Monday, July 28, 2008

Art Blog: What Needs To Be Said?

As I grapple with my place as an artist, reexamine my past art life, and find direction for my future life and work, I am starting to see more clearly. There are moments when I feel like I shouldn’t make another work of art. We all have days like that. Today, I realized I HAVE to continue. I have to say the things that need to be said.
I was thinking about who is my audience? Obviously, I am the primary member and I sit in the front row, center. The other people watching my art can be put into various categories.

1. Some people don’t look at my art (or any art?) at all. They don’t find it familiar enough to give it a second look.
2. Others look, but without much effort. When I hear reactions like “Oh your work is so pretty or bright and colorful”, I realized I have failed with this group.
3. There are those who do look hard. Yet, their interpretations are far off the mark.
4. Once in a great while, I will get a critique from someone who really understands a particular piece. These people are very few and far between.

The first group are just not my people. That’s cool. The second group superficially scan the work and notice the colors. The interesting thing is most of my work is wildly colorful. They are right. However, my work is like poison candy. I use the colors of sweetness to draw you in, but if you get past that layer, there is usually some kind of social comment and often a biting message. The third group are the people I find intriguing. I don’t like artist statements. I never have. However for these people, I wish I could stand with them and explain what I am trying to say within a given piece. It is fine they have their own interpretations, but I want my intended message to be revealed too. It is likely, my thoughts on certain topics would turn some people off. That is OK. At least, I got them thinking. The fourth group are my patrons and I thank them wholeheartedly.

Most people don’t have a clue what my art is about and probably never will. Yet, the statements I make with my art aren’t so mysterious and simply reflect issues in our society. Case in point:

“Happy?” by Sheree Rensel
I have this painting as my background for my YouTube art channel profile. Last night, I was on Stickam and I watched as someone opened my channel page. Her face contorted and she said “Ughhhhh...that is too weird!” This painting isn’t weird at all. It shows a person in a party hat surrounded with confetti. Her mouth is covered so she can’t speak. The question “IS EVERYBODY HAPPY? surrounds her. I am asking that question. Are people of all races, nationalities, and statures in our world being treated equally and given the same opportunities to gain happiness? SIMPLE

“Universal Dump” by Sheree Rensel
This painting is about how humans keep polluting everything including space. SIMPLE

“The Greater of Two Evils” by Sheree Rensel
Abuse of woman and their decision to leave or stay. SIMPLE

“Emergency Room”, installation by Sheree Rensel
This installation is about the lack of quality health care in our country. I made this because for many years, my daughter and I had no health insurance. Do you know what it is like waiting for your turn at a free clinic in downtown Detroit? It isn’t much fun at all. SIMPLE
This is why my art is important. Someone has to say these things. I say them with my art.
I subscribe to a fun online service that sends you emails from the "Universe". After posting this post, I received this email:
The only way to get what you really want, is to know what you really want.
And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.
And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.
And the only way to be yourself, Wizzle, is to listen to your heart.
The Universe

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Art Blog: Brick Walls

I have been thinking about the passing of Randy Pausch for the past 48 hours. Thoughts of his “Last Lecture” reminded me of what I already know, but don’t always remember. I included one of his quotes in my last post. This one is so important for me to keep in the front of my mind.

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things."

The entire quote is included in my last "Thank You" post.

I am so familiar with BRICK WALLS. In fact thankfully, I learned at a very young age to deal with challenges and obstacles. Yesterday, I thought about all the walls in my past. Childhood trauma, paying for college, raising a child on my own, economic issues, etc. Facing a brick wall isn’t fun. However, once you get around it, blow through it, climb over it, or dig a tunnel under it to get to the other side, the rewards are tremendous.
Another thing I realized yesterday is this has so much to do with my current life. When I was younger, brick walls seemed to block just about my every move. I became agile and adept at thinking of clever ways to maneuver my steps to get to the other side. For the past ten years or so, it has been smooth sailing. I haven’t had that many obstacles. I have been spoiled and gotten lazy. Consequently, my brick wall strategies are a bit dusty. So I need to think back on those harder times and remember how to fight my way to the other side. My current brick walls just have to go!
Here I have posted another installation I found while digitizing slides. This piece “Relationship #915” is the concrete symbol of one of the biggest brick walls of my life (relationships with men). After my daughter’s father left me. I had a newborn strapped to my back and wondered “Oh geesh, now what?” It took me a few years to get my footing, but I did. In fact by the time she turned 3 years old, I was experiencing the most productive art career ever. I made this piece when she was 4 years old as a reminder to myself, it is OK to have relationships with men as long as you are true to yourself. I have lived by that credo ever since.

“Relationship #915”, installation, by Sheree Rensel
This installation was placed in a dark corner of the Michigan Gallery. The only light on it and part of the installation was the work light hanging above it. It was such an eery, yet wonderful little treasure of a piece.

