Saturday, August 30, 2008

Art Blog: Living Life As ART

I have spoken before about atree3. Her YouTube channel is full of wonderful videos about her life and thoughts. I am constantly inspired by her words and images. This morning, I watched her current video “Questions”. In it she speaks about being misunderstood. She mentions one of her past videos “Doing what you want” which was a response to one of my whiney comments. After seeing this video about how our lives are the way we WANT them to be (or else we wouldn’t be doing it), I was reminded of some grand lessons. With my tail between my legs, I made her a response video thanking her for her wise words. Also, I set to work harder to change my life around. She was right. I totally agree. We do things because there is some kind of pay off or we wouldn’t do them. Also, if you don’t like something CHANGE IT! Readers of this blog know I am working toward that now.

So this morning’s video filled my eyes and ears with more things to think about. She speaks on her reactions to being misunderstood. I relate to that wholeheartedly. However, I also understand it when she explains people react with the tools they have. We are all in different places and stages of life. As we grow and change, our perceptions change too.
The most remarkable thing she says in the beginning of the video is that she does not consider herself an artist. Instead, she likes to think she “lives her life as ART”.
What a wonderful concept!
This is why I love paying attention to her.
She wakes me UP!

I could not embed atree3’s “Questions” video on this blog. However, you can click the picture to go to the video page. This current video is brilliant and is filled with wisdom. It is well worth the watch!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Art Blog: ART Anger????

After I wrote my post yesterday, I forgot it about it immediately. It wasn’t until this morning when I got the Google alert, I was reminded of my typing frenzy. I am not sure I know where all this angst comes from. Obviously, I am very frustrated. Even when I walk into my studio, I look around and want to growl. What on earth is going on here???? I am not sure why I am in a “mood” about my art. All I know is it doesn’t feel good and I guess, yesterday’s post was just for venting purposes.
Art is really my life. However, life doesn’t always go the way you want it to go. I think I regret thinking about and examining my career. Until a year or two ago, I just made my art, entered shows, sent my work out, and then made more work. The cycle just continued unquestioned. Recently after too much soul searching and intellectualizing (huge mistake!!!), I see some of the idiocy of the process. I mean who in their right mind would continually spend oodles of money on art supplies, shipping, show entry fees, and all the rest and get no return at all. I mean AT ALL (except for self satisfaction, of course). Who would do that?
So Sheree “Watcha gonna do now??????”
In a convoluted way, I relate this to something I told someone who wrote me via my fitness blog. She told me her sad story about how it was impossible for her to lose weight and get fit. She had every excuse in the book. She had tried every diet. She had tried to exercise. She had TRIED yadda, yadda, yadda, siss boom ba!!! Well, when it comes to fitness, I am less emotional and far more rational. The key word for me is she said “I tried.” As far as I am concerned you don’t TRY to lose weight, you DO IT. So I told her to just forget it. I told her to eat whatever she wants. Never, ever exercise! I told her to just give it up because what was the point? I told her to never worry about it again because she has determined it is IMPOSSIBLE. Just hearing those words would be such a relief. She has been liberated!!! Of course, I said all this tongue-in-cheek. I just thought if I told her to just let it go and give it up, the pressure would be off or she would try to prove me wrong. Either way, the reality of the situation would start to sink in for her.
This is the way I feel about my art tantrums lately. God knows I am not an enabler. I am a brass tacks kind of girl. I want to tell myself “Sheree, if you don’t like it, don’t do it!!!” In other words, nobody said I have to make art. This is my choice. So, I guess I am telling myself to “SHUT UP”.
Live with it or without it.
It is what it is.

It is OK to be angry. It is OK to be frustrated.
However, there comes a time you have to make a decision.
If you want to be an artist, you have to take the lumps.
This is the truth.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Art Blog: Art SUCKS!

Yes, you know you have all thought this at one time or another. I equate these feelings with many other things in my life. You focus to the point you can’t see any more. No matter how hard you try to see the truth, you become dizzy. You think it might be making you sick. Then, you succumb and surrender. This is the way I feel right now. I mean, “Why not?” I have a shitload of history. I have a house full of art. I have plans, goals, and yadda yadda yadda up the ass and I am going nowhere fast. Yep. No place. No how. No nothing.
OK. So I am being a little dramatic. Yes. This is my specialty. However, you know in your heart of hearts you have felt the same thing. Haven’t you? Despite it all, we keep moving. We keep making. We keep creating. I just wonder why sometimes.
There are moments when we feel like “Yeah. OK…I can do this. Yeah, I am on the right track.” You do the work. You create. You send it off. You wait. NOTHING.
For instance, this is the way I feel about the $2 Dollar show I recently entered. I didn’t even get an email that said “We got your entry.” NOTHING. No mention. No feedback. No No No No nothing. I am not even sure they put my entry in the show! Like I said. “ART SUCKS!” At least, I feel this right at this moment.

