having a target at which to aim. So today is the day I am cleaning my “art house”. I am going to tidy up my goals, aim high, and shoot. Come the next New Year, I will check back to see how I did. I will at least be able to say “I am giving my art efforts 1010% effort!”


Art Credit: “Target” by Jasper Johns
P.S. Jasper, if you want me to stop using this image, email me and I will gladly take it down. TEE HEE

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hair of the Dog

Sheree Rensel - Art Vlog / Blog - "Hair of the DOG"

If you fall down, you just have to pick yourself up and move on. I have been doing that for decades. I realize these efforts never end. We always have to keep moving no matter what.