“Relationship #915”, lower detail

Notice that BIRD in the framed graphite drawing portion. There it is again! It just keeps popping up!

Obviously, this installation in it’s entirety doesn’t exist anymore. I know the chair was sold. However, I have absolutely no idea who has (or had) it. I miss it!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Art Blog: Thank you Dr. Pausch

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things. Brick walls aren’t meant to keep us from doing things but to separate the ones who REALLY want to do something (those who find a way around the brick wall) from those who don’t (those who give up)”
Dr. Randy Pausch

I have been following the story of Randy Pausch for a while now. He is the author of the “LAST LECTURE”.
I was so, so, sad this morning to learn Professor Randy Pausch died this morning. Say a prayer for his family. This is such a tremendous loss for them and the entire world.
There are many, many videos about Dr. Pausch. The first I have included here is a very brief, news snippet of the lecture. The second video is a lengthy video, but provides the full scope of his wisdom.

Thank you Professor Pausch for allowing me to hear your strong messages and reminding me of the true meaning of life. Thank you so much. RIP.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Art Blog: Installations

Still digitizing! In fact, I spent hours last night just trying to divide the slides into categories. Not only have I been an artist for a long time; I have made a lot of work! One of the most exciting things about scanning slides of all this past work is seeing things you haven’t seen in years. Some of my work was documented with slides only. I have no hard copy photos. So as I go through my huge tub of slides, there are so many surprises.

One category of work that I am so excited to see are my installations. I did installation pieces for years. I stopped doing them for a number of reasons. First, often they are costly. They aren’t for sale, so you can’t recoup any of the costs. Another reason I stopped creating installations is because they take too much space to store. They look great in a gallery setting, but then you get all the stuff back to your studio you ask “Where am I going to put all this?”
Even with the drawbacks, I loved doing them. Now, I love seeing them again. One such installation was titled “Me as You, The Installation”. This was such a dream project. The Detroit Artist Market Gallery was having a fund raiser. They asked a number of artists to create installations on the street in front of the gallery. The really cool part is the artists got a stipend AND a materials allowance. I bought rolls and rolls of mylar and sheets of plexiglas. I had this wood sculpture titled “Me as You” and wanted to put it in an environment. I chose to do my installation IN the fountain in front of the gallery. My original idea was to incorporate a mylar back drop to intermix with the waterfall section of the fountain. I built a plexiglas pedestal for the sculpture. I planted two trees in buckets of cement. I created a woodframe work to hold the mylar in place.
I arrived early the morning of the event. Me and a helper put on tall boots and waded through the water and tried to place the stretched mylar under the waterfall. No sooner did we get it under the rolling water, the mylar started to shed to smithereens. OMG!!! I am reminded of Tim Gunn on Project Runway when he says “MAKE IT WORK”! I pulled the framework out in front of the waterfall and restretched more mylar. It worked out even better because the water was gently hitting the back of the mylar. It shook and shimmered. It looked cool! I placed the sculpture and the trees. Then I put bunches of silver, multi-shaped blocks that floated like boats in the water. The effect was fabulous!!

“Me as You, The Installation” by Sheree Rensel

Just to give you an idea of the scale, here is the dinner tent in front of the installation. It was so fun that night to sit, eat, talk, and look over at my installation!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Art Blog: Perfect Timing!

This is so wonderful! I am so excited!!! The other day, I wrote about an artwork I yearned to see again. I not only missed the painting, but I just wanted to SEE it. The reason I wanted to visit the painting one more time was because as I thought of my new “Treasure Map” series, my mind kept drifting to that long lost “Air Wolf” image. The only problem was I had no photo of the piece and it was sold long ago. I only had a torn and tattered B & W newspaper clipping. I mentioned I might have a slide of it. However, I hadn’t started to digitize my slides. I have a tub of old slides that weighs more than twenty pounds!
I had planned on starting to digitize this year. In fact when I needed a scanner at school, I intentionally bought one that would scan slides. The problem is I never had time to sit and scan them at work. So when I mentioned “Air Wolf” the other day, I thought “It is time NOW!!” So I ordered a scanner for my studio.
I just scanned my first four slides. Oh my goodness!! What a great feeling. Now I see “Air Wolf” again!! The color is a tad off. The original is a bit more beige and creamy. It isn’t the slides fault though. I remember taking these slides on the fly without proper lighting. The yellow cast is caused by this poor technique. I did a bit of color correction with Photoshop. This is close enough. I am just so happy to see this painting again. Now, I have a better idea the flavor and direction I want to take my treasure maps. Whoopee!

The work was so large (60” X 80”) it is difficult to really get the feel of the work.

Here is one detail of the top area.