In no way am I promoting this book! NO NO NO. In fact, I am only using the image to bring my point home. In fact, it was a total coincidence. I started my post with the idea “ART SUCKS”. I looked on Google to find an appropriate image. Lo and Behold, this came up. It was such a perfect fit considering, I sent work to Mat Gleason’s $2 Dollar show in LA. I never got any kind of response. Supposedly, he is an art critic for the people. I have always thought he was there for the little guy. Well, I guess I am too little! I was never mentioned or even acknowledged. Life goes on. Right Mat? All this art stuff is surreal. Some might think, “Oh, don’t say anything!” Nope. Mat should respect this. I am just as much of a loud mouth as he is and I have much less to lose! We are all struggling to be seen and heard. It seems like a game. At this point, I just wonder what happened to my 2 dollar bill? Hmmmmmmmmmm..

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Art Blog: Stay in FAITH

I am sitting here right now about ready to hyperventilate. My mind is racing. My heart is pounding. Thoughts are speeding a million miles a minute. I have to calm down, get my head together, and just do what I have to do.
I went back to teaching this week. Ironically, it was a wonderful week. The students came in and were happy to be in my classes. Not one student was rude, nasty, or violent. In fact, they were very sweet and loving to me. Weird. Yet as I unpacked boxes of art supplies as my students worked on their first project, my mind drifted off. I realized it isn’t just the environment and behaviors that are urging me to move on, but the fact I am bored silly!

I need new challenges to stimulate my mind. I want to teach somewhere I will have to run home after classes and study up just to keep up with the students! I don’t have that now. I fear my brain is starting to atrophy!
Then, I got an email from GILDA. She sent me a job lead. It is such a long shot, but I am going to apply. I have to because it would be my dream job. This is why my head is spinning. Even as I sit here preparing materials, I am learning so much about myself. One thing that is shocking is that I am having bouts of insecurity. This is so strange because I think of myself as being over that kind of thing. I guess not. Another totally bizarre thing is the job is in Michigan. I THOUGHT I would never want to go back there, but I want this kind of job MORE than I hate snow. In other words, if I got hired for this job, I would be very happy to buy some snow boots with my first pay check.
Just playing with the idea of getting this job is interesting. I think it is ironic it is a few miles from where I went to high school. That would mean I would have come full circle. Another odd thing is that I have been busy digitizing slides just this summer and came across student work from when I taught college level. That is a weird coincidence. It makes me see I have been preparing for a new life without even realizing it. Luck is being prepared when opportunity knocks. Well, I have what it takes and I am prepared. So now even if this a long shot, I just have to “stay in faith”. Things will happen the way they are meant to happen.

It is fun to wonder what is going to happen with me.
Will Michigan be in my future ever again?
This will not be totally my call (as I look to the heavens.)
We will see!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ART Blog: Crying like a Baby!