Lower left detail with "Mother-in-Law's Tongue"

At the upper right is the outline of my daughter's hands. Center is that BIRD I mentioned in the last post. I laughed when I saw it was holding a cockroach. That was a statement about my studio at the time! LOL

Monday, July 21, 2008

Art Blog: The RED Dot

I have had a weekend to chill out and try to make some kind of sense out of my art life. More importantly, I am trying to get my head to stop spinning. My last post was the culmination of many, many events in past months that have caused me to doubt and question what I do as an artist. For some reason, my footing has become unstable and I feel like I might fall at any minute. I don’t like this feeling. I want it to go away.

This weekend I decided to go out and try to refresh my outlook. I went to a huge, local art show. I thought if I immersed myself in art, I would regain my balance. Well. I didn’t. As I walked around, I noticed this is not my kind of art. I felt no connection or kinship whatsoever. I did notice money changing. The red dot ruled. I started asking myself, “Where are the crowds? What kind of art is creating the most interest?” I started taking notes. There were lots of fish / dolphin / seascapes. They seemed popular. There was no shortage of wildlife paintings. You know the kind. Some ferocious animal perched on a log framed by a plethora of forest trees. There was lots of generic photography. Cute puppies and kittens in all media. There was a little bit of abstract work but it was “decor” related. The technical quality of all the work was pretty good. It was just the content (or lack of) that made it so crappy and boring. I had to get out of there, fast!

I headed out to grab some lunch and to think more. The red dot. The red dot. The red dot. MORE head spinning!!! I couldn’t help but notice the majority of buyers were “decorating homes” and not “collecting art”. I suddenly remembered an article I read in a current magazine. It was written by one of those “FULL TIME ARTISTS” I have been reading so much about lately. He suggested "you can do it too!!" I read the article and it wasn’t bad. He made some great points. I looked at his bio at the end of the article and I couldn’t wait to see the kind of full time art he makes. I went to his web page. Boy oh, boy, he had it covered! I think he has painted every painterly cliché imaginable. Yes. There were clowns. Yes, there were puppies, Yes, it was all there. Well, well, well.......
I can do it too, huh?
There is nothing wrong with those artists who want to paint clichés. There is nothing wrong with intentionally creating paintings that match couches. That is their choice as an artist. I am very sure they will out sell me by big $$$$$$$!!!

I left lunch realizing I am not one of those kinds of artists. I could never be one of those kinds of artists. That is why it is extremely doubtful I will ever be a so called “FULL TIME ARTIST”. Enough said.
Just go paint Sheree!!!!

Why did I bother getting a B.F.A. and M.F.A.??
JUST THINK!! I could have saved myself a lot of anguish if I just would have followed the “How to Paint” books and listened to Bob Ross!!! Tee hee hee LOL LOL LOL

Friday, July 18, 2008

Art Blog: Screw it?

So.....Not having a good computer is a good thing and a bad thing. I have to appreciate the fact I can at LEAST get on the internet. However, the computer I am using is so old it takes forever for commands to respond. It isn’t my connection. In fact, the reality is when this computer was made, this type of connection wasn’t even available. Therefore, my little computer keeps having to “think” about everything. I became so frustrated, I gave up. I have cut my computer time immensely. I just check my email and then go do other things. This might not be such a bad idea. However, I couldn’t take it anymore and struggled to write this post.
Gilda wrote me the other day and mentioned she saw some of my art on an art marketing website. I told her I have my art all over the place. That doesn’t really mean squat. I have seen no difference in sitting here in my studio doing work alone and anonymously as compared to doing the work and shouting loud in the internet universe. Nobody asks questions. Nobody makes comments. Nobody has bought anything. Nobody does jack. I finished my response email to her saying something like “I am just going back to my old ways. This art marketing stuff is making me crazy. Also, I feel like I am a total failure.”

NOW, I know this was the drama queen speaking. Even though I toss around the idea of just quitting being an artist, that is just bullshit and not even in the realm of possibility. The only time I will quit being an artist is when I am lying dead on the floor. Also, the failure part is a bit over the top. I know I am not a failure. I know I have accomplished a whole lot in my art lifetime. I haven’t failed at all. Yet, when I read magazines and accounts of all these artists who are “making it”, I start to shrivel in a little ball. I think “SCREW IT!”

Yeah, I know I am in a mood. My rational side is really kickin my butt right now. I start to go to my studio and my "BLACK MUSE" nemesis whispers in my ear “Oh, so you are going to make more shit to clutter up your house??” OMG!!! I just hate when I get into that kind of mindset. Yet, I have to be honest and say there is a teeny part of me that is about to take the Black Muse for a drink and toast to all his years of caveats and teasing. I think I am starting to agree with him. All this is so scary to me. I am not a fledgling artist saddened by unrealized expectations. I sold my first painting in 1968. Art has been about my whole life. This is the first time ever, I felt the futility of it all. Yes, it is very frightening. I feel like I am going nowhere fast.

“Going Nowhere Fast” by Sheree Rensel

At this moment, this is my life theme song. SIA, "Breath Me":

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Art Blog: Oh My Gosh!!!

My main computer spazzed out. Right now, I am using a circa 2001 iBook. It was such a cool little notebook back then. Now, it SUCKS!! Even though I have tried to update things today, it just keeps telling me this computer is a dinosaur. Nothing works. Even my serial numbers for my "Mac" upload software is so old, it doesn't recognize it. I did use a "trial" version of FETCH. It will only let me use it minimally. This is so awful.
I am a MAC girl. However, when my work switched to PC, I switched too. My new PC is great, but it is on the fritz. So while it is in the shop, I am using my Stegesauras iBook. I can do this for a week or two. I can. Really. YUCKO!!
Anyway, I spent my day preparing for another makeover. I had spoke about how I finally cut my hair. When I got it cut, I loved the fact that it was short. I HATED the style this girl created. So I went to another salon and had a redo.
This is the only photo FETCH would allow me to upload via the "try" software. I will upload more in a few weeks. All I can say is I love this so much more. There is no "bubble head". I don't have to curl anything. It is a wash and wear style. I got some texturizing gel so I can go crazy. That is much more appropriate. Wacky, oldish, artist. YEAH!!!! She did exactly what I asked her to do. I told her "I want it to look kind of like bed head, but I don't want to look homeless"!!
Ahhhhh, success!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!
Thank you SO MUCH NIKITA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Art Blog: Art Stalked

If you are a lucky artist, you have works that don’t live with you anymore. They have moved to places far and away, never to be seen again. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Most of the work I have sold over my lifetime is long gone and forgotten. However, there are a few pieces that stalk me.
The one that has stalked me the longest and hardest is “Air Wolf”. This painting has such a vibrant history. When I created this painting, I had just had my daughter. My “baby’s daddy” had just left. I had moved to a new studio apartment. Until that point, I had been doing 3-D sculptural paintings for years. I was lucky enough to be asked to do a work for a fundraising auction in support of Oakland University's Meadowbrook Gallery. I said “Oh YEAH!!” The idea was to give artists bed sheets and let them have at it. I remember this so vividly. I brought my sheet back to my studio, moved furniture and nailed that sucker to the wall. I then started painting. It was the first straight 2-D painting I had done in years. I remember when I finished it. I was so proud. I rolled it up and took it to the gallery.
At the opening, I got noticed. I had my daughter in a backpack. At that time, I weighed ALMOST 90 pounds. I wasn’t on a fitness binge back then. I was literally STARVING. Yet, I wanted to be an artist so bad, I gave my work away for free.
I think of this painting all the time. It is my ART STALKER! I always wonder what happened to it. If I knew, I would buy it back. I have no idea where I would hang it. I would figure that out later. It is just so meaningful to me. I think of the “Treasure Maps” I am working on now and realize: this was my first treasure map.
It is gone now. I can’t recreate it. It is a new time. The past is gone. Yet, there is still a common brushstroke.

Have you ever LONGED for one of your art works?
I have.
Sorry for the quality of this pic. All I have left is this faded newspaper clipping. I might have a homemade slide of the work in my huge tub of slides which I haven’t digitized yet. Regardless, this is the last available remnant of “Air Wolf”.

This newspaper quote makes me quiver. My daughter’s hand is in that painting. I just wonder if this work still exists. I wonder.

HA!!! After posting this entry, I looked at the photo of "Air Wolf" and noticed something in the painting. I looked just behind the woman's head and thought "There is one of those damn birds AGAIN!!" (See "Visual Vocabulary" post) LOL LOL LOL

Monday, July 14, 2008

Art Blog: “I GET TO”

Since the beginning of summer, I have been in deep thought mode. I am putting faith in the Universe and trusting it will provide the future I am supposed to have. Even though I am trying to back off and just go with the flow, I am still restless. The job scene isn’t glowing right now and it looks like I will still be at my present job for a while. At least, it looks that way at this moment. That is OK though. “I GET TO” go to a job. There are so many people who can’t say that right now.
I watched a video today about a woman who lost a daughter to cancer. (I will speak more about the video on my fitness blog.) I watched as she briefly touched about her recent experiences. The thesis of her message was the phrase “I GET TO”. This is the opposite of “I HAVE TO”. As those words sunk into my head, I realized this is the exact thing I have been thinking about lately.
I put up a recent post on Art Calendar forum that mentioned how lucky we are to be artists. I mean, aren’t we LUCKY? We GET TO do what we love. We GET TO communicate and create. We GET TO feel joy from our work. The list could go on and on.
I continued to think a lot about this on my mini-vacation. As I splashed in the hotel pool and felt the sun on my face, I couldn’t believe I GOT TO do this. I thought similar thoughts last night. Knowing I had another dental appointment this morning, I watched in horror a TV news report about hundreds and hundreds of AMERICAN people who came from miles around to get one free appointment with dentists and doctors. As I sat in the dentist chair this morning, I thought “I GET TO” have my teeth fixed.
We all complain, moan, and groan about life sometimes. Gosh, I am as guilty as anyone. However, if I take a minute to remember “I GET TO”, I think my mindset will change immediately. Yep, it will!