You would think I was a young girl. I am crying over the loss of a musician. Oh yeah. I have lived through the days of seeing Ozzy Osbourne in the early 70’s! Yes, I am THAT old. I have had my music fascinations. Oh, there was Hendrix, Joplin, Motown, The Stones, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, The Pretenders, Neil Young, and of course, Joni Mitchell. NONE of them rival my fascination with the Dave Matthews Band. I am just about a DMB groupie. No matter what happens in life, I will be at their concert regardless of cost. I have loved them so much for years.
Today, I heard such sad, sad news. My “Leroi” died. Leroi Moore was the sax player for DMB. He had been in an accident this summer. I went to the Tampa concert in July. He wasn’t there. You could tell. It just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t worried. I figured he would mend and everything would be back to normal.
Well, he didn’t mend. He died today. DMB will never be the same. I am so, so sad. I am sitting here crying like a baby because he was an artist. His work had such an effect on me. He was an integral part of the band. He was so young. He was only 46 years old.
This is just one reminder that nothing stays the same. No matter how much we want time to stop; it doesn’t. I just want to whisper to Leroi as he makes his way to heaven. “I want you to play your sax up there. I will be there eventually. I will be in the front row. When I see you, I will wave.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I took down my “blog break” post because I feel compelled to write after all! In that post, I mentioned trying to slow myself down and take things a few steps at a time. I am tired of trying to be Wonder Woman.
Something happened yesterday that really made me think about trying to do it ALL. This entire week, I have been sitting in various trainings and trying to get my school art room ready. The training workshops run the gamut. Some are informative. Some are as boring as hell. Some are a waste of time. Some are idiotic. Yesterday, I attended an art teacher training. It was quite interesting and fun. It started off with announcements of art department business, district technology resources, and a brief talk given by a retiring art teacher. One thing she said that stuck in my mind was that she believes art educators should be artists too. Of course, I sat up straight in my seat. “I am!” I thought. I turned and looked out into the auditorium. I realized many art teachers do not make their own art. In my opinion, this is OK too. I have learned this from experience. At one time, I was an education coordinator and would hire artists to teach. A person can be the next Michelangelo and not be able to teach someone how to lick a stamp! Likewise, I have known many art teachers who were phenomenal art teachers, but have a hard time drawing a stick figure. So, it all depends.
The next speaker was the brilliant, conceptual artist, Ray Azcuy. He was a former art educator and administrator in our county. He moved to Miami to work in arts administration. He is now retiring to be a full time artist. He too mentioned the importance of being an artist / art educator. However, he also spoke the same thing I thought. Not all artists are teachers or vice versa. He showed images of his work and then answered questions. Some of the questions dealt with the idea of juggling a day job with your artist’s job. He said he would work on his art at night and weekends. He even admitted using his “sick days” to get a little more art time if he had an approaching deadline. When he said this, I looked over at my art supervisor and wondered if that idea made her cringe.
I relate to Ray’s words and his description of the day job “dance”. I am not known as a Type A, all star, art teacher anymore. Sometimes, I feel bad about that. Years ago, I would volunteer all my time to the cause. I took classes and meetings, and gave my life away. My art suffered and I became very unhappy. So I changed the way I do things now. I can’t volunteer to spend my time hanging student exhibitions or be on textbook committees or take trainings all summer. NOPE! I go to work and do a great job while I am on their clock. When the school day is over, MY art time begins. So I have a teacher’s hat and then an artist’s hat. I switch hats at 2:30 every weekday. Nobody can do EVERYTHING. You have to make choices and set priorities. I would love to be a super, duper, Wonder Woman. I am not.

I have to live with the idea I am not Super Teacher or Wonder Woman. This is difficult for me because I always want to be the BEST at what I do. You can be the best, but not at everything. If I have to make a choice, I just want to be known as Sheree who does her BEST at creating her art. That is just fine with me.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Art Blog: Broken Momentum

I am still digitizing slides. I will probably be doing this for months. It is a long process, but it is so fun to do. I feel like I am on the TV show “This Is Your LIFE!” as I go through all the work I have done over time. I haven’t seen some of this work for years. Also, it is giving me chance to revisit where I have been and gives me ideas as to where I want to go.
As I sorted the slides into categories, I came upon a couple of series I started, but never continued.
Years ago, I received a fellowship to go to the Vermont Studio Center. I stayed there a month. It was the most productive art making month of my life. I had no worries. They cooked and fed me. They gave me a place to live. I didn't have to go to a day job. I had no bills. Like other artists, I was there to make art. That is it. I did make art. I made a lot of art. At that time, I was known for being a painter and abstract sculptor. However, I decided I wanted to try other things while attending the fellowship. When I was a teenager, I loved doing graphite drawings. I gave that up in college. So when I planned my fellowship art strategies, I decided to draw. I would call the series “Modern Fairy Tales”.
Here are two examples:

“Private Parts” by Sheree Rensel

“Tantrum” by Sheree Rensel
When I scanned these two slides of the series, I realized how I loved these drawings. It is also fascinating to me that each work is about issues of interest, but I put scenes of Vermont in the drawings. In fact, the “Tantrum” is about an incident that happened during the fellowship. There was this snotty girl who was one of my roommates. There was a party, she got drunk, and angry. She left to walk home. I followed behind her. Halfway home, I watched her as she kicked the sign down in front of the church. I hid behind a tree so she wouldn’t notice I had witnessed her vandalism. The next week, I did this drawing documenting the incident. She became livid. She was afraid everyone would know the damage was her doing because I had put her cat’s toy in the foreground. Opps!!!! LOL LOL LOL
I did ten of these drawings. I got back to Detroit and showed them to a few chosen friends who had a preconceived notion of what my art should look like. Nobody said anything. Silence. Well the worst review is NO review, so I hid them under the bed for years. I sold five of them at one of my art “fire sales”. I kept four. I threw one away. I never continued with this series. It is as if my momentum had been broken. I have never drawn in graphite ever since.

"Balance" by Sheree Rensel

"The Palace" by Sheree Rensel
Also while in Vermont, I started a series of watercolors. This was to break the monotony of such rigid drawings. I hated these watercolors. I threw them all away. They were too cutesy. I wasn’t feelin it.
Well, back to the scanner!