How did I get so lucky??????

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Art Blog: Visual Vocabulary

When I was in elementary school, I remember being faced with the annual “I.Q.” test. I always hated tests. However, I looked forward to this one because there was a portion in which you had to match pictures. I am sure there is an official name for this type of assessment. Maybe it is “visual analogies” or something like that because it is asks which pictures are related. I am sure I did very poorly on this portion of the test. This just has to be true because I approached it with a weird, right brained logic. For example, faced with a picture of a duck, robin, and umbrella, I would circle the duck and umbrella. Why? They both get wet! Another brilliant response after seeing a mailbox, table, and step stool, I would surely circle the mailbox and stepstool because in childhood I would drag a stool down the street to mail letters at the box.
I loved seeing visual relationships and still do.
Struggling to start my treasure maps series, I realized I am lost. I am approaching the work in a different way. I don’t have a true agenda and I am not premeditating. I am just making marks. I noticed some triangles emerged. I thought “Those triangles always manage to make their way into my art!” This got me thinking of some of the images of my own visual vocabulary. These are elements, symbols, or components I have repeated for decades. Here are some examples of some I found in past work:

Feathers always appear year after year.

This is a weird one. BIRDS! I am not fond of birds. Even the way I paint them is always static and emblematic. Yet for some reason, I have this compulsion to put them in paintings every so often. I have a painting in my studio waiting to be finished and of course, there is a bird as the focal point.

Hands I understand. I have bizarrely small hands and feet. I tell people it is a genetic flaw. LOL I think I have always put my hand print in work because it is a simple way of saying “Sheree was here.”

Of all the shapes, triangles are my favorite. They pop up everywhere in my work. I get some kind of pleasure drawing them, painting them, and looking at them.
Do you have a repetitious visual vocabulary?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Art Blog: Do you believe in JEEZ-us?

I am back from my adventure away from “Sheree’s La La Land”. I realize it is so important to get out in the world to understand it. However, I am always amazed at what I find out there and feel a sense of relief when I get back to my art house.
So I went to the concert and had a blast. After the concert, I went back to the hotel and was sitting outside near the pool. A woman approached me and we exchanged pleasantries. She sat down next to me and said “Do you believe in JESUS?” I wasn’t surprised. I learned early in the day that half the hotel was being used by people attending a revival meeting at a local church. I smiled at her and said “Well, I believe there was a Jesus, but…” Before I could finish my thought, she let loose. She told me if I wasn’t born again and believed in Jesus the only God, I was going to HELL!!! Hmmmmm….I smiled again and tried to explain my spiritual viewpoint. She wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise. Finally, I got up, rolled my eyes, opened the hotel door and as I entered I turned and said “I believe in EVERYTHING!” I wasn’t upset. I just chocked it up to realizing this was just one facet of society.
The next day, I noticed the cowboys moving in. Apparently, there were equestrian competitions at the local fair grounds. I was on the elevator and on the way up, a man standing next to me said “Soooo….ere y’all a-hoarsen this weekend?” I had to turn around and look to see if there was anyone else in the elevator. I look like a lot of things but a cowgirl isn’t one of them. I just smiled again and said “NOPE!” This is another facet of society.
Today as I was packing up, I noticed a bunch of men with little workshop tables and tiny toolkits. They looked all too serious and straight laced. A while later, I passed by one of the conference rooms and saw the little workshop tables set up everywhere. The men were all scurrying from table to table conferring with each other like they were working on future plans for NASA. I took a step back and looked at the back of the door. It read “Clocks and Watches Association”. Huh??? LOL LOL LOL Oh, OK. These guys are the specialists who can fix old fashioned timepieces. Oh, OK, whatever. Society again.
All and all, my little vacation was a grand success. I learned a little about myself and about the world. I am happy I am home though. I am just wondering if I should keep worrying about that hell thing???

I have absolutely nothing against people with religious convictions. In fact, one very early ART memory was going to visit relatives in southern Illinois. Although I was raised Catholic, my father’s family were Pentecostal. I remember attending a very basic church with wooden chairs and everyone was waving brightly colored fans. With my young eyes, I watched those Jesus fans flicker and float. I was too young to understand what the images represented, but I can remember thinking “Those pictures are pretty!”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Art Blog: Real Woman

“Don’t just be an aging female … become a real woman!”
Maya Angelou, poet, educator, historian, best-selling author

Even though I am very hard on myself and suffer from all kinds of weird, psycho cooties, I have realized one really great thing about myself. I am a REAL woman. I am not just sitting around getting years older. I am growing, doing things, making changes, moving on, being productive, tweaking the good/bad, and learning more about myself every day. This is a good thing!
It has taken a long time for me to be able to realize this. That is what life is all about. I still have many lessons to learn. I have my “I am OK” checklist. This is the list of things that took me decades to figure out:
• It is OK for me to chose to be alone.
• It is OK to choose art over other things.
• It is OK for me to make the kind of art I make.
• It is OK to express my opinions without regrets.
• It is OK for me to say NO.
• It is OK for me to look the way I do.
• It is OK for me to be HAPPY!

Oh! My list could go on and on! As you grow as a woman and come to these kinds of realizations, it is such a relief! It makes you feel lighter and more buoyant. Also, you realize your power as a woman.
I am going to be offline for a couple of days because I am going to go to see Dave Matthews Band and Gomez. I don’t like driving at night, so I am staying over and making it a mini vacation. I am not taking my laptop (on purpose.) I need a techno break for sure. I am taking books (remember those??) So, I bid you good-bye for a few days. Here is one more of my “Oks” .
• It is OK for me to go to rock concerts and seem to be the oldest person in the crowd!!! LOL LOL LOL

Dave Matthews Band
(I can’t wait to hear Boyd play his violin!)

Gomez – US Tour

Art Blog: Let it Go!

What a frigin mess!!

Look at this. I created this painting a few years ago. I have been thinking about this that LONG. Get over it Sheree!
Blonderexic. Yep. That describes me. I have always had LONG, bleach blond hair, except for 1988 when I cut it all off and dyed it red. That didn’t last long. I went right back to my old ways. My real hair is still dishwater blond. Nondescript. Dark blond mixed with light blond, mixed with grey now. It isn’t worth a look. This is why I continue to BLEACH.
Then, there is the length. I have always hid behind my hair. It is a veil of protection from the big, bad world. It all started as a form of rebellion. My mother always condemned me and voiced opinions about my coif. It was far too long for a person so short. My face was always covered. It just wasn’t right. Well you can tell I listened her, NOT. I have kept it the same way for 40+ years. LOL LOL

It is time. I have to do something. I measured my hair the other day. It was at 30” from my crown to my waistband. I almost had it cut the other day. I stood silent in front of the salon window. “I am going in!” “Yes, I am going in, now!” I didn’t’. SO………………I have been doing some kind of intervention on myself. Every time I wash my hair, I cut off an inch. I have cut off 8” so far. I want to get it up to my shoulders. Even though I want short hair, I just can’t do it all at once.
This all seems too freaky to me. I have to get over it. I am done. All this hair makes me crazy now. I am tired of picking up long hairs all over the house and in my car. I am tired of hiding behind this mop. I have to do something. I am just a bit afraid. Even after all these years, I am too afraid to show my face to the world. This is especially true because now I am all wrinkly too! I still want to hide. There is no sense in hiding. I look old because I am getting old. Gee, go figure. I realized if I want a new life, I have to be willing to change and try new things. So before I could even put this post up, I just went to the salon and told them “Have at it!”
Hair today, Gone today!!!

Thanks, I needed that!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Art Blog: WHY NOT?

I had spoken about a top secret project. It wasn’t a huge deal or anything. I just don’t like telling or showing what I am doing while it is in progress.

(I had a grand reminder of this a few days ago when I posted that “Treasure Maps” video. I should have never done that because now, I hate them, the way they look, and the idea in general. Arrrrggghhhh!!!)

OK, back to business here. I read a lot of blogs. One of the blogs I read is Mat Gleason’s Blog. He is the editor of Coagula Art Journal. Last month, he put out a call for artists to make art out of 2 dollar bills. As soon as I saw that, I wanted to do it. So I did.
Mat put an announcement up for the ”$2 Show” at
in Los Angeles, California.
Here is my entry. My idea was twofold. I made a comment about the recent “Economic Stimulation” tax rebate and our country’s overzealous consumerism. Also, I thought about a way to ease our national debt. We should sell advertising space on our currency! WHY NOT?? Can you imagine how many big bucks we could make for our federal piggy bank? HOLY MACARONI!!! We could finance all kinds of stuff (More wars?? More rebates??) with all that moolah!! Our county would be economically free and clear in no time! Also, our national credit rating would shoot through the roof!!! LOL LOL
Just another SHEREE THOUGHT!~

"2 Dollar Bill Redesign" by Sheree Rensel
Click either bill to enlarge! Tee HEE HEE

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Art Blog: What a day!

Anybody who suffers from “moodiness” will understand this post. For whatever reason, I woke up in a crappy mood. Before I put my foot on the floor, I laid there frowning at the ceiling. I wondered “What is this about?” All it takes is one thing (or two or three or a zillion). Those little thoughts that irritate your mind like a wool shirt on a hot day. It is just unbelievably uncomfortable. Make it stop!
I am old enough to know all this is a mirage. It is about my brain. I started to do inventory. I once had a therapist who would start every session with “So Sheree, what happened?” I don’t have a therapist now, so I have to ask myself this question.
First, the circuit breaker for my computer room blew out twice last night. That scares the crap out of me. I always think my house is going to blow up in ball of fire that could rival that of an apocalyptic, movie special effects scene. I got my little step stool and reset the breaker. Twice. Also, I started unplugging some of this stuff around here. 1950’s house developers didn’t anticipate the electronic boom of the 21st century.
I went to bed expecting to be found barbecued. However, I did wake up raw.
So I got up in a pissy mood. I got out of bed and walked into my studio. Looked at the work in progress and felt like spitting. “These treasure maps SUCK!!” (I know better. Yes, they suck. They aren’t finished. I always hate work that isn’t finished! DUH!!) No matter. Then, I read emails after feeding the dog. I got a couple of very nondescript, bland comments on my latest video. This made me feel useless. Gilda sent me a link for a formerly famous artist being featured in an upcoming HBO documentary. I don’t want to mention his name because he is a jerk. However after looking at his work, my mood got worse. His paintings are wonderful! I thought “I am such a shitty artist.” About that same moment, my TV in my computer room buzzed and blinked off. It was making this click-click-click noise. I thought oh just “WONDERFUL”! I played around with it for a while, and then dragged it out to the trash. It was too old. Immediately, I got dressed and went and bought a new, modern TV. (Score one for keeping my teaching job. Credit cards rule.)
So here I sit. I am still mad at the world. Why? Who knows? It could be far worse. I realize this. However, that realization adds to the misery. You feel ashamed you feel bad because there are so many things for which to be happy. Arrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! SNAP OUT OF IT!!

“Perspectival Response” by Sheree Rensel

This is one of my early drawings that reminds me perspectives of thought are always the issue. For me, this is totally true. “The sun will come out tomorrow, tomorrow……..”

Art Blog: Alignment

I love it when this happens. I love it when things start to align and you become aware of relationships between seemingly unrelated events. I love when little parts of your art life start to fit together like snug puzzle pieces.
First puzzle piece:
I spoke a while ago about buying a new journal with 12 geese on the cover. I saw the geese as symbols of my personal traits (pro and con). I made a list of those traits. I am dividing the journal into twelve sections and write about each attribute in effort to seek answers and nurture growth.
Second puzzle piece:
Also, I recently spoke about a gift I received from an autistic boy. It was a treasure map. I decided that day my next series of work would be titled Treasure Maps because it sounded like an interesting idea.
Third puzzle piece:
I have written posts ad nauseum about how I am trying to change some of my life circumstances. I just want to rearrange a few things, but I am not sure how I am going to do it yet.
If you put all these puzzle pieces together, my new painting series “Treasure Maps” makes so much sense. I am in a determined search for something. Yet, I don’t know what it is really. It may be a particular kind of new job. It may be a better art life. It may be as simple as finding more happiness and contentment.
This is why being an artist is such a great thing. I can’t wait until I work through this series to find the TREASURE!!

This is a day in the life video of me starting work on the “Treasure Map” series. ENJOY!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Art Blog: Art Statements (Pt 2)

After writing the last post, I remembered a video I watched in which the artist’s words made so much sense. This video was made by artist, Gilda Snowden. This impromptu gallery visit shows the work of Julia Stephenson.
When I watched this video, I didn’t understand the work at all. In fact, as Gilda pans the gallery at the beginning, I looked and wondered what was going on. I didn’t relate and felt disassociated from the art work.
Then, Gilda gets the artist and begins talking with her about the art. The artist is young and at first she struggles. However once she started explaining the work in plain language, I had an “A-HA” moment. As I listened to her simple artist statement, I became enlightened, empathetic, and interested. That is exactly what you want to happen when talking about your art! Bravo Julia!!

Art Blog: Say What???? (Pt. 1)

I watch art videos daily. I read art blog/webpages just as much. Rarely do I tire of exploring the art world via my computer. However just like computers, I CRASH sometimes. This week I did just that. The reason I needed to step back and do other things is because I kept running into so much artist statement BULL-oney. In fact, the reason I had to get away from the computer is because I needed to run and get my hip boots!

You have all read or heard artist’s statements that were grandiose and ambiguous. After experiencing one of these yadda yadda yaddas, all I can do is ask “Say What?”
I have never been a fan of artist’s statements. However, I totally understand the necessity for them. It is important for the artist to explain their art (sometimes). It helps the viewer grasp the artist’s point of view, reasoning, or techniques. However to pepper your statement with so much pretentious Artspeak or pseudo-intellectualism, it renders them confusing and uninformative. Artist statements are a form of rhetoric. You want to persuade the viewer or listener to understand you and your art. If your audience finds your words nebulous or without meaning, your statement is a failure.
I am not going to make a handy dandy list titled “How to write an artist’s statement”. There are plenty of those online already. However, I do suggest artists remember a few things when writing or talking about art:

• Mean what you say
• Keep it simple
• Be descriptive
• Briefly explain your artistic point of view
• Speak to your AUDIENCE
• If you want ordinary people to understand you limit ARTSPEAK
• Trash the B.S.
• Keep it concise, to the point, and don’t ramble
• Then SHUT UP!


Andy would understand what I am talking about. Here, he very deliberately answers questions in a vague, monosyllabic manner. This form of less than informative artist statement was one of his trademarks. I am not suggesting artists become this evasive, but Andy’s intentional restraint made people even more curious. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the interview is obvious. Watch him smirk at Ivan Karp mid-interview. We get it Andy. LOL Precious!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Art Blog: LOVE

I had planned on going on my art “field trip” today. One thing lead to another and I realized the museum would close by the time I got there. So, I decided to go to a movie instead. I rarely go to movies. However being the “Sex and The City” groupie I am, I just had to go see it. Ample time had passed for all the commotion to die down. I hate crowded theaters. I went alone and sat in the front row as is my habit.
I loved the movie. I really did. There will be no spoilers here.

I came out of the theater with the start of a headache. As I drove home, I started to rewind the movie in my head. Was my headache due to the subject matter of the movie = LOVE? I have a lot of issues with this topic. I do.
If you have been living under a rock for a decade, “Sex” is based on four women friends living in Manhattan. Each one has traits that make up a composite of a woman. I am exactly like none of them, but similar in ways to all of them.
As much as I hate to admit it, I am most like Samantha. NO! Not the sex part. I have her “me first” attitude. I have never been as optimistic as Charlotte or lived her fairy tale life. Yet, when I was younger, I had that “we will all live happily ever after” fantasy.
I am detailed and analytical just like Miranda. I just have more personality. Then, there is Carrie. I have been just like her in my past. I sure don’t agree with her decisions, but I have made every one of her mistakes at some point in my life. Also, there was a time I actually thought about a “knight in shining armor”. I have even had my “Mr. Big”, just not that rich or powerful.
I did the math and realized I have been single more than 95% of my life. This has been intentional. I tried the relationship thing and it didn’t work for me. To be honest and putting psychological challenges aside, my art was always far more important than putting time into a relationship. I made choices and have no regrets.
So just like Carrie says as she looks in a store window at a pair of Manolo Blahniks, I sit in my living room looking at years and years worth of art and say “Hello Lover!”

If I am reincarnated, I wouldn’t mind staying just the same as I am now but with one difference. I want to look like Carrie Bradshaw!!!! LOL LOL Yeah!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Art Blog: Identity

This post is a bit silly, petty, and narcissistic. LOL LOL
However, it is VERY important to me. I identify myself as an artist. Yes, I might teach. I might be a mommy. I might be this, that, and the other thing. Those labels are ancillary. My whole self concept is wrapped around being an ARTIST. I have always thought this way even when I was a very young girl.

When I started teaching, I was clueless. Since my degrees are in fine arts, I didn’t understand the ways of teaching or the educational system in general. Those first few teaching years were hectic as I tried to play catch up and learn the dogma. As the years moved on, I became fanatical about being the best teacher I could be, getting more certifications than necessary, and becoming an online presence in educational communities.

A couple of years ago when I realized I was miserable and my teaching sail deflated, one of the catalysts for the collapse was when I did a Google search on my name. I looked at horror at the results page. Oh, I was listed many, many times. However, almost every listing had to do with teaching. NO NO NO NO I take art seriously. I take myself as an artist too seriously at times. That is how important this is to me. When I looked at all the teacher stuff on the page, I felt like the real Sheree had died. It was at that moment, I decided to take my life back. I realized I need to focus on my ART and be an artist (who teaches), instead of a teacher (who makes art).

I wanted my identity back:
Sheree Rensel = ARTIST

Over the past year, I would check Google every so often to see how I was doing with my transition. I wondered if artist or teacher was winning. I was so excited this morning to find my true ARTIST self has made it to the top of the heap.

Sheree is back, alive and well!! HOORAY!!!